Olympic Fever

Feb 212006
Authors: Ryan Chapman

Every four years the world gets a chance to put aside their differences, unite in the spirit of competition and watch grown men skate around in Madonna's old stage costumes. Yes, I am referring to the winter Olympics and no, I still don't know any of the rules of curling.

It is indeed that time again and this year's winter Olympics in Turin, Italy has proven to be one of the most enthralling in recent memory. It has been significantly less boring than its predecessors for several reasons. These reasons include the standard stories of triumph and the power of the human spirit but more importantly they include lots and lots of crashes.

The gritty violence, which we all pretend to hate but watch anyway, has been in abundance. I now know what it feels like to be a NASCAR fan (aside from the mullet and trailer park) as I watch even the most mundane of events, hoping to see violence. This year so far, one person slid the luge track unconscious, two people flipped their bobsled, and several skiers have gone careening onto their head or into the safety fences. And that is just among us Americans.

On Sunday night alone I watched three out of five ice dancing couples end their routines face down on the ice. And believe me I am not a man who would normally admit to watching two hours of "ice dancing".

Aside from the crashes, this Olympic Games has also provided a plethora of the drama that most American's won't and can't survive without. The drama I speak of has even adopted a poster child in the United States' own Bode Miller. Miller who in his best attempt at getting his own reality TV show on the E! Network admitted, just months before arriving in Turin, that he often raced while still intoxicated from the night before. And yes, Bode is available to speak at fraternities, as long as his drinks free.

Miller's U.S. Ski team was understandably upset about the aforementioned confession. They became even more upset when instead of facing the consequences Bode chose rather to try and compete individually, to which the Olympic Committee said 'no'. But, where the real drama starts with Miller is that he talks like an outspoken champion but in reality he just sucks. His best finish thus far is fifth place and he was disqualified from one race and failed to finish another. All of this despite a huge endorsement deal from Nike.

If you throw into the whole mix of things that one of Austria's cross-country coaches was arrested after a high speed chase through the streets of Italy and that the United States is the underdog in the medal total (As I write this Germany, Norway and Austria are all ahead of us) it makes for a pretty interesting two weeks.

I have heard that the quality of the Olympics relates directly to the quality of the world in a given year and I couldn't agree more. One moment we are gliding gracefully across the ice and the next moment we are missing two front teeth and have a broken hip. But that is what makes the Olympics so exciting, the fact that it mirrors real life. Except, now that I think about it, I haven't heard of France surrendering in any events yet so maybe forget all that and just think of it as a good excuse to skip "The Bachelor" this week.

Ryan Chapman is a senior marketing major. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.


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