More Dogs on Main Street
February 27, 2010
For the most part, I don’t follow ski racing or, for that matter, any of the sports in the Winter Olympics. They really don’t make great spectator events. When the difference between "world record" and "who cares" is measured in hundredths of a second, or the bobsled flashes by quicker than your brain can even register that it was there, it’s hard to get into it. So, for four years at a stretch, I’m completely satisfied to see a headline that says a local athlete did well in an event in Europe. There’s no need to dig much deeper.
Then the Olympics come, and I always end up gorging on sports. With TIVO and the satellite dish recorder, I can either watch or record more incoming feeds than there is any reason to watch. I can be pretty selective about the playback. So I’ve been able to personalize the experience, for the most part, and watch the events I’m interested in. But I’ve also become interested in events I never knew much about. The short-track speed skating has been great. I watched most of a hockey game for the first time in years, and the alpine ski events have been exciting, even though I kept getting unwanted results by email that spoiled the suspense.
Of course a lot of it is the local connection. I have a passing acquaintance with several of the people competing, and know a couple of them reasonably well. I have been friends with the Ligety family since I arrived in Park City years ago, so there is a real personal interest in how Ted does. It was kind of strange seeing Bill and Cyndi standing on the side of the race course in their matching neon, day-glo, Chernobyl green hats. Anybody else looking at that might have wondered about that fashion choice. The hats are part of a clothing line that Ted is producing called Shred and Bill, always the consummate marketer, is just showing the corporate flag. Besides, it made them very easy for Ted to pick them out of the crowd. Ted’s helmet was also neon green, and the family connection is what they are all about.
Shred products got mentioned several times in the coverage, and it was exposure they could not have purchased. Some of Bill’s real-estate clients are probably wondering why he didn’t have a photo of their unsold houses on his chest. For Ted’s sake, I hope the venture goes well, but I somehow don’t see people lining up for hours to buy day-glo hats the way they did here to buy the "Roots" berets. But you never know.
Through the course of the winter-sports binge, it’s been hard to avoid the figure skating. It’s not that I dislike figure skating, but a little goes a long way. I think my figure skating needs have been fully met until at least 2050. I never need to hear "Scheherazade" again.
There was one night when every couple had to come out and do exactly the same routine to the same music. When they ran out of competitors, they started hauling people out of the audience, each pair skating to the same music. There was a ski race I wanted to see that same night, so I kept switching back to it. I thought there was something wrong with the TIVO when, even though an hour had passed, it was still the same people in the same costume skating to the same music. I’ll bet tickets to that event were easy to get.
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Because of all the hype, I did watch the competition between Evan Lysacek and the Russian guy who was the current gold medal holder. The lead-up to it showed Lysacek working out in the gym. He’s a big man, and was lifting a lot of weight. In the interviews, he seemed how to put this politely not at all like a figure skater. Then he went out and skated in a frock borrowed from the Wicked Witch of the West. He had feathers on his gloves. In the long program, he wore a lovely black gown with a gold braid and ruffles at the neck.
Figure skating is probably the most tradition-bound sport there is, and nobody wins by rocking the boat. Still, other men competing put up respectable scores without wearing their great-grandmother’s evening gowns. Lysacek won the gold, but only got the silver in the competition for gayest costume. The gold went to another U.S. competitor, Johnny Weir, who skated while dressed as a Las Vegas showgirl, complete with tassels. Every woman in the room was envious.
It’s hard to believe that it was only eight years ago that we were the Olympic host. It was so big, over so fast, and gone so completely that it seems like a distant dream.
Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs on Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.