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)
A look at Sven Kramer’s ill-advised lane change by Jeff Funnekotter, our Dutch insider… or is it outsider?… no, insider
There are two ways to look at the Sven Kramer 10,000 meter debacle. (Incidentally, in terms of descriptors, ‘debacle’ is reserved for the Olympics. Gaffes are for the Commonwealth Games, and faux pas for the Canada Games). For the uninitiated, Kramer was disqualified for an illegal lane change even though he had the gold medal sewn up.
The reaction to Kramer’s ill-fated lane change here in the Netherlands has been predictably strong. As anyone visiting Holland Heineken House in Vancouver or watching the Games on TV has noticed, the Dutch are as crazy about speed skating as Canadians are about hockey, or the British are for hyperbolic slagging of another nation. It’s not a national day of mourning here though – the pragmatic people from the Pays-bas have a tough ‘het is gewoon zo’ (it’s just the way it is) approach to many things.
But the autopsy is extensive. The replays, shown in excruciatingly slow motion on every channel, show Kramer’s coach advising him to go in instead of out, zig instead of zag, tally instead of ho. Then we see the coach’s own ‘oh, snap’ look (in slo-mo, “oooooohhhh snaaaaaapppppp”) as he radios to some unseen co-coach to try to blame someone else for at least a minute or so. To his enormous credit, he absolutely owned his mistake in every interview after the race, and I suspect nobody in the entire country feels as badly as he does today. Even though Kramer could have ignored his advice (equally tough to do though when you’re in the zone and trained to listen to your coaches). One suspects that Vancouver’s immigration office received an orange-tinted request for political asylum today.
But where do we place our sympathies here? On the one hand, we can’t comprehend how Kramer must feel after YEARS of training to get to this point, only to have victory vanquished by a technicality. On the other hand, for those who have seen this clip, you may not mind that he was served a healthy heap of humble pie yesterday.
What’s more stupid, after all – a reporter asking a foreign athlete a standard question (albeit somewhat rudely) for video identification for what is surely just a tool to help her editors figure out who’s who on the tape reel, or a coach and skater missing a simple lane switch that they’ve practiced thousands of times? Do you feel bad for the smiling and talented young kid who trains day in and day out, or do you are you pleased that the arrogant rude punk received some harsh comeuppance? Inside lane or outside lane?
By Jeff Funnekotter
Apart from sharing the same name (compare them out loud, really, go on, it’s fun), these two fine gentlemen have much in common. Both have a fetish for well-cut grey pants. Both are yet to live up to their earlier promise. Both are partial to sharing shellfish with older women. Ashton / Anton, on behalf of all Global Villagers, I salute you for enriching our lives.
Learn more about Ashton’s private life here. http://twitter.com/
Learn more about Anton’s private life here. http://www.noc.by//
Another story from our Irish correspondent, Anna Ryan, giving us a glimpse into the psyche of the Irish Women’s Bobsleigh Team the night before the big race.
I attach some rare professional video footage of the lesser known Irish women’s bobsleigh team to mark their inaugral participation in this fine event on Tuesday and Wednesday night. For your added viewing pleasure, try counting the number of times lady bosleigher on the left says “you know” during the interview.
Additional fun fact; Ireland’s Aoife Hoey, of the aforementioned “you know” fame, is also the tallest female athlete in the Winter Games at an impressive 6”4, which is roughly the same height as the Inukshuk on English Bay. Extended thanks go out to the nations of Australia and Brazil for their valiant, but ultimately failed efforts to get the Irish ladies booted out of the bobsleigh event. I hope Aoife stands on you accidentally.
For anyone not well versed in golf, Amen Corner describes the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes of August National golf course, home of the Masters. They’re a particularly difficult stretch of holes, and if you come out clean, the tailors start scrambling to get your measurements for the Green Jacket (a wearable trophy).
I mention Amen Corner, because this weekend at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics presented a very similar challenge to Canada’s Olympic team. Sadly, I’d say we came out of the weekend, ummm, about 8 over par.
I don’t mean to be an armchair athlete. I appreciate how tough it us to perform under the microscope of 34 million mitten-wearing hosers. And I know how tough the US and German teams are. It’s just, I hoped the law of averages would lead us to more than 1 silver medal over 48 hours.
The Hamelin brothers really deflated me. 2 chances to win a medal in a final heat of 5 skaters. In the words of my friend Jeff, “they skated a masterful 500 meter race. Problem was, it was in the 1000 meter event.”
Denny Morrison and Manny Osbourne-Paradis also got to me, pulling out a lot of excuses and finger pointing for their poor performances. Uncharacteristic of both athletes, and quite un-Canadian.
Melissa Hollingsworth was tough to watch, putting in a disastrous 4th run to slide right off the podium. Her coach was there at the bottom, handing her the Canadian flag in an anticipated celebration of a medal. She held it up with a forced smile, but might as well have used it as a kleenex.
While we’re talking about the track, one of our 2-man bobsled teams actually crashed while in 3rd place. This despite all those extra runs they had as part of the Own the Podium program.
The Canadian men’s hockey team folded to the Americans, forcing a sobering cup of coffee down the throat of all party-primed Canadians. From my point of view, we hit a hot goalie. Better now than in the playoff round.
And toughest of all was Chris Del Bosco, Skier Cross Athlete for Canada. He took a tight line on the second last jump looking to upgrade his sewn-up bronze. Instead, he ended up blowing up and landing in a crumpled heap within a stone’s throw from the finish. Still, I like that he was going for a better medal, because, in his own words “3rd is alright for some people.” Chris Del Bosco was really going for it, and I credit him for that.
This is a really verbose entry, but I’d just like to say this. There’s been a lot of debate about the Own the Podium initiative. Though I like the program in theory, I wish they didn’t give it such a brash name. To borrow from adspeak, it was a blatant overpromise. We’re talking about podium domination while other countries are just going out and doing it.
Yes, we have some medals. And yes, there have been some great performances. But we won’t be threatening the Americans, and probably not the Germans either. We probably won’t match our Torino numbers, marking the first leveling off on our graph of Winter Olympic progress.
As for this “there’s too much pressure at home” talk, that didn’t seem to bother the Australians in 2000. The cacophony of cowbells and clapping should give you the extra 10 in 110%. I’m trying to stay positive, I’m trying to stay supportive, but so far too many of our athletes have taken their cue from the 4th pillar in the opening ceremonies, failing to rise to the occasion.
I might go to the Shark Club and try to get ruffied. I just want to forget all about this weekend.
I can’t help but think that Oprah’s audience heard “Red” and just stopped listening, hoping the second part would be “Honda Civic”. Had they controlled their shit long enough to let her finish, they would’ve heard “mittens” followed by “that retail for $10” followed by “and will only be worn by homeless people a month from now.”
You get mittens, you get mittens, everyone gets miiiiitttteeeeennnns!
Dear Evgeni Plushenko,
Allow me to apologize for the gross injustice inflicted upon you and your beloved mother Russia that came in the form of what one could only loosely refer to as “judging” during this year’s men’s figure skating finals. How you suffered this indignation with such grace and humility was truly an Olympic miracle.
Presenting a gold metal to a “man” whose program does not include a quad is an utter sham. It sets the sport of figure skating back decades and offers definitive proof of an IOC agenda that men’s figure skating be dominated by sissies.
I propose the following: a new men’s figure skating club that only allows men that can consistently perform quads. This quad club will feature the greatest male figure skaters in the world and demonstrate the pinnacle of athleticism in the sport. Also, every skater who becomes part of the club will receive four gold rings to signify that he is part of this elite group of men. The club will have a secret knock; you guessed it—four quick knocks that will grant admission to the quad clubhouse, where men can just hang out eating steaks and talking about figure skating as men do.
I urge you to join the proposed club early. While many of the club positions have tentatively been filled, we still have an opening for secretary. Can I assume you’d be interested?
Quad Club Founder
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)
At the beginning of the Olympics, I arrived at work to find a pass reading “ALL ACCESS” on my keyboard. It was given to me by a thoughtful coworker who knew of my Olympic passion, and thought the pass might carry some cachet. It took me about 3 seconds to figure out that despite the lanyard and bold letters, it was nothing more than a piece of junk mail promoting Yahoo’s “all access” online coverage of the Games. I contemptuously threw it in the garbage, angry that it got my hopes up for those few fleeting moments. Stupid advertisers.
I mention this pass because apparently that very same crap on a string can get you within 12 steps of the American Vice President. Today the RCMP admitted that a mentally ill man used the pass to get through 2 layers of security at the Opening Ceremonies. Fortunately the 3rd layer of security probably spotted the facebook and twitter icons on the pass and got a little suspicious. They apprehended the man within spitting distance of the Second in Command.
The mentally ill man won’t likely be charged, but the security guards confiscated the pass and plan on using it to get into the Gold Medal hockey game.
- Shaun White showed that bandanas aren’t just for protesters, convincingly winning the men’s halfpipe. Afterward, redhead women all over Vancouver were mistakenly asked for their autographs.
- The two man luge event wrapped up tonight, leaving only figure skating to make fun of.
- The US is off to such an huge lead in the medal count, they gave a few out to homeless guys in Vancouver’s east end, just for charity.
- The “I Believe” song on CTV will drive someone to homicide, and it will probably be me.
- Stephen Colbert filmed his show in Vancouver today, and more people showed up for that then the Canada Pavilion. Rightly so.
- Women’s Ski Jumping may have been blocked from the 2010 Games, but that didn’t stop Anja Paerson in today’s downhill.
- Marianne St-Gelais of Canada manages to grab a silver medal despite having to skate against a couple of dudes.