On Sochi

At about 4pm on Sunday afternoon, 11 hours before the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the 2 year-old waved at the television, exclaiming “Bye bobsled! Bye Olympics!” And like that, a fortnight of television viewing filled with exotic names, sports and landscapes was over – back to playdough and hallway cricket we went.

Hence, here are 20 scattered thoughts obtained from the two couches and the armchair during the fortnight of the Games:

1) My sympathy goes out to those who were frustrated by Channel 10’s ‘Sochi Live’, which like ‘London Live’ and ‘Vancouver Live’ before them was really ‘Sochi repeats, and reality-TV-esque pieces on random Aussie non-contenders.’ However, the presence of the online/iPad app options with 6 live channels overnight plus an on demand catch-up service meant that this was easily the most impressive free Olympic coverage in Australian history.

2) This was particularly useful when the aforementioned 2 year-old came down ill early in the fortnight. For no explicable reason, he fell for the luge and the skeleton. Never did I think that watching 60 guys lie down on their sleds would be such a life-saver. Thanks to being able to choose what event to watch, I did it on more than one occasion.

3) Memo to Winter Olympians: if you want to join the ranks of a 2 year-old’s favourite athletes, you’d damn well better smile and wave at the camera after your run down the track or mountain. Never before had I noticed just how many more female athletes do this than male.

4) The best name of the games? Norwegian biathlete Ann Kristin Aafedt Flatland. That’s A.K.A. Flatland to you.

5) If Alissa Camplin is to be believed, the aerials has a final and a super final. No pathetic ‘semis’ for these guys. Never has a sporting event more reminded me of this.

6) Speaking of the aerials, the different size jumps – where some contestants can take the smaller option – just reminds me of a school swimming carnival, where some kids dive off the blocks and others dive in from the edge of the pool because they’re too scared to take the big leap.

7) For all of the (appropriate) carry on about the outfits of female beach volleyballers at the Summer Games, the Olympic sport with the greatest frequency of wide-open crotch shots with chicks wearing next-to-nothing is figure skating.

8) In the first 12 seconds of the first men’s hockey match of the Games, the commentator – whose style made him sound more familiar with soccer than hockey – called the Swedes ‘Finland’, mispronounced Patrick Elias’ surname, and said that an offside call was icing.

9) This particularly concerned me, as every rule I know in two of my new favourite sports – biathlon and curling – I learnt from the Sochi online commentators.

10) Torah Bright is incredible – phenomenally talented, charming and drop-dead gorgeous. It was fascinating, though, that she commented after winning silver in the half pipe that she and some others thought she should have won and that the judges had made the wrong call. When was the last time an Aussie athlete made such a petulant comment without it making more of an impact on their public reputation? Which part of Torah’s personality or history means that we let her get away with it?

11) Another famous snowboarder won the title of ‘Biggest Tool of the Games’. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a guy as impressive as Shaun White pulling out of an event to focus instead on the one which he’s more likely to win. But if you’re going to pull out of your first event, you do it before you leave home. White thought otherwise, meaning that when he pulled out of the slopestyle just before the event, the 18 year old kid who would have been an Olympian had White pulled out earlier instead was watching the Games from home in Mammoth Lakes, California.

12) One of the great things about the Winter Olympics is that with very few exceptions – ice hockey, really – we inexperienced viewers couldn’t care less if men or women are competing against each other as we can’t really see an appreciable difference between the performance of each gender.

13) While the official Sochi site called the event the ‘Women’s Bobsleigh’, Channel 10 decided they needed to call it the not-at-all-sexist ‘Women’s 2-Man Bobsleigh’.

14) In the history of the Winter Olympics, Australia have 5 gold medallists. Dale Begg-Smith was a Canadian for 16 years before defecting to Australia and winning gold 5 years later. Steven Bradbury didn’t fall over. The other three are women

15) Speaking of Begg-Smith, is there a more fascinating decision for the Sport Australia Hall of Fame to make in the future? He’s one of our two most successful winter Olympians, and yet he hardly seems anything like the Aussie sporting heroes who are usually enshrined.

16) The harshest loss of the Games was that of Koen Werweij in the Men’s 1500m speed skating. He finished tied for first on 1:45.00. Within a minute, though, the scoreboard – for what sounded like the first time – added an extra decimal place. Poland’s Zbigniew Brodka won gold in 1:45.006. Werweij won silver in 1:45.009.

17) Check out the Medal Table Time Machine to see just how few medals the US would have won if it weren’t for new events introduced in recent games.

18) The most entertaining thing you’ll read about the games is Brian Phillips’ description of the skeleton.

19) HG and Roy are spectacular. Some of Australia’s best sporting television is when they’re given an hour and are actually at the Olympics so that they can interview athletes. When they have 10 minute shows filmed in Melbourne, only pretending they’re in Sochi, their talents are wasted. Surely two more tickets to Russia wouldn’t have broken the bank at Channel 10.

20) However much we’ve enjoyed the past fortnight, let’s not allow the conclusion of the Games to cease the world’s attention on and repulsion with Putin’s horrific laws relating to homosexuality.

OK, that was fun. Now, back to hallway cricket.

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