Winter Olympics WTFs

Monday, March 1st, 2010

The Winter Olympics are a time when people of all stripes from around the world1 come together as one to celebrate jingoism in its purest form: the pursuit of gold medals in events which barely qualify as sports. Yes, we join together around our television sets to cheer on athletes from our own country, decry the actions and behavior of athletes from any other countries, and say “What the fuck?” about all sorts of things. Things such as:

The Opening Ceremonies

Did you see this guy?

That flying guy from the opening ceremonies

I watched this with no audio from a bar in San Francisco, so perhaps I missed out on some context. But really, what the hell was going on there?

We saw this guy running in place, faster and faster, until he started flying around. Boy did he look surprised about it too, particularly for someone who was attached to a set of wires. This went on, and on, and on, and just when we thought it would be over, it went on some more.

And come on – clam diggers?

Ski Jumping

As previously noted, there’s currently no women’s ski jump at the Olympics. This was, and remains, bullshit.

Curling

Unfortunately, there is curling at the Olympics. I don’t even really want to get into this here. If you’ve seen curling, better known as Janitors on Ice, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen curling, consider yourself lucky.

Scott Hamilton

I’m sure Scott Hamilton is a great guy. He won gold for the US in 1984, and he’s an active philanthropist. But good god, the man has no idea what the word ‘courage’ means.

When a skater attempts a jump which he’s been practicing for months, even if it’s a relatively difficult jump, that is not courageous. When a skater completes a routine she’s completed dozens of times before, both in practice and competition, it was not courageous. When a fireman rushes into a burning building to save someone, that is courageous. By and large, figure skaters are talented, athletic, and highly-skilled, but nothing they do on the ice qualifies as courageous.2

Figure Skating Judging

In the old days, scores showed up from each country’s judge. We could all boo the Soviet judge for giving such an outrageously low score to our American skater, and then laugh as it was cut from being counted (along with the highest score). This worked great, until the French went and ruined it all.

Now, a confusing mélange of systems is used to judge. Super slow-motion replay is used by a technical specialist to verify things like the exact foot position at take-off and landing of a jump. I’m pretty sure Kim Yu-Na scored a 150.06 out of a possible 150. It’s crazy, and it doesn’t make any sense to the casual observer.

Bobsledding

Bobsledding (also known more effeminately as ‘bobsleighing’), is a sport where two or four competitors push a sled to start off, then jump in and guide it down an icy track as fast as possible. On the face of it, this may not seem so strange, as it’s simply yet another type of racing. What’s so ridiculous about it is that after the initial push-off, the person in the rear simply acts as ballast. Look at this:

The two-man bobsled

There’s a driver, steering, but behind him? That’s just his brakeman, hunched over. He doesn’t even get to watch, because that would slow them down. Of course, as his name indicates he does have one more job; after they cross the finish line, he needs to pull the brakes to stop the sled.

The four-man bobsled

On the four-man bobsled, seen above, there are three guys ducking down, hoping they don’t crash. And the two middle guys don’t even get to brake. They’re “pushmen”, and all they do is push and jump in, then duck and pray.

Nordic Combined

Cross-country skiing plus…ski jumping? How the hell did those two wind up together? Downhill plus ski jumping, that might make sense, but this is absurd.

So Much More

There’s plenty more, from the short-track speed skating relay (Holy hell, what is going on there?) to the mascots (Miga is a half-bear, half-killer whale who lives under the sea), but how much more can you take? I know I’m sated for now. Come back in another four years, and we’ll do it all over again.


Footnotes:

  1. Where “people of all stripes” of course means “Caucasians, along with some Asians”. ↩︎

  2. An exception will of course be made for Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, whose decision to skate just days after her mother’s sudden death, was indeed courageous. Her bronze medal victory may well outshine the gold in the 2010 women’s figure skating event. ↩︎


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