Salt Lake City One of the most exciting Winter Olympics events is pairs figure skating, which combines the beauty of an intimate dance with the athleticism of a large man throwing a tiny woman as far as 75 feet. Women skaters used to get thrown even farther, back during the big steroid scandal of the 1988 Olympics, when a male Bulgarian skater flung his partner so high that she became lodged in the arena ceiling (a mandatory two-point scoring deduction).
Fortunately, thanks to a combination of drug testing and tethers, such incidents are rare today. But figure skating is still very popular, at least among women. Men tend to dismiss it as not being a REAL sport, a MANLY sport, like golf or professional bass fishing.
This is why, when I walked into the ice arena, I was very surprised to see my old friend Harvey Greene. Harvey is the head media guy for the Miami Dolphins, which means he normally does press relations for hairy sweating men the size of parking structures. I asked him what he was doing here, and he admitted, sheepishly, that he had volunteered to do media relations for the figure-skating events. He was concerned that word might somehow get back to Miami that he is out here working with women in teensy skirts and men wearing makeup and costumes purchased at Mr. Ted's House of Foo-Foo Attire. I assured Harvey that his secret was safe with me.
Besides which, anybody who thinks figure skaters aren't tough is a moron. Consider Russian skater Elena Berezhnaya. Back in 1996, she and her partner were training, and according to an Olympic press release, they "became unsynchronized during a side-by-side camel spin" and the partner's skate blade "pieced Berezhnaya's skull."
This is precisely why the surgeon-general warns us NEVER to become unsynchronized during a camel spin.
So anyway, Elena was in the hospital, and a skater named Anton Sikharulidze with whom, the press release states, she was "already romantically involved" rushed to her side, and they decided that, when she recovered, they would become skating partners. Is that romantic, or WHAT? The press release doesn't give details of this conversation, but I like to think that Anton said to Elena: "Get well, my darling, and I shall hurl you like a Frisbee."
Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze are one of the top teams here, and when they skate you can see that they have great passion for each other, by the way they look at each other, and the way they move in perfect unison, and the way he picks her up by the crotch. In fact, a LOT of the skating teams perform this maneuver, in clear violation of Utah law. I'd like to see football players try THAT. On second thought, no I wouldn't.
Speaking of football, let me just say to any Miami Dolphins who are reading this: I did NOT see Harvey Greene out here, OK? And he was NOT wearing just a hint of rouge.
Olympic update: The men's 800-meter Nordic Pentathlon was canceled Monday only moments before the start when officials discovered that there is no such event.