Athletes to Follow for Shallow Reasons…or Gut Feeling

In the first Sochi instalment of this blatantly male-oriented category, let’s go to downhill skier Lara Gut  of Switzerland.

Lara GutLara is on a tear of late, with wins in Beaver Creek and Lake Louise in recent weeks.

Her website is www.laragut.ch

 

 

 

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The Pointer Sisters vs. The Dufour-Lapointe Sisters

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The Pointer Sisters (June, Bonnie & Anita) are an American R&B Group from Oakland California, who put their stamp on the 80s with their high energy songs, wild hair and not-so-subtle makeup. Quebec’s Dufour-Lapointe Sisters (Maxime, Justine & Chloe) are a triple threat in moguls to win medals in Sochi with their high-precision turns, high amplitude jumps, and playful press poses. Since it’s only natural to get these famous sisters mixed up, we thought we’d offer you a breakdown.

THE POINTER SISTERS           VS.         THE DUFOUR-LAPOINTE SISTERS     Image

Sochi, The Feel-Bad Games

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One would be hard-pressed to think of another Olympic Games that was getting as much negative press as opening day approached.

Just last week, Lady Gaga, political lightning rod that she is, suggested that the Sochi Games be boycotted over Russia’s anti-gay laws. This weekend, German President Joachim Gauck (it’s a ceremonial role mostly – Chancellor Angela Merkel does the heavy lifting) announced his boycott of the Games over Russia’s human rights record and their treatment of political opponents.

First Gaga, now Gauck. What’s gagoing on here?

Actually Gaga is not the first celebrity to speak up. Earlier this year, Lindsey Graham, US Senator and part-time male lesbian, suggested a boycott over Russia’s harbouring of NSA rascal Edward Snowden as well as their support of Syria’s Assad. British comedian Stephen Fry then wrote a sharply-worded open letter to the International Olympic Committee and British PM David Cameron, raising comparisons to Hitler and the need to also go the boycott route.

While this mixed bag of B-level boycott bleaters may not make a dent in the actual Games once they get underway, they are clearly dominating the headlines these days.

Instead of having articles written about some shiny new venues or the heroic efforts of the athletes heading into competition, these Games are so far being associated with less-PR-friendly words like spying, Hitler, anti-gay, and civil war.

Sochi’s organizers are going to need to pull off a public relations’ quadruple salchow to turn things around in the next two months.

 

Take it for Granite

Since the early theme of this blog has us highlighting the lack of highlights going into Sochi, it seems fitting that we write a piece on the colossally boring “sport” of curling (apologies to Jarrod).

This little nugget comes to us courtesy of the New York Times. This article tells of the obscure Scottish island of Ailsa Craig, where nothing much goes on except that it holds a distinctive granite that makes up many of the world’s curling stones, including those slated for Sochi.

Curling_stone

This means some curling nerd back in the day stumbled across this island and thought: ‘Hmm, what could we do with this majestic water-resistant microgranite, taken from this ancient volcanic husk sitting majestically amidst the waters of the Firth of Clyde?Hang on a thecond…let’s use it for curling’!

So when you’re gathered amongst friends during the Olympics and only curling is on TV (you’re waiting for a real sport to get started, most likely), you can drop this little nugget of trivia just to liven up the proceedings a little.

Irony Curtain

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The photo above is taken from the home page of the official Sochi 2014 website. What do you think – Da or Nah?

On one hand, the ironic – or is it? – double guns move that the guy is pulling is a beauty. The last time that was done un-ironically was when the Fonz did it.

And the hockey hair, straight from Salon Jagr – it too seems like it could be a gag, though I don’t think so.

Like Putin majestically bare-chested astride a horse, both images leave the visitor wondering what the true message is that the Russians are trying to get across. Is the joke on them, or on us?

Putin-on-Horseback-Barechested-

Vonn Crutch

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With the news that Lindsey Vonn crashed in training in Colorado on Tuesday, re-injuring her right knee, the ski world was turned upside-down.

Just a year ago, superstar skier Lindsey Vonn was petitioning the FIS to let her ski in the Men’s Downhill at Lake Louise. Y’know, just to give herself a bit of a challenge, after repeatedly winning the women’s race by margins usually measured in chairlift rides. They didn’t let her, because the FIS is unflinchingly Austrian, and she probably would’ve placed, like, 7th, emasculating around 65 male skiers in the process.

Now, only 9 months removed from her horrible crash in Austria, and remarkably back on snow ahead of schedule, she has yardsaled her way back out of the Olympic picture.

This situation is pretty bleak for some:

First, Lindsey, obvs.

Second, NBC. They’ve lost their blonde Olympic show pony, already shaping many of their promo ads around her miraculous comeback. But don’t worry, there’s always that redhead chick Sean White.

And poor Tiger Woods has gained a smothering girlfriend once again. Anyone who saw her squirrel antics at the President’s Cup could sense that Tiger was about to have that, “Baby I need my space” talk.  You just know when she took off for training in Colorado, he probably did one of those Tiger fist pumps as the Red Bull chopper flew away. But now she’ll be back rehabbing and gossiping about Julia Mancuso and talking in his backswing as he practices and other typical girlfriend stuff.

But while there are many losers in this story of arrested ACL recovery, the other girls on the World Cup circuit are the big winners. They no longer have to say that they’re shooting for silver. Although Lindsey on one leg with ski crutches is still a 5 to 1 favourite in my books.

UPDATE (NOV 25th): Lindsey plans on skiing in Lake Louise in under two weeks. Perhaps under the one leg circumstances noted above, or maybe Tiger told her to shake off your boo-boo and go do your winter stuff for a while.

(Headline props to Jeff Funnekotter)

Start ‘Er Up

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So Sochi is just around the corner. Just like it would appear to a Jamaican bobsledder though, that corner seems really far away and tricky to navigate.

A word to the PR people in Russia – forget the anti-gay stuff (we’ll get to that later) – you need to generate some better buzz for the games. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Sochi Olympic Committee promoted ‘100 days to go’ until the Games, which kick off February 7th.

A couple of days later, Russian skier Raisa Smetantina – yes, THE Raisa Smetantina – lit the Olympic cauldron.

Both events went anti-viral.

Buzz? At the moment, Miley Cyrus generates more buzz farting in her sleep (a butch oven?) than the Sochi games do. Snooki is more happening than Sochi. Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford – speaking of being buzzed – has a higher Q rating than a global, once-every-four-year event which involves, like, a ton of countries.

Is the public and media apathy just a way of giving the cold shoulder to the country, in retaliation for Russia’s bizarre state-sponsored anti-homosexual stance? Or is it the Winter Games in general, with a perennially lower profile than its big sister Summer?

In any case, the collective yawn so far is not a great sign for the Russkies, nor for the athletes who have been training for years just to have a shot at Olympic glory and possible endorsement riches.

However! All is not lost. We here at the fiveringcircus  – Jarrod Banadyga, the original five-ringer, and some of his hand-picked guest bloggers – are avid armchair Olympians, and we’ll do our part to help get Sochi sorted. We’ll see if we can sex it up a little, laugh it up a lot, and in general get some good ol’ glasnost going.

Shut ‘er down

The tents are being taken down, the red mitts are being tossed in homeless donation bins, the ticket scalpers are crawling back into the dark alleys, and the puddles of puke and urine are being washed down the gutter by the reliable Vancouver rains.

These amazing, disgusting, enthralling, and emotional Games are over.

I only wish the Olympics could’ve slowed to the pace of the Snow Leopard (43 seconds behind the leader on his slalom runs), but instead it ripped past us all like Alex Bilodeau.

Thank you all for following along on this blog, and for all the contributors who helped add some content along the way while I was out banging cowbells instead of keyboards (and witnessing 4 gold medals). You were like that proverbial ass push in a short track relay, helping me get through this.

It felt like going into this, I had to hard sell a lot of Vancouverites on how great these Games would be. Now all the sideliners seem to have better Olympic stories than I do. This city really surprised me and dropped its indifference the moment the cauldron was clumsily lit.

I’m going to miss the alternating panning and praising of the Own the Podium Program, I’m going to miss Vicki Chan’s obsession with Johnny Weir, the Snow Leopard’s ubercelebrity status, Norway’s amazing curling pants, Stephen Brunt’s tearjerking montages, Jay Onrait’s morning show, and my girlfriend’s inability to let seven combined illnesses stop her from partying.

Jenny Taylor, still cheering through a Bronchial infection

I’m NOT going to miss the ridiculous venue lineups, the Yoplait Source commercial, the hideous Russian Sochi jackets, the way too revealing speed skating suits (mooseknuckles and cameltoes), the 18% automatic restaurant surcharge, the long lineups for beer tents, the outdated soulpatch of Apolo Anton Ohno, the off-pitch spontaneous anthem singing, those stupid Lululemon hockey helmet toques, the way too aggressive high fiving, and most of all, the CTV “I Believe” song.

The most encouraging thing I’ve heard in the aftermath is that amateur sports will now have a dedicated sports channel so that Canadians can follow our athletes on TV in between the Olympics, instead of the back pages of the sports section.

And though much has been made of this new brand of brash patriotism, I must admit, I lean toward the quieter, more modest Canada. I think we should all look to Sidney Crosby as a role model of class and dignity we need to maintain. We shouldn’t be in any rush to out America the Americans.

As for this blog, it’ll probably be back in 4 years. It’s been encouraging seeing 600 people a day check in on the stories, which rocketed to 5000 thanks to google searches for Ashleigh McIvor after her gold medal. Lesson learned–sex sells. Still, my favourite thing about this blog is that I knew it would have an expiration date of March 1st. Like my Olympic gear, it’s dying to be put away for a while.

Thanks for following the Circus.

The author and Athlete to Watch for Shallow Reasons, Kimi Zakreski

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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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The Irish Bobsled Team, and the Art of Aerodynamics

Claire Bergin and 6ft 4inch Aoife Hoey training for the Games

Many who watched the Irish Bobsleigh team in their first two heats yesterday might have wondered how two girls can be more than 3 seconds back of the lead time. The answer might lie with driver and vowel-abuser Aoife Hoey, who stands at 6ft 4, making her the tallest girl at the Games.

Watching her climb in the sled is like watching Andre the Giant climb into a mini. Watching her go down the track with her head sticking out so high makes me want to play Whac-a-mole. Still, they’re ahead of the Russians, and close behind the Australians, who tried to have them punted from the event before the Olympics. Despite my criticisms, they’re my favourite non-contending team of these Games. I hope they smoke those boxing Kangaroos. Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m watching a submarine slowly meander down the track with a fully extended periscope.

(Thanks to Colin Hart for the photoshop magic)

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