The Proper Age To Give Up On Your Summer Olympic Dream

In 2014 we discussed your Winter Olympics dreams and when you should let them die (short answer: already):

Remember watching the Olympics when you were a kid? There was a whole world of possibility! You could watch any sport and wonder whether maybe you had some innate gift for it and would be competing for your country in 20 years.

As you moved through your later childhood and teen years, your dreams had to die bit by bit. You’d realize that you weren’t even the best hockey player on your school’s team, or you’d fail to qualify for regionals in track. Maybe you shot up to a stocky 5’10 and realized you wouldn’t be much of a gymnast. Or maybe you didn’t get that far — maybe, by age 12 or so, you came to realize that you’re just … not athletic.

And yet, every two years – at the summer and winter Olympics – I start to get a little ahead of myself. Just like when I was five years old, I watch the events and wonder if maybe it’s not too late.

Well, friends, I’m here to kill those dreams. I’ve done a little research, and it looks like if you haven’t started most Winter Olympics events by a certain (usually young) age, you’ll never be using “next-level Tinder” in the Olympic village or wearing your country’s weird Cosby/teacher sweater in the Parade of Nations.

Obviously, there are exceptions to all of these. There really are savants who can take up a sport and be at a competitive level right away. There are also some people who are so preternaturally athletic that they’ll excel in any sport you throw at them. Of course, if you’re already skilled in a closely related sport, it’s also not that hard to take up a new one. 

We figured it was time to kill our Summer Olympic dreams, too (I’m almost 30 years old and really more into exercise than athletics). In case you were wondering, here’s when you should turn your dream into a dream deferred, focusing on individual sports for practical purposes:

Archery

Maybe it’s time to dust off that bow that you impulse-bought back in 2012 when you were really into the Hunger Games. Archery has one of the longest age ranges of any Olympic sport, with competitors reaching into their 50s. Sure, it’ll take some time, but if you show natural aptitude for it and practice a lot … maybe!

Canoeing

I have a kayak and it’s a really fun and easy activity. Olympic canoeing is maybe a bit more intense than my local rivers and streams, though? It also looks like so much fun. Most competitors are in their mid-20s, but some are a bit older. It’s probably easier and more enjoyable to canoe or kayak just for the fun of it, but there’s no harm in researching the (fairly intense) qualification system if you’re really good.

Cycling

Cycling seems like a sport that you could begin later. I mean, I’ve known how to ride a bike without training wheels since I was 4 and I think I can go pretty fast. It turns out I’m not quite wrong. Cycling is a sport that you can specialize in fairly late, and you can remain at an elite level throughout your 30s. The average age pro cycler is 28, but unlike some other sports many of the athletes weren’t competitive wunderkinds at age 15.

The great news is that cycling can be a lifelong activity and if your heart isn’t set on competing at the Olympics, there are road races for every skill level. I think an athletic, talented person could get a number of non-Olympic gold medals with the right drive and preparation. Go ahead. Hop on that bike and dream a little.

Equestrian

Here’s the thing about equestrian. You can keep doing it for a long time, but you also probably have to start fairly young, if only from a logistics standpoint. With all of the time, money and equipment involved, an adult simply is not going to start at learning how to hold onto the reins and work their way through the many competitive levels.

If you’re already good at riding horses, great! Don’t kill your dream – there are equestrian competitors in their 40s and 50s. If you’ve never been on a horse, maybe some amateur-level horseback riding classes and trail rides would be more fun.

Gymnastics

Did you know that Simone Biles, inspiration to millions, gold medalist widely considered the best gymnast of all time, was actually a late starter to gymnastics?

She was six.

If you’re old enough to read this, say farewell to your Olympic dreams. And if you’re already in gymnastics but you aren’t in elite training and competition by your early teens, forget it.

There’s a specific body type that’s optimal for gymnastics – short, muscular, flexible, light – and even if you’re really dedicated and talented, you’ll probably stall out if you get too tall to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.

Marathon

Good(ish) news! Marathon runners are thought to peak in their late 20s and early 30s, and since super long distances can have negative health implications for young teens, it’s not as though most competitors were running full marathons since they were 12 or anything. Let’s say you’re already a runner, maybe did cross-country for a while, make great times and are willing to train. There is the time and lifestyle thing, of course: if you’re in your 20s or 30s you might not be able to center your schedule around intense runs. But don’t let your age stop you – in Beijing, the US Women’s team was lead by two 35-year-olds. 

Eventually your joints will probably fail you and your aerobic capacity will decrease. However, like cycling I’m going to say that this is a sport where it’s okay to dream a little. There are so many marathons and half-marathons out there that if you’re talented and hard-working, you might find yourself qualifying for some of the big-name races even if you’re in your late 20s, 30s or 40s. Remember, an 84-year-old qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon.

Shooting

Maybe you’re a skilled hunter or live for your weekends at the shooting range. Are you Olympic-level good? Dream big, Annie Oakley. There are shooters in their 40s and 50s competing this year. Granted, it’s not incredibly easy to qualify – or easy at all – but if you measure yourself against the top shooters and can tell that you’re just as good, you might as well acquaint yourself with the International Shooting Sport Federation.

Swimming

Want to swim? You have a tad longer than some other sports: most swimmers get their feet wet as elementary-school kids at the YMCA or JCC, but a number of competitive swimmers didn’t start swimming seriously until high school or even college. Talent will not always show itself until a swimmer is much older: USA Swimming cautions that a fast 10-year-old will not always be a fast 18-year-old (nor a slow 10-year-old a slow 18-year-old). While not all swimmers are tall, most of them are, so if you’re short with a small wingspan it’s a good idea to put your dream to sleep before it suffers too much.

You can start late as a swimmer if you’re naturally talented and athletic, but don’t expect to stay in the sport forever. Did you hear the NBC commentators marveling that Michael Phelps could hoist himself from the swimming pool between gold-medal races? That’s because a 31-year-old swimmer isn’t the norm. Well, partially. It’s mostly because the NBC commentators are terrible.

Tennis

The great thing about tennis is that you can start playing as a tot and keep at it til you’re one of those old men with the tiny shorts on the public courts (seriously guys, why always such small shorts?). There are some anecdotal claims of college-level or competitive tennis players who started at age 11 or 15, so that’s heartening. Still, if you haven’t started some kind of training as a kid or teen, have fun on the courts but forget about the Olympics.

Trampoline

My personal love affair with the trampoline died around 1995, when I was doing that popcorn game where you sit down and let other kids bounce you … and I was the skinny kid … and I flew off the trampoline and broke my nose. I think a lot of trampoline dreams died the same way – backyard accidents before trampolines had all of the safety features they do now. If you somehow escaped broken limbs or stitches during your childhood and think Olympic trampolining is the life for you, I have some news you won’t like. Those fancy acrobatics are the result of years of gymnastics training, and the athletes cap out in their early 20s.


We kid about killing your dreams, of course — the only person who can kill your dreams is you. The great thing about most of these individual sports is that you can take them up at any age and even compete at a non-elite level. And if you want to motivate yourself by imagining Olympic glory while you practice? A little daydream never hurt anybody.

 

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Summer Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Michael Phelps Everything

We’re nearly a week into the Summer Olympics and like it’s been since Sydney in 2000, America (and the world, I’m assuming) has been struck with Michael Phelps fever once again, as he scoops up even more medals to add to his collection. But earlier this week, we were blessed with Michael Phelps mania in a whole other way that would’ve not even made sense 16 years ago – the Internet meme.

In 2012, the London Games had McKayla Maroney, who was not impressed during the medal ceremony, and therefore became a viral sensation.

McKayla, for the record, is totally fine with #PhelpsFace, telling TMZ: “I looked at his pictures and was like, YES! Go, Michael, take it away, please!” {x}

This time around, the Olympics meme has been rewarded to the GOAT, after he was spotted giving the stank eye in the ready room to his South African rival Chad Le Clos. To back it up a bit, Chad Le Clos was an Olympics rookie in 2012, and even admitted he had always looked up to Michael as a young swimmer. But when they raced next to each other in the 200m Butterfly (Michael’s best event), Chad surprised everyone by beating out Michael for the gold by five-hundredths of a second, igniting a rivalry that has just gotten worse over the years. Which brings us to Rio and #PhelpsFace.

Chad needs to literally take a seat here, because he’s clearly just doing it to annoy Michael, but like Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines said in the video, “… This is… GREAT television!” and “I could watch this all night!” Thanks to the Internet, we can remember the moment forever with all the immediate memes that popped up. Here are just some of the best ones from #PhelpsFace that will go down in World Wide Web history forever.

 

MEMECEPTION:

He got it from his daddy…

Of course, we all know now that Michael got revenge on Chad and let his skills do the talking by redeeming himself in the 200m Fly on Tuesday and winning his 20th gold medal. Chad le Clos? He didn’t even made it to the podium. Enter adjustments to the #PhelpsFace meme:

But really, Chad, I know you’re really into sneaking a peek at your competitors, but here’s one thing you can take out of this year’s Games:

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Worry bout your own lane

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BONUS:

Real or Not Real? Olympic Sports Edition

I’m assuming like most of the world’s citizens, we’re not experts on any of these Olympic sports, but any time we ever spend more than an hour watching something like synchronized diving, we immediately consider ourselves at-home-commentators who’ve suddenly become qualified to literally judge the sport from our couch.

But we know the truth. I forget synchronized diving is a thing people train for a month after cheering for David Boudia as he wins a silver medal. I forget synchronized diving is even a sport all together! So while all of us couch potatoes are obviously on the verge of becoming professional athletes, there are some sports that we might need to brush up on. Canoe Slalom? Rhythmic Gymnastics? Croquet? JK That last one isn’t a real sport. But can you tell the difference between these real and fake Olympic Sports? Time to brush up on your athletic knowledge.

Softball

Softball: the sport that is for women! Because we can’t possibly handle a smaller ball to hit with a bat!

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Softball is… not an Olympic sport! Not anymore. It WAS when the Olympics began in 1936, but in 2005, the IOC decided to discontinue Softball and it was played for the last time in 2008, when the gold medal was won by Japan. This was the only time the U.S. did not win the gold, and ended up with silver. There are a lot of theories as to why the IOC decided to pull the plug on softball, and one of them is that the U.S. was simply too dominant in the sport and were like, ‘um forget it. We can’t keep handing these gold medals to the Americans.’

Golf

Fun fact: I used to be super into golf. The PGA Championship was held in Rochester one year, and I went and saw Tiger from afar and other pro golfers in the flesh. Then I randomly got into it and would spend my Sunday afternoons with a tournament on the TV. What I’m saying is that I’m actually a pro-golfer and I’ve been lying about my other job this entire time.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Golf… IS an Olympic sport! The Rio Olympics are the first time Golf has been played since 1904. And before that, it was only played in 1900. Golf at the Olympics are set up as an individual competition, so it’s none of that Ryder Cup group mentality. It’s every man and woman for themselves. Interestingly, a bunch of the world’s top golfers, like many anthletes, decided to pull out of the Olympics because of Zika. They’ll just continue to be bit by mosquitoes everywhere else.

Rugby Sevens

Rugby is cool. It’s popular in New Zealand, it’s more intense than American football, and you pass backwards. The offsides rules make no sense. There’s normal rugby, and there’s rugby sevens – 7 players vs 7 players with 7-minute periods. (I briefly dated a doofy rugby player when I was like 20, it is what it is).  The players from NZ do cool chants.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Rugby Sevens… IS an Olympic sport! And 2016 is its debut year. I happened to be home when a women’s rugby sevens match was on this weekend and it was actually really, really fun. Men’s finals are on Thursday and the women’s competition is over. It was Australia v New Zealand which we bet is a big rivalry!

Trampoline

My word association with trampolines:

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Trampoline… IS a sport! The moves from Saved By the Bell’s Hot Sundae music video are not the same thing they do on the Olympic level.

Equestrian Vaulting

Did anyone ever watch that move Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken? It sounds like a slogan that would be on a t-shirt from Forever 21 along with a photo of, you know, a wistful girl in a flower crown, but I promise that it’s real. It’s about a girl who used to be a horse diver – like, took a living horse to the top of a platform and dove into water in the 1920s when that passed for entertainment – until she went deaf from horse diving. Or maybe the horse did. In any case, that’s how I imagine Equestrian Vaulting – a horse jumping over or from a tall thing.

The reality is so much better. Equestrian vaulting is “gymnastics or dance on horseback” – like dressage, but where the human is the one doing the fancy stuff. That is so hardcore. There are so many equestrian events that equestrian vaulting as an Olympic sport sounds entirely plausible.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Equestrian Vaulting is … not an Olympic sport. But it was in 1932 when people were still really into doing weird things with horses, and if dedicated vaulters have their way, it would be back. We support this motion.

Lacrosse

Was Lacrosse a really big sport at everyone’s high school or was that just in like, Western New York?

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Lacrosse… is NOT an Olympic sport. It was only a sport in 1904 and 1908, and both times Canada won. There were demonstration events at three Olympics, but those net sticks haven’t helped anyone win a medal in over 100 years.

Tug of War

Yes, THAT Tug of War that you played in elementary school gym and had rope burns on your hands for the rest of the day.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Tug of War… is NOT an Olympic sport. But believe it or not, it definitely used to be! And it lasted longer than both Lacrosse and Golf, as it was a team event between 1900 and 1920. Tug of War in gym class would make so much more sense if we could’ve been building up to be Olympic athletes

Roller Hockey

When I hear Roller Hockey, I think first of all of children from the 1990s wearing neon kneepads playing on roller blades in a driveway with a net in front of a garage door. (I think this because that happened in my childhood.)

Then, I think second of Roller Derby, and surmise that there are sassy nicknames, lots of fishnets, and more than a little violence.

Upon further research, roller hockey is played by athletic adults on four-wheeled skates with sticks more resembling field hockey sticks. It seems legit enough to have sneaked into an Olympics or two.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Roller Hockey is … not an Olympic a sport. But at was in 1992 in Barcelona, which is apt because it is the most 1992-sounding sport I can think of.

Water Skiing

Weird water sports are an Olympic favorite, and skiing is hugely popular in the winter games. Water skiing conjures images of synchronized human pyramids and music videos featuring The Go-Gos. Without checking, I would almost guarantee that it is not an Olympic sport because most sports don’t use things like engines.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Water skiing is… not an Olympic sport. However, it WAS a “demonstration sport” at the 1972 games in Munich, which is way closer than I thought it was to being an Olympic sport. There was FIGURE SKIING.

Cricket

Here are the things I know about cricket:

  • It’s like worse baseball.
  • Whenever my brother, who writes for an online outlet, does an article about the cricket tournaments in India he gets like a bazillion hits.
  • They play it in this one episode of Road to Avonlea, an early 90s CBC show about Canadian children from the 1800s.
  • It’s not croquet, which is different.
  • They play it in Great Britain and India, mostly.
  • Named after a friendly bug.
Sport or not a sport? 

Cricket is…. not an Olympic sport.

It was featured in the 1900 Olympic games, cricket proponents would like to bring it back, but cricket hasn’t been an Olympic sport for over a century.

Canoe Sprint

Canoeing – kayaking’s chilled-out older brother – can get fairly intense. It can involve small teams, like a bobsled race. There can be a cool outdoor venue and inspirational athletes who have competed since childhood. All of that points to sport.

My Google research tells me that canoe sprint can actually involve canoes OR kayaks, and is conducted on smooth water. It kind of resembles smaller-scale rowing.

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Canoe sprint … IS an Olympic sport! An Olympic Sport taking place next week. It actually looks really athletic and fun and is one of the last remaining sports that I can pretend that I could still take up.

Flonkerton

Is Flonkerton even a word?

Sport Or Not A Sport?

Flonkerton … is NOT an Olympic sport! It’s not even a real sport! It’s a fake sport from the fake Office Olympics on The Office. And at the Opening Olympics, it kinda looked like they were playing Flonkerton!

Pop Culture Phenomena Of The 1996 Olympics: Where Are They Now

Once an Olympic year has ended, most of the athletes move off of my radar. Within the next four years some of my favorites always retire. Others morph, within the span of 3 or 4 Olympic cycles, from teenage wunderkinds to competitors in their prime to the aging stalwarts of their field. I’m almost 30, so this year I am watching my dewy-faced peers from 2004 become respected veterans contemplating retirement.

Nothing highlights this passage of time more than the 1996 Olympic games. We have images burned into our memories of tiny teenage gymnasts accepting their gold medals, and it’s hard to fathom that they are now married mothers on the cusp of middle age. Tennis scamp Andre Agassi is 46. Michael Johnson works for Arsenal – imagine that.

I think we’re all a little stunned that the last summer Olympics to be hosted in the U.S. happened a full twenty years ago. Because of that, Where Are They Now features for the top athletes of the Atlanta games have abounded. I still had some unanswered questions, though: remember Whatizit? Where’d they put the cauldron? And does Bela Karolyi still think I can do it? Let’s investigate:

Whatizit

Izzy, officially known as Whatizit, was the baffling, bug-eyed mascot of the ’96 games. I’m not sure why the Olympic Mascot can never just be, like, a regular cartoon kitten or an animated tiger, but for whatever reason they always go for amorphous CGI blobs – a tradition that started with Izzy. Prior to the Atlanta Games, mascots always were cute or at least identifiable, but the new millennium was on the horizon and we were really proud every time we managed to computer-generate something.

In the 20 years since the Atlanta Olympics, Izzy’s legacy has endured. The 2004 mascot: an abstract take on an ancient Greek doll; looks like a BBC cartoon from the late 80s that PBS would air before Mr. Rogers. 2008: I don’t even get it, they each correspond to a word of Welcome To Beijing but ALSO to five elements but ALSO they bear a wish but ALSO they represent the color of the Olympic rings. Obviously had quite a committee there. 2012: just terrible; standing blobs more or less. Look what Izzy started.

After the games, Izzy appeared in a 1997 special, Izzy’s Quest for Olympic Gold, which aired on TNT one time. There was a computer game (on CD Rom, naturally) and a video game (Super Nintendo, as was the fashion).

As of 2016, Whatizit can be found on eBay for relatively uninflated prices, since nobody really liked him (her?) in the first place.

The Cauldron

In 1996, Muhammad Ali lit the cauldron and ushered in the modern Olympic Games on their 100th anniversary.

Cut to 20 years later, and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young is calling the cauldron an “embarrassment” and comparing it to “the bridge over the river Kwai.”

Basically, a bunch of architects were put into a team to design the cauldron. The result was kind of funny looking, further illustrating why group work is the actual worst. GROUP WORK. Ugh.

The Cauldron is now perched on the edge of Turner Field at the top of some kind of a steel staircase that looks like the steps to a water slide.

 

The Macarena

The Macarena fad celebrates its 20th birthday this year, but in 1996 it was the cool dance craze sweeping the nation. Delegates at the Democratic National Convention bounced along, every kid in America knew the steps, and – in what I will call the high point of its existence – the Magnificent 7 performed the dance at the gymnastics arena. Somehow, Dominique Moceanu even manages to move her hands like she’s doing that weird vogue stuff they always do in the corner during a floor exercise. Shannon Miller rounds it off with a sassy flip. Kerri Strug avoids putting weight on her ankle, still in a brace after her injury. Dominique Dawes, objectively speaking, is the best at it.

Macarena quickly met the fate of all cool dance crazes: old people learned how to do it, it became terminally dorky, and it is now standard fare at weddings.

Bela Karolyi

We’re not discussing athletes here, but coaches are fair play. Besides, in the public sphere Karolyi was not just a coach, he was a pop culture phenomenon. Remember how the phrase “you can do it” took off as a catch phrase after Bela encouraged poor, injured Kerri to finish her event?

As could be expected, in the years that follows allegations of Karolyi’s harsh – even abusive – coaching style began to surface. He became the team coordinator of USA Gymnastics, publicly reviled for his intensive camps while still somewhat respected for his professional success. Karolyi’s wife Marta became the U.S. team coordinator in 2001, a position she still holds. Bela has served as a gymnastics commentator occasionally and continues to own the infamous Ranch. A NBC Sports documentary about the Karolyis is forthcoming.

The Olympic Village

I don’t have the talent, drive, or correct height to become any kind of Olympic athlete, but I would give anything to experience the international camaraderie of the Olympic Village. It always seems like such a downer to see photographs of the village months and years after the games – abandoned, crumbling into ruin, a waste of planning, budget and infrastructure.

But not in Atlanta! The city built athletic facilities with the future in mind, then retrofit them for the games. As a result, almost all of the sites are in use today (except for the tennis courts, which don’t look great.)

My favorite reuse has to be the Olympic Village dormitories, which are now Georgia Tech housing. I can think of no better afterlife for Olympic dorms – I’m just trying not to think about how most of the people using them now weren’t even alive for the ’96 games.

 

Going For The Opening Ceremony Gold

We are in the full Olympics swing on this third day of the Games, and as we previously mentioned, we stan hardcore for these sports, despite the fact we’re not normally the sports enthusiast type. See LiveJournal post from 2004:

But on Friday, the Games officially started with the Opening Ceremony, the event that was supposedly seen by 3 billion people around the world. It’s always been a bigger deal than the Closing Ceremony, since most of the athletes are in the stadium walking in the parade of nations, and they’re genuinely excited to be there. On the other side of the Games, the Closing Ceremony doesn’t have as many athletes, since a lot of them go home if they lose in the beginning (e.g. the swimmers from this past Saturday who lose a 100m race in a matter of seconds and the whole journey comes to an end that quick).

Anyways, if you happened to miss the Opening Ceremony, we’ve got a few highlights for you – a few moments worthy of getting the gold.

Gisele’s Most Important Walk In Her Life

I’m convinced Gisele Bundchen owns most of Brazil at this point, so it makes sense she would be featured prominently during the Opening Ceremony doing what she does best. Walking.

And then she moved into the stands so she could dance with the plebs

Was Eric Carle Brazilian?

Brazilians were all into letting us know the environment has and always will be important to them, we travelled back to the beginning of time in the Brazilian rainforest where we were treated to Julie Taymor-worthy insects and animals on the ground floor.

Judi Dench Teaches Us About Climate Change

Famous Brazilian actress Dame Judi Dench unexpectedly made an “appearance” by narrating the section on climate change with a poem titled A Flor e a Náusea by Brazilian writer Carlos Drummond de Andrade. This whole part served as a straight up warning that global warming is real, because Brazil gives no fucks and if it’s during the Olympics odd are you’ll probably pay attention to it. SCIENCE.

Suck It, Wright Brothers

Also included in the Brazil Gives No Fucks category is when they introduced a dude playing the role of Alberto Santos-Dumont, who’s known in the country as the first in flight. AKA they think American Wright Brothers were full of shit and their aviator was the OG pioneer. The ghost of Alberto is somewhere with the Wright Brothers, smoking a cigar, blowing rings in the air before saying, “See. I told you. Now the whole world knows suckers.”

HARDCORE PARKOUR!

Some people saw whatever QBert is, I saw Michael Scott  jumping from Point A (delusion) to Point B (the hospital) on a much larger scale.

Here Come The Feels

The moment this Bolivian athlete realized everything he had been training for led up to this night will forever be burned in my brain. Also it was the first time I cried.

F-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fa-fashion

CLASSIC BERMUDA.

Love these girls’ togas (?)/outfits!

TONGA THO

The moment the Google searches for “Tonga” spiked a million percent.

Carrying The Banner

For the first time ever, Michael Phelps attended the Opening Ceremony (he’s always had to compete the day after). And of course the USA took advantage of this and made him the flag bearer with cool ass light up jacket. Also, no one looks embarrassing in these Ralph Lauren blazers and white pants. Relatedly, Michael has custom sneakers with his son’s tiny baby footprint in them. CAN YOU EVEN

 

Bonus:

Why The Olympics Is Important

During the parade of nations, Brazil was expected to get the most cheers. But this year, for the first time ever, a new team walked in right before the host country and received one of the loudest applause of the night – Refugee Olympic Team. 10 athletes who have all been displaced from their home countries are competing under the Olympic flag, and when they arrived to Maracana stadium, they got a standing ovation from the thousands in the arena, plus the millions watching at home. And more tears from me. You’ll hear more about them from us later on, but if you want to feel more emo about them, check out this video.

Shadiest of All the Shade

Speaking of refugees, the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach spoke towards the end of the ceremony and perfectly described what the Olympics is all about – 10,000 athletes from all over the world competing against each other peacefully and valuing their shared humanity.

And then he started talking about how we’re living in a world of “selfishness” where some people “claim to be superior to others”, noting that at these Games, they “do not just tolerate diversity in this Olympic world, we welcome you as an enrichment to our unity in diversity.”

This Tiny Child Dancing Samba

I know nothing about Samba dancing so I have no idea if this kid sucks. I can tell you that his smile and charm make this the most adorable combo of old man singing native Brazilian songs with a new generation represented by this little nugget embraces the history of his culture.

This Marathoner

Brazilian runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima was literally on track to win the marathon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but was attacked by a defrocked priest from Ireland named Neil Horan. You read that right. Not Niall. But can you imagine? Anyways, de Lima only had four miles to go, and even though he got back up, two men passed him and he ended up getting the bronze medal instead of the gold. He had his redemption on Friday night by carrying the torch for his home country and lighting the cauldron with the Olympic flame. It’s also worth noting how cool looking the cauldron contraption is:

All of the Lights

opening ceremony

Because if you don’t end an Opening Ceremony with a massive fireworks display, the athletes are contractually not allowed to compete.

All The Best Uniforms At The Rio Opening Ceremonies

It’s almost time for the Rio Opening Ceremonies, and you know what that means – costumes.

Okay, more specifically the Parade of Nations, where the athletes from the participating countries process into the arena wearing some kind of weird modern take on their national dress, like muscly Madame Alexander dolls or a sexy It’s A Small World ride.

I love it.

While a number of countries have released photos of their team uniforms – especially when there’s a high profile sponsor involved – it’s too soon to tell which looks will make the Parade of Nations. Still,here are a few to keep your eye out for:

Great Britain in Stella McCartney/ Adidas

Who’s making redcoats redder? Stella McCartney, I guess. I’m just so thrilled we can finally bring back Britain’s colonial-era nickname. The Adidas uniforms forego the typical Union Jack in favor of a coat of arms combining the thistle, rose, leek and flax, as well as a lion, the national animal of England even though England doesn’t have lions. The fabric is lightweight and there are fun leggings. The female athlete third from the right is not impressed.

I still can’t believe they make Wales be a leek. Pee-ew.

Canada in Hudson’s Bay and D-Squared

 

There are a lot of stereotypes about Canada and one of them is that Canada doesn’t really have cities. That’s why it’s so fun to see Canada go a little urban with their outfits. It’s a real mix-and-match collection combining smart jackets, jaunty track suits and even graphic tees. If I have one complaint it’s that the pants look weirdly saggy at the knee – but just look at what they’re wearing for the Opening Ceremonies:

South Korea

If I were an Olympic athlete, I would proudly compete in a prison jumpsuit or footie pajamas if it was Zika proof. Lucky for South Korea, their uniforms are fairly cute AND Zika-repellant. I like the uniforms to the right, like they’re activity leaders at a nice country club. The slim fit cropped pants are cute.

Here’s where I was going to complain about socks with boat shoes, but ZIKA. Gotta cover those ankles. Good job.

Sweden in H&M

There’s so much to love. First of all, that Sweden is wearing H&M. Second, that a relatively small(-ish) Scandinavian country can be one of the world’s biggest exporters of cool fashion and musicians. Third, these fabrics are sustainably produced and recycled. I love that there’s a fun athletic dress and the leggings and socks are just too good.

Spain

They look great – almost like street clothes but a bit more polished, with sassy scarves and tie clips. The woven belts are excellent too, and the contrasting accents on the blazers and the buttons.

I do wonder why, in a world where red and blue seem to be the most popular national colors, a country that actually has a different color scheme going for it opts for red and blue.

Italy in EA7 by Emporio Armani

Unlike Spain, I can’t even quibble that these aren’t the national colors (except for the bits of red and green on the collar) because the black and white just feels so Italian. The giant 7s are the most conspicuous branding I’ve seen so far on the team uniforms, but it also can kind of just read as some stripes maybe?

Brazil 

Say what you will about Brazil’s preparedness or suitability to host the 2016 games: there is a special place in my heart for a country that will deck men out in florals. Granted, I was even more excited when I thought that the ascot was the lining of his blazer instead.

France in Lacoste

Remember when you wouldn’t see a fashionable, city-dwelling European caught dead in athletic wear in public? The recent trend for sleek, well-designed athleisure clothing has turned that around a bit, and France’s simple and tidy look shows how well it can be done.

USA in Ralph Lauren

Not my favorites, but not horrible; these get points for the sheer American-ness of red-white-and-blue stripes and pushed up sleeves on Oxford shirts.

Australia

The word Slytherin has been thrown around a few times for these uniforms, as has “ice cream lady.” But me? I just hope they make it back to Malibu Sands in time to help Stacey Carosi’s dad out at the big volleyball tournament.

 

Most teams haven’t released photos of their uniforms yet, so tune into the Opening Ceremonies tonight to find out who the REAL best-dressed are.

 

2014: A GIF-tastic Retrospective

Well we’re almost to the end of the year, folks. And that means you get to see Best Of lists everywhere you look. Including here. But rather than countdown our favorite albums or TV shows or Poehler moments, we’re opting to compile the best moments of the year in GIF form, one of the greatest gifts the Internet has ever given us. Did your faves make the list?

**Warning – this is obviously iamge heavy, so just be patient!

{January} Jennifer Lawrence being Jennifer Lawrence and sneaking up on Taylor Swift during the Golden Globes red carpet but not realizing she’s also in the show. And also on live TV.

{January} “I want you to know that the red underneath my shoes is my blood.” – Emma Thompson not giving any fucks while presenting at the Golden Globes {x}

{January} POEHLER FINALLY WON A GOLDEN GLOBE/AWARD AND I THOUGHT I WASN’T SEEING CORRECTLY BECAUSE OF MY TEARS OF JOY, BUT THIS MAKE OUT SESH WITH BONO REALLY DID HAPPEN.

{January} Good recovery on Swift’s part when she thought she won Best Album at the Grammys. Her team – not so much.

{January} Joe Biden being all Joe Biden-y at the State of the Union. John Boehner orange and bored, per usual.

{February} Bob Costas, Olympics broadcasting icon, got pink eye and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves, so we made this gif instead.

{February} Olympic ice skater Ashley Wagner calls bullshit with her horrible scores, becomes meme.

{February} Ice skater Jeremy Abbott falls rulll hard on the ice, slams into the wall, lays there for a bit, THEN GETS BACK UP AND FINISHES HIS ROUTINE.

{February} Jimmy Fallon takes over the Tonight Show and I sob like a baby.

{March} Jennifer Lawrence falls at the Oscars. Again. This time on the red carpet. On a traffic cone. Just getting out of the car. #Bless

{March} Still the best selfie ever taken in the storied history of selfies. (JLaw obvs said the boob comment)

{March} The time we all thought wecollectively had a stroke, then realized John Travolta just can’t read.

{March} And the entire world sobbed as Lupita won her first Oscar.

{March} Marshmallows united and wait 10 years for this. Worth it.

{April} In one of the final episodes of Mad Men, Ginsberg actually goes mad. Luckily, Ben Feldman is much more sane (and hot) than this.

{April} When the internet made the most of this cute chubby future king nugget

 

{April} Rita Ora became a national hero by ripping Zefron’s clothes off as he accepted his Best Shirtless Performance prize at the MTV Movie Awards

{May} Coming up – coming down – Solange kick yo ass up in a gownnn.

{May} The collective exclamation of How I Met Your Mother fans everywhere.

{May} This was a confusing thing Ryan Gosling and Macaulay Culklin did.

{May} 50 Cent proves he’s much better at ANYTHING ELSE

{June} I didn’t care about the World Cup but I cared about this guy.

{July} A lot of celebrities died as part of the Sharknado 2 wrath

{August} Pratt.

{August} This lil guy.

{August} Ebola was a thing we freaked out about

{August} Andy Cohen takes a Belfie (butt selfie, obvs) with Kim K.

{August} People poured a bucket of ice water over themselves for charity and Ben Affleck pushed his wife into the pool.

{August} A joke set up at the beginning about their Seinfeld past paid off with this makeout sesh right before Julia Louis-Dreyfus accepted her 10,290th Emmy award. Bonus JFal.

{August} ‘Please welcome my beautiful, amazing, and talented friend: Beyonce!’

 

{August} Disregard Miley’s tears and put all your attention to the shade Katy Perry and Sam Smith are throwing in the back.

{August} Bow.Down.Bitches.

{August} If there’s anyone to upstage Beyonce while performing a 15 minute routine at the VMAs, it’s Blue Ivy. I’ve watched this Vine more times that I should admit.

{September} “This week, Amal Alamuddin, a brilliant Oxford educated human rights lawyer and former UN advisor settled for a 52 year old man.”

{September} Diamond Dan guys. Diamond FREAKING Dan.

{October} Taylor Swift became a pop star by doing this.

{December} Walken proved that you can just fake it til you make it if you’re in a live musical of Peter Pan

{December} This reunion made me feel all the feels.

{December} The King and Queen meet Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge

 

Class of ’04: What’s My Age Again?

You can tell me that we graduated 10 years ago, but I still have a difficult time convincing myself that that much time has passed since I last used a locker and attended a gym class (note I didn’t say ‘participated’). And when looking back at pop culture a decade ago, it’s hard to believe that some of these things happened so long ago. Here’s a list of just a few things that happened in 2004 that will make you want to pull out your Sony Discman and blast Blink-182 in an attempt to reclaim your youth.

Oops… I Did It Again

January 3rd: Britney Jean Spears decided to go to Las Vegas and marries her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel, the same place where Paul Newman married Joanne Woodward and Pamela Anderson tied the knot with Rick Salomon (the first time).

January 5th: Brit filed an annulment petition stating she “lacked understanding of her actions” and two hours later, her marriage was completely dissolved.

July 5th: Brit gets engaged to dancer Kevin Federline, whom she met three months earlier. Besides the fact that their relationship was on the fast track to marriage (read: divorce), they were under a lot of heat since Kevin’s and his ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson was still pregnant with their second child.

September 18: B & KFed get married. This is a picture that was taken during the reception.

Nipplegate/Boob Bowl

February 1: Ah yes, the floppy breast that all Americans young and old were exposed to during Super Bowl XXXVIII. As we know, JT ripped off a piece of tear away material covering Janet’s (Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty) right boob, and in their defense they deemed it a “wardrobe malfunction”, but conservatives called it “a sign of decreasing morality in the national culture”, while others just said to “calm the fuck down”. The legal ramifications from the FCC and subsequent lawsuits seemed to be never ending – in fact as recent as 2012, the Supreme Court declined an appeal from the FCC over the $550,000 fine on Nipplegate.

Kanye Drops College Dropout

February 10: Kanye West releases his debut album, The College Dropout, which hits the top of the charts and receives critical acclaim. It’s hard to believe there was a time when we ALL liked Kanye because his music was so good, but then he started talking too much and grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift, etc. and he became one of the most polarizing artists in music. But no one can deny just how freaking good this record was. Even the weakest track on the album was better than most of the rap songs released that year.

You Go, Glen Coco

February 20: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was the first of two leading roles Lindsay Lohan had in 2004, which is considered her breakout year. After appearing in Freaky Friday in 2003, Linds landed another Disney movie with the teen musical that pitted her against a young Megan Fox.

April 30: You know it, you love it, you wear pink on Wednesdays. Mean Girls was released and became a defining teen comedy of the 2000s and launched LiLo into superstar success.

May 1: Luckily, Lindsay had connections at Saturday Night Live thanks to Tina Fey/Mean Girls, and hosted the show for the first time, AKA the show with the most epic (and first) sketch of Debbie Downer.

June 5: Linds becomes the youngest host of the MTV Movie Awards at just 17 years old. Meanwhile, I think I was busy “studying” my Sparknotes for my AP English exam.

December 7: Lindsay’s first album, Speak is released and surprisingly gets certified platinum. I’m not going to lie to you, she has some pretty catchy tunes that may or may not have been downloaded via Napster. But seriously though – Over?!

Jimmy Meets World

May 15: Jimmy Fallon makes his last appearance as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, closing out his six-season tenure with a rousing all cast musical rendition of Grease’s Summer Nights, with his leading lady, Tina Fey.

You Can’t Be Sirius

May 23: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban hits theaters. I admit, I was such a late bloomer to HP. Like I didn’t start reading until the day the 7th book came out :\ I hang my head in shame (And I also blame my parents who I’m convinced believed that reading the books legit made you some kind of witch frreal). Anyways, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed installment grossed a total of $796.6 million worldwide, making it the lowest-grossing in the whole HP film series, but still ranks it the 44th highest-grossing film of all time. Whatever. This was my favorite movie up until the last one, and arguably my favorite book.

I Believe In Miracles

May 26: Fantasia Barrino wins the third season of American Idol in one of the most memorable and dramatic reveals in all of television history. Reminder that this is the same year Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson placed seventh and Diana DeGarmo was the runner-up. (Sidenote: I just saw Diana and hubs season 5 Idol alum Ace Young in the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tour and like a fine wine, her voice has just gotten better with age. Ace, maybe not so much. They’re cute tho. Go go go Joe!)

Closing Time

Our beloved Friends came to a close (which you can reminisce over at our Friends 10 Week tag), while shows I was too young to watch (Ed, Sex and the City, The Practice) and shows I was too old to still be watching (Lizzie McGuire, Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys, CatDog) also met their demise. RIP Lizzie + Gordo, forever in our hearts.

Meet Michael Phelps

August: The 2004 Summer Olympics are held in Athens, Greece and the main takeaway is that America came out with a new sports legend in Michael Phelps. At just 19 years old, he won 8 medals, 6 of which were gold, the other 2 bronze, well on his way to becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympics history. In the video above, Michael wins his 5th gold of the games in the 4×200 relay, helping his team edge out Ian “Thorpedo” Thorpe and the Australians by a hair. UGH I miss the Olympics.

Pieces of Me

October 23: Ashlee Simpson gets caught lip synching on Saturday Night Live and I have second hand embarrassment for all involved.

Beyonce Realizes Her Full Potential

November 16: Destiny’s Child releases their fourth and final studio album, Destiny Fulfilled. This record is not as solid as The Writing’s On The Wall (but really, which DC3 record is?), but it has one of my all time favorite Destiny’s Child Songs, Girl, as well as Cater 2 U. It’s fine, they all did well after the breakup. Right, Michelle?

Ken Jennings Makes Jeopardy! Event Television

November 30: Ken Jennings’ 74-consecutive win streak finally ends at the hands of competitor Nancy Zerg. He’s won a total of $3,196,300 from the show, which is… a heck of a lot of money and knowledge. Question: Where is Nancy Zerg now?

BriWi Takes Over

December 2:  Tom Brokaw resigns as anchorman of NBC Nightly News after 22 years at the desk and is replaced by Brian Williams. Love ya Tommy B, but if you didn’t retire, we would have never been able to get MC BriWillie out of his shell.

 

Goodbye, Sochi: Olympics GIF Wrap Up

Well folks, the 2014 Olympics have come and gone incredibly fast, just like Shaun White’s hopes of making history and winning another medal (too soon?). We’ve seen the highest of highs, the lowest of lows. The underdog stories and the stories of world champs falling from grace.

So how could we possibly sum up everything that’s happened in two weeks? With GIFs of course! Here are some of the best moments from the Sochi Winter Olympics in animated form. Hopefully this will tide all of us over until the Summer Games in Rio in 2016…

Remember the opening ceremony? I bet whoever was in charge of these olympic rings will never forget this for the rest of his/her life.

Poor Bob Costas. The man who helms the Olympics for NBC was down with pinkeye. Well, make that pinkeyes because it spread from one to the other and he had to sit out on like three nights of primetime coverage. But he eventually got better, and we got this gif out of it.

I was watching this live, when a man climbed a tree to meet U.S. Men’s Alpine head coach Sash Rearick, who was hanging out in some branches Katniss style to get a better view of the course. And an NBC correspondent had to get a interview, because, ratings.

There were 14 new programs introduced this year, including this one, slopestyle snowboarding. This is American Jamie Anderson who won us a gold medal and taught us about Tinder in Olympic village (but hardcore Olympic fans already know that the village is a hookup hotspot)

And one of the first viral gifs out of this year’s Olympics is courtesy of U.S. luger Kate Hansen. She was spotted rockin out with her headphones in right before she sped down the icy ramp.

When asked who she was listening to, clearly, it was none other than Queen Beyonce.

Another American who went viral – figure skater Ashley Wagner. Clearly disappointed with her low score, she forgot that cameras were on her and also forgot that the internet thrives on reactions like this.

This is probs my favorite. This is a real pic from American bobsledder Johnny Quinn, who got locked in his Sochi hotel bathroom. To escape, he used his bobsled (and NFL training) to break through the door like the Kool-Aid man. The best part – he got stuck in an elevator a few days later.

And then there was Russia’s Yulia Lipnitskaya. A 15 year old who stunned everyone in the free skate during the team competition, helping them earn a gold medal, and made her the youngest Russian winter olympics gold medal winner. But really, that spin tho.

The biathlon/any cross country skiing seemed to be the absolute worst sport this year. People were literally collapsing at the finish line. Hilarious but, you know, not.

The weather in Sochi was a big problem this year. One day it would be foggy and cold, the next 60 degrees. Literally warmer than on the east coast and its polar vortex. This didn’t help the snow conditions, and athletes were having problems with the icy/hard/slush terrain. But the Russians did their best to keep up appearances.

The halfpipe wasn’t kind to Shaun White either. He was hoping for his third gold medal in a row, but to no avail. wah wah.

This is Gus Kenworthy, silver medal winner in slopestyle skiing. But who cares about the medal. He made friends with the stray puppies who the Russians were allegedly killing off, but Gus did this and wanted to take them back home to the U.S. with him. I mean can you even.

Not to mention when Gus won his medal, he was part of a U.S. podium sweep with Joss Christensen (gold) and Nick Goepper (bronze).

This is American slopestyle snowboarder Sage Kotsenberg. He is doing a trick called the ‘Holy Crail’, which is obviously very difficult, but has a stupid name. He also credited ‘mad snacks’ and Fight Club for helping him focus before winning the gold. Clearly there’s no doubt he’s a snowboarder.

The Dutch have always dominated speed skating, but more so this year. 23 speedskating medals. 8 gold. They’ve won at least one medal in every single speedskating category. Basically it was a lot of orange on the podium in the speed skating center.

There was a rare tie for gold in women’s downhill skiiing, between Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin. But more importantly, Tina Maze is a pop star, model and all around A-lister back home in Slovenia.

And then there was the couples’ ice skating. Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov brought the house down when they won gold. And also cast Angela Kinsey as Tatiana in her (eventual) made for TV movie.

I just included this U.S. skating pair of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (who obviously didn’t medal) because Simon and I apparently went to the same college. Go Lions!

This Swedish skiier, Henrik Harlaut, actually has dreads and XXXXL pants, and it’s really not surprising that he fell. Because COME ON.

Skeleton is probably the most badass sport, and Canada’s Sarah Reid has the best helmet to go down the ice giant ice slide.

Oh Evgeni Plushenko. The star men’s skater for Russia for… forever. He’s one of the country’s most beloved athletes, and won the gold in 2006. And even though he skating perfectly for the team competition and helped Russia earn the gold, by the time it got to his solo comp, his recurring back problem flared up and he decided to quit.

See- his back? He’s had surgery before, okay? We needed to see it to believe it. Anyways, he not only withdrew from the Olympics, but he announced it would be his last competition ever and officially retired.

Ah Jeremy Abbott. He fell, hit the boards, and stayed on the ice for a good 15 seconds. BUT THEN he got his ass back up and finished the routine. That’s the Olympic spirit, folks.

Meet rising star, American ice skater Jason Brown. Also the gayest of gays since Johnny Weir, and it’s a welcome addition. Also, this quote during the his program from one of the commentators: “He doesn’t have a quad turn, but he does have a ponytail that has its own Twitter account.”

And… this is Spain’s Javier Fernandez. Do with it what you will.

Women’s snowboardcross was an awesome competition to watch, as it was anyone’s game. In this GIF, the woman ahead is American Lindsey Jacobellis, who is a silver medalist from ’06, and favored to win again in Sochi after a failed attempt in Vancouver. Except she was so ahead in this race when one little slip up made her fall and her dreams to get another medal were dashed yet again.

If you’re wondering how Cool Runnings 2014 did (2-man bobsled of Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon), the Jamaicans literally placed last. Not a good trip for these guys.

But at least they got this catchy tune out of it.

Bode Gate: 2K14. Alpine Skiier Bode Miller, another veteran of the games, won a bronze medal in what is probably his last Olympics. Post his winning race, he spoke with a NBC correspondent about what the moment ment to him – especially since he dedicated it to his younger brother who died months before. He broke down and the reporter got a lot of heat for it, but Bode defended her. All’s good, he has his bronze medal, and NBC got its ratings scandal.

Belarus’s Anton Kushnir won the gold with this, and I’m just impressed anyone can physically fly that high and land and not die.

Guys, my new obsession is ice dancing. IDK why I never really paid attention to it before, maybe it was the whole Canada/USA rivalry this year, but it is fantastic. Speaking as a fan of dancing/former dancer, this is right up my alley. I introduce you to the ‘Shib Sibs’ aka Maia and Alex Shibutani, siblings who ice dance together, particularly to a Michael Jackson in this gif.

I think I’m starting to be obsessed with Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Like almost shipping them. Ugh, but they’re just so damn good. LOOK AT THESE TWIZZLES!

AND THE LIFTS!

And the Canadian flag that turned out to be a poncho! Virtue and Moir weren’t able to get their second gold medal in a row and were bumped to silver, But hey, they have each other.

Of course, the folks who won were American darlings/Disney characters Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

And then Mary Carillo’s documentary about Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan’s ’94 debacle aired before the closing ceremony on Sunday, and Tonya Harding looks just as guilty as she did 20 years ago. Like I said on Twitter, “2014 Tonya Harding is like the mini-van mom in suburban detroit who got caught shoplifting at her local k-mart.”

Remember that fog and bad weather I was talking about before? Yeah, this was it. Right before this Olympian was about to ski down a mountain.

IDK if the fog effected Austria’s Kathrin Zettel, but either way, she ran into a pole and the flag covered her face. Then it moved down to her waist and was on her person for like 5 more slaloms. Oops.

So you know what’s even more impressive than being an Olympic athlete? Being an Olympic athlete in both the summer and the winter games. Remember Lolo Jones from track and field/hurdles? Yeah, she’s become a bobsledder. But didn’t win a medal here either.

Curling, guys. Curling. Still don’t get it, but good to know suburban high school history teachers can get in on the action.

NBC, always explaining sports to the viewers in layman’s terms, which I appreciate. Basically gold medalist Ted Ligety has super impressive almost unhuman-like angles when he skis down a mountain, and that’s why he deserves all the awards.

I have no idea what’s going on here, but this is amazing.

Andreas Nodl of Austria slammed Norway’s Jonas Holos into the boards and legit shattered a pane of glass. This is why I can’t with hockey.

Can you say sob fest?? This heart on the half pipe was in honor of women’s freestyle skiier Canadian Sarah Burke, who died in 2012 due to injuries sustained during practice. She was considered a pioneer in the sport and helped bring freestyle skiing to the winter olympics. Her ashes were spread on the halfpipe in Sochi. {x}

Talk about a photo finish – the men’s ski-cross QUARTERFINALS (aka not even the big medal run) included a huge crash at the end between Russia’s Egor Korotkov, Sweden’s Victor Norberg and Finland’s Jouni Pellinen. As you can see, there is one clear frontrunner, Switzerland’s Armin Niederer, but second place (the only other person advancing to the next round) was a three way tie. The Russian eked out from the other two – because he flailed his arm across the finish line first.

And the so-called ‘crown-jewel- of the winter olympics, women’s figure skating came to a head. That 15-year-old Russian spin girl did the impossible – she fell. Oops. No medal for her.

Ashley Wagner, still not pleased with her results, but at least she’s more aware of her surroundings this time.

And the final standings: she came in sixth. “Not bad!”

Gracie Gold, America’s hope for, well, gold, didn’t exactly live up to her namesake. Fourth would have to do.

‘Queen’ Yuna Kim, the reigning champ from Korea, as beautiful as she skated, she just couldn’t hold on to her title. But really, she is so good, it’s upsetting.

And I think Katy Perry said it best, but 17-year-old Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova came in like a Dark Horse. Pre-Yulia dominating during the team competition, Adelina was an expected frontrunner. But Yulia took the spotlight and all the pressure that goes with winning a medal for your country IN the host country, and Adelina was like don’t forget about me bitches. This girl took home the gold and Yulia is busy listening to One Direction and already focused on South Korea 2018.

Can we talk about these two? Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir served as figure skating correspondents (obvs), but their outfits and clear BFF-ness needs to be put on a reality show or something. Or he can just have her on his show all the time.

This is the worst GIF, but after my boy and the ‘next-Apolo Anton Ohno’ failed to win anything on his own, he finally got a silver medal in the relay with the other boys in short track. Gold in 2018, my friend.

Closing Ceremony: In which Russia proved they actually have a sense of humor. Well fucking played.

So here’s the thing. This bear was one of the Olympic mascots – but in America, we didn’t know that because they never introduced them on NBC. So when this dude showed up at the closing ceremony, I bet a lot of people were confused and concerned they had taken drugs at some point during the night. Anyways, he’s been nicknamed “Nightmare Bear” because he’s so GD scary and looks stoned all the time. But here, he’s just expressing what a lot of us Olympics devotees are feeling right now – withdrawal that the games are actually over.

And there you have it folks. 17 days of elite competition in Sochi are now over. Until Rio in 2016, Vlad Poots thank you for your attention and time. As the Russians say, “Spasibo!”

Live Blog: Ladies’ Figure Skating Final – Sochi 2014

Well, it’s the big day for figure skating, and everybody’s ready. Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are wearing matching gold headbands. Lipinski looks like she has serious plastic-surgery face – like that cat woman you see in gossip rags sometimes – but it’s just the result of some over-aggressive contouring makeup from the folks at NBC. She’s a pretty girl. They could let up on the bronzer.

I’m not watching the Hunger Games, but I feel like I’m watching the Hunger Games. Weir does an admirable Claudius Templesmith, but Lipinski’s Effie Trinket could use some more drama in the hair department. Let’s start this thing.

Park So Youn

Country: South Korea

Costume

Really feeling the midnight blue skating dress thing with ice blue sequins. Not so princessy. Kind of a “Frozen” thing?

Music

Classical music, but the dramatic kind, not the dreamy kind.

Skating

Is watching figure skating to see if someone falls the same as watching Nascar for the crashes or hockey for the fights? But I’ll admit: I hate watching people fail. Nothing would make me happier than a figure skating competition where every person is at the top of their game and the winners and losers are separated by fractions of a point.

The Good: Graceful, ballet influences? Pretty arms. The floaty non- jump parts. This one really gorgeous spin.

The bad: A few of those landings weren’t awesome; fell once.

Brooklee Han

Country: Australia (LOL no)

Screw this, Han was born and raised in the U.S.  Not Australian. I repeat: Not Australian. Our first carpetbagger of the night. I wonder if she can she compete for US after this in other Olympics, if she qualifies?

Costume

The red thing looks a little adult, like a weird abbreviated evening gown from 1994. It’s the v-shaped jeweled choker element. I know the French braid is a figure skating classic – reminds me of watching Nancy Kerrigan back in the day – but I like how clean it is.

Music

This music – it reminds me of the Anne of Green Gables soundtrack.

Weir: A lot of people chose “pretty princess” music.

Lipinski, paraphrased: People play songs on repeat if it gets them going for jumps, etc.

Weir: What was that song you used to play?

Lipinksi: Pulp Fiction.

LOL.

Skating

Fun fact: Brooklee is a violinist and an equestrienne, and now I feel inferior.  For lack of better way to put it, she’s a very emotional skater. You can tell she’s a musician because she really seems to get inside the music, though Weir feels like she’s just connecting jumps. Fall count: 1, I think?

Gabrielle Daleman

Country: Canada

Costume

The costume is very  Jasmine from Aladdin. I like it, even if it sort of reminds me of the middriff-baring prom dresses that people wore in the early 2000s. It’s a nice color. Sort of a peacock feather thing going on.I don’t know how I feel about this thing where the tights go over the skates so it looks like you’re barefoot but with enormous, deformed bladed feet. I sort of want them to bring back the classic white skates a la Sonja Henie. But I also know that if your feet and legs are the same color you get a longer line – that’s why so many short women are told to wear flesh-colored shoes – so I get it.

Music

Polynesian Dances

Skating

It’s her first international event as a senior skater. Yet, she has an older feel than a lot of the skaters out there. No, she doesn’t look old for her age, but she looks more athletic and less willow-y and gawky than some of the kiddos out there. Gabrielle does NOT look happy with that performance. Just noticed she had jewels at the corner of her eyes. Cute.

Should we count how many times they say “kiss and cry?”

Elisaveta Ukolova

Country: Czech Republic

…however, she was born in Russia. Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?

Costume

Lipinski: She’s starting with a very pretty dress.

And she is, really – floral beading. A nice change. But talk about old-school – I spy a scrunchie! Wow. I think scrunchies have survived in skating, dance and cheerleading long after they died in the real world. I’m not even opposed, but I don’t like the red scrunchie with the dark blue dress.

Music

It starts with a really fun swing number, but then it transitions to a slower classical thing. It was a weird transition and frankly I’m not feeling it. One or the other, you know? It was fun to start with something up-tempo and a little different, like Polina did in her short skate (which I loved). Then it transitions back into swing. Hmmm. I see why she did this for figure skating purposes but I’m not into it.

Skating

Elisaveta fell on the triple loop. “Most beautiful technique” as she bursts into the air on her jumps. But, “sort of tripping,” says Lipinski. She fell again, and had trouble getting going after it (to me anyway). Very “meh” says Weir, because with her music she should be more ebullient. I agree. “A rough skate,” says Lipinski.

Anne Line Gjersem

Country: Norway

Why are people from Scandinavian countries so good-looking? Is it the high standard of living and healthy food? Seriously this kid is so pretty. First skater from Norway in 50 years, which is surprising to me on account of all of their ice.

Costume

I love this! It’s sort of magenta and pink, and looks very youthful and modern, for a skate costume. It’s sequined all over, but doesn’t have so many patches of heavy sequinning. With West Side Story the obvious choice would have been a white dress like Maria wears in I Feel Pretty, but the bright young number is kind of evocative of the red/pink the character wears in a lot of productions.

Music

West Side Story “Everyone is expecting to see some West Side Story, and it’s just not happening.” – Lipinski. “She’s putting it to use, but there’s no connection between her face, her body, and this music playing over the loud speaker.” Personally, I’m just excited to hear a musical score that’s not Les Miserables.

Skating

I loved some of her quicker transitions between moves. She’s “really struggling on the flying camel spin,” according to someone who knows. “A little skirt ruffling, Johnny.” “A little cha-cha.” Felt like watching her work, instead of a performance, according to Weir.

Nicole Rajicova

Country: Slovakia (by way of USA)

Okay, but just so we’re clear, Nicole is from Long Island. So, I’m pretty sure that whoever wins, America really wins. However, my grandmother was Slovak and you really only hear about Slovakia during the Winter Olympics, so I like this girl. Nicole is totally trying to up her Slovak factor by changing her name from Rojik to Rojikova (in Eastern Europe surnames are gendered, but obviously once families immigrate to English-speaking countries, they drop this for logistical reasons).

Costume

Sort of a black and red Flamenco thing, complete with red flower in her hair. Dramatic, not what I’d have chosen with her coloring, but I like that she didn’t go with the classic “I’m an angelic ice princess” look.

Music

Sassy classical? A little bit of a tango thing going on maybe? It’s different but not SO different. I like it.

Skating

She fell early on (they all seem to fall on that first big element, if they’re going to fall), but otherwise she had a lot of really graceful and clean landings. I think there was another wobble in there. Lipinski and Weir thinks she’s too in her head about it, thinking about what she has to do next. I do NOT like this one move she does when she just sort of picks up one foot to waist level for a second, like “hey, look at my heel!” Lipinski and Weir were NOT into it.

Kaetlyn Osmond

Country: Canada

“Skating is so popular in Canada, it’s amazing there haven’t been more champions,” the commentators say. “Every girl figure skates, every boy plays hockey.” If we’re playing the Canadian Stereotypes game, after all of the ice sports they then all go to Tim Hortons, where Mayor Ford is mid-crack binge, pay with a few loonies and toonies, then drive their snowmobile home to catch a few episodes of Degrassi. And they do it all so politely.

Costume

She is “portraying Cleopatra, if it wasn’t apparent”, according to Weir. It wasn’t, so thanks. Still, it’s a nice maroon dress with a lot of gold happening on the back.

Music

The kind of heavily horn-sectioned classical that seems like it’s from an epic movie soundtrack.

Skating

She does a few Cleopatra-ish hand things, so that’s cool. There’s one fall, but also a lot of beautiful soaring elements. The choreography is more narrative and sassy than a lot of what we’ve seen so far.

Hey. What if we all just settled on one spelling of Caitlin and everyone had to use that from now on? Could we all just do that?

Elene Gedevanishvili

Country: Georgia

Underdog country! But, she’s lived in Russia, Canada, the US, etc to change coaches, although she was born in Georgia. Elene moved to Russia to skate but her mother was deported after Georgia-Russia tensions escalated.

Costume

It sort of looks like an ethnic Eastern European costume you’d see on a figure skating version of a Madame Alexander doll. Black brocade bodice, red skirt. Nice.

Music

Evidently Elene carefully selects her music. Unsurprisingly, it falls into the “dramatic classical” category.

Skating

I really like the quickness of this piece. Just, really strong balletic connections between elements. However, the commentators feel like she “checked out mentally” after her first fall. I do not like how she came out of her last spin. They don’t like her attitude.

Kim Haejin

Kim Haejin actually has a normal number of legs.

Country: South Korea

Costume

Black, silver sequins, not the most interesting but pretty. She was doing a “black swan” thing so it worked, but could have been more dramatic. Evidently since the movie, more skaters are skating as the black swan than the white swan. Cool.

Music

Swan Lake. “Her idol, Yuna Kim recommended it for her.” Guys, I want to talk about Yuna. She sounds like such a good supporter of the other South Korean skaters – really positive and encouraging, like a figure skating Amy Poehler. I like her. Like, Yuna doesn’t sound like that girl who would say “oh, that music would be GREAT for you” or, I don’t know, “your ass looks AWESOME in those jeans,” when it’s not true, just to sabotage you.

Skating

One really, really bummer fall where she hits the boards. She recovers well, and seems like a really athletic skater. Beautiful spins.

Kanako Murakami

Country: Japan

The Japanese skaters seem to have a really nice camaraderie. Kanako wore a blazer from teammate Mao Asada, an idol of hers, to her high school entrance ceremony. This is what I love about figure skating, Kerrigan-Harding stuff aside. Unlike in team sports, members of each country’s team are in essence competing against each other, so it’s heartening to see this level of support. You even see skaters from other countries commending each other’s performances on TV and twitter.

Costume

The one black mesh arm is fine, actually. Love the violet and black. Love the lightly sequined back. Do NOT love the odd crucifix/dagger/saber thing that’s sequined onto the waist. At all.

Music

Very typical string-heavy classical. Hey, if it ain’t broke…

Skating

She does a “smack and nod” on the boards before going out to skate. Cute. “Nicely done,” according to Lipinski, and I agree. It was a mostly clean skate, very graceful. The judges agree. One spin looked under-rotated, but closer examination revealed that it wasn’t.

Zhang Kexin

Country: China

Costume

I guess black and red are THE thing this year? A little gray in there too. No complaints. A lot of sequins, but I really like that during spins.

Music

It’s the floaty, stringy classical again.

Skating

WOW her jumps are beautiful. They look really high for someone who looks like a pretty short lady. She does a few slower spins, and I don’t know if those fare as well as the speedy ones in scoring, but it’s lovely. The commentators think she sort of “throws her arms around,” so I guess she’s more of an element skater and less of a dancer. You get bonus points (there’s a more technical word for it) for jumps in the second half of the program, and she gets them. They think she’s “too relaxed” and “marking her program, not performing it,” and I do see what they’re saying but I also really like her looseness and ease. In a classic Weir analogy, he says the performance is like “eating cavier every day” because you get accustomed to the amazing jumps. She seems a bit under-scored.

Mao Asada

Country: Japan

Costume

My personal favorite! A blue/violet/indigo/magenta feathery number.

Music

Piano-heavy classical.

Skating

Asada was supposed to be a contender, but is 16th place going into this skate. This may be her farewell performance. It’s a great one to go out on. “She has a quick snap about her today,” says Lipinski. Mao triple axels like a boss. It’s just so FUN to watch her skate. Everything she does looks easy, even though today I was struggling just to make it across an icy parking lot without falling so clearly it isn’t. THIS is what I was talking about when I said that I like watching people succeed. It’s just so satisfying to watch everything go right. She hits every jumping pass. Crowd goes wild. She looks heartbroken, because even this perfect skate can’t make up for yesterday’s. If you’ve missed it, Asada has the ultimate human interest story in the skating event. She lost her mother while she was out of the country and couldn’t make it back home in time.

Break

During the long resurfacing break between the second and third sets, I switched over to the Women’s Hockey final. Go USA! I almost started to tear up a bit when one of the hockey players talked about her disappointment when she realized that women didn’t play professional hockey, and her resolve to become an Olympic hockey player instead. Ughhh.

Apropos of nothing: when I was a little kid, I wanted to be the girl who skates around after a figure skating competitor, picking up the teddy bears and flowers that people throw onto the ice. I always did know how to dream mediocre.

Li Zijun

Country: China

Costume

You know, since this is the first cotton-candy girly pink skate dress we’ve seen, it looks really pleasantly surprising. She’s skating as Coppelia, so it’s fitting.

Music

Coppelia, of course.

Skating

Zijun is selling the theme routine, because before they announced what she was doing, I saw her stiff arm movements and thought “hey, she’s doing Coppelia!” She’s a good jumper and very sprightly and girlish on the ice. The commentators would like it to build a bit more through the program – a bit bigger and more exuberant. She is a touch restrained.

Mae Berenice Meite

Country: France

Why does the English name Bernice sound so blah, when the French Berenice is so pretty?

Costume

Oh my goodness! This whole time I’ve been wondering “what if somebody just showed up in pants?” And then Mae did it! Leave it to a French lady to show some sartorial restraint. Didn’t Surya Bonaly compete in pants one time too? It’s actually a bit risky because judges don’t love when skaters go off-book. Weir loves the shoulders and thinks the pants work on her. Sort of a “Lady Gaga/Beyonce” structure to the body suit, according to Lipinski. I think she has the first funky nails I’ve seen, too. I like this lady.

Music

The kind of smooth electric guitar that would play in the steamy scene of a tv movie from the early 90s. ZZ Top ends up in there. A potentially distracting number of music edits, say the commentators.

Skating

Mae falls on a triple loop. The music goes into a more rock-ish, clappy section, and the skating picks up a bit. Mae has some sassy choreo in there, and some high jumps as well. I’ve never seen a skater look so casual about landing such beautiful spins.

Akiko Suzuki

Country: Japan

Costume

Pastel, flowery, heavily sequined bodice. It’s gorgeous.

Music

Very music box sounding. Perfect with the costume. It picks up into a rapid violin/ orchestral movement, then that unmistakable Phantom Of The Opera riff and a flowy string rendition of ‘Think of Me.” Phantom is probably second only to Les Mis as the most-used musical score in figure skating.

Skating

Akiko is a delicate, graceful skater. Her jumping passes don’t go so well – she falls once. Akiko is very expressive and does an excellent job of coordinating her face, and the amount of force with which she skates, to the music. Some of these skaters seem more like artists and some seem more like athletes. Akiko is a dancer. Her closing spin is fantastic.

Valentina Marchei

Country: Italy

Costume

Diaphonous black number with a ruffly neck. The skirt is slightly longer and it’s more adult than a lot of what we’ve seen. You know how Italian ladies (as in from Italy, not Italian-American) look so great when they’re in their 40s and 50s? Like, it’s a good thing there to look like a grown adult instead of a girl? Valentina’s definitely Italian in her wardrobe choices here. There are barely-detectable sparkles in her tights, which is a nice touch.

Music

Nyah by Hans Zimmer

Skating

To go along with her costume, she starts with some moves that are … oddly sultry, for figure skating? I like that she sticks to the theme throughout the program. You see a lot of skaters open their program on some thematic choreography, only to drop it for a series of jumps later on. Marchei is definitely a performer. She’s more fun to watch than some of the flashier skaters.

Fun fact: at 27, this is Valentina’s first Olympics – how unusual is that in this sport? She has background as a speed skater and a gymnast, as well. The older I get, the more I root for the older figure skaters because it might be their last chance. Older is relative, of course — our oldest ladies are only  27 and 28.

Polina Edmunds

Country: USA
Costume

Flowy, asymettrical hemlined number in powdery-tealy-blue, with a nice jeweled neckline. It does a good job of making Polina look willowy and graceful – she has that look of a tall girl who only recently shot up and is still sort of gangly and gawky, but she can look pretty and lithe in the right clothes. She tends to go with more gussied-up hairstyles, but keeps it really sweet with pearls and jeweled flowers. I like it.

Music

I can’t identify the first piece, but it segues into Vivaldi’s Spring movement from the Four Seasons. It feels cliche but I can’t remember the last time I actually heard it. She’s so young and innocent looking that it really suits her.

Skating

She starts off with a triple lutz-triple toe and some other combination that I can’t remember, except that it was beautiful. I can’t imagine being 15 and getting on the ice and doing anything other than puking (and falling, of course) but I see no nerves from this girl – until she takes a little tumble. Otherwise, she looks great. Her stage mom trained her well.

Does she remind anyone else of Emma Nelson from the earlier seasons of Degrassi?

And do this many people usually fall? It used to seem like a disaster that happened once in a great while, but it doesn’t even seem serious now – almost everyone has.

Nathalie Weinzierl

Country: Germany

Costume

A vivid, indigo-blue dress. The color seriously suits her.

Music

Rhapsody in Blue? Yes! I like this! I get what she was doing with that costume. Some dude on the twitter feed calls it “the United airlines song” and I’ll take his word for it. I fly a lot of Southwest and Jet Blue, myself.

Skating

So, the jumps were a little glitchy, but the girl can spin. Weir thinks she has an “old-fashioned” jumping technique, and I’ll take his word for it. It was sort of just okay.

Yulia Lipnitskaya

Country: Russia

Costume

Red coat, because… well, you’ll see when we get to music.

Music

Schindler’s List. There we go.

Skating

After a disappointing short skate, Yulia has to bring it here. I think this girl really deserves the buzz. I obviously don’t know much about skating, but I know who is and isn’t fun to watch. She isn’t just technically talented, she’s graceful and expressive as well. The crowd erupts when she lands the jump she missed in the short program. Oh no… she takes a heck of a tumble toward the end of the program. As always, she’s the best spinner out there. This was good, but not like what we saw from her at the team competition. I feel guilty, in a sort of a Hunger Games-y way, for getting entertainment out of an event that’s so much pressure on such really young kids. Her face when it ends just kills me. I know the skaters are here because they WANT to be here, but still.

Not gonna lie, Lipinski sounds a touch relieved that her spot as the youngest gold medalist might be safe. Yulia is first after her skate, but there is some big-time competition coming up.

Carolina Kostner

Country: Italy

Costume

Like her Italian compatriot, Kostner wears a sleek black number that says “I am a 27-year-old grown-ass woman. Move over children.”

Music

Bolero. Whatever, I love it.

Skating

That was a hell of a skate to go out on! She keeps landing these jumps coming down on angles where I think she can’t possibly nail it, but she does every time. There’s a great joy and musicality to her program, especially after the jumping passes are out of the way. I don’t know what it is about this performance over the other ones, but I almost tear up a bit because you can see that she’s just out there pouring everything into this, and enjoying it. Damn, girl. Ya did good.

Fun fact: Carolina’s father was an Italian hockey player.

NOPE. As she leaves the ice her coach says “now do you believe in yourself?” and at this point the tears are real. She takes the lead and beats her personal best.

Adelina Sotnikova

Country: Russia

Costume

Dusty lavender with gold. A sort of Downton Abbey color combo. There’s some weird geometric stuff going on with the sequins.

Music

Slower violins, moving into a rondo.

Skating

As we move further into the competition, you can see why these top skaters – Costner, Gold, and yes, even Sotkonikova – are the ones we keep hearing about. There’s just such a distinct difference between these later sets and the earlier ones. Less falling, for one thing. But more than that, these higher-scored skaters are so skilled at combining rhythm, grace, expression, story AND fancy jumps. It’s not just a string of lutzes. Adelina falters a bit after one jump but overall it is one heck of a satisfying program to watch. Her rotations are so darn quick! It’s even more fun once the jumping passes end and she can showboat a little, even seeming to encourage the crowd to clap. Adelina, like Carolina, is having fun out there. You can see it. The hometown crowd loves her. Holy crap, Adelina is only 17.

The lead is hers now. MAN. I think in the last group of skaters we can just get used to a lot of turnarounds. Do I think she was THAT far ahead of Costner? I guess I don’t know enough to judge that. There could be a home-court advantage, though Adelina was certainly good.

Gracie Gold

Country: USA

Costume

The girl knows what works for her. The ice blue and silver sequins, with her blond hair, is the perfect figure skating Grace Kelly look.

Music

Sleeping Beauty

Skating

Gracie Gold – who, as every news outlet must note, has the best possible name for a figure skater – is graceful. Again, very easy to see the difference between this performance and the lower-scored competitors. But SHOOT. She falls. “Ouch,” says the commentator. “Ouch,” says the audience. “Whatever,” says Gracie, who continues to skate beautifully after it. But after the last two skaters, it’s clear that the fall is going to keep her out of the top spot.

Ashley Wagner

Country: USA

Could Ashley Wagner look any more like an Ashley? Man.

Costume

Wagner has said that she likes to skate as a character, and she’s going as Delilah. She explained that she went with yellow because it’s the most eye-catching color, and that it is. She’s a bit more “adult” than a lot of the kiddos out on the ice, so the skimpier costume works for her.

Music

Samson and Delilah

Skating

By this point you probably heard that, if the US Team had been selected based on the Nationals (as it usually is), Wagner wouldn’t be on the team. There was some talk that Wagner was chosen because she’s a crowd favorite with some pretty serious endorsements, but the official line is that she was chosen because, other than Nationals, she was the strongest skater in the US. I really really want them to be right, so I hope she does awesome out there.

It’s good. The jumps are good, the spins are good, the character is evident, and it seems like Ashley’s having a blast. It’s not quite as clean as some of the other performances we’ve seen, but very good. She’s in 6th. Not as good as I’d hoped, but I’ll never be 6th best in the world at anything. But I bet when you are the sixth best in the world at something, all you can think is how close it is to first, but also how far.

Yuna Kim

Country: South Korea

Costume

A two-tone maroon (oxblood? magenta?) and black number. It’s nice, but not distractingly so. I like the clean, high neckline.

Music

Piano-heavy jazzy classical. Some accordion (???) later on.

Skating

Beautiful. Even the Russian crowd is into it, and it’s seemed like they were trying to hold back their enthusiasm after Adelina skated so well. So clean and crisp! I have not seen anyone transition so quickly between jumps. The commentators say that it was “tight,” and once again I’ll take their word.

Okay — not enough for gold. The crowd is going insane. Our medalists are:

(1)Adelina Sonokava

(2) Yuna Kim

(3) Carolina Kostner

I cannot even be disappointed that the United States didn’t medal. All of the medalists were amazing. Adelina was a bit of an underdog after Yulia’s strong showing in the team competition. Yuna Kim proved why she is considered one of the best in the world. Carolina Kostner was possibly my favorite to watch – a really joyful skater.  The first ever Russian gold in ladies figure skating – in Russia. That was awesome.