Tom Ross: Costumes trump hockey’s greatest | SteamboatToday.com

Tom Ross: Costumes trump hockey’s greatest

Russian skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin compete in the original dance during the ice dance figure skating event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday.

I hunkered down on the couch Sunday night to watch some Olympic thrills and spills, but there was something wrong with my television picture. At first I thought I'd accidentally set my digital box to VH1 Classic — the members of a Village People cover band were strutting across the screen.

Then I noticed the ice skates. "Holy triple Salchow, Dick Button! This is either the Olympics or reruns of the Lawrence Welk Show!"

There were Russian sailors, cowboys and aborigines, Hungarian folk dancers and hula dancers on ice, but no cops and no construction workers.

If you watched the coverage of Olympic ice dancing Sunday night, you saw no fewer than three pairs dressed up in ridiculous cowboy and cowgirl outfits. They were so tacky, a dime store cowboy would have dumped his sasparilla on them.

Someone convinced the skaters their chances of medaling would be improved if they pranced across the ice to John Denver singing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy!" while wearing buckskin jackets that looked like they'd been pieced together from scraps left over from a recycled Lion King costume.

Natalie Pechalat, of France, wore bright orange cowgirl hot pants and a tiny lariat attached to her hip. I can't imagine what she thought she was going to tie up with that miniature rope. Then again, maybe my imagination is better than that.

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Her partner, Fabian Bourzat, wore a pair of faux (that's French for fake) leather chaps that looked like a pair of pajama bottoms.

The most ridiculous outfits of the night were worn by Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin. They had so many plastic leaves woven into their preposterous costumes that if Shaun White had dropped in at the ice arena and added a Flying Tomato to the festivities, they would have had a chef's salad.

Domnina and Shabalin broke an Olympic record by managing to look silly while being politically incorrect.

They donned "dark skinned" skating tights and white body paint (Shabalin added a gaudy loin cloth) to perform an aboriginal dance that drew protests from the native people of Australia.

The real aborigines were so far from British Columbia they were watching the performance live before it happened on the other side of the International dateline.

Hey, the technical aspects of the ice dancing performances were dazzling right down to the synchronized twizzles (whatever that means), but it's a good thing they weren't handing out medals Sunday night for best costume.

Predictably, NBC scored a huge ratings success with this version of "Ice Dancing with the Stars." We can infer from the decision to show ice dancing on the big network and move the United States vs. Canada men's hockey game to MSNBC what kind of skating slices the ice in prime time.

Any way you cut it, Village People or "Skating with the Stars," NBC was the big winner Sunday. The hockey game drew 8.2 million viewers, one of the three biggest audiences ever on that channel, and 87 million people watched some part of the Olympic coverage on NBC's multiple channels Sunday.

Does anybody out there know if Donny Osmond has ever laced up a pair of skates?

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com