My Photo
Location: Midwest, United States

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Watching the Skaters

We all harbor within us (tattooed somewhere deeply within us) a myriad of associations. A song, a scent, sometimes the oddest thing, transports us to a different time or place or arrow-straight to a specific soul. I cherish my loveliest associations.

I’ve come to be reminded these past three days of a particularly strong association: figure skating and my ex-wife (fishing and my father is, by far, my deepest and strongest).

She was a figure skater in her youth. Quite talented, I’ve been told. By the time we met, those skates had gathered quite a bit of rust and dust in a corner of a closet. She may have set aside her skates, but she never lost her passion for the sport. I could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice and feel her goosebumps during the Winter Olympics.

I wasn’t all that drawn to figure skating myself. I never learned how to skate. I was a skier. I watched the skiers with the same passion and intensity as my ex exhibited while viewing skaters. We indulged in each other’s preferences as we’d sit together and enjoy these decidedly different athletic endeavors. She came to appreciate what I loved about skiing. I came to appreciate the multi-faceted sport of figure skating.

Funny thing about watching sports on a television screen. No matter how creative the camera-work, no matter how earnestly a program tries to capture the essence of a given sport, it never does. I knew that from watching two-dimensional athletes compete in sports that I, myself, actively pursued. Downhill racing is exciting on a high-def screen. In reality? The experience is gloriously death-defying.

Not long after we met, after spending days glued to our seats relishing the Winter Olympics, after all the medals had been awarded and the TV screen went dark, I purchased front-row tickets for the “Champions’ Tour.” It’s a tradition in the skating world. The medal winners go on tour together to offer others a chance to revel in the sport. I bought tickets to please my wife, knowing she’d be thrilled. It was I who was completely blown away. Figure skaters cut impressive figures on temperature-less ice on a screen. I had come to appreciate the skill, strength, agility and aesthetics essential to the sport. I was absolutely awed by the reality.

Skating viewed on a screen doesn’t even remotely capture the blazing speed. My hair was blown back as a skater flew past. Even the most waifish skater, after charging down the length of the rink, would shower the spectators six rows out with shards of ice as the blades bit to execute a turn or twirl. I never realized the heights to which they’d leap, the distance they could launch a partner...all while careening about at breakneck velocities. I was left weak-kneed, dumbstruck and breathless.

It was through my wife, because of her, with her beside me, that
I experienced awe.

These past few days and for a few days more, I’ll revel in the wonders of the sport. Should a passerby peek through an undraped window, the scene would be simple enough: a solitary man nestled in a chair, watching skaters on a flickering screen. As magnificent an instrument though the human eye may be, it can’t quite see reality in its entirety. If it could, it would see me, with my ex sitting close, watching the skaters as we always had...and will forever.

* * *


Blogger Woman in a Window said...

Incredibly sweet. This gives me pause for many reasons.


Wed Feb 17, 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger June Calender said...

I feel that way about competitive gymnastics but less romantically, it was a daughter who was the gymnast not a lover.

Wed Feb 17, 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Jonas, I have been to Skate Canada, which is similar, I think. And felt the same awe....

I know how to skate (or did - it's been years since I've put blade to ice) although no formal lessons, just growing up where rinks flourished in the snow... learning to play pick-up hockey in figure skates, being able to skate backwards, and stop like the hockey players do.... sending sparking waves of ice crystals arching through the air!

I've been watching too... and appreciating just what that must be like live in Vancouver!

Wed Feb 17, 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Kass said...

Such a tender rendering of your association with skating. It's the one event in the Winter Olympics that thrills me and brings me to tears. But I've never seen it live. I'd better look into that Champion's Tour. Thanks.

Thu Feb 18, 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger anna said...

That last sentence gave me shivers. I wish they all had more of your sensitivity.

Thu Feb 18, 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I couldn't ice skate - let alone figure skate - if my life depended on it. It is ballet on ice. I know how intensive an endeavor ballet is from personal experience, to execute those maneuvers on thin steel blades, at those speeds, is the utmost in athleticism. You'll get no argument from me on the awesomeness of that sport, and the skill involved to excel at it.

Fri Feb 19, 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to skate and I know how hard it is to master those technical moves. I am in awe of the figure skaters. They show me there is still beauty, artistry and magic in this world!

Sat Feb 20, 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

There is, indeed, a great deal of beauty, artistry and magic in this world!

Thank you, all, for your comments. Methinks y'all fit that description, too: beauty, artistry and magic incarnate...

Tue Feb 23, 06:09:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones