Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Feb. 23: The Thrill of Sportsmanship, The Agony of Sore Losers

By Sylvia Gurinsky

The last week has given us a chance to look closely at both sides of sport - and that was without Tiger Woods' weird mea culpa last Friday.

Few sports can provide a closer look at both sides than figure skating. In the aftermath of the men's and ice dance competitions, has it ever.

The ugly side has come mostly courtesy (or lack of it) of Russia, which did not respond well to American Evan Lysacek winning the gold medal and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Plushenko winning the silver in the men's competition last week. Plushenko led the kvetching, complaining about the scoring, the skate order and so forth even before the competition began. Russian de facto leader Vladimir Putin got into the act afterwards. So did Canadian Elvis Stojko, who is evidently still bitter about the two golds he lost in Lillehammer (1994) and Nagano (1998) to Russians Alexi Urmanov and Ilya Kulik. The athletic Stojko evidently doesn't think anyone who doesn't do a quad is athletic or deserves a gold medal.

(Here's a thought: If Sean White can win Olympic gold with snowboarding jumps, how about creating, in addition to the current skating, a jumping-only competition in ice skating? No music, no choreography, no hideous costumes: Just two minutes of skaters doing quads and so forth.)

There's also been a little yip-yapping after last night's win by the exquisite Canadians, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who skated the best ice dance since Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean of Great Britain scored perfect marks with "Bolero" in Sarajevo in 1984. The complaints yesterday came from the Italian dancer Massimo Scali, who said Virtue and Moir benefitted from the crowd and are not really technical. Guess he didn't see the same program the rest of the world did.

On the other side: The sportsmen and women, which include Lysacek and dance silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White and fourth-place finishers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, all from the United States. All gracious.

So was Frank Carroll, Lysacek's coach, who finally had an Olympic gold medal winner on the podium after 30 years of near-misses.

Athletes and coaches can win or lose. But this Olympics proves again that sportsmanship always gets the gold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm that's very interessting but frankly i have a hard time figuring it... wonder how others think about this..