I’ve been a fan of figure skating for a long time…I grew up admiring skaters like Scott Hamilton, Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi among others. I’ve always admired the way that skaters make their footwork, jumps and spins look effortless despite all the hard work it takes to accomplish them. I’m such a fan of the sport that I even attended Champions on Ice in my hometown back in 2003.
So needless to say the past few days of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver have been just as exciting for me as they have been for the rest of the world. I was ecstatic when Evan Lycesek won the gold medal in the men’s competition…and not just because he originally hails from my hometown of Illinois either. Recently changes in the sport’s scoring system and the appearance of the talent of up and coming promising new skaters on the scene has made the sport of figure-skating whether it be men’s women’s, pairs or ice dancing more exciting than ever!
Tonight was the final portion of the ice dancing competition, known as the free dance which is combined with the scores from last night’s original dance, and Friday’s compulsory dance to make up the final score. There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Russian teams since Russia has won a total of 8 medals in the sport since it originated in the 1960s. This made it all the more exciting that the Canadian team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated a flawless performance and won gold on their home ice making them the first Canadian team ever to do so.
Right behind Virtue/Moir with an equally graceful and mesmerizing performance to the music of Phantom of the Opera worthy of a silver medal was the American ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White who are actually friends and training partners with Virtue/Moir.
Most fans and experts in the sport assumed that the bronze medal would go to the fellow American team Tanith Belbin and another Chicago area native Ben Agosto, however since winning a silver medal in Torino in 2006, Belbin/Agosto haven’t been skating as well as they have in the past or as well as other competitors. Tonight was no exception as they were defeated by the Russian team. This doesn’t really surprise me since they were in fourth place before the free dance and Davis/White and Virtue/Moir had already taken first and second respectively.
Belbin was actually almost not eligible to compete in Torino because she’s actually Canadian but her U.S. citizenship came through just before the games that year and they went on to win the silver. It’s rumored that Belbin/Agosto will be retiring from the sport following this Olympics. They are talented skaters in their own right and are credited for reviving the popularity of ice dancing in North America. But if they are retiring after this season, you have to admire them for their willingness to clear the way for a new generation of skaters with talent that clearly matches and tonight surpassed their own.