Thursday, February 23, 2006

Skating for Godot

So tonight is the big finish for the Olympics. Finally. Yes, I am aware that the closing ceremonies don't take place until Sunday, and there are still medals to be earned in at least 10 events, but tonight is the night that they hand out the hardware for the women's figure skaters and will easily be the most highly rated night of NBC's two week marathon, even without the Olympian-turned-Disney Diva Michelle Kwan in the competition. By the way, the smartest reporting on NBC's Olympics ratings is written by the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes, who covers television with an eye so jaundiced she should probably start sleeping under bili lights.

Coverage starts at 8:00 Eastern; if they show American favorite Sasha Cohen before 11:00, it will be the biggest stunner in Winter Games history since USA over Russia at Lake Placid. Don't worry, I am sure we will get lots of looks at Sasha before she actually skates. Here's Sasha walking around the warmup area, listening to her iPod. And there she is riding an exercise bike, listening to her iPod. And now she is getting ready to skate, waiting just outside the rink rail, rolling her head around her neck, intently listening to her iPod. I guess if Tonya Harding was on this team, she'd have somebody hide Sasha's headphones or remix her "Get Psyched for Gold" playlist.

I will grant you that skating has provided some great drama; of course with all those drama queens in the sport, it almost has to. Tonya-Nancy is one of the top Olympic stories of all time, but I still remember the heartbreak of Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia (this was before I was old enough to realize that more heartbreak would surely be manufactured in time for the next Olympics). Sarah Hughes' out-of-nowhere victory was fun to see four years ago, and Katarina Witt's tribute to Sarajevo in 1994 was a wonderfully moving performance, even more memorable than her gold medal efforts.

Here in Phoenix, Maryland, of course, we are rooting for little Kimmie Meissner from nearby Bel Air (or Fallston, depending on whom you ask), not to be confused with rapper Lil' Kim who is apparently getting ready to serve a one year and one day prison sentence by starring in a
reality show. Somehow, I don't think this will really be adequate preparation for jail, especially if she is not allowed to bring her iPod.

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