On Torino

I have attentively watched every Olympiad since Seoul 88. Probably even Calgary 88, but I can’t remember those. I’d say “probably” to 84 were it not for the fact that I was four at the time and living in Olympic boycotted Poland at the time, so even if I were to watch then there wouldn’t have been much to see. Let’s just say “since Seoul 88”.

All through that time the winter version was always my favourite of the various Olympics. When the IOC adjusted the schedule in the early 90s, which resulted in the Albertville and Lillehammer Olympics being a mere two years apart, I was ecstatic. Two Winter Olympiads in two years? Fuck yeah!

There are reasons why I prefer them. Most simple of all, I live in a winter nation and I’ve always enjoyed the winter. I might not ski or skate myself, but the thought of cool winter air and snow covered mountains appeals to me. 30 degree (Celcius!) weather does not. Secondly, I find the winter events more compact and not as overwhelming. For all that flak events like Biathlon (which is great — there was an exciting finish today) and luge and curling might get, I wonder where those same people are when they are Sailing and jumping around on trampolines and playing ping pong and archery in the summer. For one dubious sport you can name in the winter, I can name two or three summer equivalents.

Most important of all, the soul of Canadian sports wears a hockey jersey. Everything rides on that. Since hockey is at the Olympics (and now with NHL players), the games are always going to get the collective attention of this nation. Sad as it is for the other athletes, hockey’s Team Canada arriving at the Games garners as much, if not more, attention than any medal on that day. Above everything else — including Donovan Bailey’s world record win — the one Olympic memory that stands out the most to me (and many others) is the Sweden vs Canada gold medal shootout in 1994. Twelve years ago.

That is why I like the winter games. I can understand if they have no relevance to people that live in places where a single snowflake is enough to declare a national disaster. I can (marginally) understand testosterone driven objections to the mere sight of figure skating. I can understand the overall disenchantment with the “Olympic movement”. And I can definitely understand why someone wouldn’t like the games if all they had was coverage by NBC! But I really can’t understand this idiotic Bryant Gumbel opinion:

So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something’s not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what’s called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won … So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.

Sheer lunacy. Not even worth responding too. Ignoring the retarded race card that he throws into the argument, you’ll have to excuse me if I, as a Canadian, don’t give a fuck about minor league American college sports — regardless of what the background of the athletes is.

The only white I care about is the white of the snow. There’s not a lot of that going on this season in Toronto so, if anything, it’s nice to see some of that powder on the ground this year, even if only in Torino. And in our northern nations, it’s also nice to celebrate those sports that can only be played for four or five months of the year. It’s what we have and we enjoy it. It’s hard to swim when the lake is frozen.

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