SPORT ON TV: No qualms with Kwan's artistry, but the ice still left me dry

IN A WEEK when the Americans are shaping up to play the global bully again, it was fun to see them having their butts whipped on the ice in Nagano (BBC, Eurosport). CBS had paid pounds 235m for the rights to the Olympic Games, nearly as much as Brian Laudrup's pay packet at Stamford Bridge next season, but once their men's ice hockey team was knocked out, Americans indulged in their true national sport, operating the TV remote. It was during the figure skating, which was about all they had left (and about which I was slightly unkind last week) that I began to muse on ways to make the Games more spectator-friendly.

My first idea was to run the skating and the ice hockey together. Picture Tara Lipinski, who seems to have been plucked from one of those obscene child beauty pageants (such psychosexual dynamite that adult spectators aren't allowed in), going through her routine at the same time as the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan were conducting research into the effects of severe physical trauma during sporting activity: weaving her way through a slalom of severed appendages, a Czech arm to her left, a Kazakh nose to her right, skidding nimbly through the pools of blood, which she rearranges in graceful arcs across the ice...

Or the style-free Frenchman, Philippe Candeloro, who cut easily the most ridiculous figure in Nagano in his red and black jumpsuit, clearly the result of an unnatural union between Michael Flatley, Bruce Springsteen and a dead dog, body-checked out of town by a couple of Finnish enforcers.

Or you could have a special bobsleigh course that dipped in the middle and put the two worst crews from the first run against each other, starting at opposite ends and providing fun and laughter for all the family when they meet in the middle. Or better still, strap drug cheats (or Naseem Hamed) to a luge and run them off against the four-man hit squad (I admit here to the influence of the greatest comedian who ever lived, Bill Hicks, who advocated letting aged relatives go out with a bang as extras in Stephen Seagal movies: "Go on, grandma, walk out into the middle - Wow, cool! He's kicked her head off!")

My favourite idea, though, and I don't see why it couldn't be done, would be to have knock-out head-to-heads in the downhill skiing, just like the FA Cup. OK, they'd have to do a few more runs, but they could manage that, and how much better to race man against man, woman against woman, rather than out there alone shaving microseconds off the clock. You could, of course, run them all together, but that would just be silly.

With last week's harsh words in mind, I settled down to watch skating this week equipped with a vat of pen-poison. A short while later, I found myself doing the hitherto unthinkable - rewinding to watch Michelle Kwan's routine a second, slightly shamefaced time.

The young American went to the Games riding a hype-wave hand-in-hand with her rival, Lipinski. It is unfair on them both, but I can't help associating them in my mind with Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding from four years ago, though I can't imagine Lipinski involved in anything more violent than thcreaming and thcreaming till she's thick. She is technically perfect, but a little soulless, while Kwan has the artistry: one manoeuvre, a spiral, in which she inscribed a line across the rink that had the finesse of a line drawing by Picasso, Matisse or Cocteau, was a lump-in- the-throat job. Honest. So I take it all back. Well, most of it. After Kwan, all else was bathos, apart from the experience of watching the third American, Nicole Bobek, falling apart like the Spurs defence, and then observing her tearful agony as she waited for her lousy marks. In its own way, as gory as the hockey.

It seems these days that you cannot go more than a couple of months without another sports magazine programme leaping on to the screens. The BBC's Onside was the most recent, and Carlton's imaginatively-titled The Sports Show is presumably intended as a response.

If so, it needn't bother itself, eschewing as it does the sports-lite, Cosy Corner approach of John Inverdale and his team. ITV have the Pudgy Twins, Eamonn Holmes and Will Carling, instead, and though Carling has still to learn how to look relaxed, Holmes was surprisingly unfluffy, making sure each discussion stayed rational and interesting. They tried to pack far too much in, Holmes leaping in on someone's mid-flow time and again. Having as guests the card-happy referee Graham Poll, and his assessor for the controversial Arsenal-Chelsea game this week, Philip Don, was a great idea, so why not let them expound at length?

The programme did, though, produce the line of the week, on the subject of the 40 per cent ticket-price hike at Chelsea. "I'm going to have my wages paid directly into the club," one fan said. "It's the only way to get a season ticket these days."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'