[Alyssa Rosenberg*]

Most of the time, I tend to think I'm relatively hardcore about my sports.  I got swung around by a pipefitter in Fenway Park after the Red Sox won their second World Series game in 2007.  I almost got into a brawl at that insane Patriots-Ravens game a few months later, the one with the fourth down in the final moments of the game that had to be redone a couple of time.  I like baseball and football, like any good, redblooded New England-raised woman does.  But man, can I not resist Olympic figure skating.


I think it's in part that I grew up during figure skating's explosion in the United States: one of the few positions I can remember taking early in my youth was a visceral dislike for Nancy Kerrigan.  This year, though, the big story is in pairs skating, where Chinese pair Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, both in their thirties, are the favorites for gold.  If you dislike skating, and particularly how young and fragile-looking the female singles skaters have gotten, Shen and Zhao make the sport worth revisiting.  They've been skating together for 18 years, it shows.  Check 'em out in this amazing routine from Paris in 2001.  The throw and landing around 45 seconds in is an astonishing moment of strength and grace.

I'm not going try to mount a full defense of figure skating, because I definitely watch it in part because it's pretty.  But pairs is one of the few sports where you really have to trust the other person to be there.  The consequence if they're not, or if their strength fails, can be far, far greater than a ground-rule double or a missed touchdown.

*SO sorry, guys.  Won't forget again.

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