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Dirty Dancing
Rick Reilly
January 21, 2002
Sorry, but it's crucial that we speak now of (throat-clearing noise) crotches.
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January 21, 2002

Dirty Dancing

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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.

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