A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Gold Medal for Guts

Watched a bit of the Olympics last night, and I was impressed with the women's half-pipe snowboarding thing. Fun to watch, and good for Hannah Teter (Gold), Gretchen Bleiler (Silver) and Kelly Clark (4th after just missing the landing on a monster jump that likely would've garnered her the gold).

But after that came the pairs figure skating coverage, an event I normally have little to no interest in, and I started channel surfing. Not much on, so I wind up back on figure skating and right after I start watching, Zhang Dan (she's the female half of China's Zhang Dan/Zhang Hao pair) took one of the worst falls I've ever seen-- in any sport. She dropped from a good four feet in the air-- after being tossed sideways by her partner a good eight feet-- and landed on ice (not a forgiving surface) with one leg going one way while the other was kinda tucked behind her going the other way. You can watch the whole thing here. Click on "Zhang's brutal fall" over on the right and then sit through the stupid commercial. The fall is about 30 seconds into the video.
My first thought was, "Oh man, I wonder how many ligaments she just tore?" I was impressed that she was able to skate over to her coach and trainers on the side of the rink, although she did have to keep her left leg off the ice the whole way (they edited that part out of the video). One of the announcers asks the expert commentator what would happen if they wanted to try to complete the routine. I thought, "What an idiot-- there is no way somebody takes that bad of a fall and then goes back to skate around the rink, much less complete an Olympic caliber performance."

A minute or two later, Zhang Dan did precisely that. Not only did the pair pick up where they left off, but Zhang landed the triple throw she had fallen on, as well as two other throws. I had chills just watching her deliver an olympic caliber performance after suffering a fall that would have sent a lesser athlete to the hospital and probably have crippled a normal person.

I kept thinking, "She can't keep this up-- there's no way." But after a little while, it started to become clear that maybe she could-- though one triple became a double-- and I started to wonder how the judges were going to grade this. How much do you take off for the fall and a few other technical bits that she couldn't do? How much do you put back on for the sheer guts displayed and for the fact that every single person in the arena, and watching on tv, was rooting for them to finish the routine?

The fall and other missteps seemed to preclude medaling, given the requisite reductions in technical merit they entailed,... but the "presentation" portion of the routine could hardly have been more dramatic or impressive.

They wound up second, which is where they were before they took the ice yesterday, and I think that was probably appropriate. But for sheer determination, you'd have to give the gold to Zhang Dan.


appropriate???? you fall like that and you fail to complete the triples you are supposed to and you get Silver... for the guts and drama???? this is not sports this is a sham! now all skaters can start throwing themselves into walls or craking their heads open right before their routine so the "presentation" scores will go through the roof!!!!!.. "hey if things are not going well just crash into something and then we'll leave the ice acting all injured, collect ourselves and then start again"..seems fair..except of course to all the other skaters who have spent their entire lives working for this moment who actually land their throws and don't crash all over the ice then see their chances taken away by the drama of another teams failure?!?!?!? on the fall they were attempting a quad spin... they were given credit for a triple spin.. despite the small detail that they didn't in fact land a triple..did they..failing to land a 4 should not get you credit for a 3..that is just insane... 4th down in field goal range,lets just throw it up in the end zone, if we miss the judges will still give us credit for the 3..perposterous!!! So if football team A goes down the field error free and scores a TD they get 7 points but if team B has the QB slip and fall and break his fibula only to see that QB tape it up and come back out there to deliver this great gutty drive down the field resulting in a long field goal they get 8 points for the guts and drama of it all??? because that is what you are saying. I am sick of seeing skaters deliver inferior preformances but because they are overcomming some sort of drama or if they cry on the ice they get the win..rediculous, silly, fixed! figure skating should just not be judged at all because it is NOT a sport in any sense of the word, it is an amazing exhibition of abilities but not a sport and not a competition, If I were a judge the gutty Zhangs would have recieved my admiration but also a big fat DQ. I call shenanigans... "Get the brooms!!!!!"
Wow, easy there Rodney. You'll blow a gasket. They got credit for a triple because they did indeed land a triple-- after they restarted the routine. Now, personally I thought it was pretty bizarre-- and yes, unfair to the other competitors-- that they could just pick up where they left off, but those are the rules. Perhaps stupid rules, but rules none-the-less.

So, the Zhangs got credit for a 3 while taking a 1 point deduction for biffing the 4. Oh, and your football analogy is terribly silly. There is no artistic merit aspect to football-- you get 6 points for a TD no matter how ugly the play was that got you in the endzone. Artistic merit IS part of skating, and drama and crowd reaction is part of the art of skating.

I really don't care that much-- I would've been okay if the pair hadn't medaled either-- but their presentation was about as dramatic as you can get.
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