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Thoughts on Pairs Ice Skating

As I wind down a moderately successful Saturday, I sit on my couch enjoying the latest sporting event from the Winter Olympics in Sochi: Pairs Ice Skating, live. I’m not quite sure on the difference between pairs and ice dancing; I’m inclined to think that pairs is more about acrobatics and stunts, whereas ice dancing features more traditional dance moves and focuses more on artistry than aerodynamics.

I was in a show tonight and last night, a comedy piece put on by the department’s graduate student organization. Last night, we had seven people, and I was not nervous at all; tonight, however, the audience was packed, and 16 of them were friends of mine – mine – so that put on the pressure a little bit. It was script-in-hand and only about 35-45 minutes long, but tonight I was noticeable shaky – not with the lines or my voice, but my left hand/arm kinda had a nervous twitch that I was hoping nobody in the audience noticed. Maybe it was the spicy latte I enjoyed before going on, or maybe just excitement. It got better as the night went on, but by the end I kinda wished that I could do it all over again, feeling less shaky. It ended up being fine on the whole and it was nice to see everyone.

But back to the skating. This past hour, I watched pairs from Russia, Canada, Italy, and the USA do the “free skate” – I think that’s what they call it – and in three out of the four, someone fell on the ice. The Americans chose to skate to “Skyfall,” which is pretty but probably not the best song to skate to, solely based on the title. The Italians fared a little better, but the female skater took a hard face fall. The Canadian pair was better, but there was still a point where the woman was dangerously close to breaking her wrists. The Russians enjoyed a near flawless program, because…well, they were really good.

I’m not ragging on pairs or ice skating, at all, because it takes an incredible amount of strength, stamina, and coordination that I do not possess. In terms of pressure and exposure, there’s so much more. There’s the teamwork element that you don’t have when you’re out there on the ice – or the stage – alone. There was a little fear there of screwing something up on stage and falling flat, but being part of an eight person team not on international television and with no medals riding on our performance was comforting as we were able to work together and support each other. There is strength in numbers, and though I love performing solo at times, being with a group of people feels even better. And no matter how bad I think I am on stage, at least it wasn’t for a nation’s Olympic team, or televised to billions around the globe.

I need to remind myself of that more often.

Still, whatever possessed the Russian pair to pick “The Addams Family” seems to be working, as their performance tonight has been the only one without a single fall.