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13 Februar 2006

Made in China

Zhang & Zhang
It's official: I HEART the Chinese Olympic pairs skaters. All of 'em. No one overly impressive with delicate, sexy style a la Peltier & Sale, but nonetheless all heart, all around. Sniff! You've probably heard this story by now and I'm sure Bob Costas will share it as an Olympic Tale of Human Drama, but here's my version: OK, so cut to almost the end of the pairs skating competition. While the Russians and two other Chinese pairs likely had gold, silver and bronze locked up in that order, Zhang and Zhang, the sort of underdog-last-pair-to-go from Team China hit the ice.

The routine starts, everything fine, they're not bad at all. Then hurling out of a first major quadruple Salchow (cheeses!), she cah-RASHES onto her knees (yikes!) and slides into the barrier. Collective crowd gasp. Ew, she's not looking like she can even move her legs well, let alone keep skating. To the music dying down, her partner escorts her to safety on the sidelines, tears starting to flow, doctors examine everything...what will happen?

Enter the magical mystical Olympic Spirit, whoosh, at this point, I'm getting all teary over the agony because dayum, not only would my knee be KILLING me, but I'd be like, uh, sorry I fell and this really sucks right now and everyone's watching. All gone in such a, crash?

Tick tick. Tick. Then she steps back on to the ice, clearly in pain but something must've clicked. She's got a flash of 'kickass' in her eye. It spreads to her partner. The crowd is clapping in unison. At this point, I'm teary and goosbumpy, chanting to the TV, "Come on, come on, you can do it... FINISH, just get out there and finish, you can do it!" They skate around lightly as the music cues up to where they left off and they continue--the routine keeps unfolding without flaw as they nail jumps and twirls. Woah.

The music stops, Z & Z get the standing 'O', are all misty-eyed, wait for their scores, get ice on the knees, and--clinch not third place but the silver medal. Gasp, SNIFF!

You may say I'm a goober, but it was a genuine feel good moment at how this tiny skater from China was as big as tutto Torino. I just find it Most Interesting because as far as I know, China doesn't have a skating tradition, I mean who's ever heard of Chinese skaters in the last ten years? Apparently (and of course, this is one of those Tales of Human Drama I heard, but what can I say, I'm a sucker for them), their coach was one of the pioneers of the sport there back in the day, getting booed off of the ice at world events because he and his ice partner only had photos of skaters after to which to model their training, and they just couldn't measure up athletically or stylistically. And now his mentees get the silver and bronze and fourth with all heart. Shown also by the dear Russian pair who got the gold.

Inspires me to get up off my ass and just DO IT.

Don't worry, I don't mean I'm gonna start figure skating. I just mean everything else I need to get doin'

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