Friday, February 19, 2010

The Spirit of the Games

Who isn't watching the 2010 Olympics? Regardless of where they are held, I'm captivated - although I could do with a little less "behind the scenes"-
"Johnny's grandmother always wanted a grandson who could shoot targets while skiing across frozen tundra and her homemade cobbler was exactly what he needed to aim for Olympic GOLD!"
Yup, that's thick...and deep...

Usually the Olympics are a celebration of hard work, determination, perseverance and the pursuit of excellence - not to mention the temper tantrums.

Sure, I get all warm and fuzzy when I see a Canadian athlete excel - especially when it's the first Gold on Canadian soil (shout out to you Alex!!!) but for every five "warm fuzzies" we get one jackass who makes the Olympics really THE greatest show on earth.

Take, for example, Dale Begg-Smith, the Aussie transplanted Canadian who is the scourge of the technological world. You see, DBS is the lovely chap behind many of the pop-up versus and links to XXX websites that infiltrate your computer...hate him already, don't you?

Add to that endearing quality the fact that he's a total putz. Wealthy beyond reason, DBS is considered the Millionaire Skier who chose to join the Australian team when he couldn't get along with the Canadian National Team. He refused interviews leading into his sport (Freestyle/Mogels) and made himself a global spectacle when he came in second to Canada's Alex Bilodeau. The photos. are. priceless. Look them up. I've seen 2-year-olds react better to spilled ice cream cones.

Jump ahead to this week, where the Men's Figure Skating was decided. While Patrick Chan - who is known for his amazing footwork and artistry wasn't considered much of a threat after his disappointing short program, he was called out by another "well groomed" sportsman - Russia's Evengi Plushenko. Plushenko laid it pretty clear that he believed if you were in the men's class and you didn't lay down a Quad, well then you really weren't much of a man at all, were you?

Again, egos raged and the "Quad King" as he has become known, supported his mature mentality with his actions during warmups - taking three tours of the ice surface, landing two or three jumps and then leaving, stating "That's enough." Talk about diva behavior.

In the end, the judges didn't warm up to the Russian's one-trick-pony act (*Take note Mr. Plushenko - there is artistry involved in figure skating - it is the blend of athleticism and art that makes this sport truly unique. Check in to it.) He received the silver and even that wasn't graceful. He quickly pulled the medal off his neck and skated off for the exit - which he was denied because he had to exit the opposite end of the ice - poetic justice indeed.

And I'm really glad my kids haven't seen these episodes of child-like behavior because it's hard to raise kids to be good sportsmen and take responsibility for their actions when adults are televised acting like morons.

Now, what the world needs is more Nobunari Odas.... A young 17-year-old Japanese figure skater, he executed a fun, entertaining and challenge ode to Charlie Chaplin. But what made him outstanding is what he did when things went bad.

As he landed his final jump in the Men's Freestyle, his leg went out from under him, sending him crashing to the ice. Within seconds, you knew something was wrong and he skated directly to the judges panel. A close up of his skate evidenced a badly beaten skate boot and when he pulled up his trouser leg, a handful of mangled, snapped laces.

The rules say, you have three minutes from the time you notify the judges to return to the ice. He did so with speed and grace, quickly re-lacing and retying the skate and then resuming his routine with style and flare. You honestly never would have thought he stopped. The music ended, he struck his final pose and the audience went wild.
Plushenko, DBS, were you watching? Not likely....

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