There are a lot of troubling issues around the Sochi Olympics: Putin’s pogrom against gays, the terrible environmental degradation of what was billed as the most environmentally sustainable games ever, the terrorism concerns, the fact that this is a vanity project for one man which has dramatically lowered the quality of life for many Sochi residents…but I will still watch it, because of the athletes. It’s not fair to punish them for the acts of others. The Olympics will always be fraught with politics and corruption, and that’s just the way it is.
But the athletes spend four years of their lives training their hearts out, for one chance to shine. Those shining moments stick in our memories for a long time. And I’m a sucker for winter Olympics anyway, which have more of my favorite sports-to-view than the summer variety.
Figure skating is one of them. Once upon a time, I knew the names of the big players and the up-and-coming hopefuls, but I am totally out of it now. It will be fun to watch the competition with no preconceptions.
Okay, maybe one preconception. Because I just learned about a 19-year-old figure skater named Jason Brown, who burst onto the scene at the US Championships two weeks ago with the most glorious long program free skate that I can remember seeing since Brian Boitano in 1988. It vaulted him over the heads of several “bigger” names, landing him a second-place finish and a spot on the Olympic team.
Crank up the volume and watch this full-screen if you can. And if you love the music from Riverdance, you’ll enjoy this even more: the routine is to “Reel Around the Sun,” by Bill Whelan. What fun to see it used here.