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It is a fact: Scott Hamilton is the ultimate commentator. If you are not a fan, there is something wrong with you, you might even be dead inside. According to an extremely scientific Access Hollywood viewers poll, 66% of the nation think that Hamilton is the greatest male figure skater ever, the runner-up being Brian Boitano with 22%. Ponder that.
And just why do we love Scott Hamilton? Well he’s an amazing figure skater of the ages, his commentary is the stuff of legends and he is always willing to have fun with it. When Stephen Colbert had him on the show via-fireplace and asked whether there was a new Cold War in the making vis-à-vis men’s figure skating, Scott laughed, “Why not?” And regarding that trademark backflip? Colbert pointed out that none of the competitors had bothered with that feat and wondered, “Shouldn’t you get the gold medal?” I know I wish backflipping was still involved. Scott settled with a snarky, “Well– I did.” Which circles back to why we love the man.
I’ve been planning this post since the first night of figure skating. Last night we got our last taste of Olympian comments from Scott during the gala skate exhibition, one of the happiest events of the winter games. The first Olympics of which I have memory were the 1992 Albertville games and I still clearly remember Kristi Yamaguchi’s gala skate, which only made my child-self love her more.
So Scott came back to us for a few magical moments of the 2010 gala skate which featured Joannie Rochette in a great little purple velvet sequined number skating to the French version of Celine Dion’s “Fly,” which incidentally also reminded me of my child-self, albeit sometime post-Kristi. Rochette chose the piece because it was one of her mother’s favorites. She received the Terry Fox Award (along with Petra Madjic, the fierce cross-country skier who took home a bronze despite multiple broken ribs and a punctured lung) as an Olympian who best embodied the best of the human spirit, who brought the Olympics beyond sport. Raise your hand if you cried? Chris Collinsworth judges you if you didn’t: “I know men don’t like to cry, but if you didn’t cry watching this young lady then what kind of man are you?” He named it is his number one moment of the 2010 games.
Back to Scott. Evgeny Plushenko came out on the ice being his usual fabulous/awful self, skating to “Je Suis Malade.” What are you trying to say Evgeny? Scott announced the song and provided the translation, “I Am Sick,” and proceeded with, “He’s sick? He’s sick with talent. He’s sick with ability.”
Plushenko, “the one and only” goes on to toss out handfuls of triple axels like Halloween candy, which Scott simply cannot get over, “Oh why not just keep throwing triple axels, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhaahaha, oh man– this guy is great!” Wait, does Scott voice Tony the Tiger?!?!
The wonderful thing about Scott Hamilton is his never-ending positivity, he loves to watch great athletes skate and he’s not afraid to let us know his feelings. Davis & White came out to a slow swooning cover of “Billie Jean,” and all Scott had to say was, “I love everything they do!.. GAH! I love them.”
Kim Yu-Na came on and there was more love fest in the air. According to Sandra, Kim has said that “the purpose of this program is to say thank you to everyone who has been supportive so far in my career.” Scott remained enamored throughout the program as Kim glided over the ice in a surprising long-sleeved and fairly long-skirted princess waist costume. It was different. I liked it. Scott summed up her skating with the succinct statement that “it’s truly a gift.”
Another favorite pair of Scott’s, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir came out with a hugely entertaining performance. They started out to music from The Nutcracker Suite, Virtue wearing a full-on crinoline tutu; however, as the music suddenly transitioned into, yes, a jock jam situation Moir’s chosen Canadian hockey jersey-wth-jeans look began to make sense. It was just fun, total fun and the crowd loved it. Somehow, Scott still managed to wax poetic about how graceful they are: “Hard to believe they’re so good so young!” Sandra called theirs “a fairy tale story.” I just giggled.
For the crescendo of Scott’s praise, tuxedoed Evan Lysacek performed a competitive program choreographed to “Rhapsody in Blue.” According to Scott, they had run into each other a few days earlier– what I wouldn’t give to just run into my friend Scott Hamilton at the breakfast bar– and that Lysacek had been unable to pick his gala program. Scott said, “well, what do you want to say?” and Lysacek came up with “I want to do ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ because I feel like it’s the date that brought me to the dance.'” Someday, Mr. Lysacek is going to make a great commentator.
At any rate, Scott could not effuse enough praise, gushing “Every time he had a setback, he worked through it and he earned it! He earned it the best way possible. He worked harder than anybody else”… Evgeny Plushenko. Yeah.
In a previous interview with Bob Costas, Scott has made it clear that although Plushenko is a great, Lysacek was without a doubt better and more deserving and that the Russian skater needs to get over himself and deal with his silver medal, quad or no quad: “It’s figure skating. It’s about the whole performance,” not just whether or not an athlete can successfully throw a quad on the ice.
Scott Hamilton blends the emotional, the entertaining and the technical seamlessly into his figure skating commentary– and that is why we love him.
A few favorite bites from these games, linked to the original posts:
“[Rachael Flatt] didn’t get any slack from the collar tonight!“
“My heard just started beating a little faster.” As Kim Yu-Na comes onto the ice.
“[Kim Yu-Na’s] nemesis, the triple flip!”
“You’re never a former gold medalist… You’re always an Olympic medalist!” Regarding his own esteemed status.
“When you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk ,and he just skated that skate!” Regarding Johnny Weir’s free skate.
“A little scary! This guy’s a cat, I don’t know how he landed that!” Regarding Plushenki’s free skate.
“I’m here to selllll myself!” Regarding Weir’s short program.
“A nightmare covered in molasses.” Regarding the year that Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy have had.
So what are you favorite Scott Hamilton moments?