Friday, January 13, 2006

Things Heating Up on the Ice

Having finally begun to see the light at the end of the academic tunnel I have been stuck in for months now, I am paying more attention to actual sports (rather than theories of sport which have dominated my academic path thus path). The shivers I feel now are not a result of nervous exhaustion but of excitement for the upcoming Olympics. And luckily I have emerged just as things are getting interesting--particularly in the world of American figure skating which is currently in the process of determining who will go to the Olympics.
Of course there is the Michelle Kwan controversy which is practically old news by now. Though it does not negate my anxiety over how it will unfold. Of course the most startling irony would be if Kwan is chosen over Emily Hughes whose older sister and reigning gold medalist Sarah, said on the Today Show yesterday that Kwan deserves a spot on the team because of all she has contributed to the sport. I am not judging--just noting.
But getting less press (I think anyway) is the curious creature known as Johnny Weir, who leads the American men at Nationals after the short program. Apparently Johnny is fond of metaphor and lately they have centered on skating producing drug-like feelings. This makes for a disgruntled US Figure Skating federation, those director, David Raith, wants a word with Johnny whom he describes as "flamboyant." Yeah, not so subtle gay reference there, David. Maybe you should concern yourself with people who may actually be doing drugs. Like skating doesn't have enough problems that they need to worry about Weir who is, I predict, America's best hope for a medal.
On a tangential note: if Weir is gay (no one seems to know though he did give an interview to a gay publication but he seems like the type of guy that would do that just to confuse people--which is certainly his right) then Raith's (who does not have a history with figure skating) use of flamboyant only serves to reify stereotypes about gay men. Perhaps US Figure Skating should send their director to sensitivity training. But also Weir might be an indicator of a younger gay generation that is not afraid to challenge people's conceptions of homosexuality by actually existing outside of the closet during the prime of their careers. (Here's hoping anyway.)
And if he's not gay, he is still adding some spice to the sport--especially on the men's side. Weir may become men's figure skating's Dennis Rodman, or Andre Agassi (the early years). I personally have a little more interest in the sport now because of him. Hope the "man" isn't able to silence him.

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