Elvis Stojko explains Virtue, Moir and the wisdom of figure skating crowds
No morning links today - Instead, a little something out of last night's Ice Dance, where Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won Canada's fifth gold of these Games in a stirring performance capped by a rousing O Canada at the medals ceremony from the crowd of 11,667. Pick it up, though, well before that moment:
The French pair of Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder were rolling along to that rockin' old standard, Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, when it abruptly went all fromage. Delobel, wearing a rather demure black dress, stopped and fluidly peeled down the top to reveal the latest in silver-sequin underclothes. Schoenfelder did a Swayze hip shake and I swore, during an ensuing move, he snuck a grab at her breast. This had wardrobe malfunction written all over it. This was good stuff. This was ice dance at its, um, finest.
|Virtue and Moir meet the Canadian media in the mixed zone moments after receiving their gold medals.|
“Sometimes the cheese works,” he answered back.
It's not often you get those kind of words to live by sitting in the press tribune, tweeting live to an audience of silicon crickets. But that was no ordinary seatmate I had at the Pacific Coliseum last night. It was Elvis Stojko, Richmond Hill's finest of bladesmen, who by pure chance happened by and settled in as the Ice Dance program got underway.
Stojko has a gig here with Yahoo! Sports. And he's doing it quite well. His dissection of the Plushenko-Lysacek men's either-or last week (and the blowback) landed him firmly in the Plushenko camp, minus the flouncing and hissy-fittin' with which the quad-jumping real man Russian greeted Lysacek's gold and his own diminishment by these new standards of figure skating.
Count Elvis old school, then - no surprise in that, because it's been said before. Sitting there watching a night's competition while he attended to his work, and a takeaway container of beef lo mein, we didn't actually exchange a lot of words. What he did say, though, wasn't about twizzles or straight lifts or the debate between jumps and spins – it was all about the audience. Sure, Delobel and Schoenfelder were a hoot. But Stojko knew before they finished: The cheese works. When the marks came in, they were on top and only the final six remained. They eventually finished a decent sixth.
Why does the cheese work? “The crowd gets into it, they want to be entertained and that's what that is. It's not a bad thing to throw out there,” he said.
Here's Stojko, again on Lysacek: “You knew in the building. When Lysacek finished, there was no reaction. Until he put up his fist and said yes! they didn't react at all. He had skated a pretty good program but it had no...”
It was the same theme when the subject of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir came up. “They've got the crowd on their side. If they can make that connection, they can do it,” he said before they went out and slayed it. I'm taking him a little out of context there – he talked about them needing to be “magical” on both sides of that quote, but it was in relation to the crowd and not technique. And here I thought, as a complete newbie, that it was about technique. That's what they go on about on TV, anyway.
When Virtue and Moir took to the ice last night, they got a thunderous ovation. After they completed a nearly flawless programme to even bigger huzzahs, it was left to the Russian pair of Domnina and Shabalin to try and deny the Canadians a gold – and they skated well, but got no help from the crowd. It was nearly silent in the old barn. They never connected. They probably never had a chance to connect.
Say what you will about Ice Dance. It's corny and it's kitschy. Some people don't even think it belongs in the sports category. But the people out there on the ice in the giggle-inducing outfits – Virtue and Moir were among the exceptions there, looking like they were going to an upscale mall – are certainly elite athletes, alone, exposed and thrown into sharp relief by the brilliant white ice. For them, as it was for Stojko in his day, it's like what Sandra Bernhard once said to her dear devoted followers – without you, I'm nothing.
Elvis Stojko on No scoring controversy: Canada deserved gold.