Saturday, February 11, 2006

Turin for the worse

Allow me to begin my Olympic coverage with a little musical tribute. If you don't know the tune, feel free to just scroll down to read the rest of my screed.

You say Turin, I say Torino
Halfpipe or curling, I'll need some vino
Turin, Torino, halfpipe and vino
Let's call the whole thing off

You say Turin, I say Torino
Why is Wayne Gretzky, in the casino?
Turin, Torino, Gretzky, casino
Let's call the whole thing off

You say Turin, I say Torino
You like Sinatra, I like El Deano
Turin, Torino, Sinatra, El Deano
Let's call the whole thing off

You say Turin, I say Torino
Lasagne and meatballs, pass me the Beano
Turin, Torino, lasagne, and Beano
Let's call the whole thing off

You say Turin, I say Torino
I am quite fond of, Mira Sorvino
Turin, Turino, Mira, Sorvino
Let's call the whole thing off

You say Turin, I say Torino
It's neverending. What time can we go?
Turin, Torino, We've seen enough snow
Let's call the whole thing off

Actually, I'm kind of serious about that last part. At the very least, the Winter Olympics are too long. Two weeks from now, I'll have seen so much skating, skiing, sledding, slaloming, and Slutskaya, I won't even want to see ice in my drinks. No scotch on the rocks, I won't even want to hear "Love on the Rocks." And you know I am a huge Neil Diamond fan; his critically-acclaimed "12 Songs " collaboration with Rick Rubin is extra-heavy in my iPod playlist rotation right now.

After all, the Olympics is really nothing more than a worldwide conspiracy to get the United States to commit to the metric system, and now that they staggered the schedule to alternate the Summer and Winter Games so that we have Olympics every two years instead of four, the pressure is really mounting. The U.S. would obviously have a lot more medals but we get lost in the metric conversions, especially in the Summer Olympics, where there are a lot more events with weights and weight classes. I mean, haven't we all seen the American powerlifters scratching their heads, trying to figure out how heavy a decagram is, when the next thing they know, "My Native Land, My Pride and Joy" is playing while three chuckling Estonians salute their flag from the medal stand.

At least the Summer Olympics offer some familiar, accessible events. Running, jumping, swimming, cycling, boxing, these we can relate to. But the winter events don't even seem like real sports. Why do they bother with names like luge and skeleton? Let's just call them what they are: sledding feetfirst on your back and sledding headfirst on your stomach. Now, if you put four guys and a dog on a toboggan at the top of a hill, and they have to go over a creek at the bottom that may or may not be completely frozen over and then bail out before they hit the chain link fence, now you've got yourself an event with some drama.

Instead, NBC will try to draw us in by getting "Up Close and Personal" with the athletes, which is a good thing because the only people who could name more than half a dozen American Olympians are their relatives and people whose checks have a USOC logo on them. Go ahead, I'll spot you Michelle Kwan, Sasha Cohen, Bode Miller, and Apolo Ohno, which is undoubtedly the most perfect Olympic name of all time. Women will probably know the the two additional female figure skaters, Emily Hughes, the younger sister of 2002 gold medalist Sarah Hughes, and Kimmie Meissner, a native of Bel Air, Maryland, not much more than a giant slalom run from my home in Phoenix, Maryland (Go Kimmie! Yew kin dew it, hon!). And men might recall that Jeremy Bloom, who played wide receiver at the University of Colorado, is also an Olympic freestyle skier. Come on, can't you think of any more? There are only 203 more Americans to choose from!

Not that I won't watch. I already watched some of the Opening Ceremonies last night. What a great moment, a once-in-a-lifetime thrill it must be to represent your country and march into a glorious coliseum as the Village People's YMCA reverbrates throughout the stadium.

Before the Opening Ceremonies, NBC showed some American skiers trying to make the competition roster. This makes no sense to me. You qualify for the team, go to Turin and then you have to try out again? Apparently countires like Austria and Switzerland have to do this all the time because they have so many great skiers, but it's a big deal for the U.S. because it's the first time we've had to whittle down the roster.

Which skiing event was it you ask? Slalom, downhill, giant slalom, Super-G, G-money, Heavy D, ginormous slalom, super terrific happy hour slalom? I don't know, all I can tell you is they were going down the hill really fast, and they seemed to be going back and forth. They stayed on the ground mostly, so it wasn't ski jumping, and there were no guns, so it wasn't biathlon, and they actually showed it on TV, so it wasn't cross-country.

That's all for now. In my next installment, I'll attempt to explain the Gunder Gundersen scoring method for the Nordic combined event. It has an extremely high degree of difficulty, but I have pulled it off in earlier drafts and I am looking forward to testing myself on the international stage.


Blaine from Maine said...

I check this every day. Glad I do. You should have a column. Keep it up. Funny, funny stuff.

AJ said...

Complete with the TK seal of approval! Nice work!

sivry said...

Hi Bill,
My brother pointed me this way...and oddly I just had a conversation about why the winter Olympics stink compared to summer. I like races where you have to cross a finish line before someone else, as in running and swimming, everyone in motion at once.
But also, a great blog; am enjoying it and going to send it to others.

Bill Fitzgerald said...

Thanks all for your feedback.

Sara, I'm sure you won your Olympic argument on its merits and with superior intellect. Thanks for passing it on.

aj, thanks for stopping by again. If Mr. Tony had sung the song I might've needed resuscitation. Love your work on TK.

Blaine, I'm feeeling the love, brother. Thanks for your support.

AJ said...

Bill, thanks for that, but the props you've been getting lately from everyone are incredibly well-deserved. You're on a roll, pal. Keep it up!