How the American Lady Skaters Could Kill the OlympicsS

During last night's short program, Tom Hammond noted that an American woman has made the figure skating podium every Olympics since Peggy Fleming. This year, that streak might be broken. That sort of ruins the Olympics, doesn't it?

Well, ha, OK, not ruins exactly, but makes it slightly less whole, doesn't it? The ladies' individual skate is always held at the very end of the games, because, let's be honest, it's the event most people really care about. (Hockey too, whatever.) Except this year it's likely that the most interesting event of these Vancouver games has already happened, mostly because there isn't an American woman who seems to be in medal contention.

Well, there's this Rachel Flatt character, who finished in fifth in last night's short program. Similarly-faced Sarah Hughes was in fourth going into the free skate back in 2002, and we all know how that ended.

How the American Lady Skaters Could Kill the OlympicsS

Yes, that's our dear hero Michelle Kwan, perhaps the Olympics' greatest tragedy. (Except for, you know, the real tragedies.) She was our great hope to claim a gold on home ice in Salt Lake, having won a silver in Nagano. But there were baubles and problems in the free skate and she wound up in third place. Oh sure Sarah Hughes was an American and she fell ass backwards into a win, so good for us, but also, who the fuck was Sarah Hughes? We wanted Kwan! Hughes was there and then she was gone, and our long, beautiful Kwan narrative ended with a sad exhibition skate with the word "Gold" cruelly in the title. The point is, disappointments abound in women's figure skating, but at least there's always an American there at the bitter end, waving her bouquet and grumbling at the Ukrainian national anthem.

Who knows what will happen on Thursday night. Rachel Flatt could skate the performance of her life, as Hughes did eight years ago, and come away with a big shiny hunk of the Earth's core. And you know what? She'd better. I've never, in my whole long life, seen a ladies skating podium without an American somewhere on it, and darned if I'm breaking that tradition this year, not now, not in Canada. So the weight of a nation is on your shoulders, Flatt. You too, nosebleedy. The Olympics will all be a wash if you guys fuck up.

(Kidding! Just have fun, girls.)

Most importantly though, don't you guys just miss Michelle Kwan so bad?

Both images via Getty