Kevin Drum recently complained somewhat curmudgeonly about all the “X-games pseudo sports” clogging up the Olympics. While I’m sympathetic to complaints about the extreming of the Olympics, what’s troubling me much more is the prospect of taking ice dancing seriously as an Olympic sport. I know there’s a competetive dance circuit and all, but is it “Olympic?”
I watched a couple of pairs perform, and I’ve considered the pros and cons of ice dancing as sport. On one hand, the competitors really are pretty athletic. They put together some impressive lifts. If danger counts, they even seem to have that going for them: I saw two of those lifts end in pretty bone-crunching spills.
On the other hand, even the announcers aren’t always sure what to say about ice dancing. One of them repeatedly says things like, “this is a pleasant performance,” and “their skating is nice to look at.” I have a sneaky feeling that’s akin to saying that somebody has a sweet spirit. Much more damning, however, is the vocabulary. Ice dancing has a maneuver called a “twizzle.” This, perhaps, is no more contrived a name than the fakey backsides always being thrown by those darn snowboarding kids (get off my lawn!). But a sport in which one’s twizzle is a serious part of the scoring system is something which I can’t quite get behind.
Update: Added commentary from the ecologist: “Can it be a sport if you wear pasties?”