LIVE FROM VANCOUVER

February 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Before I begin my live update from the Winterish Olympics in Vancouver, Canadia, a small caveat:

I’m not sure that all this fun stuff in the snow is truly sport.

There. I said it. Those words weren’t cheap, either. My Austrian girlfriend will now have me sleeping on the couch for the next eon. She’s a prolific skier, you see. Probably visualizes tall, well-hung Swiss-German ski instructors while we make love. But that’s for another day.

Is this stuff sport? Or just a highly-skilled leisure activity?

No matter. It’s the effing Olympics, goddamn it, and you’ve all been breathlessly waiting for my first report on the whole shebang to truly feel up to date.

Okay. First up: I was surprised to find myself mesmerized by the 1500m speed skating event. This gentleman Apollo Ohno from the US of A is a sight to behold. The way he hung back in the heats, calmly timing his attack and then threading the needle to whisk through to the front of the pack was impressive. Having said that, he couldn’t quite get it together in the final yet caught a break when the two Koreans in 2nd and 3rd place tripped each other up and crashed out of the event. This is the second time I’ve seen this happen in the final of the speed skating. The first time was just as memorable because it allowed an Australian to capture the first ever medal at the Winter Games for that country- my country of origin, as it turns out. I remember it well- he was coming about 11th (possibly an exaggeration), when all of a sudden about nine guys in front of him seemed to get into a heated argument about whose ass looked best in those tight pants, or something to that effect and proceeded to get caught up in a terrible (and hilarious) tangle, collapsing in a sliding heap of humanity against the wall as this lucky Aussie devil cruised through to the Bronze, arms raised in triumph.

This guy Ohno did the same thing. Yes! He seemed to exclaim as he crossed the finish line. That’s what I’M talking about!

Question: does irony dissolve in cold temperatures? Imagine that happening in other sports- would Roger Federer leap in the air with joy if, down two sets, 5-0 and three match points, his opponent suddenly got an attack of narcolepsy and couldn’t finish the match, lying fast asleep on the other side of the net? Would Roger grab the trophy and cry tears of joy, thanking God for all his support in making him the undisputed champeen of the world? I doubt it. At least toss us a sheepish grin as you accept your medal, guys.

Still, a lovely event, thoroughly entertaining and exciting to boot.

I then watched a skiing event which Victoria told me was called the Moguls. I hoped that this would be a bunch of muscly-legged Europeans skijumping onto the heads of Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trumps and all their corporate tycoon buddies, but alas, it’s just a downhill run over a bunch of little hills (moguls- spelling is probably wrong), interspersed with x-gamesy jumps. The best part of this whole event was something they’re doing in the finals called the ‘hot seat’, where three leather loveseats (must be snowproof leather- Ikea are one of the games’ sponsors)are placed to the side of the course and are taken by the three leading medal contenders at that point, who proceed to recline and watch their rivals try to displace them. The result is terrific television, of course, as we watch the skiiers get up and shift down every time a new leader is announced, like the poor schmo at the basketball who has snuck down to the more expensive seats and is impolitely asked to move his behind when the actual ticket-holders smugly appear. I was impressed, however, by the general goodwill on display by the skiiers when the new leader on the board would come over and take their place in the Gold seat. No abuse, no roundhouses, just nice smiles, hugs and claps on the back.

I haven’t seen that kind of generosity, open-heartedness and general good humour in some time in high-level sports… which confirms what I have suspected: this can’t possibly BE sport, can it? Not the kind we’ve all gotten used to here in the US, anyway.

That’s it for now- the water has just hit the perfect temperature in our hot tub, the champagne has been uncorked and Victoria is waiting for me with that come-hither look. Now this is what I call a winter sport (post all complaints at www.marcadengray.com).

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