The Editor’s Desk: Olympian musings

Is ice dancing a sport, what the heck is slopestyle, and more: your questions answered!

I see that the Winter Olympics have started. You seem—less than enthused.

I just feel a little guilty that as a Canadian I don’t really get into them that much. That’s okay. For all that some people like to go on about Canadians having ice and snow in their DNA, not enjoying the Winter Olympics doesn’t make you un-Canadian; any more than saying you prefer Starbucks to Tim Hortons means your citizenship will be revoked.

The time difference between Canada and South Korea doesn’t help. True. With many events in South Korea taking place in the wee small hours, west coast time, and not being broadcast until later in the day, you have to either block out all media in order to preserve an element of surprise when watching, or resign yourself to massive spoilers.

Please answer a nagging question: is ice dancing a “sport”? I gather that you don’t think so.

Well… . Okay, ask yourself this: could these people do what they do without many years of intense, painful, and gruelling physical training and practice, day in and day out? If the answer is “no”, then it’s a sport like any other.

So do you like ice dancing? I do: the combination of sheer physicality with often intense sensuality is hard to beat. The only reservation I have about it is when, as I’m watching two people skate around the ice in a display that can border on the erotic, I hear the TV commentator say something like “This brother and sister team have been skating together for 15 years.”

By the way, while British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean scored perfect sixes and won hearts at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, an even better British duo (in my opinion) was Karen Barber and Nicky Slater. Take a look at their delightful Charlie Chaplin/silent movie routine here.

There seem to be a lot of fairly new sports. Skeleton? Snowboarding? Slopestyle? Short track speedskating? What’s with all that? Unlike the Summer Olympics, which has a vast array of sports from which to choose, the Winter Olympics is limited to sports that can be carried out on snow and/or ice, which presents certain challenges (despite the fact that ice is frozen water, swimming and diving events are unlikely to feature in the Winter Olympics anytime soon). So as these new winter sports grew in popularity, the International Olympic Committee adopted them, presumably because they had a lot of hours to fill, and people will only watch cross country skiing for so long.

What do you think of the NHL not allowing its players to take part this year? I’m neither here nor there on the decision. On the one hand, a bunch of NHL players won’t get the chance to represent their countries at the Olympics; on the other hand, a bunch of other hockey players, many of whom are former NHLers, will get that chance. Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other; although I must say that given the Canucks’ performance of late, a two-week break would have been appreciated.

I’ve heard some people say that the absence of NHL players might put more focus on the women’s game. I certainly hope that’s the case. As a girl, I would have loved to play hockey, but never had the opportunity. The more the spotlight can shine on these talented women, without them being upstaged by their male counterparts, the better.

In figure skating, what’s the difference between a salchow, a toe loop, a lutz, and an axel? I have no idea; the commentators are being paid to tell me that. As long as they don’t tell me which skaters are brother and sister, I’m good.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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