First of all: We are having technical issues with our slideshows today! The timing is bad but at least it’s not Oscars Sunday, right? We’re going to be trying a variety of work arounds and we thank you for your patience if things get weird or wonky on you. We are working on it! This one here will work, though (I THINK).

Second: Apparently a lot of these ice dancers train together; where is that reality series?

So, the ice dancing competition happened in its entirety over the weekend; the rhythm dance was Saturday, and the free dance got NBC’s coveted post-Super Bowl slot. (There were a LOT of sports this weekend! Everyone at NBC Sports, seriously, has to be wiped out; putting together an Olympics AND a Super Bowl at the same time seems like a lot of work.)  The rhythm dance is ice dancing’s version of the short program, for lack of a better analogy, but everyone gets assigned the same “theme” and there are specific steps that everyone has to include. This year’s theme was “street dance,” and you can imagine the uh……great variety of interpretations people put on that. (Like, I love Elton John, but is he “street”?) (Also, I looked this up on Wiki to make sure I was explaining it correctly and ISU asked people not to skate to anything with “aggressive and/or offending lyrics.” I want to know — and one of you will be able to answer this question — if skaters have to get their music approved. Like, did anyone have an argument that “Lose Yourself” is not aggressive and offensive, and lose it? [To be clear: I love “Lose Yourself” and would love to see it.] A Canadian team skated to a George Michael medley and the word “sex” was dropped from the lyrics of “I Want Your Sex,” leaving us all wondering what George wants. Her car keys?) Anyway, we ended that portion of the competition with a VERY close top four, but after the free dance, had no change in the standings: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France finally (correctly) took the gold, with Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of “ROC” getting the silver (meh), and then Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue finally grabbing that bronze. Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished in fourth; she had a tiny bobble in the rhythm dance that I think she will never stop reliving.

Some of these looks we saw in the team competition — god, when I wrote that coverage, LITTLE DID I KNOW that my words “it was pretty clear quickly that the Russians had gold wrapped up” were going to be proven not true at all a few days later! — and as usual, I’m only covering the top teams for purposes of this post. As I noted above, we are having some technical issues today with our galleries, so my coverage of this is a little janky. You can read about the rhythm dance in the slideshow, but I’m just going to stick the free dance looks right here in the body of the post, because there are only three new ones and blah blah blah technical problems.

We saw Chock and Bates’s amazing free dance look in the team competition, as well as the Angelic Forever21 Going Out Top from Sinitsina and Katsalapov, both of whom skated beautifully — although I agree that the back end of the Russian’s free dance is kind of a tonal shocker and doesn’t really flow and I do not think they were better than either of the American teams, honestly. Johnny called Chock and Bates “the haute couture of the competition” and I think he is right; I think a lot of these free skates felt generic in comparison to theirs.

Here are gold medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France in their free skate:

Olympics Figure Skating, Beijing, China - 14 Feb 2022

This was obviously extremely beautifully done, and I am happy for them. I also think she has such a beautiful profile and is so striking.  Johnny said he’s skated with them and sharing the ice with them made him feel like he’s walked into a store he can’t afford, that’s how good they are. It’s a good analogy.

Here’s the costume from Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue:

Olympics Figure Skating, Beijing, China - 14 Feb 2022

Also lovely, and artfully done, but I found this program slightly…generic, I guess? I’m thrilled for them, though!

And then, yadda yadda yadda, in fifth, we got Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri, whose skate NBC did NOT show. Wiki tells me this is to music from Atonement and I am sorry but if you are skating to that music you OBVIOUSLY WEAR A GREEN DRESS?

Figure Skating - Beijing 2022 Olympic Games, China - 14 Feb 2022

That’s ridiculous. Now I’m mad.

If I missed anything wild in earlier groups, please share! (Additionally, I feel this piece at Town & Country will be of interest to many: Which Olympic Pairs Figure Skaters Are Actually Dating?)

And, FINALLY! Last night, it was announced that “ROC” superstar Kamila Valieva, who threw a positive test for a substance that is banned in and out of competition in December, and who skates for a “committee” because Russia is on laughably weak-ass sanctions for, yes, doping, will be allowed to skate in the women’s competition this week. As I understand it, I believe the IOC is still allowed to investigate the fact that she was using a banned substance and even if she wins this week, they can still retroactively strip her of any medal; this ruling is simply confirming that ROC (which, again, is currently on sanctions because they ran a state-wide doping program) was within their rights to not suspend Valieva despite her failing a drug test. And the IOC, I’m pretty sure, is pissed about this:

The panel on Monday decided it was within the discretion of Russia’s antidoping agency to lift a brief suspension of [Valieva] that it had imposed last week after learning she had tested positive weeks ago for a banned drug. That revelation came a day after she had helped lead Russia to a gold medal in the team event.

In the ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the body charged with resolving disputes in global sports, the arbitrators rejected appeals by the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and skating’s global governing body to reinstate a provisional suspension that would have ruled Valieva out of the Olympics.

In the words of noted figure-skating ethicist DJ Khaled, congratulations, IOC, you played yourself. Maybe if the IOC hadn’t reacted to a MASSIVE DOPING SCANDAL by being like, “oooh, you made a tiny whoopsie! Here, let us punish you with an acronym!!,” they would not be in this position, where every skater (including Valieva, who is only 15 and was not the mastermind here) feels like shit, and they’re probably going to have to close this Olympics without being able to have a medals ceremony for the Team Competition or women’s singles, because it’s all gonna ride on their own investigation of this! Those other athletes have been imagining that medal ceremony their whole lives! As someone said on the figure-skating subreddit, which is where I now live, is this the clown Olympics?

[Photos: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock, Richard Ellis/UPI/Shutterstock, HOW HWEE YOUNG/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock, David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock, Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Shutterstock, ROMAN PILIPEY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock ]