PopWatch on Ice: Kim Yu-Na's home country finally allows her to breathe after ladies' free skate
Image Credit: Brian Kersey/UPI/LandovSouth Korea’s Kim Yu-Na annihilated her own record to win gold in last night’s free skate (watch), so hopefully she’ll stop getting angry “emails that were not congratulations” from her countrymen. My God, the pressure on this poor, sweet girl in the elegant blue frock! Even under the assurance that a whole nation might turn its back on her, the 19-year-old essayist had seemed cool and composed every time she appeared on camera during the ladies’ events — so composed that we might not have expected that unleashing of emotion after her routine’s final flourish. Yu-Na was so overcome with relief, she couldn’t even manage a full curtsy. I totally cried here. And that’s okay! Brian Orser said so.
Mao Asada, who finished over 23 points behind Yu-Na to take silver, became the first woman in history to do three triple axels in a competition. Her skating-order was pretty tragic — on Tuesday, Mao got to skate before Yu-Na, but last night she skated right after her…and right after the entire crowd was on its feet. I loved Mao’s incredulous “Well, that’s over!” look at the end of her performance. Mao looked crushed on the medal stand, but she otherwise seems pretty grounded and good-spirited about Yu-Na’s…you know, existence. Mao was formerly regarded as the best skater in the world, so I might expect a diva attitude from the woman scorned. But that’s just it: Mao’s awesome, too. She shouldn’t have to be the scorned woman! I liked the way she set herself apart by being the only final-group skater to wear long sleeves. The short black gloves were a cute touch. (Watch.)
Joannie Rochette may have won bronze according to scores, but she won gold in hair accessories. I was digging that “feathers composed of sparkles” contraption on the side of her low bun — the gold with red accents was a perfect complement to a few of the jewels on her predominantly light blue costume. Joannie had to “step out” of her second jump sequence, but she was an obvious Canadian crowd-pleaser, especially with a triple-triple in middle of her routine, right before the music slowed down. I love when triple-triples surprise us seemingly out of nowhere; they seem so blasé and yet heroic, like “don’t you doubt me, f—ers, I will thwart your expectations with my ability!” And Joannie executed the sexiest move of the night with that cheek-to-thigh diagonal body trace. As they did Tuesday, the commentators remained silent for most of Joannie’s segment out of respect for the loss of her mother, who died Sunday; then after the music ended, Sandra Bezic swooped in with this floodgate-opener: “A kiss to her father; a performance for her mom.” Does she script lines solely to make us cry? (Watch.)
Mirai Nagasu “This is a coming-out party for Mirai,” said the one who wants to make us cry, and after hearing that all I wanted in my life was for coach Frank Carroll to whip out a pink feather boa in the kiss-and-cry. I loved his pep talk to a completely stoic/terrified Mirai moments before she endured the cruel and unusual punishment of having to skate last. Anyone else get major Katarina Witt in 1988 vibes from Mirai’s ruffled red and black dress-with-a-rosette and music from Carmen? This was a beautiful routine for Mirai — in my esteemed PopWatch on Ice opinion, if she’d done as well in the short program, she could have taken bronze. (Watch.)
Miki Ando I’ll let my mom review this one via email: “Cleopatra Bikini girl should have known that you never mix your metallics! All of that gold thread and jewels on her dress and she has a silver piece in her hair. What was she thinking?!” Yes, exactly. Unlike Joannie, Miki placed lower in hair accessories than in skating. Technically, she executed a ton of jumps, but artistically she fell flat. I noticed that whenever she wasn’t deliberately gesturing, her arms just kind of hung there. “She delivered the goods, but without a lot of impact,” said Scott. Oh my god, Scott Hamilton corroborated my dummy observations! I win gold! I did enjoy Miki’s little hand flick during the spiral sequence (I think) that looked like a wave, which is a very silly thing to think because a proper Olympian does not wave during her free skate. (Watch.)
Rachael Flatt and her “coffee light and sweet” legs skated first — a perfectly sound routine that in previous Olympics would have been medal-worthy for sure. So many jumps! She nailed the triple lutz early on and killed a triple salchow (in Scottspeak: “salchowwwwwww!”) right at the end. By landing a triple loop at the halfway mark, Rachael earned “a 10 percent bonus on all of her jumps.” Is that like getting a 10%-off coupon at Target? I wish she had gone there before the event to buy small gold earrings because I kept focusing on her piercing holes. When Rachael finished, I teared up a little not at her own emotion or reaction, but at the commentators’. They were so excited the final group had begun. This was it! She has saved her best performance for the Olympic Games! She is a rock! So consistent! The skate of her life! Now all she has to do is finish that essay. (Watch.)
OTHER ICY THOUGHTS
At least Tugba Karademir‘s tumble fit her music perfectly. (Watch.)
I was suddenly struck by how gorgeous this sport is as soon as Cheltzie Lee and her criss-crossed spaghetti strap bathing suit took the ice. (Watch.)
Wow, that Katarina Witt routine is on YouTube. I feel strongly that it should still only exist on VHS. And yet I’m thrilled to see it here in my now-natural webular habitat. My sister and I must have watched that VHS around 50 times in ’88. Ah, memories. Elizabeth Manley’s grandma hair! Debi Thomas’ power bangs! We liked the medals ceremony more than anything, so sometimes we just watched that. As I would gaze upon the smiling second-place cherub up on the blocks, I decided Elizabeth Manley’s silver medal created the most exquisite color palette with the pink dress, her big eyes, the friendly face, the cloud of hair. I thought, this is exactly how the silver medal should look. Why the hell was I so invested in the silver medal? I’ve longed for a silver medal all my life, and I’m just now realizing that it’s Elizabeth Manley’s fault. As usual: Blame Canada!
Holy skate: Debi Thomas’ Campbell’s Soup commercial! She’s not talking about her skating career; she is talking about her LIFELONG LOVE OF SOUP.
Okay, someone please turn off my YouTube. I can’t sit around all day watching 1988 Olympics broadcasts in an unobtrusive corner of my monitor.
Speaking of crying and commercials, what are your favorite Olympic tearjerker commercials? Let’s keep rolling down this river of tears all day. Orser’s orders.
Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett
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