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Alexandra

Watching the Non-Medal Winners

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Yesterday afternoon, ESPN had a college gymnastics competition, which I half-watched while editing. I learned a great deal from it, because the competitors were true amateurs -- middle-range in skills, as well as bodies. I often learn more from seeing things done wrong than from watching champions, because true champions usually make it look so easy.

These athletes (all women during the hour I was watching) were, of course, skilled and had been practicing for hours since childhood, but they weren't going to make the Olympic team, or even, probably, a national team. I remember the first time I watched Olympic skating (Torvill and Dean's Bolero year) ESPN showed all the competitors, and it was just as interesting, to me, seeing the third-ranked couple from a Very Small Country as seeing the stars. It's also very humbling to realize that people who are so very, very good are still markedly below champion level -- a good thing to remember when watching dancers, I think.

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Good point, Alexandra, there is a lot to be learned and enjoyment to be found watching someone other than the best, whatever the art or sport.

This makes one question the Olympic coverage of the last couple of years, which consists mostly of the medalists plus the Americans. What are we missing?

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that's a good question, dancersteven. some years ago i remember that they tried an experiment where all the competitors in every sport were shown live on some pay per view channels and you could pay to see the competitions you were most interested in, and i did do it and found it really interesting. but they've never done it again. and having been to ballet competitions i've got very clear memories of some of the competitors that didn't win medals, and some have done very well!

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This is such a frustrating part of watching skating (or any Olympic-type sport) in America. Advertising has a lot to do with it. Adverti$er$ can be lured to buy air-space if they know that Ma & Pa Kettle will be glued to the TV set watching Tonya-vs.-Nancy...Ma & Pa Kettle don't give a hoot about watching 12th-place skater Olga SkateHellOva of Vladivostok. Too bad. I'm still missing EuroSport, where I saw every single skater in every discipline, in every portion of the event (short & long programs). Ugh...

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