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.


Masterpiece Youtube: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown

First of all, thank you to everyone who viewed, read, and commented on yesterday’s blog. It was my most viewed blog to date, with 113 visitors and 210 views, personal records for me, including my first visitors from Nebraska (howdy!), Hawaii (aloha!), and Croatia (dobrodosli!)  Hope you continue to hang out and enjoy. And as always, if you have any ideas of current events you’d like my opinion on, stories you’d like to hear, or a new feature, just let me know!

In honor of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (which apparently start in a few hours, at least in Russian time), I’d like to call your attention to something a friend of mine (well, okay, I don’t actually know her, but we’re friends on Facebook and responded to a comment I wrote her once) posted on Facebook. On your mark, get set…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 11: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown, 1994.

Said friend was indeed the Great and Wonderful Julie Brown, who reminded us all of this glorious moment in her career, or at least the glitziest. One of the most underrated comediennes of all time, Julie Brown was unleashed upon the world as a VJ on MTV, hosting her show Just Say Julie, and leading the cast of an unfortunately-cancelled sketch comedy show called The Edge which featured her alongside the likes of Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, and oh yeah, some other chick named Jennifer Aniston. She’s been pretty dormant over the past decade or so, but has come back with a bang. Most of her earlier work is still hanging out on YouTube, and it’s still funny even though the 1990s are not even a twinkle of an eye to today’s teenagers. I had originally planned on doing one huge salute/tribute dedicated to Miss Brown, but since she started it, I’m just going to roll with it.

This song comes from a parody film called National Lampoon’s Attack of the 5 Ft 2 In Women which satirizes the stories of everyone’s favorite penis-chopper Lorena Bobbitt and everyone’s favorite Olympic ice skater rivals, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. If you don’t know either of those stories, stop reading, click over to Wikipedia, and come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, so now that we’ve established the situations, on to the video. We open on Tonya Hardly (played by Brown herself) gliding around her attic in a snazzy black and white sweater and early-90s white floofy scrunchie…oh wait, that’s actually supposed to be her hair. Flash over to the Nancy Kerrigan character being pursued by Tonya in a fit of rage and a dress that could turn Medusa into stone (bonus points to those of you who get that reference!). Her anger-fueled, acid-trip tune turns deadly when she pulls out her “little hammer,” something that I initially thought was just an unusual rhyme, only to realize about fifty re-watches later that it’s a cultural reference to the Olympics in Lillehammer. I’m not quite sure what the significance of the parrot lady is, but Julie Brown’s finest moment in the video is when she bites her lip and takes aim with her gun. Pure, unadulterated, early 90s vengeance. The music turns sweet again as she scrolls through a list of her “idols,” other infamous ladies from the early 1990s. Then, here comes a wrestler with a wheelbarrow of money, for no apparent reason, and then Brown skates around some more, dances a bit on the podium under the American flag, and ends with a triumphant slap to Nancy’s face.

What did I learn from this video? Skating and shooting are two activities that go well together. Skating in the fog is fun and mystical. The girl who plays Nancy has a weird-shaped face. But the most important lesson of all is that Julie Brown is so talented that she can make the world fall in love with Trailer Park Tonya all over again (like they say in those commercials on PBS about the technicolor Shirley Temple Collection).

But seriously, folks…skate at your own risk.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by Winter. Winter: When you go outside and the snot freezes inside your nostrils, that means it’s working.