The lengths that some countries will go to put its best foot forward when it comes to international competition like the Olympics should not be surprising.
And so it is for the host Russians, desperate to prove to the world that they are masters in all athletic endeavours as the Sochi Olympic Games continues to roll on.
Curling is a game that has little history in Russia and the Russian foursome only qualified for the Olympic event because they are the host country.
Under pressure to do well, the Russians devised a plan that involved the hiring of three Canadian curlers with no ties to the country and turn them into Russians for the competition.
Alas, the plan fell apart and Russia’s men’s team, without the Canadians, have opened 0-2 in the Olympic competition.
And speaking of pressure, perhaps nobody is feeling it more than Alex Ovechkin, the gap-toothed National Hockey League superstar who is expected to lead Russia to an Olympic gold.
The presence of Ovechkin is Sochi is everywhere, on Coke billboards, phone cards, on bathroom stalls and restaurant awnings.
Many Canadians felt it would be hard to top the thrill watching Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe earn gold and silver respectively in freestyle skiing for Canada over the weekend.
Monday at the ski hill at Krasnaya Polyana it came mighty close in the men’s moguls, what with three Canadians ranked one, two and three heading into the final run of six.
Those are pretty good odds for a Canadian or two landing on the podium and defending champion Alex Bilodeau busted through again, saving his best run for last to mine the gold medal.
Teammate Mikael Kingsbury took the sliver with fellow-Canadian Marc-Antoine Gagnon placing fourth.
Along with the gold Charles Hamelin won earlier in the day the men’s short track 1,500-metres it was a pretty good day at the office for the Candian team, and it prompted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer a hearty salute to the athletes.
Gay rights issues have been front and centre during the Olympics and it prompted the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion to release this bit of whimsy involving luge athletes with the claim that the Games have “always been a little gay.”
Of course, the widely-viewed video has irritated some, including a couple of the American doubles lugers who claim the inclusion message, as it relates to their sport, does not make a lot of sense to them.
It has been a rough couple of days of broadcasting for the folks at the BBC.
First the British public broadcaster had to eat crow on Saturday, apologizing after it inadvertently censored British snowboarder Billy Morgan after the BBC felt he swore during an interview.
Asked on-air how he felt he had approached his runs in the men’s slopestyle final, the 24-year-old replied: “I just thought huck it.”
‘Huck it’ is a common snowboarding term that translates roughly into going for it with a flashy effort.
The stodgy folks at the BBC, however, believed Morgan had used an obscene word and apologized to viewers and cut away from the interview.
And in what should have been a cause for celebration after Jenny Jones became Britain’s first ever Olympic medalist on Sunday when she captured the bronze in women’s snowboarding slopestyle instead turned into a bit of a controversy.
The BBC received more than 300 complaints following Jones’ win from people complaining about the “puerile” quality of BBC commentators Ed Leigh, Tim Warwood and Aimee Fuller.
During the commentary, the presenters incorrectly reported that Jones had won gold and un-sportingly whooped with delight when a competitor fell over.
Other viewers expressed their frustrations with the sexual innuendos the commentary team used, including joking about a competitor having ‘slugs in her knickers’.
The BBC later apologized, saying that “excitement had got the better” of its broadcast team.
The women’s 10-kilometre pursuit in the biathlon will be staged on Thursday, so better load up on the popcorn.
While the event is rarely discussed in North America, the biathlon is popular, especially in Russia where the locals have ranked it as their second-favorite winter sport, behind skating.
“I feel sorry for the Americans,"said Dmitry Guberniev, a Russian biathlon announcer, said. “Maybe all the chicken wings they eat during the American football final prevent them from understanding the biathlon.”
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