Folks, I have a confession to make. I too was extremely skeptical about
what kind of coverage we'd get of worlds if forced to depend solely
on ESPN for coverage. And to some extent, those fears have been
realized. Far too many skaters getting the chack...far too little
(except for Christine Brennan) in the way of critical examination. And
way, way too many delays for wrestling and basketball. PLEASE.
But in the course of all this, another bizarre development has
I don't know about the rest of you, but I got very sleepy last night
during the airing of the ladies' long program, and had serious doubts
I was going to make it through the whole thing. As it turned out,
though, I managed to avoid nodding off until about halfway through the
It was just a catnap, though...I woke up again almost immediately.
However, the podium ceremony was over, and ESPN had continued on its
merry way to "SportsCenter." But much to my surprise, it was not
their usual 2005-era edition of "SportsCenter." What before my
sleepy and wondering eyes did appear but...the anchor team from the
glory days of "SportsCenter"! That's right, folks, Dan Patrick
AND his partner in crime, Keith Olbermann...which shocked me greatly,
as I had heard rumors that Keith is such persona non grata at the ESPN
studios nowadays that he can't get within 50 miles of Bristol,
Connecticut without setting off alarms. Then again, he wasn't on his
MSNBC news show all week, and now I think I know why. "Vacation,"
Fortunately, my VCR was still running, and I let it run as I watched in
disbelief what happened next so I could transcribe it all for you...in
case everyone else missed it.
DAN: Hi. Live from ESPN world headquarters, it's the Big Show. I'm
merely Dan Patrick, and this, believe it or not, is my old
coconspirator, Keith Olbermann. Keith, how did you get over the
electric fence and past the snipers?
KEITH: I have my secrets. And the snipers...well, they're
surprisingly bad shots, Dan.
DAN: Oh. That's good...I guess. Now we here at the Big Show know that
some of you want to hear about what you think is the most important
sports news of the week...something having to do with a round orange
ball, a hoop and a bunch of college guys. But we are not followers
here; we are leaders. So, we're going to give you a wrapup of what WE
think is the important sports event of the week, the World Figure
KEITH: Moscow, helllooo! Here we are at the championships, where the
logo for this competition was a skate blade, which perhaps should have
been a crutch. Dan, I haven't seen or heard of this many injuries
since the last time I watched an episode of "M*A*S*H."
DAN: You said it, Keith. Even in the qualifiers, we had injuries. Take
a look at this footage from the men's event, in which Takeshi Honda
must go down and he must go down hard. He had to withdraw from the
competition after this one.
KEITH: And in other news,*** Trickle also failed to qualify.
DAN: Uh, Keith,*** Trickle is an auto racer. He generally doesn't
compete in figure skating events.
KEITH: I know. I just like saying his name. Anyway, the injury
situation didn't get much better in the rest of the competition,
where Evgeny Plushenko was said to be suffering not only from a bad
back and a bad knee, but also, they tell us, he pulled a groin...his
own, we hope.
DAN: Let's take a look back at the short programs. Jeff Buttle--
KEITH: Heh, heh, he said "BUTTle."
DAN: Thank you, Beavis. Anyway, Jeff finished a fairly good
performance, and there was much rejoicing from the crowd...well, maybe
KEITH: Not the same for Johnny Weir. Here he goes into the triple
DAN: The WHIFFFF!
KEITH: But there would be something for the Americans to be happy about
in the form of Evan Lysacek. Now Evan was complaining of boot problems
before he got to this competition, but as we all know, a good craftsman
never blames his tools. Luckily for Evan, after this performance, he
didn't have to.
DAN: But the real story of the men's event was Stephane Lambiel, who
was "en fuego" all week!
KEITH: Take a look at this: Quad toe-triple toe from waaay
DAN: But pack his suitcase, because he's traveling quite a bit on
that last spin.
KEITH: Even so, this guy is something else. I haven't seen this much
spin since Karl Rove on election night.
DAN: Now Evgeny Plushenko. His coach, Alexei Mishin, kept telling us he
was day to day, but then again, aren't we all? Well, after this
performance, there would be no more days of this competition for Mr.
Plushenko, Goodbye. Game over. Drive home safely.
KEITH: A real shame, because everyone was looking forward to seeing
what would happen with him vs. Brian Joubert. Brian had a pretty good
short, but lest any of his fans engage in premature jocularity, let's
take a look at his long program. Too bad for Joubert-this performance
no doubt left him drooling the drool of regret into the pillow of
DAN: And now, heeeeeere's Johnny! Johnny Weir, delivering a program
hotter than donut grease--
KEITH: --and then he trips on an invisible gopher. That'll happen.
But it was still a pretty good program. Neeeeext!
DAN: And it's Jeff Buttle with a performance that was...here and
there. That's a skating term.
KEITH: He goes up for the triple axel and...ghhh! Later, on the triple
loop...GGGGGH! But even so, the Canadian gets high marks from the
judges, perhaps in retaliation for Alanis Morrissette's pain.
DAN: Speaking of "ghhhh!"s, here's a replay of Stephane
Lambiel's axel. No soup for him on that one.
KEITH: But it's still a pretty good performance, so it's "happy
happy joy joy" for the Swiss fans in the stands, who know that whatever
else happens, Lambiel has beaten Joubert like a rented goalie. Now to
the last skater, Evan Lysacek, who has a great combination here. For
those of you scoring at home--or even if you're alone--that's a
triple flip-double toe-double loop.
DAN: And Lysacek is not perfect either, but in this kind of competition
you don't have to be perfect to get a medal. If you can make it
through the whole event without needing an ambulance, you're halfway
there. So there you have it, ladies--the cutest darned men's podium at
a world figure skating championships, ever. Behold and enjoy.
KEITH: But here's something strange that happened after it was all
over: Evan Lysacek's score got changed. In the end, it didn't
affect the outcome, but what if it had? It seems to me this bears
looking into. It's all very reminiscent of those voting
irregularities in Ohio.
DAN: Keith, I don't think Ohio gets a judge on the panel at the world
figure skating championships.
KEITH: So you think I'm making this up? You tell me, then, why Ken
Blackwell was the assistant referee!
DAN: He was? Hmm, maybe you're onto something. I'll check WIGE-Data
and IceCalc again.
KEITH: Yeah. While you're at it, check out why all the touch-screen
machines the judges used were made by Diebold and Sequoia Systems!
DAN: You know, Keith, I think your new job is getting to you. Let's
move on to the pairs.
KEITH: Where again, injury reared its ugly head. Former champions Shen
& Zhao might have had a good crack at this were it not for Hongbo
Zhao's strained left foot tendon. As you can see, here in the short
program he is still able to pick up Xue Shen and thow her REAL HIGH AND
DAN: Meanwhile, defending champions Totmianina & Marinin delivered a
beautiful short program to "Ave Maria." Just watch them landing
those side-by-side jumps, soft as church music.
KEITH: But alas, the competition was too much strain on Zhao's foot,
and thus the team of Shen & Zhao had to withdraw before the long
program...so only Petrova & Tikhonov and the other two Chinese pairs
were left as competition for Totmianina & Marinin
and...they're...not...gonna...get 'em. Let's show some footage of
that, Dan. If we have to show one more clip of The Accident I'm gonna
shout "Gianluca Pagliuca!"
DAN: So there you have it, Totmianina & Marinin keeping their pairs
title. Next, the dance. What this event lacked in suspense in terms of
who was going to win, it made up for in suspense about who was going to
be second and third. Now both you and I know that Navka & Kostamarov
were going to win this, and you couldn't stop them, you could only
hope to contain them.
KEITH: Get a roll of stamps and mail this one in. But what some people
were not so sure they would see was Belbin & Agosto taking home the
silver medal. But that they do, skating here in their free dance in
which they portrayed gypsies, although not necessarily ***s and
thieves, which would have earned them outraged phone calls and cries of
political incorrectness from real gypsies, not to mention indignant
Cher fans from around the world.
DAN: But they don't care, because they're going home with a medal.
Last of all, the ladies. Let's travel back to the Land of Qualifying,
where Irina Slutskaya was GOOT!
KEITH: And Michelle Kwan gacked on it.
DAN: But Sasha Cohen and Carolina Kostner had performances that kept
them well in the hunt. Kostner-now, she's no relation to Kevin, but
she does seem to be saying here, "If you build me an ice arena, I
KEITH: In the short, I think I see shades of Ken Blackwell again.
Slutskaya makes visible errors, yet comes out on top.
DAN: Sasha Cohen skates the second politically correct gypsy program
that we know of this week and sets herself up in second place, within
reach of taking it all. As do Kwan and Kostner. Now, in the long
program, because the highlights there are better than these...
KEITH: Are you sure, Dan?
DAN: Sure I'm sure. Look at Kwan. Much better performance than in the
qualifier, at least. Only one real whiff here--
KEITH: --on the triple salchow, and it's "Have a seat."
DAN: Whereas for Carolina Kostner, nothing but the bottom of the blade!
And here she says, "Shh, I'm trying to skate a medal-winning
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