Sunday, February 28, 2010

Math, Sex, and Ice, Or: Why Evan Lysacek Is Only a Fraction of the Skater That Johnny Weir Is

Weir 2009 FOI poker face
By Top on Ice (own work), via Wikimedia Commons.

Well, the 2010 Olympics are over. The figure skating concluded on Saturday, February 27, with the Olympic Champions Gala, usually one of the big draws for viewership. But I refused to watch. Without Johnny Weir’s Poker Face exhibition routine, the gala just—wasn’t.

Yes, I am a HUGE Johnny Weir fan. I remember Johnny from the 2006 Olympics, but I don’t follow figure skating closely and only recently rediscovered him when a Twitter friend tweeted the link to his Poker Face routine from Festa 09. OMG!!! (Enjoy an alternate version herealso fierce, but does include inane commentary from Scott Hamilton et al, so be forewarned or hum along to drown him out. Don’t even get me started on Scott. That’s another entire blog post).

So I’ve watched Johnny’s Poker Face a zillion times, and after about the first two I immediately had to subscribe to the Sundance Channel to watch every available episode and outtake of Be Good Johnny Weir. Now I’m hopelessly addicted, as are my two teen children, who both think Johnny Weir is the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen with or without skates and thus they kindly tolerate my obsession.

And no, I don’t like Evan Lysacek. He has all the personality and appeal to me of a piece of burnt toast that I accidentally dropped in a sink full of dirty dishwater. Sorry. (Hey, my blog, my opinions.) And just FYI, watching Evan in Pop Star on Ice (aka episode 1 of Be Good Johnny Weir) only reinforced that metaphor for me. Don’t like the way he skates, his desperate need to try to appeal to hockey fans (HOCKEY fans? Hello? It’s FIGURE SKATING, dude. Deal with it), or the fact that he just can’t be bothered to look up “mongoose” in the dictionary.

So with bias firmly in place, here’s the thing: Johnny was most definitely robbed at these Olympics. Scoring, schmoring. Any scoring system where the robotic routine of a (yes, OK, technically perfect) mechanical flailing crow who moults phallic snakes while skating (thanks, Johnny, for the prize-worthy insertion of “phallic” in a video discussion of the men’s costumes) is a gold-medal winner, while Johnny places sixth (SIXTH? Are you KIDDING me?), is deeply flawed and should be seriously overhauled.

Johnny’s 2010 Olympic performances as a whole,
particularly his free skate, achieved something far greater
than the sum of the prissy little points.
And that should mean something. Like a medal.
To go along with the two full standing ovations.

This much bally-hooed system was put in place after the 2002 Oly pairs-skating scoring scandal brought an end to the hallowed 6.0 system. Everybody keeps earnestly explaining the “new” system, and the mere fact that all these years later they still have to keep doing so ought to tell us something. It’s the “New Math” on skates (yes, I’m old enough to remember the “New Math,” as well as the fact that nobody understood that either. Why am I suddenly reminded of the “New Coke”? But I digress.)

This “new,” numbers-heavy system actually creates even more space for judges to pretty much make the scores anything they want them to be. An over-deduction here for this skater, an inflated GOE (“Grade-of-Execution,” a nice, user-friendly term that in no way evokes a response of “WTF?”) there for that skater, and suddenly the scores are so far removed from the performance as to be rendered meaningless.

And the judges apparently can’tor don’t want tosee the forest for the math. Every non-figure-skating aficionado could see that Johnny’s 2010 Olympic performances as a whole, particularly his free skate, achieved something far greater than the sum of the prissy little points. And that should mean something. Like a medal. To go along with the two full standing ovations.

Let me reduce it to simplest terms:

Evan is getting an “A” on your algebra homework one time.

Johnny is the hottest guy in school asking you to prom, bringing you the most beautiful corsage, dancing all night with you, whispering the wittiest comments in your ear about everyone else, and leaving you with a wonderful, unforgettable memory.

Evan is Math on Ice.

Johnny is [beautiful, blazing hot, poignant, leaving you out of breath and always wanting more] Sex on Ice.

I know which one I’d choose. Every time.

copyright 2010 Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


auntyamyj said...

I am with you a 100% on this. It was dissappointing to see Johnny so dismissed by the judges. My hope is that he takes solace in the fact that not only the audience that night loved him far more than any other athlete on the ice, but he has now gathered a whole new legion of fans. Johnny Weir brings me back to how exciting figure skating used to be, when I was young and I couldn't wait to watch the Olypmics to see them soar and fly across the ice.
Johnny is amazing simply because he is true to himself, he is authentic. It is easy to be facinated with someone that has such a zest for life. You are absolutely correct in your analogy between him and Lysacek, which is probably a great metaphor as to why I barely passed alegbra but could quote for you what my latest Tiger Beat had to say about Rob Low and the rest of the brat pack.
Take it from me, a nearly 40 something woman who could use some excitement and sparkle in her otherwise staid and boring life, Johnny Weir my Olympic Champion.

sweetsexysean said...

I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!!!!!!!!!!! UGH! Evan has He is all technical and nothing more. He has not flair, no heart, no anything. He is simply.....BLAH!

Misfit Mimes, I hope you don't mind me posting this here but THIS is why I made the video Just Johnny, Just WE COULD have our moment of watching Johnny skate to Poker Face without anyone talking over his beauty.

I LOVE HIM. I love Johnny with all my heart and just wanted to see him skate without Sandra "Im a Bitch" Bezik making her smartass remarks about Johnny. So.....I'm just going to watch Just Johnny, Just GaGa over and over again to make me happy. LMAO

Love ya,

Joanne said...

Dear Friends, here's another solution to the problem of the idiotic commentators-- watch in Korean! I enjoy this version of Poker Face because you can hear the audience cheering and having a great time. I don't know what the commentators were saying but given the still shots they replay at the end, I'm pretty sure they think he's HOTT. And clearly the audience LOVES HIM! The downside with this version is that there are too many long shots compared to the US Nationals version. But it's sooo much better without the horrible US commentators!

Misfit Mimes said...

Agree, Joanne! I believe the version you're referring to is the first one noted in the blog post, his Poker Face routine from Festa 09. It can be seen here: . The announcers are not obtrusive but they do giggle with joy, which I love!

Luna said...

I am so happy to have found this blog. Finally, someone who understands how I feel. I used to like Scott Hamilton but after all of his underhanded remarks about Johnny I can't stand him. I love the Korean Poker Face video because the Korean fans are awesome and I don't have to listen to the American commentators and their empty comments.

I love Johnny! I only recently discovered him and through him reignited my love of figure skating. No skater in over 12 years has moved me the way the he does every time that he skates. He was robbed in the Olympics and I will say it even if he won't because he is too classy for that. Lysacek was technically good but sooo boring. Johnny was technically brilliant and he moved my soul with his performances. I just hope that he gets the recognition he deserves at Worlds.

Thank you for this blog, it is now one of my favorites.

Misfit Mimes said...

Hi Luna! Thank you so much for your kind comments! I totally agree--Johnny was absolutely transcendant at the Olympics. His free skate literally moved me to tears. And I am now following your blog :) (which is here if anyone else would like to follow along too!).

Luna said...

Thank you for following my blog! I'm very honored. It's new and I have been the only one who knew that it existed, so thank you for reading it.

Anonymous said...

The judges robbed Johnny Weir of his rightful bronze (or silver) medal. And they robbed Americans of the chance to see two medalists, not one -- and I, as an American, feel disgusted that Johnny Weir's performance was not judged as it deserved, but only as the judges believed in advance. (Btw, I asked the USFSA to protest this result, and they did not respond. I asked again, and again they did not respond. The USFSA should be ashamed.)

I have never seen anything this bad since Salé and Pelletier were denied their gold medal in Salt Lake City. But eventually they got it, because the Canadian Skating Federation made a huge deal out of it -- as they ought -- and that made it slightly more bearable.

In this case, the USFSA didn't do anything. And they should be ashamed.

Misfit Mimes said...

LSekhmet, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I could not agree with you more. The USFSA has long treated Johnny Weir like dirt, remaining willfully blind to his incredible talent, artistry, and sheer star power. Instead, they all got behind Evan Lysacek and pushed with all their might to make him the face of US men's figure skating--feathers and phallic snakes and all. But Johnny's worldwide appeal is clearly no longer to be denied, and now the USFSA look even more like idiots than ever (in my carefully considered opinion).