Metatalktail Hour: Olympic Fever! February 10, 2018 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! Tonight, Slarty Bartfast wants to talk about the Olympics, and hear about your favorite event, favorite Olympic memory, favorite Olympic event, favorite athlete, or anything else Olympic in nature!

As always, it's a conversation starter, not limiter, so talk about whatever's up with you (excluding only politics).

If you're actually watching the Olympics right this minute and want to talk about the immediate action, there's a FanFare thread here!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 5:32 PM (114 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Biathalon is the best. Skiing. With Guns. Accuracy, and inability to breathe. Penalty laps. It's the best once-every-four-years sport the olympics has on offer.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:47 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


I grew up in central Alberta and was just old enough to remember travelling to Calgary to see the Games. Well, and event. Sort of.

As a class (5th grade) we voted on an event to buy tickets for. In this case it was 90m Ski Jumping. Which ended up being delayed to another day for weather concerns; namely wind. Wind and cold. Farking windchill was nuts. My mother and I went of the first class outing, my Dad and one of my brothers went on the second so I ended up not actually getting to see any of the events. Totally not bitter about it.

The city was amazing though. You can still visit Canada Olympic Park which houses a visitor's centre with, hell there's lots of appropriate adjectives but let's call it a shrine, to the volunteer force that helped make the games happen. Something like 120thousand if memory serves. Even now Calgary barely cracks 1.2million, then it would have been closer to 2/3rds-ish.

The previous winter a record breaking chinook had organizers in a panic trying to figure out contingency plans for trucking in supplemental snow if the '88 Games saw a similar occurrence.
posted by mce at 5:51 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


One out of every 50,000 residents of Vermont is on Team USA.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:57 PM on February 10 [40 favorites]


I have vague memories of watching the 1984 Summer Olympics gymnastics competition, and I got my first period while the 1992 Summer Olympics were happening, but mostly my Olympics memories are about Tonya. Who has been discussed all over Metafilter lately, so that's all I have to say about that.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:01 PM on February 10


I'm a big fan of figure skating and speed skating. I just love to see these athletes and their bodies in motion. There's such beauty and grace.
posted by Fizz at 6:02 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Did you know that between 1912 and 1948, architecture, music, literature, painting and sculpture were Summer Olympic events? I only learned that because Ravelry does a big knitalong during each Olympics, and a while back the US Olympic committee sent them a nasty cease and desist letter claiming that we were all demeaning the Olympics by associating it with something as lowly and stupid as knitting. (It was a whole thing. The USOC was forced to apologize.) Someone pointed out that the original modern Olympics included medals for the arts, and one year arts and crafts was one of the categories, which is both cool and weird.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:03 PM on February 10 [26 favorites]


Olympics have been on as background in our house since they started. As is tradition. We enjoy having them on. It took me a few go-arounds to warm up to snowboarding as an Olympic sport, but holy shit. They get frightening high in the air. It's pretty amazing.

mce: The previous winter a record breaking chinook had organizers in a panic trying to figure out contingency plans for trucking in supplemental snow if the '88 Games saw a similar occurrence.

And I think they needed to invoke that contingency in '88, did they not?

I have distinct memories of watching Matti Nykänen (and, of course, Eddie the Eagle) ski jumping on TV and seeing from the rear view of the hill that things looked pretty thawed out from a Chinook.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:07 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Favorite Olympic memory is easy for me. In the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London, the general feeling (especially on social media) was that this was going to be a bit rubbish, embarrassing, or eye-rolling. Though, notably, people who had seen the rehearsals and were asked not to do spoilers were quiet but extremely excited.

Cue the opening ceremony and the cynicism fell away. Especially during the epic Industrial Revolution segment with the drums, which was something else and still gets me, six years on. Lots and lots of other fab bits in the opening ceremony, such as this bloke who may have slightly influenced MetaFilter...
posted by Wordshore at 6:11 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


My boys are old enough to be interested in the games this year, so I'm a little bemused how much geopolitics I'm having to explain because they have a lot of questions! But then I remember being their age and having a lot of questions about the world from watching the Olympics and hearing about all these countries and incidentally their cultural and political stuff, so I guess that's where little nerds go to start having big questions about the world!

I'm an inveterate Olympic cry-er because all of their moms are so proud of them! *weep weep weep*
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:22 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I just saw this tweet
as the winter Olympics begin....never forget about Surya Bonaly, a French figure skater who did a backflip and landed on one blade. she was so damn good at the trick, they made it illegal. she is the only Olympic figure skater in HISTORY to ever successfully complete the move.
with video of the backflip and was reminded of how much I loved Surya Bonaly as a child watching the Olympics! What an athlete.
posted by lalex at 6:34 PM on February 10 [33 favorites]


I pissed my mom off pretty badly because while Surya was skating, I looked over at my mom and told her gleefully, "she's going to do the flip."
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:37 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


The winter olympics will always be Bolero to me. It still makes me cry.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:39 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


My brother-in-law has been a sportscaster for years, and was at the last Olympics. The hockey had been down to the wire, and Bob Costas had gone onto the next venue, but it got an upset and my brother-in-law got to announce it.

He's since retired from sports casting and has devoted his life to photographing animals in the wild. And I mean, going up into the wild and shooting photos of moose and eagles. He's really dedicated. This is a guy who was on the PGA tour, doing sports hockey, etc. He really can't afford it, he doesn't have millions, he just really loves animals.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:58 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I'm not super into sports generally, but something about the sheer spectacle of the Olympics really gets to me.

As a self-described geography need, I love learning about all the countries competing, and I love seeing all the proud faces, so pleased to be there. It's a joy to watch.

I really started getting into it ah... six years ago? London, definitely, and I was REALLY into Sochi, then Rio and now Pyeonchang. I remember watching it as a kid, and my dad briefly talked about taking me to Atlanta in '96, but it never quite came to be. Maybe I'll make it to LA in 2024.
posted by PearlRose at 7:20 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Ooh. Flashback. I remember doing a newspaper scrapbook for what was either a Cubs or school project on Gaétan Boucher, who was a speed skater who had an amazing Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984 - watch him skate. Old Olympic footage is always striking to me for some reason.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:27 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Not a huge Olympics watcher now (currently catching up on "The Good Place"), but I attended some of the equestrian events during the Atlanta Olympics, which were amazing to see, and I was born while the Montreal Olympics were going, which I know because my mother used to talk about how all the doctors and nurses in the Labor & Delivery Ward would hang out in her room while she was waiting to go into labor and then when she was recovering so that they could watch the games.
posted by lazuli at 7:27 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who timed her babies for Olympic years so that she'd have something to watch when she was up all night with a newborn! And both times, she gave birth about two weeks before the Olympics started, so she had it nailed.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:48 PM on February 10 [19 favorites]


I'm an inveterate Olympic cry-er because all of their moms are so proud of them! *weep weep weep*

Goddamn Kleenex is the official sponsor of the Olympics at my house. My most participatory Olympic event is divided into "How Easily Can a Campbell's Soup Commercial Make Me Bawl Because MOMS" and "How Quickly Will I Forget The Athlete I Was Just Suckered Into Screaming At the TV TO WIN WIN WIN - Due To Their *somewhat dramatized* Story - And Will Absolutely DIE IF THEY DON'T WIN In An Event I Don't Care About, Now I'm Crying, FUCK YOU VERY MUCH NBC". Seriously, I hate every Olympics how much my emotions can be absolutely bought for apparently pennies, played with, and then thrown away for the next story. I hate how easily manipulated I am by those jerks, even despite my best efforts to not let myself be destroyed emotionally for 30 minutes just at the mention of hardships overcome and sheer determination and despair/loss or whatever they choose to play up, complete with the camera panning to Mom in the audience because the producers deemed that story the worthy one of playing up. Particularly because pretty much every athlete at the Olympics has been through obstacles and had sheer determination and despair/loss, whatever, and probably has a Mom in the Audience. Or is doing it for Mom if she's not there, or something like that.

And I want EVERY athlete to win. So I cry at the sight of them crying because they're at the Olympics, or cry at how happy they are they won, and how sad they are they lost, and etc. etc. But then it's the next event, and the person/persons I was absolutely invested in for 30 minutes to the point of screaming and jumping and weeping is forgotten for who ever is up next. UGH.

I guess I just have a huge soft spot for athletes, and if they're doing something like, I dunno, working full time and training for the Olympics, or practicing in hardscrabble conditions, or all the things that yank the heart-strings, no matter where they're from I just melt. So for example, this year the Jamaican women's bobsled team and the unified Korean hockey team will definitely get all the tears and cheering I can muster.

*cough* But seriously, I always follow the hockey/skiing/snowboarding events, particularly women's. It's absolutely thrilling watching how fearless and tough they can be in a way I just don't usually see in the men's. (It's also often just so much more fun watching women's sports because of the history of banning women from so much for so long means they're still pushing the envelope in so many ways while a lot of men's sports have plateaued in terms of achievement. (Note: that's a very broad & generalized statement, though, and certainly not applicable to everything/everyone!)) And in skiing with Vonn and Shiffrin in it that fearlessness almost becomes recklessness. But this year I'll also be paying attention to men's halfpipe too, cuz of White and Hirano, who is 5 foot 3. And my god, Erin Jackson in speed skating - there will definitely be screaming and jumping down for her.

One interesting side note about living in the Denver area is that with the Olympic training center in the Springs and the ski team training at Copper Mt., as well as all the ski areas around that host qualifiers for the events, you never know who you might see "when you're out there" - that person who just blew past you on their bike could be an Olympic hopeful. (36 people on the U.S. team this year are from Colorado, and of course I feel personally invested in all of them, like I did something to help - the state version of nationalism comes out so weirdly at times, hahaha!) There's so many world class athletes around here in a lot of different sports - your server might have summited K2 or runs ultras. It's really quite humbling and inspiring, too. Anyway, with the opportunities to see such people in person, it's given me a real appreciation for just how astounding and rare their athleticism is.

I'm just continually awed at the amazing things people can do with their bodies, and for that alone I really love the Olympians, even if I have, uh, problems with the Olympics themselves.
posted by barchan at 7:53 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


Having lived in many of the states at the bottom of the country, but only briefly in one at the top, the Winter Olympics has always seemed odd to me. Like the Space Olympics or something. I mean, I know people do those activities in theory...
posted by bongo_x at 8:02 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


The Olympics for me are mostly two weeks when my wife takes over the TV. I'll tend to watch with her and get into some of the events though. Some I don't care for, but some, like skiing, are kind of cool.

My Olympic story is that when I was just married to my wife, Amy, the chorus she sang with at the time, The Tanglewood Festival Chorus, was invited to be one of the five choruses to sing Ode To Joy in the opening ceremonies of the Nagano Olympics. There was one chorus on each continent, one for each ring. Seiji Ozawa conducted all five choruses from Japan via Satellite with some sort of delay so that they'd all be synced up for the broadcast. The TFC sang at the UN building in New York City so I got to sit there, in the General Assembly, and watch it. I think I sat at the desk for Uruguay. It was really fun to see it all happen. Link.

We told all our friends to tune in but of course American TV cut to commercials right when it started. Because America. Our Canadian friends got to watch it though.

It was fun being part of something so huge, even if I wasn't actually part of it. I did get a cheap ticket to NYC out of it. When they rehearsed the night before a bunch of us chorus widows and widowers found some cheap Broadway tickets and I saw 1776. I think one of the guys from Star Trek TNG was in it but I couldn't tell you which one. That part of my story has nothing to do with the Olympics.

Also my brother's niece was on the Dominican Republic swim team in the summer Olympics, even though she lives in Massachusetts.
posted by bondcliff at 8:07 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


My favorite Olympic moment - and Olympian - didn't even happen at the Olympics. (He deserves his own comment.)

Emil Zátopek is regarded by many as the greatest runner of all time. A poor carpenter's son from Moravia who worked incredibly hard, he won gold at the 48 & 52 Olympics, and is the only person to win 5000m, 10000m, and the marathon at the Olympics. He entered the marathon at the last minute and won.

Though a good moment, not my favorite. Zátopek was extraordinary off the field as well, and legendary. In Communist Czechoslovakia, during the Prague Spring, he "really did defy the Soviet tanks in Wenceslas Square in August 1968. . . and after that, they broke him, of course." The story of how he stood up in protest, and then was treated afterward - including long periods of forced manual labor and separation from his beloved wife - is heartbreaking.

But his act was not surprising to those who knew him, of his penchant for giving of himself and with love, like the time he was visited by another great runner, Ron Clarke, Clarke, despite his greatness, never won an Olympic gold medal. As Clarke left Zátopek's home - remember this was behind the Iron Curtain and what that meant - Zátopek, with the incredible generosity of spirit and love for his fellow human for which he was so well known, gave Ron Clarke one of his own gold medals with the words: "Not out of friendship but because you deserve it."

Zátopek's story is incredible all on its own as an athlete. But as a incredible person, too, that. . . . *sniff* well, that particular act of giving away one of his gold medals, and the character he displayed in doing so, is definitely my favorite Olympic moment.
posted by barchan at 8:09 PM on February 10 [21 favorites]


barchan - I am an unabashed Summer Games person. Yeah, the Canadian who doesn't skate & dislikes hockey. There are dozens of us.

I do coach for a living (swimming) and for years finished my CV with this quote from the esteemed Mr. Zátopek:
“With all their energy, everybody tries to do their best.
This struggle, it stays very deep in your mind.
And it produces great respect among adversaries...
It is really what I have high esteem for, this friendship in sport.”
posted by mce at 8:21 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


In 2004 the Olympic Torch came through Astoria right next to where I lived, and I got to see it in person and it made me cry. So many feelings! Patriotism! World peace! Athletic achievement!

The 2012 Olympics started two weeks after my eldest was born, and man, that was THE BEST THING to ever happen to two new parents without cable. 24/7 feel good entertainment. I wish I could have a new baby every two years for Olympics time (except no).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:23 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I was in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics and that was just fucking awesome, but my favourite was the 2004 Para-Olympics. I worked for the company that won the contract to supply uniforms for the Australian Para-Olympic team and it was amazing to be part of the effort.

A few stand-out memories...

The athletes were measured for their various uniforms prior to the games, but obviously then went and did a LOT of extra training so we had to do a lot of returns and up-sizing to ensure that everyone had what they needed and that it fit. Sometimes I got to speak to the athletes, sometimes to their parents or carers, and it was amazing to see all their patience and dedication and their sheer excitement of it all. Brings me to tears just thinking about it now.

And the other, really cool thing, is that everyone got several pairs of socks. Didn't matter if the athlete in question didn't have legs, they all had to have socks. Partly because EVERYONE was treated equally, and also because apparently socks were a really hot commodity and could be traded for all sorts of unlikely things. You have no idea of the amount of shenanigans that went on in the Sydney camp, paid for by judicious bribes of socks.
posted by ninazer0 at 10:48 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


The Winter Olympics are my quadrennial update of how America chooses to see / portray Asian Americans.

(Summer Olympics are the corresponding update of Asians-not-in-America).
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:13 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


One out of every 50,000 residents of Vermont is on Team USA.

It’s almost the same ratio here, although you beat us by a hair. I like living in Alaska because there are a whole bunch of superathletes just kinda mingling with the regular people. I went to high school with the sister of one snowboarder, there’s a brother and sister cross-country skier whose mom was in my running group a for a while, one of my students is the niece of another skier, a friend had grand jury duty with another. It gives me a couple specific events to look out for and care about.

Somewhat related: I did a relay leg of a winter triathlon (run/bike/ski) a couple weeks ago. In the pre-race meeting, all of us hopping to stay warm in 5 degree temperatures, the organizer asked everyone who was doing their first triathlon to raise their hands. Then he asked everyone who had ever participated in an Olympics or Olympic Trials to raise their hand, noted the similar numbers in the groups, and talked about the wide spread of abilities and the importance of kindness and understanding with people who are newer or slower because everyone’s experience matters. It felt very Alaskan and made me feel a lot better about being a craptastic skier talked into it by a friend.

Also relatedly, as a perennial wind-sucker of a cross-country skier I enjoyed these words (NY Times link) about the sport last week. It took every ounce of strength I had in my body not to kick my students out of my room at the end of the day so I could get a ski in before dark by saying, “If you will excuse me now, I am going to mush my way across this gigantic flat hostile landscape using only the power of my huge, beleaguered thighs.”
posted by charmedimsure at 12:14 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I don't have any olympic thoughts so instead I will share that I spent the afternoon making a tote bag out of some fabric that my bff brought back for me from Poland last summer. It was billed as a "20 minute project" but I goofed up the reversible lining so it was more like three hours. I am going to use it for library books.
posted by janepanic at 1:15 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


I remember well the 1972 Men's Basketball finals. We wuz robbed! Team USA, college players, not pros, never accepted their second place silver medals. 4 years later I went to Montreal and saw a lot of events including the Opening ceremonies and the USA v Puerto Rico men's game. Butch Lee was terrific. Saw boxing and track and field too. I stopped watching the Olympics when they started allowing professionals.
posted by AugustWest at 1:38 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


A couple of times in my youth I found myself home bound during the Winter Olympics, I think it was 1992 and 1994, when I was 11 and 13. Once it was because I had a stubborn flu and another time because of a teachers' strike (though maybe it was flu both times). I can’t think of the Winter Olympics without remembering being on the couch in the living room of the apartment I lived in from nine years old through my teens. I have especially strong memories of cross-country skiing and ski-jumping. I still remember the names of various athletes from those games, even though I can’t remember the names of most of my classmates from that time.
posted by Kattullus at 2:13 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Biathalon is the best 100%
posted by arslanatodorra at 3:45 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I went to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and it is still one of the highlights of my life. I saw this happen, from about 50 rows up, right in front of me: Zola Budd vs Mary Decker - 1984 L.A. The Trip

I think I also saw the women's high jump finals, and some pole vaulting.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:16 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I am a sucker for the super super unexpected victories.

Also, the torch lighting this year was impressive, it's always impressive, but to me nothing will ever be cooler than the torch lighting in Barcelona in 1992.
posted by JanetLand at 5:19 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


I was 4 during the 1992 Summer Olympics and have very distinct memories of watching women's gymnastics. Kim Zmeskal, Tatiana Gutsu, Svetlana Boganskaya, Shannon Miller, Betty Okino ...

So I left for Indonesia yesterday morning (two mornings ago? Time zones are leaving me totally perplexed), but my plane left LA for Tokyo late and I missed my connecting flight at Narita. The airline put everyone up in a hotel, so I am currently sitting in a hotel just outside of the airport watching ski moguls with the Indonesian woman sharing my hotel room. I feel very cosmopolitan.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:36 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I was newly pregnant in 1996 and my husband and I went to the Atlanta games with my mom, her sisters, and my cousins. The only times I had fun were when we weren't with the rest of the family. I'm pretty much the oddball amongst my mother's people. I'm the only cousin who wasn't born and bred in the Deep South. I wanted to see some equestrian events but we couldn't get tickets.

We did see tennis with Andre Agassi, though, and sat two rows behind Brooke Shields in the stands. She was really nice.
posted by cooker girl at 5:39 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I used to love the Olympics, so, so much. But between the doping, abuse, and corruption scandals much of the shine has worn off for me. This is the first year since I was born in 1975 I haven't bothered to watch the opening ceremony.

But I definitely have favorite Olympic moments from the past. For opening ceremonies, nothing can top the Barcelona or Muhammad Ali torch lightings for me in terms of sheer awe and wonder. I also have very fond memories of snarking over parade regalia, ceremonies, performances and the ridiculous Today show narrations with my mother. "Look at that awful splash!" my mother would shout during synchro diving, and I would reply, "As an expert in diving for two weeks during summer Olympics years only, I concur. 6.8, at best! Pass me the potato chips."

I remember feeling just awful for Dan Jansen, whose sister died the morning he was going for Olympic gold. He ended up crashing and burning in a true agony of defeat moment. And there was that time I watched in slack-jawed amazement when a former priest emerged from the crowd at the marathon event and attacked the front-runner, Vanderlei de Lima. He fell from gold to bronze in 15 seconds of kerfuffle. And even though I was only 5 years old, watching the "Miracle on Ice" is one of the most standout hockey moments for me in my lifetime, beaten only by that time a Buffalo Sabres player caught a skate in the jugular and carotid and lived to tell the tale.
posted by xyzzy at 6:00 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


As a freshman in college I was spectacularly mismatched in the roommate draw. By October we'd already stopped speaking to each other, but my efforts to make a room switch all kept falling through, so when classes resumed after winter break, I was resigned to making the best of it -- even though we returned to a severe rodent infestation in our dorm room, since she'd neglected to clear out her garbage can and her Giant Cabinet Of Unwrapped Snacks before leaving. I was still going to try, damnit.

Among the many other things we failed to have in common, my roommate was a figure skater. Turned out, this was an Olympic year. Turned out, she planned to watch every second of coverage, and to record every second of skating coverage. For the big events, she'd go to the common area and watch on a bigger screen. This should have afforded me a few breaks from non-stop winter sport, in theory. But my roommate was convinced, C O N V I N C E D, that her VCR would only record when the television was on and the volume was up all the way. She'd actually crank the volume up when she left the room and set the VCR to record. And she'd come back at random to check on me, and she'd yell at me if I turned down the volume (or god forbid turned off her TV altogether). And it was so goddamned loud she could hear it playing down the hall, so I couldn't just switch it back on when I heard her key in the door.

DO you know how much Olympic figure skating coverage there is
There is
A lot

I kept an actual calendar counting down the events remaining, planning to celebrate when the Finals were finally over. But there was some sort of ~scandal~ in the judging that year, and my roommate was in paroxysms over it, running down the hall and knocking on doors to yell with friends about it. Until two in the morning. I had class at eight. And when I came back from that 8am, badly needing a nap... she was rewatching the Finals. And still yelling.

...I can just about handle being in a room with a TV when there's figure skating on, now, with minimal tooth grinding and eye-tics. But it's been a good many years. And it's easier if the volume's off.
posted by halation at 6:30 AM on February 11 [7 favorites]


I will share that I spent the afternoon making a tote bag

Hey that's neat. Make sure you also put it in the Maker Thread.

He ended up crashing and burning in a true agony of defeat moment.

I remember watching that. They really played up the whole story too. He went on to win a gold medal later and even his Wikipedia page looks conflicted.

I also remember watching the Miracle on Ice games. We had a ton of hockey players who went pro in my high school (ton = six or so?) and so everyone was tuned in to what was happening in hockey. I think the 1980 Olympics may have been the first ones where I was not just a newt. Had a crush on Eric Heiden (who went on to be a DOCTOR)
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:31 AM on February 11


I'm deeply angry with NBC for not listing individual events in a way that lets me record them on my DISH DVR. In years past, I've been able to dial in "curling" and just have all the curling events recorded but this year they haven't allowed me to do that, and as a result I'm missing out on watching curling (which I don't get to do much even though I live about 90 miles from Canada) unless I'm RIGHT THERE AT THE TV AT THE TIME IT'S BEING AIRED.

Curling is basically the thing that makes me give any shit about the winter olympics, but this year, it's become a chore rather than a pleasure, and HELLO NBC YOU SUCK.

Also, I've watched some curling this year and it's joyous! There was a city curling league here that I participated in for a year and seeing it in the Olympics and then doing it in person are two entirely separate planes of reality.
posted by hippybear at 7:01 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


But between the doping, abuse, and corruption scandals much of the shine has worn off for me.

I'll always remember watching the 1988 Olympics (yes, I feel old) with my family, and when the camera zoomed in on Ben Johnson being impressed at how bulked up he was in comparison to most sprinters at the time.

Since then the doping scandals just haven't quit.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:22 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I'm still waiting for any form of doping scandal to hit curling.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


June 2016: Broomgate Scandal Rocks Curling
posted by Wordshore at 7:38 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Honestly the capacity of brooms to take in steroids is something that I hadn't even thought about before just now

OH WAIT IT'S NOT A DOPING SCANDAL.
posted by hippybear at 7:52 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


The Olympics arguably peaked with the 1900 Summer Games in Paris. 997 competitors took part in proper sports, such as basque pelota, croquet and of course tug of war (of which the modern so-called Olympics is all the poorer for omitting).

But the highlight of the Paris games was, of course, cricket. Despite playing at international level for over twenty years by then, the USA declined to participate (possibly worried about being thrashed by Canada again), spending the time they could have spent playing cricket posing around in underwear. So without them, Britain took the gold medal, beating France in a first class match with only five minutes of playing time remaining. The England captain, C. B. K. Beachcroft, was the top scorer and also proficient in several other sports, introducing the game of ping-pong to Devon.

The oldest of the 24 players (it was 12 a side)(don't ask) was Philip Tomalin. Born in London, he played for France aged 44, eventually retiring to Bognor Regis. In scenes perhaps a little too reminiscent of the contemporary England cricket side, the winners celebrated hard, and managed to crash their coach and horses on their way back to the hotel. But, it's pleasing that Britain, or England, have been the reigning Olympic champions in one sport at least for over a century now.

Hopefully, if the various boards can agree, cricket in some form will return to a future Olympics (if India win the right to host in 2032, this becomes quite likely). It would make sense anyway, being formally played and structured in 105 countries, with additional teams in most of the others. Replacing the field sports in the Olympics with cricket so it can be played in the main stadium while the running stuff happens around the perimeter makes perfect sense, even if the odd runner does get clonked by a ball (safer than the pointy stick javelin thing).

(as the demographics of MetaFilter skew a little older than most web forums, there may be a few MeFites who this brings back happy memories to)
posted by Wordshore at 8:18 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I've actually always wondered why cricket wasn't an Olympic sport. And yes, getting rid of tug of war was a serious loss.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:39 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Didn't the early Olympics have, like, poetry and art as competitions?
posted by hippybear at 8:49 AM on February 11


hippybear: I do believe there'll be a reckoning when it's revealed just how many curlers drink *gasp* light beer thereby maintaining better finishes near the end of the bonspiel. The fuckers.


*Canadian who lives less than 90miles from 'Murica.
**Enjoys watching curling far more than the inevitable concussions that are a direct result of getting me anywhere near ice
***Struggling with the above given a relocation this year from the Pacific Northwest to utter despair in the giant freeze/thaw cycle that appears to be named Montreal.

posted by mce at 9:05 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


the giant freeze/thaw cycle that appears to be named Montreal.

I'm going to be giggling about this all day, Thank you.

posted by hippybear at 9:17 AM on February 11


I enjoy the Winter Olympics about 1000% more now that they have snowboarding. Halfpipe, slopestyle, giant slalom, cross, big air, love it all. I always get a VPN for the month so I can watch full events with no commercials on the CBC website. I am sad because today I am at work and not watching slopestyle. Pity me.

I have watched the Olympics pretty obsessively my entire life. I guess the most memorable for me was the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984, when I was 9 years old, because our furnace was out that year and it was FREEZING in the house so my mom and I practically lived in her room with a space heater and watched the Olympics on a little color TV with tubes that was on its last legs and sometimes was really fuzzy. I still remember the high-pitched whine it always made. There were about a billion ads for "Beatrice" which I had no idea what that even was despite all the damn ads so I remember thinking they weren't doing a very good job.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:56 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


a little color TV with tubes that was on its last legs

Pours one out for those giant "tube testing" stations which used to be in all the hardware stores for most of my childhood.

Also, that thing where you pulled sort of a card out of the front of the TV and made adjustments with a screwdriver.

posted by hippybear at 10:10 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I apologize for having gotten #old all over the discussion. I will get a towel and clean it up.
posted by hippybear at 10:11 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


favorite athlete

I've been considering this all afternoon, and concluded that the strongest case can be made for The Honourable Neville Bulwer-Lytton, 3rd Earl of Lytton, who took part in the 1908 Summer Olympic games in London. (Side fact: the 1908 Olympics was opened on April 27th, but did not conclude until October 31st).

Of especial note of that games is the British Tug of War team, who of course won gold and also sported matching knitted jumpers of still no equal. Because they are British and winners. However, Neville Bulwer-Lytton - who was also the great-grandson of Ada Lovelace - participated in a real sport, namely Jeu de Paume, winning a bronze medal out of a crowded field. Neville was also the international amateur tennis champion for three consecutive years, and could be regarded as the Roger Federer of the day. His grandfather's moustache is immortalised by contemporary Norwegian Winter Olympians.
posted by Wordshore at 11:07 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Because I just had to go look it up myself, in case you were wondering, Neville is not that Bulwer-Lytton.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:21 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I've really grown to like the winter olympics more than the summer games. Snow and ice give an extra element of difficulty and challenge... but I also realized that all the events are all slidey. Everything is fluid and requires graceful movement and control of the body.

I grew up and for most of my life I have lived in LA where I never saw snow except for rare side trips to Big Bear or Mammoth, but for the last 4 winters I've been seasonally living in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Since then I've learned to snowboard well, tried cross country skiing and alpine skiing, and I also backcountry splitboard. I've really learned to appreciate a lot of the winter sports. I also love shuffleboard, so when I just watched loads of the new mixed doubles curling I did a little reading and the game finally clicked in my head. There's no close curling center where I'm at now, but when I get back to LA I am FOR SURE going to try an intro to curling class.

There are also my sadistic pleasures in watching mogul events just to watch athletes destroy their knees, but there are also personal joyful moments when I see Chloe Kim, a young Asian American woman being badass in snowboarding. Besides figure skaters I didn't have any accessible athletic role models that looked like me, and I grew up with the sport of marching band and Nintendo through to college anyway. But I really do feel a little warm fuzzy inside knowing that there are probably many Asian American girls in this age that have more winter sports athletes to be inspired by now. Slight sidetrack but I get super annoyed how skiing/snowboarding becomes a classist mostly white sport by the cost and privilege of it...anyway.

I am not great at cross country but I do enjoy it, and I am decent at target shooting... it's also a shame there's no biathlon range near me either. One day though! I used to really make fun of it but now actually having done both activities separately I am like OMG this is the hardest thing ever. XC skiing is like the most aerobic exercise in the universe already, and to mentally and physically suddenly switch over to a precision sport and then back... dang.

Oh.. and a final cap off. Soohorang is like IMO the cutest winter mascot ever. Jealous of all the podium winners that get that doll, haha. I want that more than the medal!! XD
posted by xtine at 11:30 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


My husband is huge into the Olympics. It's basically all that's on our TV. He teaches high school and has it rolling on the projector during class. The kids really get into curling once it's explained to them.

I enjoy most of the sports, but skeleton makes me more than a little nervous. My favorite personalities are Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski and their bedazzled headsets.
posted by kimberussell at 12:01 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Love watching the games, even though I grew up with, and still deal with, lots of condescending sportsball haters.

Biggest memory for me is Oksana Baiul, first in the short program, with her amazing outfit, then in the long program, when she cried and won the gold.
posted by Melismata at 12:13 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Not forgetting of course, that more recent members of the House of Windsor have competed in the Olympics. Princess Anne the Princess Royal - currently 12th in line of succession to the British throne - competed in 1976 in Montreal. Her daughter Zara Phillips now Tindall - currently 16th in line of succession to the British throne - competed in 2012, winning a silver in Team Eventing.
posted by Wordshore at 12:18 PM on February 11


My husband’s best childhood friend did skeleton. Her husband does Nordic combined. They got married the summer after an Olympics and my husband and I got to hang out with their awesome families as well as all these incredibly beautiful athletes. Lovely people living what seemed to me to be quite strange lives - I guess anyone whose life is so completely focused on a single goal has to be a bit strange. It has been fun over the years to watch them compete.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:02 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I qualified for the Atlanta ‘96 Paralympics being a runner on the Canadian National Track Team, but I rarely tell anyone this fact because it was embarrassingly easy to qualify for them then due to the small number of competitors/awareness of the competitions at the time. For example, I once won a qualifying race because Jason Dunkerly (who IS still running to this day, and a multiple Paralympics medal winner - and also a good runner) decided to withdraw from a race last minute, and I was the only other runner. Even though he is blind, and I am not (cerebral palsy instead), and we were in different classes, the track officials wanted us to run the same race “to save time”. This would not happen in today’s track and field qualifiers.

Everyone thought I would be a shoo-in for competing at the Sydney 2000 Games, but I kept dislocating my knee and eventually had to stop running so I could have knee reconstruction surgery. Oh well. Lots of my friends/former teammates have won Summer and Winter Paralympic and Olympic medals and I have had personal connections to people at every Paralympic and Olympic Summer and Winter Games since ‘88 Calgary and Seoul so I’m full of fun stories.
posted by carabiner at 2:06 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]


The first one I paid attention to was Calgary. 6th grade. It was the Olympics of the high drama dueling Carmens. Debi Thomas v Katerina Witt.

I still watch them all but I miss the cold war rivalries.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:16 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Just recently read an update on Debi Thomas. Very depressing.
posted by Melismata at 2:23 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I saw women's biathlon and some ski jumping last night. I then got into an internet hole about sports specific skis.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:25 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]




My fondest Olympic memory is from Lillehammer in 1976(!) I hunted for footage of the opening ceremony with a renowned Sammi singer Aillohas standing in a reindeer sleigh, booming out a native song that sounded a lot like the kalevala. I was entranced, never seen or heard anything like it.
posted by MovableBookLady at 2:58 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


lalex Bonaly’s move was illegal before she did it (Terry Kubicka was the first to do it in competition, and then the move was banned in 1976) because it was a two-footed landing. She did it because she was injured in warm-ups and felt she had no chance for a medal, so did the flip and landed on one blade, thus proving it could be a legal move—she had done two-blade landings before. She’s the only woman skater to do the move in Olympic competition.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:00 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Derek Redmond (and his dad) in '92 still makes me tear up.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:04 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I graduated on to the dole in 1992, we were able to stay around campus using our housing benefit for the summer while looking for work. Since we were near enough to the Barcelona timezone that meant mean and the other scroungers would rock up in what was effectively a private TV room on campus and watch just a ridiculous amount of coverage via the BBC. It is remarkable how quickly you could pick up on the judging skills for the diving - there was a lot of coverage since the diving pool came with a gorgeous backdrop of the city - and we could score within 0.1 of the judges virtually every time by the end of it.
posted by biffa at 3:28 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Oh interesting Ideefixe! Thanks for the clarification and context.
posted by lalex at 3:30 PM on February 11


Oh, man. I love the Olympics, and have a soft spot for the Winter Olympics especially, as they were always a bright spot breaking up a long Wisconsin winter when I was a kid. I have a lot of favorites, but I have to say, there is one moment in particular that gets me every time. It's the only Olympic memory I have, Summer or Winter, that makes me sob real tears just *thinking about it* (like, right now, actually).

xyzzy actually set it up for me nicely. As the aforementioned Wisconsin girl, I was always interested in speedskating and our home state athletes. So, without further ado, my forever Olympics moment:

Dan Jansen gets his gold medal. Lillehammer. 1994. After that sad day mentioned above, and another fruitless attempt in 1992, he comes back to Lillehammer for his last Olympic attempt ever. And...gold. And then, his victory lap holding his baby daughter, Jane, named for his beloved sister Jane. So many emotions!
posted by TheFantasticNumberFour at 4:15 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


I attended quite a few of the 1984 events in Los Angeles. I don't remember any of it but I know that deep in my father's hoard are a ton of (probably rat chewed) souvenirs.
posted by Sophie1 at 5:03 PM on February 11


Lots and lots of other fab bits in the opening ceremony, such as this bloke who may have slightly influenced MetaFilter...

Oh, man - his Livetweet from the floor of the Olympic stadium ("This is for everyone") still chokes me up.

I'm not really a sportsy person, but the whole idealism of the Olympics gets me, and I'm all about the opening ceremonies, and the whole sheer "wee holy shit I'm at the Olympics" attitude some people have. Like, in Brazil - my favorite people of all were the Indepedent Athletes, who weren't taking it seriously at all, they were waving and playing air guitar as they walked in. They were there for the joy of it. Or Shaun White in Turin, whatever year that was - I think they showed some footage of the American athletes watching the opening ceremony on some closed-circuit monitor before the athletes marched in, and there was some bizarre moment from the ceremony - I think a Ferrari had driven in and was driving around and around the stadium, that was a weird opening ceremony - and they cut to Shaun White watching, jaw dropped in total flat-out amazement.

I also love the also-ran guys, like the Jamaican Bobsled team, who you know that even though they are the best their country has to offer it's still not that great, but they're trying anyway and it's awesome. Or the real heroic showings - like in the first women's marathon in 1984, when Gabriela Anderson-Schiess from Switzerland, who placed 37th and was severely dehydrated when she came into the stadium for her final lap, to the point that she was staggering and some of the refs tried to catch her- but she insisted on doing the last lap and getting a qualifiying time before collapsing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:25 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I just watched Adam Rippon and that is why I like the Winter Olympics.
posted by lazuli at 6:15 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


And Chan is skating to "Halleluah" (I think Jeff Buckley?) and that was also lovely, even with the mistakes. Really lovely.
posted by lazuli at 6:17 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I was 4 for the 1994 Winter Olympics, and apparently I would walk around the house yelling "NAN-cy Kerrigan. TON-ya Harding!"

I do remember the 1996 Summer Olympics and being obsessed with the US women's gymnastics team. My mom will still say, in a deep, rumbly Bela Karolyi voice, "You can do it, Kerri!" to encourage me to do something.
posted by coppermoss at 6:20 PM on February 11


I have a friend who timed her babies for Olympic years so that she'd have something to watch when she was up all night with a newborn!

My son was born on July 1, 2012. I'm also a longtime user of VPNs to stream the Beeb. I still can't watch clips from those games without feeling like I might spontaneously let down. I watched a shit ton on those Olympics at all hours of the day and night, and got super into women's weightlifting.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:37 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I always miss the opening ceremonies. I set my alarm to get up early and watch, fell right back to sleep on the couch, then had plans Friday evening and caught only the end of the rebroadcast. Of course, NBC copyright-challenges video clips, so I won't get to see the Jamaicans dancing in to the stadium. I'm not a fan of the time-delay because it means they show only the top contenders and tightly edit. It used to be more fun when you saw a wider variety of events including some slower or even boring bits. It's too packaged.

I'll out myself as a geezer by saying I miss Jim McKay, and I will never forget the horror of the 1972 Munich Olympics. It played out live on tv.
posted by theora55 at 6:59 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


LOL Adam Rippon just said he wanted a drink and a Xanax on tv. This is the best.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:08 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Adam Rippon is definitely poised to become the top American media star of this Olympics (I say that with admiration and affection.)
posted by lalex at 7:12 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


He also told Andrea exactly what he thought of her idiotic questions. Love love love it.
posted by Melismata at 7:51 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I root for basically every Olympic athlete, even before NBC starts yanking my heartstrings. We love biathlon and skating. Also, curling, which is fairly big in MN.

I have a *mumble*-cousin who won Olympic gold in swimming a few years ago, Tom Malchow; I think his mom still lives in the house facing my mom’s house in St. Paul. He’s the one whose dad promised him a Corvette if he won gold, and he delivered. (As I have it, he was kind of athsmatic as a kid and so picked up swimming. Luckily we are four years apart so my one season doing the backstroke in middle school swim team didn't overshadow him and snuff out those young dreams.)

I spent a lot of today cooking, and the TV was on all day showing kids chasing their dreams. I felt sad for that woman mogul skiier who ended up skiing off the course; poor thing.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:17 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Being a Sydney resident and being super involved with the 2000 games, it's actually hard for me to believe there are like ADULTS now (or pretty close to it anyways) who weren't even alive during that time, and have no idea what it was like to have such an awesome event in their home town.

I like biathlon, long track speed skating and moguls at the winter olympics. I do NOT get the obsession with figure skating / ice dancing. It must take up like 50% of the australian coverage.
posted by trialex at 9:01 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Well, since my question got posted, I might as well check in. I’m currently eating Spicy Korean Noodles of Insanity after skiing hard all day. Our lives at Casa Bartfast are consumed by snow sports and watching the Olympics and we keep getting interrupted by pesky annoying things like school and work. My 8 year old is my athlete — no fear, and skiing is his favorite sport. He’s comfortable on double black diamonds and today he learned how to do 360 degree jumps. That kid fucking rocks and his grandparents told him they saw his videos today and were watching the Olympics and they really really believe he could make the Olympics in 8 or 12 years if he wants.

My 6 year old is the bookish one and rarely gets off the green runs, but today at lunch he got into an argument with his classmates about who likes skiing more. “I really really really really really really really love skiing!” And then, in the afternoon, he had two separate incidents involving the first aid station and the ski patrol. This is an ultra sensitive kid who melts down if the toothpaste on his tooth brush is “put on wrong” and he was totally not crying with either accident and I kept telling the ski patrol that no really he is fine. You would not believe the amount of paperwork they want to fill out. Finally I was like, hey I’m a pediatrician and my professional opinion is that he’s fine and we are going to go now. To be honest, I’m really impressed that he pushed himself enough physically to actually possibly endanger himself. He totally got a milkshake at McDonalds on the way home out of the deal.

In conclusion, I can appreciate figure skating even though it’s not really my thing, I love every other sport, the weirder the better (biathlon, luge), and the American snowboarding women are bad ass.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:11 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Also, the Olympics (particulary the Winter Olympics which seem to be better at dealing with doping) remind me that generally the citizens of the world are far better people than their elected representatives. This is particularly true about the US right now.

/not talking about politics!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:20 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


And oh my god, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir’s figure skating commentary amirite? Holy shit, those two have some kind of future career shaping up...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:29 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Yes, all Johnny needs to do is SOMETHING about his hair and he’ll be perfect.
posted by Melismata at 4:18 AM on February 12


I have been lost in Adam Rippon's twitter since yesterday.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:41 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


Yes, all Johnny needs to do is SOMETHING about his hair and he’ll be perfect.

His hair is perfect, and his and Tara's matching outfits and bedazzled headsets are perfect, and when he gave the commentator version of an elbow to the stomach to the third dude in the booth who was like, can you imagine what it's like to be 15 and at the olympics

AND WEIR DID NOT HESITATE WAS JUST SEAMLESSLY LIKE U DON'T HAVE TO IMAGINE U THERE IS SOMEBODY IN THE BOOTH WHO DID U COULD JUST HAVE ASKED HER

reader, it takes a lot for me to love something more than coordinated all-sequin blazers and all-sequin dresses, like weir and lipnski are doing

but johnny weir found it and my husband can just fucking watch hbo go on the fucking ipad for the next two weeks okay
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:01 AM on February 12 [10 favorites]


Johnny and Tara ARE perfect - I love that they don't chatter endlessly; when they don't have anything to say, they're QUIET. Imagine!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:10 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Weir does his hair to coordinate with his outfit, Tara's hair, or cultural events. So it's a bit nuts sometimes, but on purpose, and it'll be different tonight. At Sochi when Russia was fucking with Ukraine and police were violently cracking down on protesters, Weir wore a traditional Ukrainian braid on air in support of the pro-democracy protestors. The hair speaks!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:17 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I think that Tara & Johnny are so good because they are still close enough to the competitors in age to be sympathetic, and older enough to be a liiiiitle objective. Plus they are comfortable with each other, and that casual style is very appealing.

The only place where network TV still tries to appear objective is in sports coverage -- but that's where I am happy to have a total homer doing color. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I do sincerely love the Johnny Weir/Hunger Games meme. Give those skaters some bows and arrows!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:42 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Johnny and Tara ARE perfect

I could stand them being about 10\% meaner.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:45 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Yes, Tara and Johnny are LIFE. Except there’s a running joke in my house because they keep repeating a few points (like what the green boxes in the corner of the screen mean, or the 10% bonus for landing jumps in the second half). I assume they’re being pushed to repeat that stuff for viewers “just tuning in”, but as someone who wants to watch all the coverage, it’s annoying. But I love that they don’t pull any punches but that they’re also still so excited about the sport.
posted by Night_owl at 9:47 AM on February 12


How is Leslie Jones commentary on ice skating/dancing going? I saw a headline somewhere that she's killing it but I can't get the Olympics at all so I don't know. sob
posted by MovableBookLady at 1:03 PM on February 12


Somehow, I got my Olympic cities mixed up-- it's Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024, TBD 2026, and LA in 2028, so I've got an extra four years in there to make it happen. I will figure out how to get to Los Angeles in ten years to see some of the Games live.

Thanfully, the beau is mostly supportive of the fact that I turn into a raving sports fan for two weeks every two years. Like an Olympic werewolf. He thinks its amusing that when I get into things, I'm really hardcore about it.

Anyway, I watched the commentary-free version of the Opening Ceremony, and although I wished for a bit of context for a few things (which I looked up online later), it was kind of refreshing to follow along with just the announcements in the stadium. There were just enough introductions to keep me in the loop, and overall, I really ought to do it that way every time.

Otherwise, the biathlon remains my favorite only-during-the-Olympics sport to watch. Cross country skiing! With target shooting! Add in the wind and cold temps and it's something else entirely.
posted by PearlRose at 1:06 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Fear not, MovableBookLady - Leslie's commentary isn't on TV, she posts it on her Twitter account.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:16 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


In 1991 I got to play the national anthem at the Special Olympics World Summer Games opening ceremonies with a trumpet group that I played with for several years. There were 12-15 of us there and we stood in the upper archways of the Capitol Building in St Paul. The arches are pretty far apart and the whole thing is stone. In rehearsal we quickly learned that there was no chance we were going to stay together. It was decided that we'd use a recording and just stand up there looking pretty. We could have found a recording of trumpets playing the Star Spangled Banner easily enough, but that would be cheating and they asked for us so we found a very generous guy in our town with a recording setup and went over for the afternoon. We recorded the anthem as well as a few fanfares and short brass quintet pieces and such. It was really fun to get to record with individual mics and a mixer. None of us had seen equipment that nice before. Our neighbor wasn't home but some of the folks who worked for him helped us set it all up and it sounded great and the ceremony went very well. That's how I get to say I was part of an Olympic event and recorded at Paisley Park by age 14.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:39 PM on February 12 [18 favorites]


It has to be said that it's plain to see based on the national outfits that the athletes wear, which countries have a strong aesthetic design tradition, and which don't. I've been watching the cross-country sprint, and I could immediately recognize the Finnish and French contestants even from cameras high up and far away, while most others were indistinct blobs.
posted by Kattullus at 4:14 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I adore the Olympics, particularly the biathlon and the sliding sports, and I am sad that the timezone in Korea is so far away from GMT that I can watch almost nothing live. It's just not the same watching abridged highlights, even when I don't know who wins. I want a solid few hours of people skiing and shooting, dammit.
posted by corvine at 4:39 AM on February 13


It is Shrove Tuesday. My naturist neighbours are making pancakes while unclothed. They are also tossing them; one has just landed back on him. They are eating it.

Were it not for my need for natural Vitamin D, I would have kept my curtains closed this morning.
posted by Wordshore at 5:25 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


Surya Bonaly! I was just trying to remember her name. I got to see her in a skating exhibition in Washington DC just after (or around the time of?) the Olympics when I was 10 years old. Her flips were incredible but she also had this wonderful dynamic energy--she looked liked she was having fun! That video also reminded me that she made a splash by not wearing the typical female skirted skating costume. As a girl who also preferred pants to skirts, that made an impression on me at the time--and watching now, it makes me wonder why more skaters today don't do that. It's a wonderfully clean look--the color extending down the legs in an uninterrupted line makes the movements so easy to follow.
posted by CiaoMela at 6:58 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


They are also tossing them;

I see what you did there.
posted by Melismata at 8:07 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Take This Lob And Shrove It
posted by halation at 9:13 AM on February 13


Clinging to the Wreckage: In 1991 I got to play the national anthem at the Special Olympics World Summer Games opening ceremonies [in St. Paul, MN]...

Hey, I volunteered as an overnight security guy in one of the Macalester dorms one night!

I kept that t-shirt for years, too, even though it was ugly, because, hey, "Olympics Security" is a sweet shirt.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:35 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Currently here in England, watching the men's downhill slalom, or something. Curiously, quite a few of the skiers are falling; I don't know if this is normal. Another one falls. Hang on - why is it the "downhill" slalom? Is there some kind of magic anti-gravity uphill slalom?

This is usually the time of day - or night - I work on an FPP or two, but am just enjoying the sport for now. And enjoying the traction that the FPP for Ultravox's Vienna has gotten; it's good to discover other fans of the song and the group. Comments like those make doing FPPs all the more worthwhile.

I thought I'd partially share a bit on writing these, from a Wordshore perspective. Posts can take between 5 minutes and most of a day to construct. That's in total, spread over anything up to several months or even a few years in a few cases.

Most of mine are multi-links. I usually look for several "strong" links (really good content), and then try and build some kind of narrative around that (above the fold). Below the fold, that's evolved into sometimes one or more short lists of links, broken up with a few sentences here and there. Tags - I usually add a few obvious ones, but sometimes put a load in after it's live.

I used to get massively hung up on the titles, and try for something amazingly witty. But came to the realisation that this was usually time wasted - the title can only be a short sentence at the most, and serves as a one-time hook for a reader anyway. And the more time spent on trying to come up with a devastatingly funny title, the more boring and dull a title occurs. So now, if a sentence or phrase pops out during construction, that becomes the title. Otherwise, something gets rustled up at the end.

Looking in my FPP "under construction" folder shows 17 posts at some stage of construction, and another 12 which are a one phrase or sentence idea. Some, maybe most, of these won't ever see the light of day. More than a few times I've nixed a nearly completed, or even a fully completed and just-ready-to-launch post. And sometimes, one will happen from initial thought straight through to completion and going live in one session. Bearing that in mind, the 17 with some content in them are currently:

- Looking for sailors: Shenmue.
- Cake.
- The Squat: how to poop comfortably.
- Folklore of Worcestershire.
- Non-edible uses of cheese.
- Porthand: the unusual history of masturbation in the Pacific NW.
- Godzilla.
- "The Vicar has run away with the Postman": surviving scandal in an English village.
- Chocolate.
- Avebury.
- Hurtigruten is the best Gruten.
- How to maintain your castle on a MeFite budget.
- A peculiarly English hobby (dogging).
- Pimania.
- Magic, spells and witchcraft to make your computer and network connection work better.
- Typewriters used by famous people.
- Boobs, glorious boobs (it's not what you think).

Am not listing the 12 one-phrase or sentence ideas, as some would be spoilers, and I strongly suspect two would have the mods quickly contacting me with "that's really not a good idea". Most of those won't make it to the light of day.

Right; the slalom thing appears to have finished. Either Austria or Australia have won, as I don't have my distance glasses with me (I am old and have a significant birthday coming up in September and am adjusting to this). I think it's back to curling now.
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


The Finnish Olympic team is knitting a blanket for the Finnish president's newly born baby. This is just about the most adorable thing ever.
posted by Kattullus at 6:04 AM on February 14 [8 favorites]


It was 1984 and I had just turned 7 years old. Mary Lou Retton was the star of the Summer Olympics and I'll never forget my dad convincing me that he had been her gymnastics trainer before Bela Karolyi.

I still chuckle to this day every time I remember it. My gullibility knew no bounds, seeing as how my dad was a huge bear of a man, a non-athletic 320 lb. car salesman. But he had me believing and boy was I in awe.
posted by bologna on wry at 8:39 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Being Norwegian, I am, obviously, AN ENORMOUS WINTER OLYMPICS FAN. I recently read an article in the Guardian where people from across the world were asked how their countrymen and women felt about the Olympics, and the Norwegian was basically like 'the Olympics are the world cup + the Superbowl rolled together' in Norway. It's true! Norway is tiny and far away and doesn't really have a lot of bragging rights in the world (besides, you know, an unbelievable social democracy), but EVERY FOUR YEARS IT'S OUR MOMENT TO SHINE. And we take it really, really, I mean really seriously. We accost random non-Norwegians and ask them whether they knew that Norwegians have won the most medals in the Winter Olympics of all time? And did they know we only have a population of 5 million? What do they think of that, huh? And people's eyes basically glaze over and they mumble something about hey, the time and escape as fast as they can.

So. I don't care about professional sports and we don't have cable at home, but every 2 years I get it turned on for a month so that I can watch EVERYTHING. I have cancelled all plans for 2 weeks, and am deeply resentful that somehow work still expects me to show up every day (which is where I am right now. Clearly I wouldn't be reading MeFi during OLYMPICS TIME.). I am glued to the screen watching every. single. event., and when a Norwegian is on, I cheer and scream like they can hear me. In Korea. Several hours after the race is done.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite memory, but this one leaps to mind: I was able to go to Lillehammer for the Games in 1994. That was the height of the Tonya/Nancy drama - it was all anyone was talking about. I'd been living in the US for many years and spoke American English with no accent. So one night we were in downtown Lillehammer and looking for a club to go to, but they all had ridiculously long lines. So my cousin pulled the bouncer aside and told him that I was Nancy Kerrigan's trainer and to let us skip the line. I pulled out my most American drawl - and he let us in! I always had a soft spot for Nancy after that.
posted by widdershins at 2:35 PM on February 14 [8 favorites]


widdershins: Being Norwegian, I am, obviously, AN ENORMOUS WINTER OLYMPICS FAN. I recently read an article in the Guardian where people from across the world were asked how their countrymen and women felt about the Olympics, and the Norwegian was basically like 'the Olympics are the world cup + the Superbowl rolled together' in Norway.

Oh hey! I was asked to contribute to that Guardian article as an Icelander. Unfortunately, we're terrible at all winter sports which are held outdoors because unlike in the more gentle climes of Scandinavia, Finland or, indeed, the Alps, Icelandic nature is just about as likely to kill you as let you enjoy a nice stroll on top of some planks of wood. But I did name all the athletes Iceland is sending, so that's something, though it's not a patch on on Norwegians. Ah well, I guess I'll see you guys at the World Cup :-D

We never have anything to brag about in sports, and probably never will again, so I'm trying to extract as much boasting from Iceland's qualification for the World Cup as I can.
posted by Kattullus at 1:13 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Kattullus, that was you?? I have called out your answer in that Guardian article to several people I have (probably rather forcefully) mentioned the different expectations of the Nordic countries to... Small world, indeed!
posted by widdershins at 8:46 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Hah! That's hilarious! Yeah, it's always weird when you encounter MeFites in unexpected places. I ran into a MeFite on a train in Finland once. That's probably the most random.
posted by Kattullus at 1:32 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


We accost random non-Norwegians and ask them whether they knew that Norwegians have won the most medals in the Winter Olympics of all time?

I did not know this and as I am a proud Norwegian-American I am going to do the same whenever I can.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:08 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


(Also don't sell the size of the country so short! Norway is not all that tiny -- it's like a supermodel, thin but tall. If I ever manage to go over there to do some family history research the two main locations I need to go to are a 12 hour drive apart and the first location is at least 120km from a decently sized airport. On this imaginary trip to Norway that I'll never be able to take.)
posted by elsietheeel at 4:15 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Oh hey! Frida Hansdotter, who won the slalom, has a patronymic last name! I didn't know that it existed in Sweden still. Apparently it's been partly legal since 1982 and as of last year parents are free to name their children with only a patro- or matronymic last name.
posted by Kattullus at 1:12 AM on February 16


My sister and I fell IN LOVE WITH NORWAY from obsessively watching those 9 hour train videos (fave Nordland). We have had a wonderful time rooting for Norway in the Olympics and having laughing crying hysterics every time Norway wins!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:57 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


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