I’ve got Winter Olympic fever! For two weeks, the most literally and metaphorically chilled out sports on the planet get their time in the spotlight. Having spent a whopping $50 billion on hosting the Games, it’s lucky for Russia that the world is watching. But I haven’t just been spectating. I’m planning my future world domination in one of these brilliant sports. If a classical violinist can do it, why can’t I? The big question is: which sport should I choose?
This seemed like an obvious contender until I saw one of the players smile. He had a grand total of two teeth visible. That made my mind up rather quickly.
The British have taken their dominance of ‘sitting down sports’ to a new level. We now have back to back Winter Olympic champions whilst lying on our fronts. 2010 winner Amy Williams clearly has a talent for directions when travelling at speed – since retiring from skeleton, she has been recruited as a rally co-driver. I like a theme park and definitely don’t regard myself as a wuss, but my main admiration for her is related to the fact I would be far too scared to hurtle headfirst, at well over 100mph, down a track made of ice. On a tray.
See above, but think feet first. So you can’t even see a wall you’re about to crash into. Brilliant.
This is a new event at the 2014 Winter Olympics and attracted attention before the Games had even started. Two-time Winter Olympic champion and multiple X-Games winner Shaun White pulled out of the Sochi event on the grounds that the course was “too dangerous”. If a guy known as “The Flying Tomato” who has made his fortune and fame on a snowboard is worried about this, I would be worried too. In addition, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even make it down to the jumping section but would faceplant, or worse, straddle, the rail section at the top. Ouchie.
This is my favourite winter event to watch. It looks a bit like Wacky Racers on snow, complete with comedy crashes. Four skiers race down a course filled with jumps, bumps and bends, and all hell invariably breaks loose. As a spectator, I usually end up getting very overexcited and shouting, “Come on the red one” as part of a £1 sweepstake. It’s all terribly exciting. A ‘source’ tells me that ski cross is for failed downhill skiers. It is also renowned for destroying cruciate ligaments quicker than you can say ‘snap’. Despite that, I think it’s brilliant and I would love to try it. It’s a definite front runner for my chosen Winter Olympic event.
I just don’t think I’m cut out for curling. Firstly, as household chores go, I’m not that good at sweeping. I am excellent at tidying, sorting books and DVDs into alphabetical order, and cleaning the kitchen. But I’m not particularly capable with a broom. Additionally, whenever the British weather is cold enough for the pavement to ice over, I can only walk with baby steps on tiptoe and so I wouldn’t be able to make it down the rink without keeling over. It’s all a bit too slow for me. I want hills and action and snow!
My prowess on the Nintendo Wii ski jump game suggests that if I took up the sport professionally, I would almost immediately become a world record holder. I’ve also proven my ability under severe pressure during competitions at home. With serious forfeits such as having to wash up being on the line, things can get pretty intense. If it wasn’t for the requirement to wear a very tight Lycra suit, I would almost definitely have won a gold medal at ski jumping in Sochi if I could have been bothered to travel all the way there.
Having spent some time living in Holland, I’m quite aware of how popular skating is there. Every time the canals and polders freeze, the Dutch excitedly dust off their skates ready to hit the ice. A few half-hearted attempts to get me to join in have failed miserably. How are you supposed to stop without colliding with a wall and hanging on for dear life?! Another thing that puts me off is the training. A few speed skaters did some weights sessions in the gym at Loughborough University when I used to train there. They would sometimes do 100 single leg squats in one set. Bearing in mind I’m more designed for power than endurance, I’m not really a fan of any set of more than about three repetitions. I think it’s clear speed skating wouldn’t be my event.
I can’t even dance on solid ground. The chances of being able to do so on ice skates whilst sliding across a slippery surface are slim.
If you ask me, skis were invented for going downhill. If you want to travel across a flat snowy environment, hire some huskies and a sledge, and enjoy the scenery without getting out of breath. The cross country skiing sometimes even requires competitors to ski uphill. Haven’t they heard of chairlifts?! I am also (currently) incapable of handling a firearm, which would make it tricky to hit targets.
New for 2018?
I’ve come up with a couple of ideas for the organisers of future Winter Olympics. I had thought about team snowball fights, but I became a bit worried about the Cold War II breaking out (sorry, that was a weak effort). If I could make them real events, I would be keen for tobogganing and snowman-building to be included in the Winter Olympics. I feel like I would be offering something to adrenaline junkies and arts and crafts fans alike. Perhaps we could take a leaf out of the biathlon book and combine the events. How quickly can you slow your heart rate down after a supersonic toboggan race and successfully affix a carrot to your snowman’s face? Speed points for the toboggan section, style points for the snowman section. This idea may need further development…
Having thought about it, I’m not sure I’m quite as ready for domination of the world of winter sports as I had hoped. As much as anything else, I’m just not sure I’m anywhere near cool enough to be a pro snowboarder, brave enough to slide down a track made of ice, or self-assured enough to go on the telly dressed in head-to-toe Lycra. What I do know is that I have huge respect for the attitude, courage, skills and general awesomeness of these athletes. Stay cool Sochi!