The Olympics are over at last

I usually watch at least some of the Olympics, both winter and summer games, but this year my interest flagged. I’m not sure whether it was me, the jingoism that pervaded the coverage, with endless charts showing who had the most medals; the overuse of the verb “medaled”, which is a real verb according to the Oxford English Dictionary but still bothers me; or the relentless drumming up of “human interest” stories, like Lindsey Vonn trying to win a gold medal for her recently-deceased grandfather.  The one thing I did watch was a little of the snowboarding: the events in which a single snowboarder does repeated twists and turns on the edges of a snow pipe, and the other one in which the snowboarder jumps off a ski-jump thingie and does a single, complicated acrobatic maneuver in the air.

I couldn’t even watch the figure skating, which is usually my favorite event. For some reason it didn’t intrigue me.

Below, in fact, shows the Olympic occurrence that most excited me: when Austria Daniela Ulbing, in the women’s parallel giant slalom, nearly slammed into an errant squirrel that wandered onto the course. It was a near miss, but I was so happy that the squirrel survived! Squirrels should get medals for their acrobatics.

A few other splenetic remarks. There was a big to-do about the U.S. curling team winning a gold medal, and I’m happy for them. However, I still wonder why curling counts as a “sport”. It does require skill (and those people frenetically brushing the ice ahead of the stone amuse me greatly), but you don’t have to be in particularly good shape to participate, as you can see below. And if curling is a valid sport, why isn’t darts in the Summer Olympics? Or chess? (In my very thin book of “Great Jewish Athletes”, they had to include to include chess as a sport to get enough entries!) There seems to be an ever-increasing number of events, but maybe that’s just my impression.

Watch the US “win curling gold”!

Will the presence of North Korean athletes lead to a reduction of hostilities between the North and South? I predict not but hope otherwise. But Kim Jong-un must have his weapons and rhetoric, as must Trump, and so I think things will remain as they have been, with the DPRK continuing to be the world’s most evil regime and no cessation of the saber-rattling on our part and the North’s. A real improvement in the situation would be not more visits of relatives across the border (though that’s very good, though sad), but the end of the enslavement of the North Korean people by their Dear Leaders. And that’s not going to happen.

Finally, another over-the-top tweet from our own Dear Leader. Seriously? (Note someone correcting his grammar!)

(h/t: Woody)

That’s our President! The man’s hyperbole and narcissism know no bounds.



  1. GBJames
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I saw a great response to that Trumptweet. “We can’t have a better spokesperson? Why not? Would Ivanka feel bad?”

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      It’s possible dRumPf might understand a response such as “Yes we can!” along with a photo of . ..

  2. Mark Reaume
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I also didn’t pay too much attention to the Olympics this year, probably due to the decision to not send the NHL players this time. I enjoyed watching the women’s hockey and was again disappointed that the gold medal was decided by a shootout! It’s like deciding the world series with a home run competition, or the NBA championship with a slam dunk competition.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      I that the shoot out part was extremely exciting. i was really jumping up and down by then.

      • Mark Reaume
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        I guess I’m old school when it comes to hockey. I’ve never liked deciding a game based on a skills competition. I find overtime more exciting than just alternating shots.

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          Agreed. The game was very exciting and well played. Like shoot outs, penalty kicks in soccer are nail-biting and exciting in their own right too, but even when “my” team wins that way something doesn’t seem right about it. Like the victory isn’t, somehow, legitimate even though, of course, it is.

        • BJ
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          Damn right.

  3. Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    However, I still wonder why curling counts as a “sport”. It does require skill … but you don’t have to be in particularly good shape to hurl the stone. And if curling is a valid sport, why isn’t darts in the Summer Olympics?

    I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ve also wondered if Saturday Night Live will get around to addressing this. I imagine a skit with athletes congregating in some pub, with an obese curling medalist in the midst. Whats really curious is the only athlete cited for using performance enhancing drugs this year was a curler.

    IIRC, the reason curling is in the olympics is that the Scandinavian countries lobbied hard for it decades ago. Its a national passtime there.

    My least favorite sport is everyone else’s favorite: figure skating. Anything that requires the aesthetic opinion of judges to win should not count as a sport. If it is a sport than the summer olympics should include body building and a beauty contest.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia, curling has been an Olympic sport only since 1998; and Canada are, apparently, the big cheeses in the curling world.

      But I agree with the sentiment. “Housework on ice” is the usual sarky epithet that gets thrown at it.

      And why not darts at the summer Olympics? We already have archery. And the Commonwealth Games has lawn bowls, which is the equivalent of curling on grass.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Should the Summer Games get rid of diving and gymnastics?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        They should get rid of anything with the word synchronized in it.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          Yes! 😎


      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Diving could be in the Olympics if the splash a diver made could be precisely quantified.
        Gymnastics could be if a routine could be video captured in 3D and then assigned a score by software.

        If you think I’m being narrow recall the old meme from the 80s along the lines of “..yada yada yade…and a 7.0 from the Russian judge!”

      • mordacious1
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        They could move diving to the Winter Olympics, I’d watch that.

        • Gordon
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          And also darts?

          • mordacious1
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            If you can make it as entertaining as smacking into a frozen pool from a high diving platform, sure.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Why in the world would you consider that? These are two of the most popular sports in the Olympics.

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          Oh wait. Sorry. That was rhetorical, wasn’t it?

          I’ll just derp out of here……

      • Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink


        Anything not decided by an objective evaluation has no place in a sports competition IMO.

        That means ski jumping as currently scored would also have to go.

    • Vaal
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      My son curls.

      I would have thought this would give me some new insight into the mysterious attraction of this sport.

      Nope. I still don’t get it.

    • allison
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      I agree, and figure skating bores the living daylights out of me. It’s not a “sport” for precisely the reasons you stated.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Figure skating is one of the most physically demanding sports of all. To add beauty to the technique is a major achievement.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Why the scare quotes around “sport”? You seem to be using your own personal definition of sport, so perhaps that’s why?

    • Gordon
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      They have lawn bowls in the Commonwealth games which is equally exciting but without ice.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      “Anything that requires the aesthetic opinion of judges to win should not count as a sport.”

      I agree that there is always a potential problem with aesthetic judgements, but I think that’s just something we have to accept. Most sports depend on the judgement of referees at some point.

      As to what is a sport or not, that surely is even more a matter of opinion and judgement than the most hotly disputed line call. I propose surfing, petanque and motor racing as the next Olympic sports. Why not?


  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I am the same regarding the Olympics so maybe it is older age. All the past drug issues, the politics and all the medal counting has become the normal. Also, adding all these additional “sports” in both summer and winter has degraded things a bit. Every day we wear out that word, hero. I stay away.

    The new sport in the U.S. is following the next new thing from Trump and company. The most over covered under performing administration in our history. The damage is wide and long, with many years to recover if that is possible.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Watched a tad of snowboarding

    Saw Sean White enter the sexual harassment gulag

    Uninterested generally

    What happened?


    As for the Tw337meister General : a doting dotard?

  6. Craw
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I can’t get worked up about a dad praising his daughter. Such things aren’t meant to be believed. As for curling, should bobsledding be a sport then? Sumo wrestling? Pistol shooting? It was funny when the Russian curler got booted for drugs.

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Curling is not a sport that can be performed better with drugs. The Russian curler only had the equivalent of one dose of Meldonium which has zero enhancing effect – a long course of Meldonium does improve resistance and concentration. It would seem that someone spiked his food or his drinks with Meldonium – he has never taken any drugs in the past and had no reason to take Meldonium at all.


      Confirming that a criminal investigation was underway, the OAR statement added that “the circumstances of the case do not provide any answers to the questions as to how and when Meldonium could have gotten into the athlete’s body”.

      The reason for the investigation is due to Krushelnitsky providing a ‘clean’ sample on 22 January – two weeks before the 2018 Winter Olympics started – and the fact that Meldonium needs to be taken over a prolonged period of time in order to take effect suggests that Krushelnitsky may have only had Meldonium in his system on just one occasion.

      “According to the unbiased results of laboratory analysis of Alexander Krushelnitsky’s samples detected concentration of the substance can be indicative of taking it once, which is not applied in medical practice and is absolutely useless and ineffective in the context of enhancing physical performance or sports results,” the statement added.


  7. nwalsh
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    29 medals. Go Canada.

  8. glen1davidson
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    However, I still wonder why curling counts as a “sport”.

    It was the only way to make sweeping an Olympic sport.

    Glen Davidson

  9. David Harper
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling a small twinge of national pride that Britain won a gold medal in the women’s skeleton luge. We were, for a brief and glorious moment, the best nation in the world at riding a tea-tray at seriously unsafe speeds down a luge run.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Never in the course of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so little.

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Tea-tray sledging takes me back to my childhood. I still refer to the skeleton luge as the downhill tea-tray.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        And the British are best at it!

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I shall celebrate with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

        • Posted February 27, 2018 at 3:45 am | Permalink

          Ginger nut or chocolate digestive?

          • David Harper
            Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:32 am | Permalink

            Ginger nut. You can’t really dunk a chocolate digestive in tea. It makes the tea taste funny.

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Tea tray! So funny!

    • BJ
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s OK to feel national pride in the Olympics. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 🙂

      • David Harper
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:34 am | Permalink

        Frankly, it’s astonishing that Team GB won anything, given the way the entire country freaks out over half an inch of snow 🙂

    • Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      If you’re only going to be good at one sport in an Olympic competition, it has to be one that is insanely dangerous.

      And Lizzie Yarnold’s domination of the sport cannot really be described as brief – Olympics 2014, 2018, World Championships 2015, World Cup 2014.

      Also, Amy Williams won the skeleton for Great Britain at the 2010 Olympics.

  10. Alan Clark
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    I have always enjoyed the curling – the thinking person’s winter sport – and the new mixed pairs competition is a great idea. And Canada didn’t win any medals for curling!
    I also enjoyed the snowboard cross and ski cross, although they didn’t get much attention on the BBC, for some reason. It is much more entertaining than watching people go downhill one at a time.

    • Alan Clark
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      (I should have said, Canada didn’t win medals in the Men’s or Women’s curling; although they did win the mixed doubles.)

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

        Why are men’s and women’s curling even separated???

        • GBJames
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          Women and men curling together? In public?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            A sign of the End Times.

        • mikeyc
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          Now THAT is a good question. Archery in the Summer Games too.

        • Johan Richter
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          Physical strength is helpful, is the answer I have heard from experts.

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Curling dates back 400 years. Longevity alone should qualify it as an Olympic winter sport. And what is so athletic about sliding down an icy slope on a sled?

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        Good point. The only athleticism in bobsled is for the first 1 or 2 seconds of the run.

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

          The only athleticism in Golf is the first 300 microseconds of the swing. So….it’s not a sport?

          • Jeff Lewis
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            I know plenty of people who would argue that golf’s not a sport. Physical activity? Sure. Sport? No.

            • Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

              Meh. In days past those “plenty of people” would argue about dancing angels and pinheads. It’s an argument that isn’t worth considering.

              • Jeff Lewis
                Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

                I only brought it up because the types of people who would argue that bobsledding and curling aren’t sports are the same types of people who would say golf isn’t a sport, so they’re not going to be persuaded by bringing up golf as a counter-example.

          • Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            The initial push in the bobsled might justify it being called a sport and I’d say biathalon is certainly a sport, though a bizarre one.

            I think golf counts as a game, not a sport and fencing is a sport but I’m starting to see that deciding what constitutes a sport vs game is on a ‘par’ with deciding what constitutes art. I dont know what objective criteria one could use for deciding. As a first ‘stab’ at it I’d say substantial physical exertion is required with large muscle groups and the activity cannot involve aesthetic judgments to be considered a sport.
            So bodybuilding is not a sport despite the grueling physical requirements and the repeated efforts of BB organizations to get it into the Olympics.

            OK, so Ping pong is a sport but billiards is not a sport.

            • Posted February 26, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

              As you indicate, it usually boils down to opinions about the degree of physical effort -or athleticism- it takes to do the event, that is; the less physically challenging a competition is, the less it deserves to be called sport. This leaves out of the definition the second of the third leg of sport; skill (the third, though not always required, is competition).

              Some sports require a great deal of physical effort but relatively little skill (cycling, running, swimming, etc). Some require a great deal of athleticism and a great deal of skill (soccer, basketball, hockey, etc) while some require relatively little physical effort but a great deal of skill (golf, curling, shooting, etc). Many are intermediate between these extremes requiring relatively moderate athletic abilities but require enormous amounts of training, mastery and knowledge to become proficient (such as baseball or cricket).

              Most competitions that we think of as games have little or no physical effort to play and it has a scoring system, so that would include things like checkers or tidily-winks which most people would not think of as sports. But some sports have a combination of athleticism and scoring, like ice skating or free style skiing. These are rarely seen as games though because of the athleticism. You object to them being called sport because the scoring in them is adjudicated. That seems misplaced as almost all sport is adjudicated to some degree (that’s what referees are for). If your definition holds true (only unadjudicated competitions that involve significant athleticism) only a handful of competitions would fit the bill as sport.

              IMO, it’s messy and ultimately pointless to argue about this kind of distinction. Golf is a sport AND a game. So is Soccer. The Tour de France is a race not a game, but it is sport. In the end I like to think sport is about competition, not labels.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

                I think that’s a very good summation.


      • Brujo Feo
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        “And what is so athletic about sliding down an icy slope on a sled?”

        First, these events start with a manic sprint. Only for a few seconds, but then, now long does the 40-yard dash take?

        After that, it’s split-second decisions about using your body to steer the damned things at breakneck speed. Plus, having raced motorcycles at insane speeds myself, I have to respect anyone whose sport makes me say: “No WAY I’d get on that damned thing!”

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          That’s why they recruit sprinters for the bobsled — and why Jamaica has a bobsled team. (It ain’t ’cause of all the time they spent on the snowy slopes as kids.)

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          How is steering skill more athletic than placement skill in curling?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

            I think it has to do with lightning-like reflexes.

          • darrelle
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

            Well, I have no experience with skeleton, luge or bobsled, but it seems likely to me that it could be. Like Brujo I’ve raced motorcycles, in my case road racing, and I can say that often during the latter part of a track session I’m breathing heavy and sweating my ass off, and entering every turn feels like an isometric exercise.

            So I can visualize that steering a skeleton, changing its direction when it is moving at 60+ mph by means of mechanically distorting the sled, could take some physical effort. More than it takes to launch a stone and impart bit of English to it. Though the sweeping can get pretty vigorous at times.

            • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:31 am | Permalink

              It isn’t just the steering and the sprinting at the top that is important. They aren’t just sliding down the racetrack. If that were true then countries like Jamaica should have no difficulty in competing; there are fine details of the sport -like there are to all sport- that take years of training and practice to master. How to shift weight in a sled barreling down the mountain so as to gain and never lose speed, how to attack corners and what lines to take given the vagaries of the different courses so as to gain and never lose speed; the experienced racer will have a kind of knowledge about the sled, the ice, his/her partners, the weather and track conditions that take expertise and enormous amounts of training to get right.

              All while going 90 MPH down a rock hard icy track in a thin carbon fiber shell.

              • darrelle
                Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:54 am | Permalink


                Sounds like fun!

                Seeing such sports only on TV via cameras it is pretty much impossible to get an accurate sense of the speeds involved. Then someone crashes and you finally get some idea.

                A really good example is speed skating. All you see is a couple of people on a large field of ice moving smoothly and you don’t get much of a sense of speed. Then someone goes down, sliding, and there is still no good sense of speed. Then they hit the wall. Now there is a good sense of speed.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

                “it is pretty much impossible to get an accurate sense of the speeds involved.”

                Doubtless it’s easier to get a sense of speed when your nose is six inches from the ice 😉


      • phoffman56
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        Skiing goes back more than 4000 years: “Pa Ski” by Olav Bo, page 18 illustrations.

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

          I am sure skiing goes back that far or longer, but probably as a mode of transport, not a sport.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Actually I find curling quite intriguing, not least because there must be a lot of strategy involved. So far as I can tell, the score in a game is how many of your stones are closer to the bullseye than the nearest opposition stone.

      This is the perfect scenario for sudden reversals – you can have a nice score of four or five all set up and the opposition can blow you away by planting just one stone nearer to the bull.

      Or you can have one stone perfectly placed and the opposition can just bounce your stone off the field and leave their stone sitting in its place.

      The ‘slowness’ is deceptive – the score changes faster than it does in football or baseball, there just isn’t so much running about the place 😉


      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        I agree.
        It’s the grown-up version of marbles, and it’s harder than it looks, I’m sure, as those suckers weigh 44-54 lbs. Sliding on ice helps of course, but a weakling with little stamina couldn’t do it well for the required length of time. Accuracy is key too.

  11. darrelle
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Many people dislike the Olympics and I can’t argue with most of the common complaints. The IOC is about as venal and corrupt an organization as the Mafia. Jingoism is always on display to one degree or another particularly among the bigger countries like the US, Russia and China. Some amount of cheating by athletes or even whole teams usually occurs, and usually there are a few instances of some spoiled brat athlete showing their ass. Like Ryan Lochte at the Rio games. And yes, the press often goes overboard with hyping Olympic hopefuls.

    Despite all of the negatives however I am still a big fan of the Olympics. It is still moving. It does still bring out the best in many people. It enables people of disparate cultures to experience each other and see that the others are capable and worthy of respect. It widens peoples’ circles of inclusion. If you want to see something that gives you a bit of hope for the future pay attention to how the young athletes at the Olympics treat each other.

    Sure, there are other international games that these athletes all compete in every year, or many of them at least. But even, or especially, to the athletes the Olympics is special. I think it would be very sad to allow that specialness that the Olympics still manages to completely slip away.

    • barn owl
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Agreed, and I’m also a big fan of both the Summer and Winter Olympics. I enjoy watching all of the Nordic skiing events, and I thought the addition of the Alpine skiing team event was really exciting.

      However, I’ve been reading a few articles about climate change, sustainability, and the Olympics (many are linked at Environmental Health News), and I wonder whether we can continue to justify such excesses. The $109 million Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium will be dismantled after the Paralympics are over, and construction of the ski run at the Jeongseon Alpine Center required the removal of thousands of trees, some of which were over 500 years old. It’s unclear how much use that facility will see after the Paralympics, since it’s located in a fairly remote and underpopulated region of South Korea. It’s one of those modern conundrums that keeps me awake at night.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      I can agree with this. Despite its flaws, or what we consider flaws, it is a time when most nations can get together and have a big party.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Agreed. The IOC and USOC have have been glutted with cryptofascists since the days of Avery Brundage. But any international competition that doesn’t involve military conflict is a good thing. And there’s beauty in almost any competition among world-class athletes.

    • BJ
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      Is rooting for your country in a sports competition really jingoism as it’s popularly understood?

      • darrelle
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        I’d say “no” it isn’t. Jingoism is a bit of an overstatement and perhaps intended to be a bit derogatory. I only used it because I was responding specifically to the OP.

        I’d categorize most of the rooting for your country’s athletes that goes on at the Olympics as benign and with no ill intent towards others. I think it’s fine and I’ve been known to do a little rooting for US athletes myself. I’m sure there are some fans that are over-the-top, rude, obnoxious, poor sports, etc., but as far as I’ve seen they must be a relatively small minority.

        I do think that the hype campaigns leading up to the Olympics, particularly in some of the big countries as I mentioned above, often step over the line into “tasteless” territory though I wouldn’t call that jingoistic either. Well, perhaps if I were speaking figuratively to make a point I might.

  12. BobTerrace
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I watched some of the winter Olympics at the winter Olympics generally do not excite me at all since I dislike winter sports.

    I agree with you about darts. But I think they belong in the spring time Olympics along with bowling, Badminton, paddle boating and NASCAR.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      There’re some badass badminton players smashing the shuttlecock in the Summer Games, bro. Ain’t the same game as played at Sunday picnics, that’s fer sure.

  13. Terry Sheldon
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Probably the most interesting thing that I saw on the Olympic TV coverage this year was the extensive retrospective piece yesterday on the protests by black U.S. athletes before and during the 1968 Mexico City games. Lots of interviews with the principals as well as with some of the white athletes (Jim Ryun, Dick Fosbury, etc.). Prior to watching that piece my knowledge was limited to the iconic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand. Good coverage of the disparity between the future employment of those who protested vs those who didn’t.

  14. Danny Kodicek
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Personally I think darts would be fine for the Summer Olympics – they’re one of the most obvious omissions, along with squash and rock climbing (due to feature in 2020). Shooting already features, after all, so it’s not all about physical fitness. And I’d drop lots of the team sports like football.

    My boss suggested some time ago that the best criterion for what sports should be included in the Olympics is: if winning an Olympic medal isn’t the highest achievement in your sport, it shouldn’t be in the Games.

    I quite like that idea. Mine is a bit more harsh, which is that if it isn’t possible to have a world record in a particular discipline, it’s not eligible. That would exclude all events that involve one person or team competing directly with another, rather than against the clock or some other measure (so all athletic events, gymnastics, rowing, cycling, synchronised swimming, shooting etc would qualify, but tennis, football and so on would not)

    I’d probably make an exception for boxing, wrestling and martial arts because they were part of the traditional ancient Games. And I’d also include the sailing events as an honorable mention: although no one would compare a sailor’s time this year to their time last year, since it all depends on the wind, it is still clearly a racing event and fits in with the others.

    • davidintoronto
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      My criterion: If a beer belly isn’t a barrier to winning an Olympic gold medal, then the sport SHOULDN’T be in the Olympics.


      • Danny Kodicek
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        You’ve never watched Sumo, I take it.

    • Gordon
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      I would drop all team sports and anything that requires subjective evaluation from both games.

    • phoffman56
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      “…if it isn’t possible to have a world record in a particular discipline, it’s not eligible.”

      It isn’t possible to have world records in nordic ski racing. There is too much variation in snow temperature and moisture, in elevation gain and loss, in difficult turns at the bottom of fast downhills, etc. Yet the big men’s 50 km and women’s 30 km are considered the top events at the end of the Olympics, no nonsense points judging, etc. These athletes have often done 3 or 4 additional fairly lengthy races over the previous 12 days. Even the sprints are the equivalent of 800 metre running races, about 2 minutes, and include a big climb or two.

      • Danny Kodicek
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        As with the sailing example I gave, it’s perfectly possible to have a course record on a particular course, therefore it’s eligible by my criterion. The same goes for all skiing, snowboard, sledding and skating events. Only curling wouldn’t qualify.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

          There could be all sorts of world records in curling, just like in any sport that is based on nothing else but scoring points. Most consecutive wins, largest margins, number of championship wins, highest percentage of accuracy, etc..

        • phoffman56
          Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          Not really.

          There is a big difference in the speed of the snow, between say -19 and 0 snow temperature (despite modern wax), and anything above -20 is legal to run a nordic race in top level competition. The person with a terrific time at very cold temperature may deserve the record without having it. They pretty much don’t bother with those records.

          A slight counterexample is the long, mass participation World Loppets like the Norwegian Birkebeiner (not the Birkie, guys, that’s a USian cutesy name for their own great race in Wisconsin), where someone, maybe Alsgaard, likely has a known fastest time. The fastest ever 50 km in a World Cup race I have no idea about, but I’ll bet it’s one with barely minimal accumulated elevation gain and nice straight runouts at the bottom of the big downhills, and done on a day around freezing (Much above, and you plough through slush).

          Come to think of it, modern grooming and modern wax make artificial advantages for skiers as time proceeds, as well.

          And finally, drafting in mass starts compared to interval starts, and snow temperature changes between early and late interval starts, also make records into near meaningless quantitative bean-counting.

          • Posted February 27, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            Waxing the skis – that is akin to athletes taking dope! 😉

  15. mikeyc
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I am a big fan of Olympic sports. The “jingoism” lamented here is no different than any fan supporting their team (go you Sounders!) so it doesn’t bother me. I watched a fair amount of coverage this games and despite the weather mucking up some events, it was a good one for competition.

    I love the Olympics partly because I get to see great sport that is hard otherwise to access- cross country skiing, the biathlon, alpine skiing, speed skating, snow boarding, sliding events – all exciting sports that rarely get attention. For some sports, the Olympics is the biggest competition in the discipline and for others it can be an individual competitor’s career goal. So the level of competition is always high.

    Curling is a very old game, not really a sport. The phrase “on the button”, said when someone gets an answer complete and correct, is from the game. Like archery or shooting sports (both in the summer games), or golf, cricket or many other games, it isn’t an athletic sport. It think it is in the Olympics because of tradition, like rhythmic gymnastics or synchronized swimming in the summer games. It’s an oddity for sure but hella fun to watch. Must sport always be athletic to count as sport? Why isn’t darts an Olympic sport? Not for lack of trying (there have been several campaigns to make it an one) but the Olympics are limited by tradition as much as practicality.

    Got to say this though; ice dancing is too flaming for me. I love the cumpulsories but the sport carries a kind of drama queen baggage that makes it less interesting to me.

    To each his own.

    • Graham Head
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Cricket isn’t an athletic sport?

      Try bowling twenty overs in a day in 35C in Sydney or Colombo. Or batting all day.

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        It is no more athletic than golfing, which is athletic by comparison to couch surfing. It’s not a criticism of Cricket to say it isn’t an athletic game anymore than it is to say a game of golf is “a nice walk ruined”. The challenge in both games has to do with precision, accuracy and power, rather than athletic ability. I’ll agree that like golf, sometimes endurance can play a role in the game ….including for the spectators.

        • Graham Head
          Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

          Cricket is a lot more athletic than golf. No one runs in golf. Cricket demands speed, agility and stamina.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        35C? That’s not a temperature; that’s a bra size.

  16. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed much of it, but was very tired after a time of the seemingly endless coverage of skiing and snowboarding.

    I also got pretty sick of all the ‘redemption’ stories. I could do without hearing that word for several years now.

  17. Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I am going through extreme Olympics watching withdrawal right now. Some sympathy. Please.

    • Paul S
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Paralympic sledge hockey starts soon.

  18. Stephen Barnard
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Mass start speed skating was probably dreamed up by some Dutch guys in a pub.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      That and there was this snowboarding race event that is pretty crazy. The possibility of people crashing and taking out other competitors does add a bit of drama to us spectators.

  19. zoolady
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I didn’t watch because of Ivanka…if vapidity were a sport, she’d be MEDALLED! (Joking–I’m irritated by that word, too.)

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Some wag recently compared her to a lingerie saleswoman — with the whispering and inapropos mid-sentence smiling. 🙂

  20. Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    If Ivanka had any self respect, she would tell her father she does not need any vapid accolades. If she is the best and smartest she needs to prove it.

    The narcissism of Trump is his religion: delusional and hidebound.

    • Posted February 27, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      As Stepben Colbert recently quipped, `The douche doesn’t fall far from the bag’.

  21. Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    My favourite response to Trump’s tweet was someone pointing out the hilarity that he (hopefully) meant “could not” not “cannot”.

  22. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Every time I hear of Trump sending one of his family members somewhere to do something they aren’t qualified to do, I think of the American Revolution and how ironic everything is.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Could be worse. He could go himself.


    • Posted March 10, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      I find it important to keep family members of high-ranking politicians out of politics. Ironically, I appreciated that Trump, unlike two of his competitors, was not a family member of a previous president.

  23. rickflick
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Some of my Canadian relatives (one who attended the games), are curlers themselves and follow the sport closely. I find it a bit too amusing to take seriously.

  24. William Stewart
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Were none of you impressed with the 15 year-old ice skating phenomenon Alina Zagitova?

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      I sure was. And her rival Medvedeva as well. Still don’t know if the judges got that one right, but tough call. And Kaetlyn Osmond. And Carolina Kostner. And…

    • darrelle
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      I absolutely was. And her teammate. Those two really were in a league of their own.

  25. Brujo Feo
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    OK, Look, I know that this makes me a sucker, but I cried every time that Lauren Woolstencroft Toyota commercial came on, with that amazing song by Kaleena Zanders. You can see it here:

    That by itself kept me stuck to the tube. It echoes the famous quotes from Vince Lombardi and “Rock Balboa,” or as I’ve often heard it in martial arts: “It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down–what matters is how many times you get back up.”

    Saccharine, I know. But it brings us back to figure skating. Not only the best thing on TV any time, but watching the skaters recover and instantly go back into finishing their programs, after any hope of a medal was shattered, was inspiring.

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      “Rocky.” Jeebus, the typing demons already this morning.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Yo, Adrian, it’s ok.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      On that last paragraph, couldn’t agree more.

  26. William Stewart
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Sorry. I meant figure skating phenomenon.

  27. Danny Kodicek
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    My biggest issue with the Olympics is the huge, wasteful cost of building facilities in a new city every year (the purported ‘legacy’ never seems to be as significant as it’s supposed to be)

    I’ve been saying for a while that there ought to be a dedicated, state-of-the-art Olympic City somewhere in Greece (and a Winter Olympic facility somewhere else, perhaps Switzerland). Ideally it would have semi-autonomous status, like the Vatican, rather than being officially part of any country. Every four years the Games would be hosted there, with one nation sponsoring the event, principally the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the overall branding and design.

    In between Games it would be available for training, concerts and so on – an idealistic part of me even imagines the United Nations moving its headquarters there, as well as organizations like the World Anti-Doping Agency. The facilities could be kept in peak condition for a fraction of the cost of the current Games.

  28. Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    One negative thing about the Olympics is that it reinforces the wasteful notion that ranking first is all important. A fraction of a second separates the gold (hero) from the silver (goat). Does it really matter? Look at the dejection in Medvedeva’s face. Was her performance really less worthy than Zagitova’s?

  29. nwalsh
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Not really a curling fan, but don’t understand the bashing here. Just hear on local radio that it is a very fast growing sport in the U.S.
    I think it’s kinda neat that both Australia and New Zealand competed and both won a couple medals.

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Can you imagine? A sport started 400 years ago by some old Scot fogeys, most likely men, sliding stones on a frozen pond is now a sensation in Japan and Korea because of the performance by their women. Cultural appropriation at its best.

  30. nicky
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Same here, normally I follow at least some events at the Olympics, this year none. Have no clue as to why. I did follow, well haphazardly, the Indian cricket tour to SA. (So it is not that suddenly I lost all interest in sports, although it rarely was very high on the agenda).

  31. Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    The only Olympic sports I watched was some of the figure skating, especially the women. Spectacular, you really missed some wonderful moments.

    Here is the gold-medal winner, 15 years old Alina Zagitova:

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      In the short program, silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva beat the world record:

      • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Fifteen minutes later, Alina Zagitova beat the world record set by Evgenia Medveda:

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          Oops – Medvedeva. 🙂

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          I’ve asked readers not to insert full YouTube videos into comments. No more in this thread, please. There are ways to embed video links (see the Roolz) without having the video appear.

          • Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            Oh, so sorry – I wasn’t aware of it. I need to re-read the roolz.

        • Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

          A similar thing happened in the ice dancing too. It was quite thrilling.

  32. allison
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I used to enjoy watching the Olympics but did not watch any this year because I can not pick up NBC on my television (I don’t have cable or satellite). Anyway, my interest in the Olympics has been declining thanks to NBC’s coverage, which is quite poor. NBC spends far too much time on the least interesting “sports” (gymnastics and figure skating) and on sappy stories about the trials and tribulations overcome by the athletes (who are among the most privileged people in the world).

  33. Jeff Lewis
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    This was actually the year I watched the most Olympics so far in my life. I download the NBC Sports app to our Firestick, and sprang for the $20 Fubo promotional package, which gave me the possibility to watch every single event and qualifier if I’d wanted. I couldn’t devote quite that much time. After the first few days, I gave up on the qualifiers (and it was a shame, too, because I missed my opportunity to see Elizabeth Swaney live), and also on the first two runs of the 4 run events. But I still watched at least some of just about every event. And because most of the commentary on NBC Sports seemed to be from British speakers, it was missing most of the ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ jingoism from the regular NBC network coverage. I was consistently up to 1-2 in the morning cramming in as much Olympics as I could. Thankfully, my wife indulges me, letting me be a couch potato for 2 weeks every 4 years.

    And I really prefer the Winter Olympics to the Summer Olympics, especially the sports where you point yourself downhill and go as fast as you can. I mean, Usain Bolt is ‘the fastest man live’ at 28 mph, when downhill skiers hit top speeds of 70-80 mph, and lugers are hitting 90 mph. I know, it’s controlled falling, but it’s still cool to see.

    I don’t understand why anyone would take up cross country skiing. Out of every sport I’ve seen, they look the most miserable while competing.

    Like a few others have already commented, I prefer the sports with objective winners compared to the subjective ones. In fact, I only watched figure skating when my wife or niece were in the room with me. I even put on curling ahead of figure skating a couple times when I was by myself, because curling at least has a clear, objective scoring system. (Granted, by the end of the 2 weeks, I was only watching recordings of curling, fast forwarding through most of the match.)

    And then there’s short track ice skating, and ski cross, and… Yeah, I like to watch the Winter Olympics.

    • Gordon
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Probably because it is almost if not the most physically demanding. I recall reading a table of METs (?) that had it well above anything else included flower arranging in church.

    • phoffman56
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      “I don’t understand why anyone would take up cross country skiing. ”
      Perhaps because it is considerably better exercise than slithering down a hill, then taking the elevator back to the top for run number 2. And as I mentioned in a related thread, the 8000 calorie diets and their obvious physical excellence make nonsense of claims that diet is the only possible way to avoid obesity. I don’t think big hill snowboarding is likely to become a common activity. But surely the extent to which some of the sports might motivate youngsters to get really active makes much of the Olympics hype actually valuable. Despite being a Canuck, maybe eventually they’ll drop the sports, like hockey, that lead to concussions.

  34. Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Chess *was* an event at some of the early games – withdrawn because it wasn’t athletic enough, mind you.

    As for darts, if one allows “agility and precision sports”, why not? (E.g., the shooting events, and some of the “slide on a ice thing”, and yes, curling to a large extent.)

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      There are more than a hundred events that were tried in the Olympics but aren’t anymore, including Tug-Of-War, Cricket, Croquet, Golf, Lacrosse, Baseball and Dueling Pistols (!).

  35. John Crisp
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I think that the medal table demonstrates that some nations, cultures and societies are simply superior to others. In particular, Sweden clearly outperformed North Korea.

    As a Brit, I am obviously gutted by the UK’s failure to “medal” (the country used to be good at meddling in world affairs) in the curling, as it apparently has in the past, I imagine that it is probably attributable to the rapid spread of robot vacuum cleaners.

  36. Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t looking forward to these Games with ‘undiluted pleasure’ (family crisis and messy world events getting me down etc), but they grew on me.

    My favourite events this time were the ice dancing and ice skating, the ski half-pipe event and the snowboarding, especially the new Big Air event. I’m so relieved no one broke their neck! Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were sublime on ice. The unfortunate wardrobe malfunction of the French ice dancer, coupled with the camera close-up, caused great tititallation among the juvenile delinquents here at home. I felt I’d died and gone to heaven when Yuzuru Hanyu performed his best exhibition/gala skate of Notte Stellata (sung by Il Volo). Here’s a taste of that program from a 2016 exhibition (the camera work of this year’s program was superior and the skating was simply sublime; we’ll have to wait for some enterprising fan to upload that to youtube):

    • Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      OOOPS. Sorry, Dr. C. Forgot to delete the front part of the URL before posting.

  37. Filippo
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I might have watched the Olympics, but resolved not to after reading in the NY Times that Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir brought nine and fourteen suitcases, respectively.

  38. Jonathan Dore
    Posted February 27, 2018 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    I love the Winter Olympics, and find myself interested in watching the great majority of sports: the grace of the speed skaters (long-track please, no argy-bargy), the mind-boggling calorific expenditure of the cross-country skiers, the lightning speed of the hockey, the aerial acrobatics of the snowboarders, and the event that Edmund Burke would surely have thought the clearest expression of the sublime: the controlled insanity of big-hill ski-jumping.

    I’m also predisposed to enjoy an event in which some of the countries I most admire — Norway, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands — do well.

    But now it’s back to the endless grey background of football, which in more than fifty years has never sparked the least interest in me, but which we in the UK are compelled to hear about day after day, endlessly for a lifetime.

    • phoffman56
      Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      My interests are nearly, not quite, identical. And as a Canuck and a ‘Vikingophile’, thanks for cheering for the right guys.

      But when I arrived in Manchester as a 21-year-old and a big team-sports fan, one of my housemates immediately took me off to Old Trafford (cost was 3&6, about 37 cents; you couldn’t get close to a seat for $37 these days). Now, about 99 years later, football, aka soccer, is the only team sport I have any interest in. For example, to pass to a teammate with an opponent between you, just loft the ball, not something you can do in hockey. So there’s a 3-dimensional aspect in the skills that still greatly appeals to me. But I admit there can be long periods of tedium, esp. when the game ends 0-0 with a total of 3 kicks on the goal total for both teams.

      • Jonathan Dore
        Posted February 27, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Fair point, though to get much out of the 3D aspect you probably need to be playing yourself rather than spectating, which is all I’m good for.

      • Posted February 27, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        I seem to remember that great (ice) hockey players can in fact use the third dimension to pass – Wayne Gretzky, for example I seem to remember being able to do it. (How this works I don’t know and I don’t trust my memory completely on this.) Certainly there the third dimension comes into play with shots on goal.

  39. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 5, 2018 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    I wonder if, in the US for instance but of course applies to any country, an individual’s enthusiasm for the current Olympics correlates with their enthusiasm for the, in the US, President.

    I think it does, mixed in with other things of course.

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