My time in Vancouver, part 2

 

By Irina Mateies
Photos © Irina Mateies, Ageha

After a day’s break it was skating time again; the men’s long program. I was in a strange mood. Sad in a way because my favorite of favorite men (seriously, you can’t just like one skater when there are so many awesome ones) Brian Joubert didn’t do well. Actually, not only did he not do well, he did very, very badly! But on the other hand I had already spent the day before throwing myself off a bridge (literally, I went bungee jumping and was still kind of high), so I was willing to see what the day had to offer. If I could handle the bridge I could surely handle Brian having another bad skate and, if necessary, Plushenko having another good one. That is after all the joys and sorrows of being a skating fan.

The security at the arena entrance was the funniest ever. I had a full bottle of soda and planned to throw it away because I knew the policy about liquids. But the security man looked at me and said: “Take a sip and swallow it!” After I did he said: “If you don’t drop dead in two minutes I think it’s safe for you to bring your bottle inside!”. I found that hilarious and one of the best security policies ever.

The skating was about to start and Tomas Verner was first. Again, it was not the skate I wished from Tomas. Then there were some skaters that don’t really do it for me, followed by Adrian Schultheiss. His “Insane in the Brain” routine made me get up on my feet and clap so hard my hands hurt. It was a fun program and it was well presented and he was so happy. And his coach was crazy happy rubbing Adrian’s head with two gloves, one with the flag from Sweden and one with the Canadian flag. Too funny!

Stefan Lindemann of Germany took the ice. I knew this was his last competition so I wished he would have done better. Next up was Artem Borodulin who had a good day and you could see how happy he was with what he accomplished during the “Tango medley”. His coach was beaming with pride too and they looked very cute in the kiss and cry corner. Jeremy Abbott of the USA had lots of support in the arena. His performance wasn’t the best but the audience loved him anyway. Then the young Javier Fernandez brought a new moment of joy with his fun routine. He brought Captain Jack Sparrow to life and the crowd loved it.

Brian’s time arrived and it was one more sad moment for him, for me and for all of his supporters. But I waved my banner high and tried to show my support because no athlete’s career is defined by one bad moment and Brian’s career has been a long and mostly good one.

Seeing young Denis Ten I thought again that hopefully he will stay clear of injuries and evolve into the great skater he has potential to become. Belgium’s Kevin van der Perren had a great short program. Unfortunately his free skate to “Robin Hood” wasn’t as great but after all the injuries and thinking he would not skate again, his overall performance was quite good and I was happy for him.

Florent Amodio from France is another young skater I hope will grow to reach his full potential. I think he did very well for his first Olympics!

The last group took the ice and the arena was cheering as loudly as possible during the six minutes of warm up. Different people for different skaters! The Japanese fans seated a few rows down from me were so much fun. The kimono ladies waved flags and pom-poms and kept yelling “Nipon”, just as they had during the short programs. All fans should have that much enthusiasm!

Evan was first up after the warm up and he definitely did his best. I like when skaters show what they feel and after the program was finished Evan’s happiness was so obvious. After the short program he was only .55 points behind Plushenko and we knew this would be close! Nobunari Oda has a great long program and he was skating well until the weird moment with his boot lace. So unexpected! But the audience clapped for him and he returned to finish his program.

Lambiel’s long program is also a fun and joyful one and he got the audience clapping along during some of the segments. It was a great moment although not his best skate. Daisuke started with a fall on the quad toe and the arena gasped for air. But he recovered and except for the downgraded triple Flip, he hardly missed a beat. And when it was over he was so, so happy; it was cute to watch him.

Johnny took to the ice and the audience exploded. He had a great skate and finally did everything he was supposed to do. His program has a very dramatic ending pose and a big part of the audience was on their feet for him. It was a fun and emotional moment when he went to the boards to collect his flowers and his crown of roses that he then wore in the kiss and cry.

Plushenko’s moment had come and it would reveal who was going to be the next Olympic champion. He did well but was not as steady as he was at the Europeans and when the score came up he was only in second place, after Evan, beaten by 1.31 points!

That’s less than the base value of a double Salchow and will probably bug him for the rest of his life. Still, he walked away with silver which is no small accomplishment.

I have to say these were some dramatic Olympics Games with unexpected twists in the men’s plot. But then a story is always better when you can’t figure out the ending until you reach the last page. The night offered tears of joy as well as tears of sadness from skaters and fans alike and now it was over.

The medal ceremony had the audience on their feet again, even leaving their seats to move closer to the boards. Daisuke came out first to receive his medal and he was positively beaming with happiness. Plushenko was next and obviously upset. But as the clown he is, for a moment he toyed with reality and climbed to the top of the podium before stepping down to the second place spot, all while the crowd cheered. Evan then arrived to take his place on the podium. The medals were awarded, the Star spangled banner played, thousands of pictures were taken and then the night was definitely over.

It was a great night and I do not for a moment regret going. And of course for me the night continued at a friend's house where we watched the main performances again and commented loudly about each skater. An awesome closing to an awesome night.

When my nine days came to an end I was content - the Vancouver trip was worth the effort. I give two thumbs up to the Canadians because representing those who only attended a couple of events, I am very happy with my Olympic experience.

 

 






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