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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
Mary Arline's LiveJournal:
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|Sunday, March 9th, 2014|
According to his byline, Joe Posnanski is the national columnist for NBC Sports. He wrote quite a few columns on the Sochi Olympics that were published on NBCOlympics.com, including a couple of columns on figure skating that I found particularly insightful.
Eventually, as the focus shifts to the 2016 Summer Games, all the Sochi-related content on that site will be taken down and replaced with content pertaining to Rio. So here I'm archiving the Posnanski columns for future reference, along with a few clearly marked annotations of my own. Otherwise, I've reproduced the pieces exactly as they originally appeared, typos and all.
No copyright infringement is intended.
****************( Like fine art, ice dancing greatness in eye of beholderCollapse )
****************( Three brilliant performances, three medals — just as it should beCollapse ) Current Mood: geeky
|Thursday, March 6th, 2014|
|Monday, February 24th, 2014|
|In a nutshell
My feelings about the Olympics ending: I'm a little disappointed because I think they could have gone better, but I'm mostly relieved because I know they could have gone SOOOOOOO much worse.
In the beginning, I was worried about the safety of the athletes because of terrorist threats and antigay laws, etc. By the end, I was mostly just worried about them getting hurt playing their sports.
So many, many crashes. So many injuries. I don't know; maybe it wasn't more than in Vancouver, but it just feels that way. Do they keep track of statistics on how many people get injured during each Olympiad, does anybody know? They seem to keep statistics on everything else.
Generally speaking, I found the Vancouver Games to be so much more satisfying and less stressful to watch. However, if the measure of a successful Olympiad is not having anyone die during/as a result of the Games, Sochi was more successful than Vancouver. Sadly.
I know Putin must be happy about Russia topping the medal table; therefore, I'm NOT happy about it. But I don't begrudge the Russian athletes anything. They're not the problem. Current Mood: relieved
|Saturday, February 22nd, 2014|
Some random observations:
I understand the reason for the biting the medals, but I think it's a meme that's starting to verge on the ridiculous. Are silver and bronze also soft enough to mark by biting? If not, there's no point in biting them. Moreover, if I were ever fortunate enough to win an Olympic gold medal, the last thing I would want to do is bite it. "Are you kidding?" I would say, "I worked hard for this thing! I'm not gonna mess it up with tooth marks!"
I'm pleased to find out that they didn't play the whole four-minute version of the Russian national anthem at the medal ceremonies. It was down to a minute. Although it has suddenly occurred to me that, since I don't speak Russian, I don't know if they're playing a truncated version at the medal ceremony, or if the four-minute version is really just them repeating same verse four times.
Am I the only one who thinks that the incidental music during the medal ceremonies is kind of annoying?
The Russian announcer at the medal ceremonies is the one who ends up getting to say all the medalists' names. It sounds like he really enjoys his job. Current Mood: amused
|Friday, February 21st, 2014|
Dear Bob Costas,
(By the way, I'm glad you're feeling better, and your eye looks SO much better than it did at first.)
Excellent points made vis a vis
the conflict in the Ukraine and the public relations/propagandizing potential of a successful Sochi Games for the Putin regime. However, I would like to contend one point that you made: These Games are NOT going to be entirely successful on Russia's terms or on Putin's terms. Putin made it very clear that the Games would only be successful in his eyes if Russia won the men's hockey gold medal. And that is not going to happen.
The Olympics belong to everyone. They are bigger than any one person, any one regime. Every time an autocrat tries to take possession of the Games, the athletes reclaim them for themselves and for the world. The 1936 Summer Games in Berlin were supposed to be Hitler's Games, but Jesse Owens--among others--reclaimed them. The Sochi Games may have started out as "Putin's Games," but we--the citizens of the world--have reclaimed them. This is why, even though I am passionately opposed to Russia's antigay laws, I was also opposed to a boycott of the Games. I wanted us, as citizens of the world, to go to Russia and reclaim these Games from Putin, just as Jesse Owens and others reclaimed them from Hitler nearly 80 years ago.
These Games belong to Norway, who currently top the medal table, and to the United States, who currently have the most medals overall. These Games belong to Finland, who ruined Putin's hockey party. These Games belong to Summer and Winter Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams. These are Bode Miller's Games and Mikaela Shiffrin's Games. These are Davis' and White's Games. These are the Games of the Netherlands' speed skaters and the American skiers and snowboarders who have swept their respective podia. These are Sarah Burke's Games, and she didn't even get to attend them. These may be (and deservedly so) Volosozhar and Trankov's Games, Yulia Lipnitskaya's and Adelina Sotnikova's Games--even, for a brief moment, Evgeni Plushenko's Games--but they are also Carolina Kostner's Games and Yuzuru Hanyu's Games, Jeremy Abbott's Games and Jason Brown's Games, Gracie Gold's Games and Russian-descended American Polina Edmunds' Games. These Games belong to Denis Ten and Kazakhstan. These Games belong to the hockey players of America and Canada, men and women alike. These are Lizzy Yarnold's Games and Noelle Pikus-Pace's Games. These Games belong to Canadian curler Jennifer Jones and British snowboarder Jenny Jones. Even though she was injured in qualifying and unable to compete, theses Games belong to freestyle skier Heidi Kloser. These are the hard-earned Games of Emily Scott. These Games belong to Alex Bilodeau and his brother, Frederic. And yes, these are the Ukrainian biathletes' Games.
These are OUR Games.
|Today in meaningless gestures
Apparently someone started up a petition to try to change the results of the women's figure skating competition. This is HILARIOUS to me. Why bother having a competition at all? Let's just vote for whoever we think should get the medal! Suddenly the Winter Olympics are American Idol.
(or the local equivalent)
Hey, while we're at it, let's start a petition to give Michelle Kwan an Olympic gold medal!
I joke about it, but had the capability existed in 1998, I probably would have been the first one to sign such a petition. Hell, I probably would have been the one to start it.
But I would have been wrong to do so. It would have been a stupid idea then, and it is a really
stupid idea now. Which is why I only mentioned it as a joke. Please don't do it. Current Mood: amused
|About last night...
( Blahblahblah controversy, yaddayaddayaddaCollapse )
Here's what it all boils down to: a couple of the judges had questionable credentials, and in the future, the ISU would do well to review their criteria and procedures for assigning judges, unless of course they WANT to keep dealing with this crap during every Olympics.
(It's interesting to note that this kind of stuff never seems to come up during the annual figure skating competitions, only during the Olympics.)
Scott Hamilton has some good suggestions in that regard.
With that said, the bottom line is this: The scoring holds up to scrutiny
. It is entirely possible to analyze the technical marks and explain mathematically why Sotnikova won. Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski did an excellent job of breaking it in down in layman's terms during February 21st's primetime coverage; they did it even better than Scott Hamilton did. For that, I commend them.
Speaking on a personal level, Sotnikova's free skate dazzled me, and Kostner's free skate thrilled me. Yuna Kim's free skate, performed to an odd little piece of music that sometimes sounded like a cat walking across piano keys, failed to move me at all.
(As opposed to her short program, a lovely interpretation of "Send in the Clowns," one of my all-time favorite songs. Although I must acknowledge that it was as much the music itself that affected me as the interpretation.)
Nevertheless, I must commend Yuna Kim; she has been the calm at the center of the storm through all this, demonstrating nothing but grace and dignity in the face of all the sound and fury swirling around her. That is real sportsmanship, the mark of a true champion.
If there's one good thing to come out of all this nonsense, it's that it's given me a chance to make good on something that I said during the kerfuffle at the Vancouver Games. When Plushenko was doing his trash-tallking against Evan Lysacek, I said at the time that if the tables were turned and it was a Russian skater on the receiving end of the trash talking, I would support that skater just as I supported Lysacek. I believed it; I wouldn't have said it if I didn't believe it. But in my mind I had some lingering doubts: maybe I WAS biased in favor my fellow American,
(who also happens to be a sexy, sexy man.)
maybe my conviction wouldn't stand up to the test.
Now the tables have turned. Regardless of the final results, Sotnikova was one of my favorite competitors in the ladies' discipline, whereas trash-talking American Ashley Wagner is dead to me now. I'm sorry that the controversy happened, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to prove myself to myself. Yes, I love my country, but I love justice and integrity even more.
Congratulations, Adelina. And don't worry; I've got your back. Current Mood: tired
|Thursday, February 20th, 2014|
|I can see through you, see your true colors, 'cuz inside you're ugly
Apologies to Staind for co-opting their lyrics.
Dear Ashley Wagner:
Shut the fuck up, you insignificant, self-aggrandizing, pathetic little attention whore.
(Actual headline: Wagner 'speechless' at ladies' free skate results. Oh, how I wish that were really true!)
You are an embarrassment to the US figure skating program
(Which is saying something, since we're also the ones who gave the world Tonya Harding)
and the US in general. If this is the way you're going to represent our country, I wish the US hadn't earned that third spot on the Olympic team. Mirai Nagasu is worth twelve of you; give me an athlete with a positive attitude any day.
It's perfectly clear to me what you're doing. Your scores and position weren't enough to garner the attention that you craved; so, much like a spoiled toddler, you decided that if you couldn't be good, you'd settle for being obnoxious. Surya Bonaly would be proud. Actually, knowing her, she'd probably be mad at you for ripping her off.
(For those not in the know, Surya Bonaly was a French skater notorious for poor sportsmanship. While her behavior was reprehensible, she did have a certain flair for getting her point across without words. For example, when she flipped off the judges, she REALLY flipped off the judges.)
For anyone else who has a problem with the final results, Joe Posnanski
says it so much better than I could.
So does Oscar the Grouch
. Current Mood: angry
|Wednesday, February 19th, 2014|
Thanks for preventing Russia's gold aspirations in men's hockey and (more importantly) smearing egg all over Vladimir Putin's smarmy face.
Now I don't care who wins the gold in men's hockey. Truly, so long as it's not Russia, I no longer care. I would hope it would be the nation with the kindest hockey fans, but I have no way of ascertaining which nation that would be. I know that the USA is definitely NOT that nation, but that's okay. We won ice dancing gold, so I'm feeling generous. Current Mood: satisfied
Wow. Ladies' short program ended with the three top women within one point
of each other.
I literally have no idea what's going to happen in the free skate tomorrow, which is great. Of course, there's always an element of uncertainty, but it's more fun when it's close.
It promises to be exciting! Current Mood: excited
I was just watching the women's bobsled event, and one of the drivers was having some trouble, skidding into walls, losing time, etc., and one of the commentators said, "This is like a train wreck!"
I don't think it was, really. I mean, if the sled had jumped the track entirely, THAT would have been like a train wreck. Fortunately, it didn't. That would have been horrible. Horrible like a train wreck.
Also, the silver medalist driver said she should be more disappointed than she was, and I was like, "No, you shouldn't. No one who wins a medal of any kind should EVER be disappointed." (Looking at you two, Virtue and Moir.)
By the way, if that sounds like I'm criticizing Elana Meyers, I'm not. Quite the contrary, I admire her positive attitude. If there's a criticism there, it's a criticism of the silver medalists who don't take it so gracefully, and a criticism of the whole cultural attitude that "second place is the first loser," with which I don't agree at all.
It's just that the way it came out sounded kind of funny.
|Tuesday, February 18th, 2014|
|The sweetest sour grapes ever?
Oh, Virtue and Moir. I never expected to have to take you guys to task for questionable sportsmanship
. This is a sad day for me.( Full-text reproduction of the above article. No copyright infringement intended.Collapse )
I don't blame your friend, the Princess of Wales over at the Toronto Star
, for her disappointment. I'm a Michelle Kwan fan, so I know as well as anyone (and better than some), how it feels when your favorite falls short of Olympic gold (sometimes literally). But I expected better things out of you two.
I never thought your name would seem ironic, Tessa Virtue, but now it does.
If you were unsatisfied with the coaching you received, you should have changed coaches. Since you stuck with the coach you have, she deserves your respect. But the thing that is really ironic here is, although Zoueva is Russian by birth, her home base is currently in the US; how would you have liked it if the US had taken a page out of Russia's book and insisted that only American skaters could be trained on American soil? How would you have liked it if you had been summarily dismissed and forced to train elsewhere? Let's show some appreciation for the hospitality that the US has shown you.
As a nation, you Canadians have the reputation around the world--not undeserved--for politeness and humility. However, at this juncture I am forced to point out that, four years ago when Davis and White finished second to you in Vancouver, they were nothing but positive and supportive. If they felt disappointment, they kept it to themselves; if they had complaints or criticisms, they at least had the decency not to share them with the press. In other words, they allowed you to have that moment. As your competitors--but even more so, as your friends
--they deserve the same courtesy from you. Moreover, I don't hear Chock and Bates or the Shibutanis complaining that Davis and White got more attention from your coach than they did, and since they all finished well off the podium, it seems to me that they would have far greater grounds to complain than you do. And even though Russia is probably the all-time Olympic champion in whining, I've yet to hear a peep out of bronze medalists, Ilinykh and Katsalapov. Are you really going to outdo the Russians in wangst? This is a sad day for Canada.
Now I understand why so many figure skaters retire from competition after winning Olympic gold; it seems like once you taste the gold, nothing else will satisfy you. If this is the way you're going to comport yourselves, I wish you had retired too.
I never thought I would have to play the Grouch Anthem
for you two. This is a sad day for me, for ice dancing, and for North America. Current Mood: disappointed
|Monday, February 17th, 2014|
Hey, Johnny Weir, on behalf of the city of Sioux Falls, thanks for the weird, random shout-out!
(Context for those who can view it
.)Also, the thing where they have to read the teleprompter while someone is saying terrible things into their earpiece? I could never do that. That is LITERALLY my worst nightmare. Current Mood: amused
Everyone's so frickin' excited about the US winning that men's hockey game against Russia over the weekend. I seem to be the only one who remembers that the US also won an early game against the host country last Olympics, and then ended up losing to them in the final, when it actually COUNTED. So if I cared, I'd be very, very nervous right about now. (And I'm still a little nervous, because I don't want that medal for either the US or Russia.)
With that said, it is kind of cool that the US beat them while Putin was present. And apparently the big hero from that game used to play for Sioux Falls, so that's also kind of cool. Current Mood: annoyed
|Commentary on commentary
Generally speaking, I don't know much about sports, but it seems to me that sometimes the commentators tend to point out the obvious.
Like I was watching the women's snowboard cross qualifying round, and the commentator said something like, "You don't want to go down on those curves; you want to stay up." Well, duh.
Another time I was watching short-track speed skating, and it was Apolo Ohno doing the commentary, and I love him. But at one point, it was a women's event, and he said something like, "She has to get to the front if she wants to win," and I was like, "I think that's true of pretty much every racing event."
Not every racing event, though. I know there are some cross-country ski races where the start is staggered and you just race against the clock.
Part of the problem is that the events, and therefore the commentary, go by so quickly. Maybe those things could stand up to scrutiny if one really studied them. Those comments stood out to me, but if I put them back into the context maybe it would make more sense.
And I'm certainly not suggesting that I could do any better. Even if I knew what I was talking about, I need time to synthesize my thoughts before I say them out loud. The fact that these commentators can keep up this steady stream of speech on the spur of the moment, and more often than not come out with the perfect pithy phrase to encapsulate a particularly stunning moment, is really impressive to me. And if once in a while they say something that sounds kind of stupid, that's still probably a lot better than I manage. Current Mood: tired
|Sunday, February 16th, 2014|
|Saturday, February 15th, 2014|
| Evan Lysacek is a class act
. And at least SOMEBODY is acknowledging Denis Ten.
Evan also tweeted his support for Plushenko, who in turn graciously acknowledged the support during an interview on the TODAY Show. A classy move from the Russian, and far be it from me to deny it.
Scott Hamilton seems to be doing better this morning, which I'm glad to see. I love that he gets so personally invested in the athletes and the competition; it's part of what makes him such a good commentator, but I think it's both a strength and a weakness because he also has a hard time keeping things in perspective.
For example, this morning he still referred to last night's men's free skate as "tragic." Yes, it was disappointing, but it wasn't tragic
. I mean, when you think of all the truly terrible things that have happened in this sport over the years--the 1961 plane crash, the assault on Nancy Kerrigan, the judging scandals, skating injuries too horrific to talk about in detail--a few missed jumps, a few falls from which the athletes promptly got back up again, really aren't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Yes, we would have liked to see everyone skate up to their full potential, but at the end of the day, the right people won.
Including Denis Ten with the bronze, and I would really like to see him getting more recognition. Or ANY recognition would be nice. He's earned it, after all.
I imagine they're going wild in Kazakhstan, though. At least I hope so. Current Mood: okay