23 February 2010

Figure Skating and Naming Americans

Tired tonight, and alone in a hotel room, so I've been sitting at my computer surfing YouTube and watching Olympic champion ice skating programs from years past -- Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Katarina Witt, Oksana Baiul, Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes.

Women's ice skating changed somewhere between Fleming and Hamill, and it just continued to get faster and more athletic over the years after that. It's amazing what they can do on two skinny little pieces of metal, and I'm always a little nervous, wondering where those sharp blades are going to end up if someone falls.

I have no idea who is in competition this year. I suppose I could turn on the TV, since I'm in a hotel room after all (no TV at home) but then I'd have to deal with advertising and commentary, and I'm not in the mood.

Men's figure skating has probably changed, too, but I'm not going to go watch a bunch of videos to find out how.

Remember the claims that Michelle Kwan wasn't American? Going back and looking it up (in Wikipedia), I see it was one headline on MSNBC that said "American Beats Kwan." (The skater who beat her was Tara Lipinski.) MSNBC apologized, and everybody moved on. Just over a decade later, and the claim that Obama isn't American is getting a lot more extended play, albeit not in the mainstream news media, except when it's Sarah Palin making the implications.

Kwan and Obama were born in America. Wasn't there a American cyclist in the news a couple of years ago that people were claiming wasn't American, because one parent was from Africa? When are my fellow Americans going to stop with this business of claiming other Americans aren't Americans?

Well, I'm not finding my way to a point in this post. I'll end (I can't claim to be concluding) with this: performances by Witt and Kwan brought tears to my eyes. Check them out here and here.