A Thinly Veiled Analogy

Anyone following the Olympics, particularly the figure skating?

After the scandalous controversy surrounding the last Olympics, the skating committee established a new “foolproof” (read that cheat-proof) method of objectively judging competitors, whereby jumps, spins, footwork etc are assigned unique weighted numeric value. The higher the degree of difficulty, the higher the number, the better the likelihood of winning.

Okay, I get it. I even approve–up to a point. That point for me is when the artistry suffers.

Last night, I tuned into the Men’s Long Program, primarily to watch the losers. Because of the delayed broadcasting of the games, I already knew the Russian skater, Plushenko, would win the Gold, and more importantly why.

For four years, Plushenko has exemplified the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger). The man is a jumping machine. He does quads (4 spins in the air) as if he never heard of gravity. One right after another BOOM,BOOM,BOOM he’s leaping up into the air, doing his centrifugal force thing. A techno style, people in the know call it.

I’m not in the know, so I can call it something different.


I’ve seen Plushenko skate before and he does nothing for me. I love figure skating, but I didn’t even bother staying up to watch him win. Nothing against his skill, he’s a master at what he does–

But he’s not a virtuoso at what he does.

Where’s the artistic impression element of his performance?

After a while, it’s ALL just jumps, too much of a good thing, and I lose interest.

I want grace and elegance and musicality . . . I want the subtle movements that lead up to the jumps, the preceding tension that keeps me squirming on the edge of my seat–will he/she/they do IT this time–as well as the actual leaps into the air.

I want the whole story.

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