In honor of Virtue and Moir, who won a gold medal last night, here is something of a tribute (!) to Virtue and Moir and to ice dancing in general (!!) that I published at The Smart Set during the 2014 Winter Olympics:
For smooth sweeping – the very essence of skating on ice – it is best to watch the skaters who do fewer tricks. And that is why the highest form of skating on ice is skating in pairs and the highest form of skating in pairs is ice dancing. When you skate with another person, you are performing a kind of dance. Great dancers are often described as being able to “glide across the floor.” In skating on ice, you really can glide across the floor. The shared gliding of two human beings is, in fact, a thing stupendous. That is why ice-skating has always carried a sense of romance. When you’ve “swept smooth” with another person, you’ve shared something. Witness, if you will, the ice skating scene from the classic Cary Grant film, The Bishop’s Wife. Phenomenologically speaking, “smooth sweeping” is connected to wonder and love. Love in the romantic sense, yes. But more deeply, love in the sense of loving the world — and wonder that such a form of motion is possible at all.
Alas, the Olympic rule-makers have tried to destroy love and wonder by means of the progressive scoring system, which rewards skaters for doing many jumps and twirls and anything that has a high probability of landing them on the fanny. You’d think that something as pure and lovely as the scene from The Bishop’s Wife would not be welcome in a commercialized and crass event like the modern Olympics. But you would be wrong.
Ice dancing lives.