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The best sport there is!

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… Ice skating

That’s the name of Salon posting post board thread dedicated to the sport (some would say “sport”) of figure skating. A sentiment I confess to sharing.

Before leaving for New York, I set the PVR to tape every bit of figure skating I could find on CBC. (And finding that was a bit of chore, given the off-prime time hours given over to it—midnight, Saturday afternoon…) When back from New York and waiting at the luggage carousel, I saw Jeff Buttle’s smiling face up on the TV screen showing the news. While I couldn’t catch the details, I knew that meant he had to have done well. They weren’t going include a sixth-place finish in a five-minute news summary.

Back home, the stack of newspaper that weren’t supposed to be there (my registered vacation stop was ignored) gave the pre-story: 3 pairs teams in the top 8, including a bronze medal; the strong fifth place in women’s; the silver in dance. But it may have been only the next morning that I heard Buttle had actually won gold.

Why I like watching this sport so much, I’m not really sure. I’ve certainly never done it myself, my own ice skating skills never having progressed much beyond the rudimentary. I like dance, too, but I don’t make a point of watching ballroom dance competitions on TV. But—and especially when Canada does have a reasonably strong team—I can’t help watching the figure skating.

This is a challenge, because I have hours of the stuff on PVR now, and DH does not share my enthusiasm. So I try to cram in the viewing when he’s not around, fast-forwarding the duller commentary and interviews, not to mention some of the duller skaters (that pairs silver team? My God, could they be any slower? As Kurt Browning said, maybe if they did nothing but jumps, I wouldn’t have to fast-forward out of boredom) and those just having a really bad day (one grows weary of wincing at all the falls).

So at this point, I’ve seen most of it. I think I just have the Dance Originals and the full women’s Long Program left.

I feel absurdly proud of the Canadian skaters, as if I had anything to do with it whatsoever. But those who doubt the toughness of people in this sport, think that fifth-place pairs winner Craig Buntin had to move immediately from lifting his partner over his head with one hand to shoulder surgery to repair the damage; that bronze-medal pairs Jessica Dube’s face was slashed by her partner’s skate last year; that gold medalist Buttle could barely walk a year ago, so bad was his back injury.

Also nice to see American Johnny Weir, always an interesting skater, finally win a world medal (a bronze), and that Japanese woman’s skater come back from a terrible fall in the opening moments of her program to be dynamic and perfect enough in the rest to win the gold.

But Jeff Buttle, I have to say, comes across as one of the sweetest human beings on the planet. So it’s really great to see that he won, and won decisively, by doing his quad-free program perfectly. Every big win this guy has had—the Silver at a previous World’s, the Bronze at the Olympics, and this Gold—always seems to be a big shocker. Maybe that’s finally over now.

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