Funny how February, as short of a month as it is, always seems to bring plenty of recollections with it. You can insert a favorite old Valentine’s Day story here…or a new memory of where you were last Saturday when you heard Whitney had passed away…
Or, of course, a weather-related tale is always a possibility—just last year we had a humdinger of an ice storm here at the top of February, and it resulted in my young daughter getting stitches in her chin after falling on our super-slick driveway. Hmmm, ice… that brings me to one more thing that creates a lot of February history.
This month is the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. It’s also the 20-year anniversary of the 1992 Games in Albertville, the 40-year anniversary of the 1972 Games in Sapporo, and the 60th (!) anniversary of the 1952 Games in Oslo. But for all that Dick Button, Janet Lynn, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Paul Wylie brought to the sport from their respective Olympics, we all know that 2002 brought something very different—something that still manages to eclipse Sarah Hughes’ surprise gold, and especially Timothy Goebel and (sigh) Michelle Kwan’s respective bronze medals.
Maybe I say that from a slightly skewed perspective because as long as I’ve been checking on the “most viewed” posts at State of the Skate—a couple years running—there has been one post that has, almost exclusively, remained the most popular above some 500+ others possibilities. It’s this one, about Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. The post is not about Skategate specifically (you know; the nickname for the game-changing judging scandal that involved their Olympic free skate), or Sale/Pelletier’s wedding in 2005, or even the son that resulted from that union in 2007. The post was primarily about their 2010 announcement of plans to divorce, yet continue skating together professionally… and some of the comments that followed shared the sadness (especially after seeing the former couple at Stars on Ice), while others speculated on the reasons for said divorce.
I remain intrigued every time I take note of how many readers—not just in Canada, but worldwide—take a look at this particular article. Are they learning what they wanted to learn about them? I wonder. Are they disappointed at the lack of “dishing” (except for the comments of others)? Did something new happen with Sale/Pelletier that I should know about?
The answer to that last question is, well, sort of. This variation on the catching-up-with-the-Pelletiers article that ran in last week’s Globe and Mail indicates that, for better or worse, their on-ice partnership may now be all but over as well. Not because they can’t get along; the article points out on page two that they remain friends, and seem to get along professionally as well as they ever have. But the days of insane figure skating popularity were (let’s face it) already on borrowed time when the 2002 judging scandal broke out. Sale/Pelletier’s ebullient performances helped propel the love a little longer, but they simply aren’t getting the kind of offers (financially speaking) they used to. Is that because they can’t draw the audience of yesteryear… because fans don’t see the kind of magic they did when they were in love? Possibly. Is it because of the sport’s waning popularity? Probably.
But for them, it simply seems time to turn the page.
“I’m tired of being cold,” Sale says in the new article, her words perhaps carrying more meaning that the layperson might think. “I don’t like the rink anymore.”
As I wrapped up the chapter in Skating on Air that dealt with the events of Salt Lake City’s pairs event, I used a quote from an NBC producer/director that indicated the events from 10 years ago were “must-see TV” at its finest. I then mused that it wasn’t long after 2002 when the slogan might’ve been better suited to be “I’ve seen enough TV,” given how ratings for figure skating dropped significantly.
With any luck, though, even the most cynical fan will always keep a warm place in their memory trove for Sale/Pelletier. Their personal story, like their professional one, didn’t quite go according to plan. But nothing and no one can take away how their hard work once captivated the whole world.