* Mike Villani, a long-time Anaheim Police Department volunteer, is broadcasting figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This is his most recent dispatch.
After having watched three days of Olympic Figure Skating competition: Sunday, the Pairs Short Program; Monday, the Pairs Free Program; and Tuesday night’s Men’s Short Program, I’m pleased to report I now know the difference between a Beilman Spin and a Bracket Turn.
If you were watching you saw some outstanding figure skating drama as American Evan Lysacek used his allocated four minutes, 30 seconds in the free skate program to deliver a flawless performance in the men’s competition to win the gold medal.
An equally stunning performance by Evgeni Plushenko of the Russian Federation secures him the Silver, and the Bronze went to Diasuke Takahashi of Japan. The difference in the point total at this level of competition is so tight; any one of these three could have taken the top prize.
But, let me put aside figure skating for a moment to let my readers know this city (Vancouver), this province (British Columbia) and this country (Canada) are simply going just NUTS for these Olympics!
The initial fire was lit some seven years ago when Vancouver was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host these XXIst Olympic Winter Games. The flame continued to burn brightly during its 106-day journey across this vast country and an almost-flawless opening ceremony.
Then, last Saturday, all of a sudden it was like someone threw a can of high-octane jet fuel on the torch as moguls champion Alexandre Bilodeau made history by becoming the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on his native soil.
Sunday night, when Bilodeau was presented his medal in a ceremony at BC Place, several of us were having dinner just down the street in Yaletown, Vancouver’s trendy, upscale, renovated warehouse district.
A number of streets in that area had been blocked off and the ebullient revelers were out in force, waving the Canadian flag, singing their national anthem and, in general, totally engulfing themselves in the glory of their heritage. As for me, it was extremely heartwarming to be surrounded by a display of such unabashed national pride and spirit.
Back to figure skating. As breathtaking as it is to watch on TV…It’s even more stunning to see in person, especially from one of the best seats in the house.
I’m so close to the action I can almost count the number of sequins on the elaborate costumes. I can hear the skaters’ blades as they carve their way down the ice. I can clearly see the looks of anguish when they stumble or fall, as well as the pure joy – with a grin from ear to ear – as they stick a Triple Axel or a Triple Lutz. The grace and fluidity that the more-talented skaters possess is pure magic to watch. Oh yeah…and they’re paying me to do it.
The Chinese where hard to beat in the Pairs and claimed both Gold and Silver; with the Germans winning Bronze.
I had Wednesday night off as short track took the rink. I went to watch what some call “Roller Derby on Ice” and saw the legendary Apolo Anton Ohno skate. Believe me, he is exhilarating to watch as he hangs back in the pack until just the right moment and then explodes in what seems like a cosmic burst of sheer power to jump way ahead. Amazing athleticism! Speaking of which, congratulations to Team USA’s Lindsey Vonn (Women’s Downhill Skiing) and Shaun White (Snowboarding) for their respective gold medal-winning performances. The American medal tally keeps rising as I report from The Games.