Dirty Dancing

January 21, 2002

Sorry, but it's crucial that we speak now of (throat-clearing
noise) crotches.

Like it or not, the crotch is essential in sports. No football
play begins without passing the ball through the crotch. No at
bat begins without the pitcher staring intently at his catcher's
crotch. Roseanne Barr couldn't have finished her sentimental
rendition of the national anthem without the crotch.

Still, for some reason, the people who run figure skating have
gotten all crabby about the crotch. In fact at the beginning of
this season the International Skating Union (ISU) instructed its
pairs skating and ice dancing judges to deduct points for
"undignified" movements. Mostly they are worried about too many,
well, crotch shots.

"It really was getting disgusting," says ISU championships dance
judge Charlie Cyr. "Seems like every performance, the judges kept
having all these crotches shoved in our faces. It was getting
gross. Or a woman would jump up on a man's shoulders, wrap her
legs around his neck, lie back with her crotch right in his face
and then rise again, smiling. I mean, hello? We're supposed to
think that's elegant?"

Apparently the crotch that broke figure skating's back happened
last season in a Grand Prix Series event. One dance team executed
a move in which he carried her upside down as she did splits, her
crotch being the main focus for the assembled multitudes, while
the music launched into (this is true) Nearer My God to Thee.

Boy, some people just don't appreciate art.

There was so much focus on the crotch at the U.S. Figure Skating
Championships in Los Angeles last week, you'd have sworn you
were watching MTV. Pairs and dance couples spoke of all the
moves they'd scratched for fear of losing points. Is the Lido
lift indecent now? The Russian splits? The Hydrant? What about
the Helicopter, in which the support is hand-to-crotch, as they
say in skating (and Michael Jackson videos)?

What about the spiral moves of U.S. Olympians Michelle Kwan and
Sasha Cohen, in which each holds her left ankle nearly to the
catwalk as she spins? It's beautiful, but some people see it as
something you might do at an annual checkup.

"It's hard to know what's decent and what's not," says Kyoko Ina,
who, with John Zimmerman, won the pairs title in L.A. "Don't men
do spirals? Why is it somehow indecent for a woman but not for a
man?"

Does the ISU think that all these women would be more
comfortable with a stripper's pole in the middle of the ice? And
since when did figure skating start worrying about undignified?
This is the sport that gave us Katarina Witt's Playboy spread,
Oksana Baiul's blood-alcohol count and Tonya Harding's crowbar.

Besides, skaters are already the most policed athletes this side
of the Dallas Cowboys. "I can't lie on the ice, can't stay on
both knees," groans Ina. "My costume can't be too revealing. I
can't wear a unitard [Debi Thomas Rule]. I have to have my
crotch covered and my rear end covered, but if I'm in the middle
of a spin and my suit rides up into a wedgie, is it a deduction?"

That's a Zen koan for crotchety ISU officials to ponder.

Everything in skating now is so asexual. Men can't wear tights
(Brian Boitano Rule) and can't show armpit or chest hair. "I've
got rashes on my chest from trying to shave it," says Charles
Sinek, who will dance at the Olympics with his wife, Beata
Handra. (Shouldn't there be some kind of allowance for these two?
After all, they're married. We know they don't have sex.)

If you start censoring figure skating, what about the rest of
the Olympics? Have you taken a look at the two-man luge? It's
two men in lycra suits tight enough to tell if they have innies
or outies, with one lying directly on top of the other! Olympic
male swimmers wear about 29 cents worth of material. Is that
indecent? In tennis, when Serena Williams goes for a smash and
her skirt flies up over her waist, should she be docked a point?
And, my God, what about Jesper Parnevik's golf pants?

So now you can add sexless figure skating to the Salt Lake City
Games, which will have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but almost no
caffeine, liquor, cigarettes, bars that stay open past--what?--9
p.m., strip clubs and massage joints.

Not that anybody would actually, you know (throat-clearing
noise), want to indulge in those things.

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA

Figure skating judges now have to deduct points for
"undignified" movements...well, crotch shots.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)