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Olympic Poseur: PyeongChang Day 10

Damn it, I’m talking ice dancing.

Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 11
That does look hard.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Well, I guess I’m gonna have to talk about ice dancing.

I’m not reflexively against figure skating. I think NBC’s coverage of it is atrocious, and the way we fetishize the women skaters is gross, but I get why they do it. And as much as we might want to object to the sexualization of the athletes, it is women who drive figure skating coverage.

But man, ice dancing is stupid sport. Pairs figure skating is awesome, and there’s power and wonder in watching someone throw their partner in the air, defying both gravity and basic human preservation. Having your partner throw you allows for even more spectacular jumps than jumping solo from the ice.

Ice dancing is pairs figure skating without the jumps, which is pretty much the bulk of the appeal of pairs figure skating. Or, well, figure skating period. There’s a reason we no longer force competitors to do “figures” any more (yes, they used to have to skate a figure eight and other figures on the ice, hence the name). It is boring.

So that is my headspace when approaching ice dancing. And now that I’ve appropriately bagged on the sport, let’s be honest and appreciate just how great Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada really are.

Now, I get that they are a popular internet meme and fans get to ‘ship them as a real couple, but look, I don’t even care about Hollywood couples. I certainly don’t care about the relationship goals of Canadian ice dancers. I get the appeal of their on-ice chemistry, but frankly, I could not care less. This isn’t a reality show.*

*Then again, the French team had a wardrobe malfunction in the short program, and she had her breast exposed on live television all over the world. To make matters worse, the OBS didn’t edit the stream in its archive, so anyone can access it at any time. So, maybe I’m wrong and it is a reality show. That seems reality show-ish.

What I do care about is that the duo are now the most decorated athletes in their sport in Olympic history. Virtue and Moir won their first gold medal in Vancouver, earned silver in Sochi, and now came back to win gold in PyeongChang.

In a sport with incredibly short careers, just making it to the Olympics three times is impressive. Winning three Olympic medals, two of them gold, is astounding. Tack on two more gold medals from the team events in 2014 and 2018, and the pair has five Olympic medals, four of them gold. That’s a record not just for ice dancing, but all of figure skating.

To add to the remarkable nature of their accomplishment, this is a sport that has been dominating by the Russians/Soviets. Ice dancing was added to the Olympic program in 1976, skipped 1994 for some reason, and returned fulltime in 1998. In the ten Olympics prior to PyeongChang, Russia/Soviet Union won six golds and fourteen overall medals, not even counting the bronze won by Ukraine in 2006. Canada, outside of Virtue and Moir, has won one bronze medal in ice dancing in Olympic history, Calgary 1988.

I know we all want to get mileage over how good the two of them look, but that’s literally the least important thing about them. What makes them awesome is not the imaginary sexual relationship Twitter has created for them, but the fact they are friggin’ awesome, and have dominated their event in a way no one ever has.

Tomorrow, I’ll rant about how stupid Olympic ice hockey is without NHL players, so now that I’m yelling at clouds, I might as well get them all out of the way. There’s a cumulus cluster I still have to deal with.

Today’s Medal Events

8:00 PM Women’s Downhill
10:15 PM Men’s Ski Cross
1:40 PM Women’s Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game (Finland v. Russia)
4:00 AM Women’s Cross-Country Team Sprint
4:30 AM Men’s Cross-Country Team Sprint
6:50 AM Women and Men’s Speed Skating Team Pursuit Finals
7:00 AM Women’s Bobsled

You can tell we’re wrapping things up because sports are going to their team events as the culmination of the event. After all of those individual medals, it’s one last chance for the Dutch speed skating team or the Norwegian cross-country team to take a bow as one. The US has two teams in the top three in bobsled, so things are looking good for a medal there. There’s also the women’s figure skating short program, which is the jewel of NBC’s prime time coverage.