I wanted to say the Winter Olympics "left me cold," in memory of my friend and master punster Mike Stoker, but I guess I'll have to wait until they hold the games someplace where they have a heavy snowfall, like Virginia. Though the games got a little slushy at times, the Vancouver Olympics was an entertaining diversion from the usual television fare. But now I'm seeing skaters in my sleep — leaping, twirling, dancing, jumping, racing. I tried ice skating once when I was a kid, but it hurt my ankles. It just wasn't a Southern thing. My wife Melody and I particularly enjoyed the women's figure skating, where they spin vigorously and hand-lift one skate overhead. I affectionately referred to these moves as the "Multi-Lutz" into the "Here's My Vagina." For the pairs, I added the innovative "Hogback Growler," and Johnny Weir did the "Nancy." Melody did get a little annoyed with me when each time a skater hit the deck, I yelled, "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!" in my best Howard Cosell impression. Boxing on ice should be considered for the next games.
Ordinarily, I approve of any sport where there is the potential for fatalities, but who could have imagined that sliding down an ice chute at 100 mph, feet first and on your back, would produce an injury? I thought this was the reason people attended auto races. This was like NASCAR, only without the car. Then, in addition to a lack of snow for the alpine skiing events, the opening ceremony suffered a mechanical malfunction when one of those giant Fortress of Solitude crystal things didn't inflate, and some poor schmuck was left standing with his torch in his hand. The mystery of who would be the last torchbearer was disappointing when it turned out to be Wayne Gretzky instead of Gordon Lightfoot. Fortunately, the games themselves were exhilarating, and they managed to get through both an opening and closing ceremony without a single appearance by Celine Dion.
Some of the winter sports are just plain goofy. There is the skating and shooting contest for potential militia recruits. And what is this fresh obsession with curling? For over a week, MSNBC forsook its "Network for Politics" moniker for the "Curling Network." This is a sport for the truly bored. I've been more entertained watching elderly Jews play shuffleboard in Boca Raton. If curling is an Olympic event, then senior shuffleboard should be too.
The games had their share of characters and emotions, like the spoilsport Rusky figure skater and his cheerleader, Vlad Putin, who learned that real men don't need quadruple jumps, even if they're dressed in a black leotard with an embroidered snake around their neck. And the Dutch coach who got his skater disqualified should be an object lesson in questioning authority. The story of the Canadian skater who lost her mother was truly touching, although the series of subsequent interviews on every single NBC news or sports show bordered on the macabre. I learned that Shaun White is either Superman or the Tiger Woods of snowboarding. Perhaps I should rephrase that. And the Canadian national anthem is far lovelier than ours and definitely not as tedious as the Russian anthem, which is longer than "Stairway to Heaven." I understand that Vladimir Putin reared his head and requested that the discarded old Soviet anthem be reinstated, so it's never too late to join my crusade to change our national anthem from a Bavarian drinking song to the Ray Charles version of "America the Beautiful." Yes, we can.
The hockey final between the U.S.A. and Canada was the most watched television event in Canadian history, perhaps lending credence to the rumor that Canadians prefer their sexual congress in the canine manner, so they can both watch the hockey game. That's where the term "Mounties" comes from, by the way. When Canada won in overtime, I was happy for them. Though by the time announcer Al Michaels proffered, "This is a goal that will resonate throughout history," I had already forgotten about it. Ice hockey's not my thing, and this looked like another NHL All-Star game, and nobody I knew was broken-hearted that the U.S. won silver. I mean, it wasn't like the Tigers lost or anything.
Plus, the big hockey win left the Canadians in a good mood for the closing ceremonies. The athletes were dressed in paper smocks that made them all look like colonoscopy patients — or the front row at a Gallagher show. Then, a group of large men pushed giant, inflated beavers onto the ice, accompanied by dancing Royal Mounted Police and checkered-shirted lumberjacks, making the whole thing appear to have been choreographed by either John Waters or Monty Python.
So, finally, it's farewell to the Winter Olympics until Russia in 2014 (unless President Palin decides to boycott the games) and on to London, 2012, where we can return to real sports like Ping-Pong, synchronized swimming, and bikini beach volleyball.
Randy Haspel writes the blog "Born Again Hippies," where a version of this column first appeared.