Sweeping Ice in Parkas: The Winter Olympics

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 16th February 2010.

The Winter Olympics are upon us again and this year, I was determined to get into it, despite the fact that I have little knowledge or appreciation of the sports involved. Having grown up in Australia, the concept of hurling yourself down a snow covered hill with little or no means of braking seems a little alien. The tight jumpsuits, weird scoring systems and curling as a sport in general just don’t click with me. However, I was going to give it my best shot so I started with something I could relate to…the opening ceremony.

Due to the time differences between Australia and Canada, most Olympic events will occur in the very early hours of our mornings, but as the Opening Ceremony is an evening event, it aired live at the respectable time of 12:30pm on Saturday with a replay later that night.  Having attended the final dress rehearsal for the Sydney Olympics and watched many other summer opening ceremonies, I was prepared for a long but rewarding three hours plus of sickly sweet “world in harmony” goodness.

Although not quite surpassing the grandeur of the Beijing Games, the Canadians put on an amazing show. The use of high resolution projections onto the floor of the stadium provided a stunning backdrop for the performers. In particular, the projection of whales swimming across the stadium complete with physical jets of water was breathtaking.

The fact that the name of our country starts with an “A” certainly makes the lengthy entry of the athletes less painful. Once our athletes had been introduced, there was plenty of time to make a cup of tea, go to the toilet and knit a small jumper before the entertainment started. I really felt sorry for the poor ushers who lined the path for the athletes who had to dance “enthusiastically” for the whole entry and introduction process.

The fourth leg of the cauldron not rising out of the stadium floor was not the only clanger of the night. During the athlete tribute song, poor old Bryan Adams forgot to start lip synching at the right time and missed most of a solo line for a song that he composed himself. Perhaps he was distracted by the sight of a rather awkward looking duet partner Nelly Furtado, who was wearing a rather form fitting blue number and ten inch high heels that didn’t allow her to move around the stage well. Both seemed out of place surrounded by hundreds of representatives of Canada’s indigenous groups all dressed in their “traditional” UV costumes.

With Australian David Atkins (the man behind the musical Hot Shoe Shuffle and the 80’s scratch lottery commercials) producing the ceremony, some of the items seemed a little reminiscent of the Sydney Olympics opening. A young man flew around the stadium a la Nikki Webster. I’ll be looking forward to his debut single Strawberry Kisses coming out soon. A dance number complete with tap dancing punk violinists was memorable but also similar to the Tap Dogs inspired industrial dance from 2000.

k.d. lang closed the entertainment part of the ceremony with a hauntingly beautiful version of Leonard Cohan’s Hallelujah. This song is fast becoming one of the most covered and overexposed songs in history, although this version seemed to suit the occasion well, even though I have no idea what the song is actually about…something to do with Shrek I think.

With the opening ceremony done and dusted, I continued my mission to appreciate the Winter Olympics the next day by watching a whole afternoon of events. Unfortunately, I’m afraid to report that a DVD was on by dinner time. Sorry Canada, maybe in another four years?

Published in: on February 18, 2010 at 08:22  Leave a Comment  
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