The Thunderbolt

Elaine Zayak. What a name. What a rep. It was well known that she'd've nailed Olympic gold, all other things being the same, if she'd kept skating. And didn't you notice she could do things other than jump? She just emphasized her jumps to get noticed. And I think she'd've made it through the "puberty barrier" and kept skating okay after she developed physically. She was just that kind of girl.

I still love her layback free-leg positions. Her arms during camels. And the moxie she took into jumps. Couldn't beat that girl!

Y'know, at a certain point, the big jumps were going to hit women's skating anyway. These girls are just too powerful. The only question was, do we make the jumpers feel inferior because we feel threatened because skating isn't double jumps anymore? You'd be surprised how much federation officials' egos are involved. And how much money. People get intimidated, they throw money at things. They really do.

But triple axels don't understand exchange rates. And I'm convinced Elaine either had one ready or almost did. She just had that look. We were deprived.

Why is it that the triple axel is the most famous jump in skating? And women aren't "allowed" to jump them? Are we supposed to just stick to our sequins?

As of about 1980 and counting from there, we have had 8 to 10 women in the US alone on the big-time scene, you know their names and all, who, properly coached, could have had triple axels easily. The way lutzes are coached now, triple axels aren't really all that much more difficult.

If Midori Ito had been a compact car, you bet your ass we'd have seen them. Tons.

But federation officials are convinced you just want to see the pretty spirals.

Sort of like making a Lamborghini do 30. On the straightaway.

All in all, I'm seeing more good triple axels than I am good spirals these days. How 'bout backing off and letting these kids do their job?

A really good spiral is about as hard on the edges as a really good triple axel. The girls are just supposed to make it look easy.

Elaine could have had it all. In the Reagan era.

And there are a bunch of them on the launching pad who have the basics to land good quads. Girls. I promise. And they'll sew their sequins on really tight so they don't fly off when they spin. They promise.

They really do.

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Would you have told one of those girl hockey players she couldn't jump a triple axel? Get ready to dodge hockey sticks....