In Sochi, Alpine Skis You

Remember how Therese said Sunday night’s coverage was boring because it was, and I quote, “just a series of anonymous Daft Punk robots zooming down a ramp bending over and then safely landing — some a little bit farther out than others.”  Monday’s festivities were also boring, but for completely different reasons.

If ski jumping is a letdown merely because of its straightforwardness, tonight’s events were easy to get lost in the details. What’s Alpine skiing? Downhill? Super combined? Moguls? Slalom?  We watch skiers careen down the mountain — sometimes over little bumps, sometimes slamming into little poles, sometimes doing all kinds of twists and turns and flips — and then they’re judged on some combination of tricks and speed and form, none of which is usually evident to the viewer. So, while impressive to watch, it’s mostly up to us to watch it all slack-jawed until the scores pop up to tell us if what we just saw was good or not.

Despite being difficult to follow, it is fun to see people fling themselves down the side of a mountain really fast (which is the appeal of about 60 percent of winter olympic events) or to spin around many times in the air (the other 40 percent). But, let’s be honest, I’m here for the backstories. YOU SKI WITH YOUR HEART. TELL ME WHO TO ROOT FOR, NBC.

Oh, Alex Bilodeau? Got it. The Canadian freestyle skier was the first olympian to win gold on Canadian soil in Vancouver. He’s hoping to repeat this year. We know to take notice since we’re treated to an extended video package that outlines how Bilodeau is the sweetest Canadian since Legs on Wheels OntarioNot only does he help kids training on their ski jumping, but he does it shirtless, which makes it so much better. The winter olympics is sorely lacking in gratuitous skin compared to the summer for obvious reasons, so thank you, NBC, for this summer training montage. Sure Bilodeau deserves a spot on the Hot Guys of the Olympics tumblr, but he also belongs on the Hot Guys With Big Hearts tumblr that may or may not actually exist outside my mind. Bilodeau’s older brother has cerebral palsy and is an inspiration to Alex. Through the tears, Alex explains how his brother is his real celeb, while shots of the bros hugging it out are interspersed. No, I am not crying, I’ve just got a case of Costas Eye, ok?

Will he be able to become the first freestyle skier to repeat a gold medal win? I don’t know, BUT I SURE HOPE SO.  It’s not going to be easy, according to eerily non-threatening commentator person Carolyn Manno. She’s holding a hunk of snow she stole from the course to show us how slushy it is and all I can think is GOOD GOD, GURL, PUT THAT BACK. WE KNOW WHAT SLUSHY SNOW LOOKS LIKE. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE GAPING HOLES IN AN ALREADY TERRIFYING ENOUGH TRACK.

But yes, he does in fact repeat his medal-winning performance and he embraces his brother and it is so sweet AND EXCUSE ME WHILE I TEND TO THIS SUDDEN-ONSET COSTAS EYE.

brohug olympics
Brotherly Love.

We’ve also got ladies on the slopes tonight in the Super Combined. Basically, this involves two entirely separate runs. One is really fast down a long, winding track; the other is the one where they slam into those little poles over and over again. The winner is the one with the fastest super combined score. Because NBC insists on cutting between several events, it’s tough to keep up with which run is which and if we’re qualifying or finals or what. The big things I gleaned are that Austrian skier Anna Fenninger is devoted to raising awareness about cheetahs in Namibia (as opposed to sometimes Tubular blogger Nathan, who is dedicated to raising awareness of the Cheetah Girls), and Julia Mancuso is trying for her fourth Olympic medal.

When she’s not rushing around a mountain, Julia’s playing ukulele and wearing puka shell necklaces and surfing in Hawaii. She also spends a lot of time with a “body mechanics guru,” of whom the commentators say “we have a hard time figuring out what her expertise is.” Now that’s some shady shade. If they just said she was a body mechanics guru, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but now I’m just imaging a lot of crystals and sweat lodges and pigeon bones.

Whatever she’s doing, it worked, because Mancuso takes home a bronze and she’s a lot more gracious about it than Hannah Kearney.

Meanwhile, inside is the short track speed skating. Apolo Ohno is here to provide commentary, but he does not grace the track with his Hamster beard. For some reason, we start by comparing Tucker Fredricks to Usain Bolt. They tell us that speed skaters get to 100m faster, which, duh? I mean, they are gliding over ice? They also tell us that they start their races in similar positions, even though that’s clearly not the case.

racing positions olympives
Photo of my television. (Christmas tree still up in February because I’m blogging the Olympics instead of functioning like an adult, not pictured)

It’s the finals for the 500m. Shani Davis kept kicking his toes up, which is notable because you have to keep at least part of your skate on the ground at all times, which he is, so I have no idea why this is a thing or why it would give him an advantage anyway. Maybe the boy just wants to DANCE!

Doesn’t matter, because he fails to medal. Instead, the Netherlands sweeps the podium with twin brothers Michael and Ronald taking gold and bronze, respectively. Fellow Dutchman Jan Smeekens thought he had gold, but a time adjustment knocked him down to silver. He, rightfully, had a pout.

olympics crying silver
Buck up, buddy, you still got silver. (NYMag)

Then it’s time for one of my favorite non-figure skating events: The 1500m. At first I was confused, because we’re calling this short track, even though we’re talking 1500m, which is much longer than I could ever stand to skate around that fast without dropping dead of a heart attack, because I have the physique of a blogger. In the words of Liz Lemon, long distance is the wrong distance.

shut-it-down dealbreaker

This is the event where a bunch of dudes are all skating around at once and knocking each other over and they ride in an adorable single-file line like little ducklings so they can all ride in each other’s … what’s it called? Draft? Slip stream? Tokyo drift? Whatever. This event combines two of my favorite things, speed and sharp objects, so basically I’m in.

The only thing I’m not in for so much? We keep talking about the skaters’ outfits and calling them “skin suits,” which literally makes me gag every time I hear it. Blech.

Remember J.R. Celski? Serious question: Does he have that Benjamin Button disease? Is he somehow younger than he was in 2010? I swear he’s aging backward. He’s back and one to watch for the U.S. team. There’s also this Russian skater Viktor Ahn, who skated as Ahn Hyun-Soo for South Korea in Torino, eight years ago. So he’s basically for sure a cyborg working for the KGB is what I’m saying.

In an earlier round Celski used some skills he must’ve picked up in Neverland with the Lost Boys when he just squeezes ever so tightly between his fellow skaters coming ’round a curve, sending two Chinese skaters tumbling into the walls. One of them is automagically reentered into the finals. (I don’t understand how one of them is excused for falling because someone got in his way, while the other one is not when clearly Celski got in his way? Please explain, Apolo. Help me, Ohno- Wan!)

It’s an extra crowded final with the extra Chinese skater, which should mean even more slamming and falling and potentially severed fingers, yah? Anyway, Canada takes the gold, China the silver and Viktor brings the bronze back to the Kremlin to be used into some kind of tool of espionage. Celski gets nothing but the promise of eternal youth from the Voodoo lord of the underworld.

Tonight, Therese gets more figure skating, because, to be fair, I had all of the figure skating last time. Enjoy your twizzles, you beautiful, beautiful people you. I’ll be back here with my skin suit Wednesday.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site

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