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February 29, 1980 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-02-29

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, February 29, 1980-Page 7

Throiwh the O1l nc

Ab ~

By MARK VAITKUS
lello, my name is Frannie Flemill
nd I'm a champion Olympic figure
skater. Did you see me on T.V.? I sure
iope so, because I was just fabulous. I
lon't mean to sound immodest or
nything, but you know out of all the
)lympic sports, figure skating is the
nly artistic one, so that just because
ve were robbed of all the gold medals
loesn't mean we figure skaters don't
deserve some of the glory too. After all,
re the ones that have to get out there
nd do ballet on ice.
"You don't really think those speed
skaters know anything about art and
ballet, do you? Judging from what I
saw at dinner, I'd say they're still
working their way up to table manners.
All they ever think about is go, go, go,
eat, eat, eat. Personally, I wouldn't sit
within .three tables of Eric Heiden
without wearing a raincoat' and
galoshes. I suppose the members of the
k~y. team are much worse, but of
rse their eating area is entirely
sealed off.
"Naturally, figure skating is not all
excitement and glamor. The com-
plsory figures are gruelling events in
which you have to trace the same cir-
cles over and over again. Americans
can never win the compulsories
because we don't teach our kids to walk
around like little robots the way they do
C ommunist countries.
ANYWAY, there's plenty of strong
coffee on hand for the judges, who have
the tedious job of deciding how perfec-

tly we've drawn our circles. The caf-
feine doesn't always help though as in
the case of the Bulgarian judge who
said that he thought those were three of
the best circles he had ever seen
skated, but it turned out to be a single
circle event. All the judge had to say in
his defense was, 'You see one circle,
you see them all.' Actually there is talk
of adding rectangles to liven things up a
little at the next Olympics, but so far
purists won't hear of it.
"The short program is a whole lot
more fun to participate in than the
compulsories, but still all the skaters
are required to go through the same
basic moves in a two-minute period,
which doesn't leave much time for
anything else. When you come right
down to it, the only thing that really
changes, besides the skater, is ,the
music, and I suppose some people
might think it's not enough to keep
them watching. In fart, I've heard
about an unofficial survey which shows
that up to 62 per cent of the potential
Olympic viewing audience leaves the
T.V. during the short program either to
run cold tap water or open a package of
salami.
"'But like everybody knows, it's in the
free-skating competition where most, if
not al.l, of the art is. Your
choreography, expression, and creative
style have all got to come together
there flawlessly if you want to win a
medal, and your axles, loops, lutzes and
Salchows better be pretty good too,
because the technical score is lust as

U A A ~ JL L ,
important as the artistic. The Russian
and East German judges are the
meanest and they'll take off five-tenths
just for flaring the 'wrong nostril, but
Americans always do well in free
skating because Communists aren't
allowed to have artistic expression. I
think that's why so many of them
defect, just like the Protopopovs did. I
just wish they'd defect before they win
their gold medals.
"T HE MUSIC you use is very impor-
tant too, and it's good to put lots of dif-
ferent pieces of music in the program to
show changes in mood. I know an East
German girl who spliced together parts
of all nine Beethoven symphonies and
two of the '"Leonore ' overtures, which
seemed to work very well for her. In
general, anything by Tchaikovsky,
Bizet, or that sounds remotely Eastern
European is okay to use so the audience
can clap along with it. As Franks and
Botticelli found out during the pairs
skating though, using anything by
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer means an
automatic eight-tenths deduction.
"ABC always does such a great job of
covering figure skating, mainly
because of Dick Button. I think Dick is
not only a wonderful skater and com-
mentator, but a beautiful human being
too, not like that awful Howard Cosell
or that old stick-in-the-mud Chris
Schenkel. You know, in many ways',
Dick thinks he's still on that U.S. Olym-
pic team of 1948, but that doesn't stop
him from being completely objective
a bout the skaters from other countries,
although he does wish most of them
would defect. He even gave Rodnina
and Zaitsev a present for their son
Sasha. I heard it was a year's supply of
McDonald's gift certificates.
"WHETHER you're American or not,
Dick always finds just the right colorful
words to flatter you with, like when he
said Toller Cranston of Canada was
"baroque, roccoco, bizarre." I am glad,
though, that Dick reserves certain of(
those colorful words like "bizarre,"
"eccentric,"' and "otherplanetary" for
describing foreign skaters since I don't
think a lot of American audiences
would really go in for having one of its
stars introduced as 'the outstanding
freak of the 1980 Olympics' even if the

-

darkly
intention were basically good.
"There' is no question that Dick
knows more technical things about
skiating than anybody else in the world.
It gives you goose pimples just to listen
to him. Who cares if he succeeded in
confusing the entire nation with his
charts on how the ordinal scoring
system works? Who cares if he never
comes close to predicting the actual
marks the skaters receive? Didn't he
also guarantee that nine times out of
ten the best skater gets the gold medal
even if we all know the judges are
political puppets? I just guess last
Saturday night was another one of those
tenth times.
"I know you're all wondering what
I'm going to do now that the Olympics
are over. Will it be the Ice Capades? the
Follies? or even Holiday on Ice? To tell
you the truth, none of them sound too
great to me. Somehow with all the glit-
tery 'Las Vegas costumes and brassy
music, the plastic overstaging, and
stupid clowns throwing water all over
the place, I think the art gets lost
somewhere. You know when I went to
see Janet Lynn in Chicago, Snoopy had
more time on the ice than she did, and
her program was so watered down that
it wouldn't have gotten her a place in
the parking lot at the Olympics. She
didn't even look like she was going to
collapse of nervous exhaustion, and
that's a definite sig; something is
wrong if you're an American Olympic
skater.
"SURE I saw John Curry's Ice Dan-
cing in the basement of Madison Square
Garden, but you couldn't hear anything
because the Rangers were playing
overhead. (You wouldn't believe how
the smack of a hockey puck ruins an
aestheti eect. aNon I' not playngn~e
Rangers, and especially Kermit the
Frog. I'm going straight to the top and
have my art preserved forever in
television commercials.
"And you can forget about Peggy
Lemming pushing cameras and Bic
pens. You can even forget about
Dorothy Camel going from graceful
and flowing to "short and sassy."
Because I've got something much bet-
ter lined up. It almost sounds too good
to be true, but Suzy Chaffee is retiring
and, well, guess what? That's right,
folks, just call me Frannie Chapstick! II
bet Sonja Henie is doing a sit-spin in her
grave right this minute out of sheer en-
vy. See you on television."

ATTH ICHIG AN T HEA TR E
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Liet er tt t

Sir Carol Reed's

1949

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JOSEPH COTTON, ORSON WELLS, and ALIDA VALLI star an this great sus-
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Featuring Oscar-winning cinematography. Short: Laurel & Hardy In THE
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Saturday: THE LADY VANISHE!S
Tues.-Sun. (March 11-16): 18th ANNUAL ANN ARBOR
16 MM FILM FESTIVAL (held at the Michigan Theatre)

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