Monday, February 24, 2014

Random Thoughts - The Sochi Olympic Version

We've been watching, on and off, for the last two weeks.  TBG catches glimpses during the afternoon, and is able to guide our prime time viewing accordingly.  There are only so many hours I can devote to watching people go downhill, on skis, snowboards, or bobsleds the size of refrigerators.  That was the description the commentator gave as we watched the competitors hulking over their equipment in the waiting shed. It gave me a moment's pause.
In the beginning, all I could talk about was Bob Costas's eye infection. When he returned, he apologized for becoming part of the story he was there to report.

It was a touching bit of humility from the guy we've all come to associate with the NBC's Olympic Coverage. It was also remarkable - an on-air personality apologizing for hogging the spotlight.

There are many reasons to love Bob Costas; this is just one of them.
There were some great names. The announcers had a fine time with Yulia and Julia.  I like Gracie Gold; those strong G's sound just as she looked on the ice.  But the one that made me laugh the most was TBG's reaction to Zettel -- a Yiddish pastry?
Yulia, the just-turned-15 year old Russian figure skater, was memorable not only for her delicious performances, but for the camera shots of her coach massaging her ears before each performance. Standing behind her, both staring at the ice before them, hands gently rubbing the top of her ears as she prepared to go on.

I was calmed just watching it.
We didn't watch much curling this winter; though we heard about the Canadian team's efforts in the gym.  They are trying to change the eating habits of their fellow competitors from beer and chips to salads, hoping that bulging biceps and tight abs revealed through form fitting outfits will force others to see them as real athletes.

It's worth a try, I suppose.
There were lots of words we didn't understand, and no one thought it was necessary to explain them to us.  The commentators were obviously experts in their sports.  It would have been nice if someone at NBC had explained to them that the rest of us are not.
Some of the words were just fun to say.  Twizzling, the synchronized spins in ice dancing, is just a great time for the tongue and lips.
Lugers have tiny metal spikes on the tips of their fingers.  Those spikes used to be on the knuckles.  Strength training has obviously entered the digital age.

Ouch.  I couldn't resist.
The clothes are always of great interest to me. I love the jackets the volunteers are wearing; those bright colors make me smile.

The USA's Opening Ceremony outfits came in for a fair amount of criticism, and I found it hard to disagree.  Bold and large, the letters U-S-A were everywhere, as was Ralph Lauren's logo.

There weren't any other countries which felt the need to identify themselves so obviously, so loudly, so in your face.

The Ukrainian team asked permission of the IOC to wear black armbands as a sign of solidarity with their countrymen. They were refused.  Undaunted, the athletes took a moment at their post-medal press conference to ask the journalists to stand and observe a moment of silence.  Some statements will be made regardless of the pressure to staunch them.
There were lots of proud parents and wives and sisters and brothers and NBC left none of them un-miked or alone.  There aren't that many variations on joy or disappointment; I was surprised.
Mary Carillo is wonderful.  It was obvious that her travels were circumscribed by the Russians; there were no man in the street interviews in anything but native tongues on on anything but vodka, matryoshka nesting dolls, and Siberia.

The highlight of her reporting was watching her get Bob Costas just a little tipsy.  You're not supposed to drink while you're taking anti-biotics, Bob.
The interwebs told us that the luge and bobsled competitions happen on the same slide.  That was wise planning on the part of the Russians since even that one venue was incomplete at the start of the games. The unpainted wood slats, the murals that appeared and disappeared at random, the pipes visible on the sidewalks ... I suppose we should be grateful that there was ice on the track.
These games seemed to have no spectators.  The outside shots of the Iceberg Skating Arena showed empty plazas. The cameras never panned the crowd higher than the fourth or fifth row.  Reporters mentioned visa issues and the cost of travel but I wonder if it wasn't just a bit more than that.

Vladimir Putin was everywhere, and he just got creepier and creepier as time went by.  The thought of him snuggling up to the gay Olympian gives me the chills.  His emotionless clapping betrayed nothing resembling warmth or joy.

He was cold.  The weather was not.
I never watch the closing ceremonies, so I'll finish this on Sunday afternoon, leaving you with two unresolved questions:
How do the girl skaters position their skate blades so that they don't amputate the thigh of the boy who's holding them up, sharp metal inches from his groin?
Are Meryl and Charlie a couple?
This should get you through the watercooler.  Happy Monday!


  1. I was surprised that NBC did not televise any of the awarding of medals. Not one. My husband didn't notice until I mentioned it, then he began watching, just for that. Not one single anthem was heard by the television audience. I have always enjoyed watching those kids, whatever county, receive their medals.
    You are right, Putin, is creepy!

    1. We saw the three Americans on the podium, but didn't hear the anthem. we missed them, too.

  2. I saw the Wise skier, and the teen woman skier, and Meryl and Charlie (they are not a couple) receive their medals. But it was on the late, late coverage after news and Jimmy Fallon. Must less coverage of those events this year and I also missed them. Judith


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