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Vin Mannix column | Skaters win new converts to sport

Be honest.

How many of you men watched the Olympic pairs figure skating of your own free will for the first time in your lives the past two nights?

Bet I had lots of company.

Wouldn’t have happened years ago.

No way.

The only time we noticed Olympic figure skating was when Nancy Kerrigan got kneecapped.

Or there was another brouhaha after Uncle Sam had gotten hosed by:

a.) The French judge.

b.) The Russian judge.

c.) The East German judge.

How times have changed.

Manatee’s Amanda Evora, Mark Ladwig, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett have had us all paying attention.

When it comes to Olympic pairs figure skating, I’ll leave the minutiae to people who really know the sport.

I wouldn’t know a swizzle from a twizzle.

Or a loop jump from a lutz jump.

And how do they skate backward?

What I do know is the quartet from the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex has taken my breath away with their grace and daring.

All those spins.

All those lifts.

Never mind skating solo at an Olympic caliber.

Being able to fly around the ice while supporting your airborne partner is astonishing.

Ellenton staff coach Kelly Paige said getting there means overcoming a lot of frustration.

A lot of falling down, too.

I was good at that part.

Speaking of falling down, if Denney-Barrett were penalized after she did a double-toe loop instead of a triple in Sunday night’s short program, how does that Russian pair score so high despite the guy landing on his keister?

Must be the French judge again.

Regardless, Manatee’s fabulous foursome gave us something to cheer about, a real hometown connection to the global arena of the 2010 Winter Games.

They even made guys like me care about Olympic pairs figure skating.

Even if only for a couple of nights.

They should get a gold medal just for that.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee Count. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification purposes.