Free Skate

by J.D. Roth

Why is ice dancing my favorite sport in the Winter Olympics? Because you get moments of pure brilliance, like the one I just saw: the French couple’s free dance was simply amazing. (I’ll post a link to it here if I can find it online.)

“What are they, in the French Revolution?” I asked Kris as the pair took the ice. He was wearing a puffy shirt; she was wearing a poodle skirt (without the poodle). Their clothes were bloody. Their skin was covered in ashes.

“No way,” said Kris. “They didn’t wear clothes like that during the French Revolution. You’re thinking of Les Mis.”

But, of course, I was right. They skated to the Les Mis soundtrack. Perhaps they weren’t the most technically adept couple, and they made some mistakes, but damn if they didn’t have fun. I had fun watching them. They skated with passion. Their lifts were amazing. They sang along with the music.

Who cares if they’re going to finish 18th; I loved their performance.

This is why ice dancing is my favorite.

Some things you should know: I’m only mildly interested in other figure skating events, which I often find absurd. It’s not like I’m a figure skating aficionado. Also, the ice dancing competition is spread across three events: the compulsory, the original, and the free skate. The compulsory is rather tedious, the original is good, but the free skate — which is what’s on tonight — the free skate is a fantastic fusion of music, theater, and athleticism. It just may be the apex of human achievement!

Enough hyperbole. I’m going back to the competition…

I’ve seen a lot of stuff over at YouTube during the past few months, but I’ve never tried to link to any of the videos until now. It’s easy! Below is a clip of the famous Torvill and Dean “Bolero” routine from the 1984 Olympics. The announcers keep bringing this up; it’s a good reference point.

Perfection? Indeed!

As I say, the apex of human achievement.

Updated: 21 February 2006

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