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Ice dancing.

With the Winter Olympics coming up there is a lot of attention to events that typically don’t occupy the public consciousness.

Today I saw this picture and decided someone had to say something.

Not a sport.

These people are the favorites to win the gold medal in ice dancing in Vancouver. Their costumes are part of their routine which is a tribute to the culture of Australia’s Aborigines  How on earth did they convince themselves this was a good idea?

Actually though, this strangeness is a symptom of a larger problem – the intrusion of something which is not really a sport into the Olympics.

Sports are contests of skill which are not really subjective. While they may have officials, those officials are not judges who directly decide the outcome of the contest. Ice dancing is a contest of skill which is completely subjective.  The officials are judges, what they say completely determines the outcome of the contest.

Lets extend the discussion further. Suppose we place the style of determining winning of ice dancing on other winter sports? Let’s look at downhill skiing, hockey and luge.

You are the fastest, unfortunately...

Lets say the skier at left rockets from the top to the bottom of the mountain in less than two minutes. She is very impressive. Her closest opponent is a full second slower. Under the current system, our example skier is the clear and uncontested winner. But applying the ice dancing standard, we find that the second skier wins. Why? Because while she was quite fast, our rapid skier did not smile and it was difficult to determine her motivation for going vast. The skier that was a little slower was radiant as she sped through the course and communicated her bond with the snow that allowed her to slide down the mountain. She is the winner.

Is that fair? No, not really. Another example, hockey.

Goal!!! Unfortunately, you are not fabulous.

The 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team won the gold medal by beating powerhouse teams from Russia and then Finland. How did they do this? They scored more points than the teams they beat by putting the puck in the goal the most. But what if the US team never made it to the finals because their uniforms did not represent the indigenous culture of the nation as well as the one worn by the Soviets?

Silly times two.

Now we move on to what may be the silliest looking Olympic sport – the Luge. In the Luge, competitors put on a helmet, a full body condom, lie flat on a heavy sled with sharp runners and slide down a long ice chute. As the rules stand now, whoever makes it to the bottom of the chute in the shortest time, without soiling themselves, is the Gold Medalist, followed by the next two fastest people as the Silver and Bronze Medalists.

Should we or could we accept the winner being changed because he failed to point his toe correctly? Or because his pace moving down the track did not properly match the tempo of the music he selected?

Can't skate. Doesn't want to.

My examples are clearly ridiculous. Do you know what else is ridiculous? That picture at the top of the page and the fact that it is lumped in with the category of sport.

Ice dancers are talented people. I can’t even stand up on skates. I’ve no prayer of doing what they do. I respect their talent, but their talent is more in the category of art, not sport. There are competitions in all sorts of artistic endeavors – dance, music, sculpture, writing.

When victory turns on the subjective judgement of people on points of artistic merit, the realm of sport is not where that competition belongs.

Oh yeah, to my large Aborigine audience, rise up and let the world know how completely silly these people look to you.

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12 Comments on “Ice dancing.”

  1. frigginloon says:

    Well why we are on the subject OMA, pray tell what the hell is friggin “Ribbons”doing in the Olympics? WTF type of sport is that?

    • omawarisan says:

      again…art, not sport. Judges, not referees.

      The Omawari-son marched in competions with his high school band. Skilled, yeah. Athletic, yeah. Sport? No. Judges = art.

  2. MadMadMargo says:

    USA! USA! USA!

    Oh, sorry. I’m just practicing my cheer.

  3. KathiD says:

    Myself, I don’t consider ice dancing a sport. I like the kind of sports where you can drink and smoke WHILE you are doing the sport, like bowling. Anything else is for wimps.

  4. planetross says:

    I think we both agree that curling is a sport. … that’s good.

    • omawarisan says:

      Sure…ice, a rock with a handle, some brooms and a bulls eye. You’re on the target or you’re not. Sequins are optional and the judges dont care if the sweepers smile.

  5. Kate says:

    I am not even sure how much of this post I retained. Whenever I see the phrase “ice skating” or “ice dancing,” my brain shuts off. Interestingly, I had to proof a story about an ice skater this morning. I can only hope another set of eyes looks at it before it goes to press. 😉

  6. figure skater turned hockey player says:

    While I agree with you that the aboriginal costume is completely offensive, insensitive, and racist, I have to say, I disagree with other statements.

    If you are determining what a sport is based on whether it is determined by points, then yes, bowling and curling ARE sports (along with luge, the super G, hockey…)

    But your only way of categorizing sport is by saying you have to score points in some way without a JUDGE giving them to you. Is poker a sport then? How about beer pong? Oh, and what happens to boxing? I know there is at LEAST one skiing competition in the Olympics that is based on judging form AND the time, what then? I mean really, let’s acknowledge that sports are MUCH more than what you’ve determined.

    Furthermore, you clearly know NOTHING about figure skating if you think the score is based on whether one SMILES during his/her performance. While deductions can be made on costume, I believe you can’t be penalized much more than about two points (and it RARELY happens). Form (pointing your toes, for example) is CRUCIAL IN ALL SPORTS. (How else do you expect to perfect your slapshot? Bad form will never get it done. And in the luge, if you don’t point your toes, you’ll lose speed.)

    I understand that people don’t like to acknowledge ATHLETIC events where judges make the final determination, but please DO acknowledge that these are ATHLETES, not just people earning a score based on how well they can smile.

  7. omawarisan says:

    Good points really well presented!

    I’ll never be guilty of not acknowledging talent. Clearly figure skaters have stamina and skill, to say nothing of the poise it takes to present oneself artistically in front of thousands of people. It unquestionably takes athleticism.

    I’ll also cop to knowing very very little about skating at all. I do know that I look at the man and woman dressed as aborigines and think a) thats ridiculous and b) there must be some benefit to their presentation for them to dress so.

    As far as poker and beer pong are concerned, I’m not seeing much athleticism there. That kind of goes to my point – things aren’t sports just because people compete in them. There are Monopoly championships, writing contests, dance competitions. All of them are fine endeavours, none of which I could win.

    In short, I think that most anything where the winner is determined by subjective opinions is questionable as a sport. It made me laugh to see that you brought up the skiing competition thing. I saw that event and thought that would come up here. Well played!

    I’m with you on boxing. I had a go at them a few months ago – https://blurts.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/on-boxing/

    Thanks for stopping by and saying your piece. Fall by again sometime!


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