VANCOUVER, BC – The XXI Olympic Winter Games begin tonight so I thought it fitting to provide our readers with a simple guide. Positioned perfectly between the Super Bowl and March Madness, these games are supposed to be about the best that sport has to offer. But what truly makes a sport and which sports are worthy of a gold medal? I have comprised my list of Gold, Silver and Bronze medal sports along with others that shouldn’t have made the cut.
Ice Hockey – The undisputed king of all winter team sports. During the Cold War, Ice Hockey came to mean much more than athletics. Has this country ever rallied around a team as it did during the 1980 Winter Olympics? When you put on an Olympic hockey jersey you are playing for the pride of a whole nation, even if it says Belarus across the front.
Bobsleding – These two and four man events have participants flying around a sharp curved course of solid ice at upwards of 90 miles an hour. By far the coolest sport in all the games, attracting the famous Cool Runnings team from Jamaica and now a female team from Ireland. I hope the Irish lasses don’t have the same split time as these girls in the video.
Luge, Skeleton – The luge is a sled on which a rider or pair of riders lay on their back while the skeleton is a single rider who lays on his stomach. Both events are run on the bobsled course and wipeouts are common. Luge riders are a freaky science fiction loving bunch, that is why they mimic the alien from Alien Autopsy as they fly around the track.
Speed Skating – The Beatles should have sung about Norwegian Gold instead because with their next two Olympic gold medals the mighty Norsemen will surpass the century mark. More than a quarter of these have come in speed skating. There is something soothing about watching these skaters zoom around the large oval ice surface with one hand behind their back. These guys and gals have thighs bigger than an Olsen twin’s torso.
Alpine Skiing Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom – The Austrians have traditionally ruled these sports because they spent most of the past century fleeing the Germans over and down the Alps. This is man vs. mountain at its purest. The object is simple: Get down the hill as fast as you can without killing yourself. Two of AW’s favorite movies are based on these events, Hot Dog: The Movie and Better Off Dead.
Ski Jumping – This is the original daredevil winter sport. Skiing down a ramp Evel Knievel would be proud of, contestants hoist themselves into the air trying to fly the farthest. This takes balls, just ask poor Vinko Bogataj who became the poster boy for The Agony Of Defeat.
Nordiac Combined – This event combines X-country skiing and ski jumping. Those crazy Vikings decided to spruce up traditional x-country skiing by following that boring trek through the woods with an opportunity to get more hang time than Alexander McQueen.
Biathlon – Gets a bad name only because people mistakenly believe it is an event that Andy Dick would excel at. What’s not to admire about a event that combines Cross country skiing and target shooting? In the 1932 games Ulf Freidricksson shot a spectator who was foolish enough to toss a snowball at him. Needless to say Biathletes haven’t been screwed with since.
Curling – Say want you want about the skill level to play this sport but it has strict scoring rules and is played by teams. It is also true that most participants are clearly drunk.
Freestyle Ski Cross, Snowboard Cross and Parallel Giant Slalom – These are group and head to head racing events where the fastest one through the course is the winner. Straightforward and fair but it seems these sports are for punk kids and not Olympic athletes. The Cross events look like security camera video of Walmart opening its doors on Black Friday.
Cross Country Skiing – Winner is based on timed finish over a course. Takes endurance and skill but any sport that is done regularly by fifty-six year old women heading out shopping after a snowstorm cannot be considered elite. Extra points should be awarded to contestants who successfully pee their name in the snow along the course.
Short Track Speed Skating – Another sport designed with the MTV generation in mind. Lawn jockey-sized participants compete against one another over an oval ice track. It is to speed skating what the short yellow bus is to education transportation.
Figure Skating – They don’t even do the skill of skating FIGURES anymore. It is in the damn name and is the basis of the sport. This is basically the Westminster Dog Show on ice where contestants are trained since birth to perform the cutest little tricks and shamelessly pander to the judges. I’d watch if contestants were allowed to check each other into the boards during a triple lutz, but until then I’ll be watching Best In Show instead.
Snowboarding Halfpipe – I love snowboarding and marvel at some of the tricks these guys do but ultimately any event where the scoring of flips and somersaults determines the winner is not a sport. Winners traditionally smoke a bowl on top of the podium.
Ice Dancing – The Gay Games version of Figure Skating. Invented by The Cornhole Mounties, Canada’s little known answer to The Village People. I’ll be watching the best of the Soul Train Line instead.
Freestyle Aerial Skiing and Moguls – Flips, somersaults, whirlybirds, etc are scored in a completely arbitrary fashion by judges to determine the winner. I hate showoffs and that is all that these events are, a place for a$$holes to congregate and pat each other on the back about how great they are. Akin to dancing in the end-zone with your team down 31 points. These guys weren’t good enough to be a real skiers or cool enough to take up snowboarding.
I hope this little guide will be helpful to you over the next two weeks.