Figure skating popularity comes and goes in waves. Oh, it's always popular, of course. And we can all recite the names of an endless list of champion figure skaters. In fact, I would be willing to bet even a casual spectator can name more athletes from this Olympic sport than any other (apart from curling, of course).
Peggy Fleming. Robin Cousins. Scott Hamilton. Kristi Yamaguchi. Viktor Petrenko. Elvis Stojko. Oksana Baiul. Michelle Kwan. Tara Lipinski. Evan Lysacek.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Dorothy Hamill's Hamill Camel. The Battle of the Brians. The Battle of the Carmens. Bolero.
We love getting caught up in the drama, don't we? We want our athletes to be one of two extremes: either so far ahead of everyone else that there's never any doubt, or repeatedly head-to-head with a rival who is a truly worthy competitor. Scott Hamilton was a lock against Brian Orser in 1984, but in 1988 it would all come down to which Brian (Orser or Boitano) skated better on that day. We remember them all.
We love the stories. Scott Hamilton was a sickly child for whom skating was therapy, and he went on to create Stars On Ice. Debi Thomas seemed kind of cranky when she lost to Katarina Witt, but she went on to be a doctor. Oksana Baiul was an orphan who came from nowhere to overshadow a post-Tonya Nancy Kerrigan for the gold (and later went on to get a DUI after crashing her car into a tree). And WHO THE HECK IS TARA LIPINSKI?!? Wasn't Michelle Kwan supposed to win this thing???
So now we have Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and they are the total package. They have skated together since birth (give or take) and for the last few years they have been swapping wins with Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. And oh yeah...they all train together, with the same coach. And now, they're the first Americans to win what is suddenly the coolest event in the Olympics.
Well, apart from curling.