Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is Ice Fishing an Official 2010 Winter Olympic Sport?

Except for the most diehard of fans, the Winter Olympics consists only of athletes in parkas and funny looking hats, Bob Costas, figure skating battles and the U.S. Olympic Hockey team.  In fact, when I asked my significant other whether she could name the 15 categories of sports represented at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, she answered only 10 out of 15 categories correctly.  Four of her other five guesses (Basketball, Volleyball, Tobagganing and Ice Fishing, ICE FISHING?!?!) are not Winter Olympic sports, unfortunately.

This is not a sport, in case you were wondering

Fortunately for you though, JMR is here to briefly guide you through these 15 categories of sports ranked in order of least interesting to most interesting.  Luckily, the 15 sports are easily categorized into three groups - Senseless, Tedious or a combination of one Senseless and one Tedious sport, what I will refer to as "Tediless."

15.  CROSS COUNTRY.  Classical or Freestyle, it's boring to do, and even more boring to watch on TV. (Tedious)

14.  SPEED SKATING.  Watching men and women circle around an oval made of ice is grueling.  I do have to admit that this sport introduces us to not only the charitable stylings of the Stephen Colbert All-Stars, but also of the first athlete to secede from his Country (Shani Davis).  Oh yes, that dude is that crazy. (Tedious)

13.  FIGURE SKATING.  Except for the excruciating story of Tonya Harding, this sport has been devoid of suspense for decades.  Sorry Dick Button and Peggy Fleming.  (Tedious)

12.  CURLING.  In doing research for this post, I found out that the Canadians dominate this sport that was invented by, and that once belonged to, the Scots.  Their best player was some guy nicknamed "the Owl."  Then I discover that the Owl was actually the best skipper for the Canadians when they won the Scottish Cup (Curling World Championship) in 1966, 1968 and 1969.  Oops.  As a side note, behind The Americas Cup, can the Scottish Cup be the second championship named after a country that no longer dominates the sport it invented?  Too bad the World Baseball Classic isn't named the U.S. Baseball Classic. (Tedious)

11.  BIATHALON.  There are few things that can be combined with cross country skiing that would bring the sport out of the "Tedious" category.  Combining the sport, however, with shooting, does the trick.  This has to be the strangest combination of skills in sport, unless you are some sort of hunter-gatherer in Siberia or something.  Plus, with heightened security at the Olympics, isn't this sport the perfect way to sneak in real fire arms...what's stopping some Bulgarian from going crazy on the crowd because he's unhappy with his marksmanship?  "Hey, I'm a biathalete!  Give me back my high powered air rifle!" (Tediless)

10.  NORDIC COMBINED.  Seriously, cross country is so antitaining that they combine it with not one, but two different sports.  This one is with ski-jumping.  This is extremely unrealistic as a pursuit.  (Tediless)

9.  ALPINE SKIING.  Although this is one of the most recognizable sports with some of the most memorable Olympic Champions - Jean-Claude Killy, Bill Johnson, the Mahre Brothers, Picabo Street, and Alberto Tomba, let's just face it, between the Downhill, the Slalom, the Super G and the Combined, there is a whole lot of the same going on for weeks on the ski slopes.  I will admit though that Alpine Skiing gets bumped up to this position since two of the most compelling stories so far in the lead up to the 2010 Vancouver Games are whether Bode Miller has finally grown up (No) and whether Lindsey Vonn is milking her shin injury to increase her marketing potential post olympics (Yes). (Tedious)

8.  SNOWBOARDING.  To give the Americans and Western Europeans a chance to pad their medal stats, the X Games were added to the Winter Games' calendar a couple of years ago.  Fine by me.  The Half Pipe is one of the most interesting competitions. 

The parallel giant slalom just reminds me though of celebrity skiing at Vail that was on Fox Sports New England 10 years ago.  Marilu Henner always seemed to be available for those celebrity ski parties.  Snowboard Cross just appears to be a snowboarding version of the Super G.  Snowboarding does get the nod from my 7 year old for coolest Winter Olympic Sport. (Tediless)

7. FREESTYLE SKIING.  Yet another example of Senseless activities muddled up with Tedious competition.  Moguls?  I challenge you to name a retired Moguls competitor that does not have either a serious and chronic back problem or at least one knee replacement.  Aerial Skiing, on the other hand, brings me back to the days when I used to play the Winter Olympics video game on my Commodore 64.  I can't remember the name for the life of me, but I remember holding the record for best aerial ski score.  Good stuff.  Another possibility for the Americans to get some more medals. (Tediless)

6.  SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING.  Two things of note - Apolo Anton Ohno and spills, lots of them.  500m, 1000m and 1500m sprints on a small oval means fast times and bodies flying across the ice.  Strangely, this sport has been dominated by the South Koreans.  Except for the inevitable newspaper headlines using wordplay on Ohno's name, there is no downside to this quirky sport.  (Senseless)

5.  ICE HOCKEY.  Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!!

4.  BOBSLED.  Let them play.  Let them play.  Let them PLAY.  This will be a movie 4 years from now - "Kangaroo Runnings?" (Senseless)

3.  SKELETON.  The second sport on this list to be held at the Whistler Sliding Center.  I like the name of that venue.  This competition is virtually the same as the Luge, but athletes slide down the hill face down.  The sport got its name because the original pioneers of the spot used to slide down the ice in metal sleds that looked like skeletons.  I would not have guessed that as the origin of the name. The Canadians dominated in 2006 and expect to do as well this year on their home turf. (Senseless)

2.  LUGE.  This gets the nod over the other childhood sledding pasttime at #3 for one reason:  the odd two man luge race.  That just engenders some strange images. (Senseless)

1.  SKI JUMPING.  It is the sport with one of the most iconic videos ever made of the Agony of Defeat.  Jm McKay is somewhere smiling about this interview and the line "He thinks about that jump as many times as we've shown it on Wide World of Sports."  The words of course echo in every kids' head who grew up in the 1970's "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat...Look out!  Look at him go!!  Oh Baby, What a terrible Fall! Dah, Dun, Dun, Dunnnn!  Combine the sheer thrill of flying through the air for more than 400 feet with the sheer fear of flying through the air for over 400 feet, and this is one incredibly crazy sport.  They will jumping off a short hill (90 meters) and a long hill (120 meters), along with a team competition.  Sadly they don't all jump together as a team.  Don't hold your breath waiting for an American medal, either.  The Americans are not really good in this sport.  Incidentally, after showing him a couple of the crashes, my 5 year old's favorite Winter Olympic Sport immediately became Ski Jumping. (Senseless)

I have now given you the perfect primer on the Winter Games.  See you this weekend.

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