not quite what i expected

the last time i went to a figure skating competition was the 2010 nationals at the john labatt centre. the crowd was electric in the last pre-olympic competition for their hometown heroes. it was so powerful that as i sat in the highest row, a last minute seat, i felt like i was watching a movie. but then the last skater finished and the ice cleared. i wrapped my thick scarf around my neck, slipped on my winter jacket and left the arena, walking into the night in downtown london. the energy was gone. as each fan slipped out the doors, they went back to being another stranger in the unknown city. what we'd shared dissapated. it was just another chilly night. i slipped my hands into my pockets and walked away to hail a cab.

tonight, i'm having the same feeling with london worlds as i had back then, and it's actually weird because on paper, there should be an incredible amount of passion still here a week later. it's hometown worlds for tessa and scott. her house is five minutes down the street from the arena. his family lives 20 minutes down the road in that tiny, tiny town called ilderton. and this time, at their last worlds, the world came to battle them on their ice. shouldn't it be personal? deeply felt? a matter of pride? a loss should have been unthinkable, devastating.

well, i'm sitting here thinking that the passion really isn't there. i've finished my posts on worlds so i've read the articles, watched the interviews and studied the photos. the official story is written and this loss hasn't taken on any particular resonance. in fact, they took their defeat at the grand prix final in quebec city more personally and were more upset over that. scott's anger, bitterness and humiliation at losing in canada were palatable back then and virtually uncontrollable during the interviews. but this hometown worlds was positioned as the most important competition for tessa and scott, second only to the home olympics. the afterglow of vancouver last for months, but the afterburn of london was non-existent except for a few unguarded moments in the kiss and cry post short dance. what gives?

now, not only have they (and skate canada and the canadian media) moved on and there's no drama to be found here (with no one challenging the fact that meryl and charlie, a team that is quite frankly known and loved for their uncontrolled, fast and athletic style of ice dance, won the free dance only on pcs and goe's, marks for quality, detail and artistry) . . . but within minutes, they could say with the most genuine of smiles that they're "proud" of london, had a "great" week and will use this experience in sochi. the hometown angle is reduced to simply mean that they were "lucky" to have had the opportunity to skate worlds minutes from where they were raised. it was "nice" to skate in front of the people who've supported them from day one (because it's apparently rare or something). out of all their losses, they've certainly had worse. and in the end, what happened went beyond the marks, medals and anthems. if one moment can capture it, it was when they stood by the boards before they went out to skate the program that would inevitably earn the perennial champions silver. scott's face was bright, his eyes softly focused on tessa, while the crowd cheered them on in anticipation. "let's do it for us. it's you and me out there". to the world, they seem to be in the perfect frame of mind to begin their last competitive year, the olympic year.

i think losing so badly on thursday actually helped. immediately, tessa and scott knew that they had lost not only the short dance, but the competition, and that they didn't deserve this at all. without a doubt, they, their families and their team were devastated (except maybe marina . . . who was also celebrating with meryl and charlie), but they had two days to get over it in private (and they pretty much said as much in the interview with scott russell). those smiles post free dance and in the gala were real because they had already moved on, redefining the significance of a hometown worlds and how they would salvage it. if they were basically tied with meryl and charlie post short dance and lost dramatically in the free, they would have had to deal with the pain right then and there. from experience, that would never go down well. and if tessa had that look on her face to close the competition as she had post short dance, you would have bet that journalists couldn't have avoided focusing on it. that photo, those tearful eyes, would have been everywhere. the massive and unreasonable short dance loss may have been more strategic than we realized that night.


notes

i don't like commenting on ice dance nor do i like bringing the drama. in fact, i maintained this blog for two seasons without giving my opinion on the competitions. i always let the official story control the narrative. but if the blog's worlds section will be comprised of tessa and scott beaming in gifs and nonchalant in interviews, then i've to write something to keep it real. i don't know the olympic endgame that's behind all of this so i won't speculate, but i'll make sure to note the games being played that week.