What I learned at the ladies’ free skate

Spoiler alert: There are ladies here

I am at the big Olympic final of ladies’ figure skating, because when push comes to shove you definitely want to turn to the guy whose expertise in the sport consists in its entirety of having seen Blades of Glory on an airplane.

But I learned something at the ladies’ free skate, apart from the fact the women in my life don’t wear near enough sequins or eyeliner: I learned that at figure skating competitions in the Olympics, you can for $20 buy a small radio and earpiece that enables you to hear real-life “figure skating experts” analyze each program as it is taking place. No more having to nudge mean European journalists to inquire, “Is that a triple lutz?” – which is especially awkward when the answer is, “No, it’s a single Zamboni.”

As a veteran of precisely zero figure skating competitions – not counting the ones in my dreams where Johnny Weir and I skate a doubles program against Optimus Prime and a Siberian tiger (we lose, but it’s tough to beat that kind of chemistry) – I thought, hey, earpiece, good idea. And it was! You could even email questions to the analysts, like “Why did the judges mark that skater so low?” or “Does ‘free skate’ mean we all get to try?”

The analysts were great. They kept yelling things into my ear like “double axel” (presumably a skating move) and “plus one” (presumably a scoring element) and, of the Finnish skater, “If she was any better looking, she’d have two wings sticking out of her back” (presumably a heterosexual remark).

And they had attitude. They weren’t all gushy and nice and human like the ones on TV. “She left at least 16 to 20 points on the table,” one announcer said angrily after the performance of the Swiss skater. “Once again, another sub-par performance – they’re all terrible tonight,” said another. I’m hoping that if I take the earpiece with me after the competition, they’ll keep talking and let me know when I’ve mismatched my colours or I’m driving poorly.

UPDATE: Some guy just proposed to his girlfriend. At ladies’ figure skating. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the woman doesn’t need to worry about her future husband spending too much time with the boys.

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