Thursday, March 10, 2011

Asian Winter Games - Figure Skating Day 2

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The schedule listed 3 Figure Skating Events for today: one at 3 pm, another at 7 pm, and another at 8:30 pm. I figured we'd do the 3 pm one, then maybe go somewhere to eat, and then decide if we wanted to come back. I didn't realize we'd end up spending over 6 hours at the arena. It ended up being a long and totally worthwhile day.

The arena wasn't packed, but it was far more crowded than on previous days. First, about 17 women skated; I think it was a "long program." This lasted for over 2 1/2 hours, with a few breaks.

The women, I must say, were better than the men. Stronger, more confident. Yes, after 2 1/2 hours of watching, I was tired. But I was exhilarated. So amazing to watch their boundless energy, their twists and turns, their jumps and spins, the positions they could get their bodies into.

I was learning how to follow them along with my camera on zoom, my finger on the button, keeping the image in focus. I learned to recognize the movements that led up to a jump, so I finally managed to get some decent shots of skaters in the air.

At 5:30 we realized we would not have time to go somewhere to eat, so we headed to the cafe, downstairs.

The cafe was tiny and not at all prepared to handle hundreds of hungry, tired people. We waited in line for close to an hour. During this time, a friend who had better seats--courtesy of her husband's company--decided that she wouldn't stay longer and gave us her tickets. Then my friend and her sister decided that they were exhausted and they left. Sophia and I stayed.

It was extremely crowded. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is worse. Paris on Bastille Day is worse. But I suspect many people here aren't used to such crowds, and the pushing and shoving that comes along with it.

When we got to the front of the line, we learned that they were sold out of most of their items. Really. This place was unprepared for the massive amounts of guests they had, although wasn't this what Kazakhstan wanted? Tons of people coming to an amazing event?

So Sophia had M & Ms and a soft drink for dinner.

At 7 pm, some friends joined us in our newer, closer seats. We watched the first pairs' event. At first I wasn't too impressed--synchronized dancing, but no throws. Later, when I looked at my pictures, I realized how amazing these performances really were. Skating fast, the man carried the woman, whose body was contorted in an impossible position (impossible for me, at least). Sometimes the woman stood on the man's leg while he held onto her leg--if the man didn't hold her up properly, then her skate would cut sharply into his leg. Sometimes a man held a woman up, high in the air, with just one hand. Seriously, she had to have the utmost confidence in him. And one time, the woman abruptly stopped skating while on her knee. I saw the ice fly as she skidded to a stop. Shouldn't that really hurt her knee?

At 8:30 I asked Sophia and she wanted to stay. So we stayed. This pairs' event was the one with all the throwing. The man would throw the woman, the woman would spin, and then either he would catch her or she would land gracefully. All while skating fast. Amazing.

We ended up staying very late, because then there was the awards ceremony. When we finally got home, we were exhausted. Yet it was an amazing, thrilling day and evening.

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