Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This is How Olympic Athletes Think

OK, so this is how Olympic-caliber athletes think. It’s a warmup before a Canadian Stars on Ice show. Vancouver bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, sorta done practicing, or maybe just taking a break, sits near the ice. Two other Olympic-eligible skaters land triple jumps, in sync, at opposite ends of rink. JoRo gets up, goes back on the ice, lands a triple-triple jump, sits back down. Just like that. As if to say, hello, I'm a frickin' Olympic medalist. I’ll see your solo triple and raise you a triple.

That is how Olympic athletes think. Even at an ice show practice.

Sneaking a Peek at Athletes at Their Peak
Life is mainly regular old stuff, stuff you have to do, stuff you really don't want to do, stuff you just do. Then every once in awhile, you get a treat. Like for me, it's spending warm nights in cool rinks, watching people who can race around on ice skates like Horowitz used to race around the keyboard. It's watching people who are my stars on ice, in places like this arena, from center ice 10 rows up.

Good thing I saw the warmup, 'cos my show seat was way over at rink's end, up top. The kind of low-rent seat that can distance you from the performances. (Of course, I’m someone who’s been spoiled rotten, able to watch top skaters close up at these kinds of practies many other times. How you gonna keep 'em up in the peanut gallery once they've sat downtown?)

The Main Show
Among the actual show highlights for me at this 2010 edition of Stars on Ice, Canada, were Rochette's “Summertime” followed by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's adaptation of the Mahler program that won them World and Olympic gold this year. Just magnificent performances by skaters at the peak of the power.

Another fave - the “Intermission” program, skated by three of the guys and Ms. Rochette. This cast meshes well. If they secretly hate each others’ guts, they’re faking friendship superbly.

Of Course, I'd Be Charmed if They Just Sat There Texting
Informal practices are always fun to watch. Saw lots of cute stuff, like when Kurt Browning was practicing footwork, and Rochette started to playfully imitate him. I just wanted to pick them both up, put them in my purse and have them with me to do charming things like that all day. (BTW Dear AllSkatersEverywhere: Mr. Browning is a good person to try to imitate footwork-wise.)

It took me awhile to realize some skaters were running through parts of programs, not skating to random warmup songs. Duh. (I had been secretly giving props to former world champ Jeff Buttle for what I thought was a brilliant ad-libbing to Stones music.)

Illegal Geese
Later in the practice Tessa and Scott - that's Virtue and Moir to you non-obssessed - practiced their signature move, the Goose, with a fantastic (but deemed “illegal” for competition) dismount.  And some of their elaborate lifts. (TBH, who’d just put her eyes back in her head from the eligible skaters’ JumpFest, was all *eek* again.)

And then the hubby/wife dance team of Dubreil and Lauzon ran through a bit of their “newspaper” program, all slinky and everything, as if to say, “No one even has to ask US if we’re sleeping together.”

Javier Fernandez - Will He Reign From Spain or Mainly Stay Kind of Plain?
Of course, being an obsessed fan also mean the joy of discovering new talent. (Once upon a time JoRo and V/M were my new little finds.)

Here's another one who might make a big splash (by not splatting) someday. A kid from that hotbed of ice sports, Spain. Javier Fernandez. I don’t know when he got on my radar within the past several months, but he did.
I was looking at this drunken pirate’s website/ wiki entries (his long program was a wacky routine to Pirates of the Caribbean). Not a lot of detail yet. Because again - Spain?!? (A few weeks ago I was reading some condolences posted at Joannie Rochette’s website. It popped out at me that one of them began, “I’m from Spain - ice skating isn’t very big here …” It’d be interesting to see if that would change much if this young man progresses to a high level.)

It’s just always fascinating how people get into something, no matter what their circumstances, as if they’re just destined to do it.

And you know who that kind of person is? The kind of person who gets up in the middle of an ice show practice and throws down a damn hard old jump combo. Just for the hell of it.