Winter Olympics

Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2010

Man there's just something special about being assigned to cover the Winter Olympics. Maybe one of these years one of my editors will ask me to do it.

Meanwhile, I'll stick to freelancing the action which can mean cents an hour in compensation. That's OK. What's more fun than watching 835 hours of NBC broadcasts hosted by what seemed to be, at times, spoke personages recruited from cast members of "The Night of the Living Dead"? The only thing more irritating was the network's decision to serve up more tape delay action than "Law and Order" reruns on cable.

I won't say much about the opening ceremony other than some of the eclectic presentations were so weird I thought I was flashing back to my college years when the only time you would experience such visions was if someone slipped something other than walnuts into your chocolate brownie. I'm still trying to figure out the fiddler in the floating canoe and the slam poetry dude. Even the Olympic Torch became so bewildered one section of it refused to expose itself.

Once the competitions began the snowboarders brought things to life. They hurled their bodies into near orbit twisting, turning and flipping around so hard off the half pipe that they left teeth impressions in their equipment while holding mid-air poses. I should mention Shaun White here but what more can be said?

Then there was rad-man "Speedy" and his "helicopter" stunt during the aerials contest. He rocketed up to where he claimed he could see Russia from his board tip and won a silver medal. It would have been gold if he hadn't hit so hard that he ended up giving up giving his post run TV interview from the inside of his boot lips.

The excitement continued with moguls and downhill skiing. The first competition consisted of contestants with their knees banging above their ears attempting to make the best time to the bottom of the run without face rearranging nose plants into man-made mounds of ice.

The downhill racer-types merely had to try and remain upright while breaking the sound barrier sporting cool looking fluorescent Spandex. The bright colors were a safety feature in case they went off course and ended up somewhere near the outskirts of Seattle. Theory had it that satellites could pinpoint their impact sites a bit easier.

What really amazed me about all of the aforementioned tests of skills was that many were accomplished in weather that would intimidate a duck. It rained so hard during some of the venues that they were forced to cancel contests because the racers would have drowned breathing the air on the way down.

Oh yeah, lest I forget, I want to also mention curling.

Curling. 'Nuf said. Let's move on.

The figure skating was amazing as usual, except I couldn't quite figure out some of the outfits. Most looked like they were designed by a back stage sequin fanatic out of Vegas except for a guy and gal sporting what looked to be a head-to-toe salad bar and one gentleman's attire that would have made Lady Gaga green-eyed. Come to think of it, maybe that was her.

Anyway the championship performances were terrific even though a Russian big shot threw a bit of snit when he took second place and was awarded not only silver medal but a special platinum one for pouting.

It was terrific to see our men take the four-man bobsled gold after 62 years of trying. It was our last chance, because during the next Winter Olympics, the crew would be eligible for Social Security and probably not show up.

I wish I had more space to cover things like cross-country skiing, speed skating, hockey, ski jumping, slush surfing and the Norway men's curling pants that had to be plugged into wall sockets, but I don't.

The closing ceremony left me somewhat puzzled. What on earth were the 1,000 snowboarders trying to spell out? I picked out the symbols but the rest looked like they had one too many Molsons.

I loved the Canadians self-deprecating spoof of finally getting the flame cauldron to work properly although the ladies dressed as maple leaves creeped me out when I realized they weren't trying to portray some kind of humongous mutant red bats.

All in all, the Olympics went pretty well except for the venues that should have used kayaks rather than snowboards. I applaud Canada and its laid back citizens for a great time.

Now if I could ask them to do us one more favor. NBC announcer Bob Costas seemed to be a huge fan of their giant inflatable beavers. Since he's easily amused I wonder if they would mind keeping him there as a national hot air balloon inflator until the next Olympics is over.

His coverage of the games redefined the meaning of "clueless" and the hot air he was pushing was probably the reason it rained so much.

Somebody ought to snitch the guy out to Al Gore.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@hotmail.com.



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