Thursday, February 20, 2014

Go for the Gold

Sunday marks my very favorite part of the Winter Olympics: the closing ceremony. And it's not because of the majesty and splendor of the event; it's because the long, mundane thing will finally be over. While I appreciate that Judge Judy has been on hiatus during the Sochi telecasts (thank you, women's ski jumping), Days of Our Lives is being preempted today and thus, my Lean Cuisine dining experience tarnished.

Clint noticed earlier this week that there was a serious lack of evening programming. Our Tivo is empty and a handful of our favorite shows haven't been on for a few weeks, because we are supposed to be titillated by watching NBC's coverage of things like the team relay luge. Really? I have an acquaintance who said she has stayed away from Facebook during this year's games, for fear that someone will spoil the results before she has had a chance to watch. I secretly hope that, in a moment of weakness, she logs on and inadvertently finds out who won the couples ice dancing competition. Boom. Moment of suspense ruined. Because if you find ice dancing competitions suspenseful, you deserved to have your moment ruined.

Don't get me wrong, my love of all things patriotic makes me want to like the Olympics. Maybe it's because I'm from the South and all these winter sports seem strange to me. But the last time I found the Winter Olympics exciting was when Tonya Harding "allegedly" (puh-lease, Tonya, we all know you were in on it, you might as well take credit) had Nancy Kerrigan clubbed in the knee before the 1994 Figure Skating Championships and even then, that was pre-Olympics shenanigans. I love Apollo Ohno, but frankly, his most exciting performances were during his season of Dancing with the Stars. The man performed a hip hop routine blindfolded to "Bust a Move"--take that, Olympic speed skating. The winter games seem to lack the drama, that thrill of victory/agony of defeat suspense that makes it exciting to watch. Think: Kerri Strug sticking her vault landing despite her sprained ankle in the 1996 Olympics while her coach, Bela Karolyi, yells in his thick Romanian accent from the sidelines, "You can do it, Kerri!" Now that is pure gold.

You know a sports event is less than fascinating when the most engrossing topics of conversation are a) the shady accommodations at the Olympic Village, and b) dubious clothing choices of different teams at different stages of the event. By far the most interesting things to come out of Sochi this year were the tales from hotel rooms still under construction, without doorknobs, light bulbs, curtains, and in one case, without flooring. Arriving at your residence for the next three weeks to find that you can't drink the water and there are wild, stray dogs as your roommates is when the real games begin. Unlike all the Today Show coverage of ice hockey and Russian dancing, hotel hell is what I wanted to know about.

The second topic that captured attention in this absorbing event was apparel. First, we all had to discuss (once again this Olympics) how horrible team USA's choice of opening ceremonies outfits were. For some strange reason, Ralph Lauren designed our athletes some patriotic Cosby sweaters and sent them out into the world stage, looking like they were decked out for an Olympic tacky sweater competition--although, that would be a more interesting event than "skeleton," which turned out to be a Winter Olympic version of what we Americans know as the Slip and Slide. My friend Katie summed it up best when she said at least they were actually made in the USA this time, now they have to look good, too?

Beyond those go-for-the-gold cardigans, the Norwegian curling team brought some Olympic exhilaration of their own, in the form of their once-again outrageous pants. Yes, we are talking about a sports contest centuries of years old whose excitement is now found primarily in (spectacularly) tacky pants. I actually like curling, partly because of the gaudiness, and also because I enjoy anything that will get a man to pick up a broom and get to sweeping. Ladies, get yourselves on of those discs they chase down the ice, put it on your kitchen floor, and let the mister try his hand at cleaning, er, curling.

I have to wonder if the games might be more appealing to the masses if the events were a little more relatable. I mean, most Americans are competitive, but very few of us are athletic. Factor in the obscurity of some of the sports and the whole thing becomes less than must-see. What if, in the spirit of modern laziness, we added a few new events to capture public interest? It is the winter games, so maybe a professional snowball fight? Channeling the Russian atmosphere, perhaps a vodka drinking event? After everything we managed to scarf down during the snow storm in Charlotte last week, I also think a binge eating marathon would be appropriate (bonus round: have participants try to squeeze into a pair of Spanx for church the day after the competition. Cross-country skiing is a breeze compared to that level of exertion).

Regardless of whether you revel in the relay biathlon, are fascinated by figure skating, or find yourself half-interested in the ski half-pipe, the 2014 Winter Olympics are coming to a close. The Jamaican bobsled team managed to come in 29th out of 30 this year, so there's something to celebrate. That, and the fact that Wheel of Fortune will return to its regularly scheduled programming next week. So long, Sochi! Don't let the (broken) hotel room door hit you on the way out.

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