Wednesday, April 27, 2011

worlds figure skating

a peculiar and comparatively minor side effect of the terrible tsunami in japan last month was the postponement of the world's figure skating championships, scheduled for tokyo. they are now occurring in moscow this week.

tonight universal sports television ran the first two events, the men's and pairs short programs. it's hard to be excited, given the backdrop of the event, yet hard not to be excited if you're a skating fan.

it seems to me that that same ambivalence pervaded the audience and commentators there.

it's one of the best groups of skaters i've ever seen. more and more pairs are displaying the grace once the province of ice dancers. and the men were amazing. only two of them failed to display the kind of artistry that used to apply to very few of them indeed. all 3 american men were wonderful dancers, and this in a post-johnny wier era. way ahead of everyone was the canadian patrich chan, who acheived a world-record-high mark for his perfect combo of dance and atheleticism.

inevitably, there was a poignancy to the skating of the japanese, who were far from home, where they had expected to skate, and weighed down with the awareness of the tragedy, or so it seemed to me. nobuko odo, usually fun to watch, whether he's on or off in his program, skated technically well but robotically. takahashi, the major japanese champion, had half his usualy charisma.

in the pairs, the japanese couple was elegant, but there was an air of poignancy in the program, skated with an almost cosmic irony, to "feelin' good,' with its central image of beautiful weather.

this is the first time something like this has happened with World's, and i think the ambivalence will continue to haunt the event. it's hard to imagine that i could have felt saddened by its absence last month, given the overwhelming horror of the suffering of the japanese. but i did feel sad. and sadly perhaps, i'm happy to see it now.

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