Sleep is a commodity during the Olympics, and a rare
one at that. Bedtime happens just before breakfast. Awake time
happens just after breakfast. This morning, the lines were blurred
completely when the announcement arrived that American figure skating legend
Michelle Kwan, who got her spot on the U.S. team
after petitioning the skating federation, had decided to withdraw from the
It took just one phone call to get me turned back to the International
Broadcast Center, where the questions, situations, and storylines began to
emerge at rapid pace. “How do you pronounce the last name of her doctor?”
one writer asked. I called his answering service in Detroit, knowing
that even though it was still the middle of the night there, an answering
machine would live up to its moniker and actually give an answer. The
timeline of her withdrawal had to be established. Notes on alternate
Emily Hughes, sister of Salt Lake ladies figure
skating gold medallist Sarah Hughes, had to be compiled. Facts
had to be figured out: first sisters to compete in figure skating?
No. First time an alternate was used? No. Without a gold
medal is Kwan still the greatest ever? With nine national and five world
titles? In a word: Yes.
My thrill of the day came when I got to talk to Peggy Fleming about
the whole course of events. I changed from being a hardcore research/historian
to a fan, hardly believing that I was talking to the Olympic legend.
So what happens now? Figure skating remains the most popular sport in
the Winter Games, and this time around things are a bit more complicated
with the changes in scoring. Gone are the 6.0s of the past. Now skaters
will be judged on a basis that awards technical points for jumps, spins, and
step work – judges will subtract or add points depending on the execution
of each element – and then five marks of presentation (transitions, performance,
choreography, interpretation, skills). Reigning U.S. champion Sasha
Cohen may finally have her day here in Torino, while Kimmie Meissner,
who is only the second American to ever land a triple Axel, will add some
experience to her mere 16-year old self. Russian Irina Slutskaya,
the reigning world champion, will return for yet another go at it at the ripe
old age of 27, and Japan looks to field its best team in years, with Fumie
Suguri, Miki Ando, and Shizuka Arawaka taking the
And please don’t forget the men, a rare plea in the world of sports.
American Johnny Weir, who is personality personified, will face the
world, particularly Russian superstar and three-time world champ Yevgeny
Plushenko, who seems all but unbeatable her in Torino, and is as much
fun to watch as about anything else going on.
But please don’t forget about Kwan. Because you don’t have to be
in the Olympics to be an Olympian.
H A V E A
Q U E S T I O N F O R D R . B A S S
D U R I N G T H E W I N T E R G A M E S ?
C L I C K H E R E
We will be
posting the questions and answers
on the CNR
At The Winter Games website!
m o r e
Be sure to check back often for Dr. Amy
Bass's updates to her
Online CNR Winter Olympic Games Diary.
O F F I C E O F C O M M U N I
C A T I O N S
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