There have been many memorable events that have happened in and around the Olympic games over the years – from the amazing to the tragic. Every four years, the world turns its attention to athletics. And this year in Pyeongchang, the games have not disappointed.
The International Olympics Committee always keeps things interesting – and weird – with their regular rule changes. And the 2018 games are no exception. In fact, the one that you may have noticed if you’ve been watching is that figure skaters are now able to ice dance to songs with vocals and lyrics!
That represents a game-changing, cultural shift in these traditional exhibitions, and the Olympic skaters have taken advantage of the new to come up with creative soundtracks for their amazing feats on frozen water. And this has opened up a whole new world of performance because now skaters can go beyond the “The Theme from Star Wars” or Marvin Hamlisch ragtime songs – and into a whole different dimension.
I am not a musicologist, but I know a little something about the impact of a great song on mood, energy, and attitude. You somehow find yourself working out more vigorously to “Runnin’ Down A Dream” or “Back In Black” than you do to “Dust In The Wind” or “The Phantom of the Opera.” This liberalized approach to music selection in the Olympics has clearly had an unquantifiable impact on the skaters, fans, and perhaps even the judges.
While many skaters vied for the gold, there was no shortage of “gold” blaring out of the speakers at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Selections from the international Olympians have run the gamut – from Coldplay to Beyoncé to Sanatana to David Bowie.
Australia’s Brendan Kerry went with Floyd – in fact, an interesting medley of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Money” (smart programming: a depth track into a hit). And although he faltered, his performance lit up social media, and more than likely, a lot of Classic Rock lovers taken aback by this burst of progressive rock on an Olympic rink.
But perhaps the most impressive use of going for the gold in a figure skating short program came from Canada – the team of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They ended up winning the gold medal, continuing an amazing streak that makes them one of the most successful Olympic figure skating teams in history.
Their routine on Monday night was especially impressive – blending together the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” the Eagles’ “Hotel California” (acoustic version), and wrapping up with Santana’s “Oye Coma Va.” You can watch their interpretation of this Classic Rock music set at a performance last year.
How’s that for a three-fer that will one day be used in a “My Three Songs” quiz on Classic Rock station near you?
A little background on Virtue and Moir is revealing. It turns out they grew up in southern Ontario, and then moved to Canton, Michigan – a suburb of Detroit – when they were in their early teens. When asked why Classic Rock songs were chosen for their routine, the pair told an interesting story to skating insider Beverly Smith:
Virtue: “We’re both kind of old souls, especially when it comes to music. It’s not all that surprising that we connect to music from that generation.”
Moir: “They’re pretty epic songs. Yes, they’re before our time, but obviously they’ve withstood the test of time. They are still kind of the best music. That’s the generation that we connect to the most. I think what’s funny is that some of the younger teams we skate with probably think we were around when those songs were out, because they think we’re dinosaurs. We let them think that we have that much experience.”
That sounds like a smart strategy for snaring another gold medal. Congrats to Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and all our friends in Canada for this amazing accomplishment.
Winning the gold by skating to the gold.
BREAKING: Today, Hungarian figure skater Ivett Tóth skated to an AC/DC medley – “Back In Black” followed by “Thunderstruck.” Check out her leather jacket.
P.S. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir moved to the Detroit area when they were in their early teens – the most impressionable time for music discovery in most of our lives. So, where did they first hear Classic Rock while living on the outskirts of the Motor City? We can only extrapolate, of course, but it sure would be logical that WCSX must have been playing over the loudspeakers in their practice facility. Just sayin’.
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