Put me on TV!

Like anyone, I go to Olympic events to a) Get on TV, b) eat overpriced hot dogs, and c) maybe watch some sports. So I was pretty excited about thinking up this particular sign for the Norway vs. Canada curling match. Team Martin (Canada) are famous for their flashy shots while Team Jensrud (Norway) are famous for their flashy pants. Pants that have over half a million fans on a Facebook fan page.

In case you don't get it, it's Canada (Team Martin) vs. Norway (Team Clown Pants)

Just as the sign was about to pass through the security checkpoint, an eagle-eyed VANOC volunteer woman flagged it for “illegal advertising”. Technically, the “martinizing” logo wasn’t part of the Olympic family, making it as illegal as Human Growth Hormone. I tried to reason with them, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had a better chance at smuggling in a bomb at that point.

Here’s me, right before I had to throw it out:

I cursed VANOC under my breath, and over my breath, for the next 3 hours. Fortunately, team Canada lessened the hurt with a decisive win. In the end, the pants didn’t stand a chance.

Fast forward to later that evening, when I happened to be at a party where Kevin Martin showed up. I happened to have a picture of the sign on my camera and showed it to him. Without hyperbole, he LOVED it. He even LOL’d for a good 5-7 seconds. “How can I reward you for your gold medal worthy wordplay?” he asked. “Maybe just a picture,” I said.

Take that, VANOC.

(Thanks to Chris Moore for the Art Direction)

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Who Likes Photos?

Nice nipple rings!

VANOC's overregulation at its finest.

Little known fact: Shaun White also skips for the Swiss women's team

Never hold a press conference during a Canadian hockey game

Alexander the great! Conquerer of Dale MoneyBags-Smith

Quatchi make boo boo go bye bye.

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The British Invasion (by Marcus McLaughlin)

Guest correspondent Marcus McLaughlin takes a look at the UK media’s meddling, and the UK’s chances at medalling.

Watch out Canada, Germany, Scandinavia and The U.S. The Brits are here.

And they’re here to kick some…snow. Playfully. With their Hunter wellies. Oh, and to provide the British press with some material other than the exploits of dour government ministers, footballers’ wives or reality TV stars. And did they come, the UK media? Oh yes, in droves. The BBC alone has more personnel at the Games than the nation’s entire 52-member sports team. I mean, we’re talking about a real hunger for sporting heroes. Last month, for example, 28 photographers were sent all the way down to Melbourne to capture history. At the Tennis Australian Open, Scotsman Andy Murray sent the country into collective premature ejaculation when he reached the final and promised to become the first UK Grand Slam winner in 76 years. Did he unseat the mighty Federer and justify the trip for those weary photographers? Well, no. But this illustrates their appetite for a sporting fairytale.

Why then, do you journalists fly over here hell bent on raining down on our snowy parade? For a country that is set to stage the biggest party itself in 2012, I’d expect you to be just a tad more supportive. Then again, no Brit gives a flying headbutt about a story that includes the words “winter” and “sports”.

This just in from my man in England (er…my Dad):

“I don’t think we, as a country will be watching much. The British TV and press haven’t found a native hero or heroine yet to inspire us all.”

Ah, so that’s it. A hero you say? Well, let’s have a wee gander at the contenders. According to the Team GB site, the ‘ones to watch’ are bobsleigh, luge, curling, women’s skiing and figure skating. But the real money is on skeleton star Shelley Rudman, who won GB’s only medal (silver) at Turin. No pressure.

No really. No pressure. None at all. Canada may want to ‘own the podium’, wheras Team GB’s 52 athletes have been set the lofty target of three medals of any colour (an all-time record). Surely, someone will rise up like the phoenix from the flames. No wait. It was an eagle rising from the prairies in ’88. Remember? Nevermind.

At the time of writing (Day 7), that any-colour-medal remains elusive. Bodes well for the bookies back home who predict the U.K. will experience a medal shutout. Surprising, considering their new ‘world-class’ National Training Facility.

So, back to those journos. Apparently, it hasn’t been a positive start at all. Right on schedule it seems, on Day 3, The Guardian wrote us off as a “worst-ever” Games.

In response, The National Post writes that “if there was a gold medal for premature Winter Olympic whining, the British would be perennial occupants of the middle spot on the podium.”

And now this today on the BBC:

Tessa Jowell, The British Olympics Minister, currently in Vancouver, said, “I think that VANOC have done a really wonderful job. Our media back home is too busy carping and doesn’t quite get it. These are Canada’s Games and the people are 1000% behind them.” Go Tessa!

For British media, my recommendation would be simple. Sure, you may need to find any story to negate UK’s impotence in the Games. But don’t tempt fate by criticizing too early. You’ll face your national test soon enough.

Whoa, Look at me! You’d think this Brit had allowed some of the ubiquitous sea of red to rub off on him. Just maybe he has.

(Special thanks to Marcus. Follow his blog here)

Game On!

Protesters say these Olympics are reserved for the bourgeoisie

The Games are well underway, and the blogger in me is battling with the sports nerd in me. The sports nerd wants the computer to be put away for the next two weeks, using my fingers for flipping between channels, or ringing a cowbell at a live event. I’ll try to get the two to coexist, but if things go silent for a few days, it’s because blogger me is recovering from a serious wedgie.

As I’ve slept about 7 hours in the last 72, I’m going to give you some staccato and scattered thoughts from the last few days.

  • The US really needs to slow down its medal-grabbing pace. It’s like a kid on speed playing Hungry Hungry Hippo with a group of seniors.
  • This ongoing dissection of the opening ceremonies needs to stop. Yes, she sang the national anthem a little slower and sexier. I kind of liked it. If you didn’t, you’re probably over 60. Let it go, and let’s start talking about sports.
  • Dale Begg-Smith needs to stop being such a sore loser. It’s silver. It’s still an accomplishment. Find what’s left in you that’s Canadian and muster up some gratitude and respect for the true Canadian that beat you.
  • What’s with the hydraulic malfunctions in these Olympics? First, the 4th totem pole in the opening ceremonies, and now the zambonis at the Richmond Oval. Good thing there’s not a Disneyland in Canada.
  • The Olympic Volunteers are incredibly helpful and positive. For now. I’ll check in with them again on day 16. I think it’ll be like when a Mogwai turns into a Gremlin.
  • I’m clearly bad luck for Team Canada so far. 3 events witnessed, and no medals. I’m going to go out tomorrow and get some USA gear, so I can repel medals from them instead.
  • The Canadian Pairs skaters let us down, especially the ones who pee sitting down. Girls, learn to land those jumps. Come on.
  • Vancouver’s not a winter city. When they do experience Winter, it’s because Winter took a wrong turn, drove too far west and accidentally ended up in Vancouver asking “which way to Calgary?” It’s so rainy and warm right now that I shower outside in the morning.
  • As a final note for the evening, Alex Bilodeau is amazing.

And in case you’re interested, this is how my life breaks down since Friday:

Amazing opening ceremonies party at Relish. Drinking. Heckling. Dancing. Drinking again. Dancing some more. Midnight poutine. Weird poutine-induced dreams. Early wakeup. Cancelled downhill. Angry. Realization of sleep-in and bacon. Happy. Saturday. Lazy. Granville Island. Pictures. People watching. Pavilion hopping. Tapas. Friends. Moguls on TV. Cheering. Pride. Wilco. Yaletown. Ceasars. Oysters. Dancing. 80’s music. House party. Jersey-shore lookalikes. Quick exit. Sunday. Bed. Stupid early wake up. Alberta Train to Whistler. Good friends. Extreme luxury. Whistler. Biathlon. Crazy Weather. Village exploration. Alberta Train home.  News of Bilodeau’s gold on twitter. Cheering on train. Almost man tears. Embarrassment. Eating beef. Big Rock beer. Missing Calgary. Back home. Scarf from girlfriend. Perfect Valentine’s Day. Monday. Short sleep. Back to Whistler. Men’s downhill. Disappointment. Mad dash back to Vancouver. Men’s 500 speed skating. Go Jeremy. Broken Zamboni. Delays. Frustration. Bad results. Frustration. Twitter news of Boardercross silver. Less frustration. Back home. Vietnamese food. Blogging. Realizing this is probably a pretty dry read.

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Pindemonium!

I’ll be the first to admit that I collected and traded Olympic pins in 88. I’ll also confide that my pins were stolen from my backpack by a classmate. He was never caught, though I think I know who it was. There was no Encyclopedia Brown in my school to find that piece of case-breaking evidence for 25 cents. The culprit got a way with a pocket full of metal and enamel.

So you can understand why I’m a bit soured on the whole idea of pin trading. They can turn classmates into common thieves.

To me, pin traders are the band geeks of the Olympic movement. While the rest of the world is watching top athletes like Shaun White land mindblowing tricks like the Double McTwist 1260, or at least trying to pick up Swedish tourists at the bar, they’ll be in a pin trading pavilion exchanging some  obscure Sarajevo ’84 pin for a Heidi & Howdy ’88 pin (which was probably stolen from me).

I don’t expect everyone to get swept up in the sports, but the pin trading movement feels like someone trying to show off their spoon collection at a Metallica concert.

Then again, I’m sitting here blogging inside while the Olympics are happening all around me, so I feel a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

On the topic of pins, PETA got into the spirit, creating their very own pin for the 2010 Games. Something tells me it won’t be endorsed by the Canadian Olympic Committee.

The Inukshuk goes clubbing

The Village People

The athletes began moving into the  village today, as proven by these exclusive photos and mildly funny captions.

Denmark's flag goes up. Moments later it was beaten up by the Australian fighting kangaroo flag

Apparently Sarah Palin could see the Russians arriving from her front door

Germans arrive right on time, showing that unmistakable German enthusiasm

Athletes, they're just like us! They struggle at Rock Band

The Olympic village fleet of luggage carts, stolen from YVR

The living room/games room, probably destined to become a Starbucks after the Olympics

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Bi-Curious?

Biathlon isn’t the most celebrated winter sport in Canada. We’re not that fond of guns, we prefer ski-doos over or cross-country skiing, and most of us think biathlon is for people who aren’t motivated enough to be triathletes.

So it’s no surprise that the Canadian biathlon team doesn’t quite get the funding or the attention that they deserve. Rather than pout about their low profile, they adopted Halle Berry’s Oscar strategy: Skin to Win.

I don’t own this calendar, but I have had the misfortune of receiving (and regifting) the “Fire and Ice” calendar featuring nude curlers. My guess is that this calendar is much more tasteful and classy. Plus, there’s guns involved.

Bold, Beautiful Biathlon sells for $20, with proceeds going to the team expenses. An excerpt from their site:

We are the Canadian women’s biathlon team. We are a dynamic, positive and internationally competitive team of five women who share a common dream to excel at Canada’s Olympics in 2010 and beyond. Despite the upcoming home Games, our team is in dire need of funding. This is our initiative to take control,
effect positive change and continue the success of our team.

Our goal is to empower and inspire women and girls by expressing the beauty of a healthy, athletic body. The net proceeds will go directly towards funding our expenses leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

While we’re on the topic, Canadian biathlete Zina Kocher took a cue from American Pie and gave us one of the more enjoyable Olympic athlete profile ads going into the Games.

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Meet the Irish Olympic Team

Our official Irish correspondent Anna Ryan introduces you to the Irish Bobsleigh Team

Gold medalists in eyeliner application

I’m no sommelier of winter sports, but given that the Jamacian bobsleigh team failed to qualify for the Winter Olympics, may I suggest an alternative team to consider?  Equally under-dogesque in nature, the Irish women’s bobsleigh team has qualified for the Winter Olympics for the first time following a successful run in St. Moritz. The Irish team qualified 20th with only twenty accepted into the Games from up to 26 nations, but with several qualifying two or more teams.

Pilot Aoife (say it like Eeffa) Hoey and brakewoman Leona Byrne arrived in Whistler on January 31st for a four day practice at the sliding centre and are now shacked up at the Olympic Village in downtown Vancouver, only a short stroll from the Irish Pavillion ajoining Doolin’s pub.  Pavilion is a rather grandoise term for a giant marquee in a parking lot.  But after a few pints, who’ll notice?

The athletes have been training in North Dublin where practice starts on a wheeled sled and is combined with a rigourous weights and gym programme.  But given the lack of mountains, snow or ice in Ireland, practice happens abroad in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The wider Irish team may be seen hanging out with the Ghanian Snow Leopard in the Olympic village, while the Swiss, Americans, Canadians and all those who were born in a hot tub stroll on by.

A special guest contributor

(Apparently not everyone is happy about the Cultural Olympiad’s decision to place a video art installation on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery)

Where the hell we gonna sit?

By: Luke Halpern

Hey you. Yeah you walking past the art gallery steps. You see that big fancy video screen up there? The thing playing those lame ass artist videos all day for the Olympics? It took my seat. My friends seats too. That’s right. I represent the Sitting All Day On The Art Gallery Steps Club and I’m mad as hell. For five years straight, me and my posse have been gathering on those steps to talk about all sorts of things. Jude likes to talk about how much he hates capitalism. Garth likes to talk about how much he hates politics. Todd likes to talk about how much he hates wearing a condom. Well he used to like talking about that. Now he likes to talk about how much he hates having AIDS. The list of discussions was endless. Even Chad’s two mutts, pet rat and girlfriend from Quebec liked to be a part of the convo. Then boom! Up goes the video screen. No warning. No heads up from VANOC. Just one big video screen covering up our steps. So now where do we go? Do we sit on a park bench? I think not. Do we gather in a coffee shop? Hardly. Do we get jobs and contribute to society? Are you out of your friggin’ mind? I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna walk by those steps everyday and watch one of those stupid artists’ videos and talk about how stupid they are. Then we’re gonna spit on the pavement and walk away. Yeah. You heard me. We’re gonna do that every day until the stupid Olympics are over and they take down the stupid video screen and let us have our gallery steps back so we can watch all the working stiff zombies walk by to their soul-sucking jobs and we can point and laugh and then figure out where we’re gonna spend our welfare cheques and then we’ll bum smokes from people and if they say they don’t have any smokes we’ll call ‘em a douchebag and we’ll go bum a smoke from someone else who does have a smoke. So take that VANOC. See what you started?

(Submitted by Daryl Gardiner)