Sunday, February 28, 2010

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

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