Word pretzels, it’s been a while. I thought the muse had left me forever, but somehow the winter Olympics has inspired me.
I didn’t think it would. I started watching some of the snowboarding on TV – the sort of event usually confined to Eurosport, which is only watched by Brits sitting in the Irish bars of Torremolinos as they drink steiners of local lager. Sport’s answer to magnolia paint.
As far as I can tell, snowboarding is a a ‘sport’ that came about because of those video games from a few years ago and inevitably evolves its own language. Commentators shouting things like, “That’s a great 540 with a hand grip leading into a narly fripanstoper, rad tactic, Alan”. I suddenly knew what it felt like to a complete sportsphobe listening to any sports commentary that inevitably alienates the non enthusiast. Anyway, it was quite interesting and obviously quite physically amazing, but my baser instincts prefer watching people kick or carry a bag of leather around a regulation size area of grass or artificial equivalent towards a pre determined goal. Horses for courses, I suppose.
But then I came across something called luge. I’d seen luge or skeleton racing, where persons propelled themselves down icy alleyways as fast as possible. When I say fast, I mean in excess of 80 mph. Now, in a car, you would have to keep your wits about you when driving at that speed. These individuals are travelling without a car, without an airbag. Or seatbelts. Over 80 mph. Head first.
So, naturally, you like to watch, partly in disbelief, but mostly wondering what would happen if they crashed head first into the wall of the track? What would be the last thing to go through their minds? Their arses, I would assume.
So, that was exciting, but the event that really made me sit up was – the double luge. Suddenly, I saw olympic athletes, that, with the exception of the gin soaks involved in equestrianism, had body shapes like mine. Or, at least, one of them in each team does.
Let me explain double luge to you. It involves an olympian shaped person (i.e. somebody who looks OK in lycra) and a normal shaped person (i.e. somebody who looks like me in lycra when I’m in shape and been dieting like fury for 3 months). Let’s call the second person ‘the fat bloke’ (I haven’t seen any female double luge teams. This may be because they don’t do it, it’s not televised or regarded as far too titillating).
What happens is, they run like the clappers down an extreme version of those playground ice slides we were allowed to make at school in the 60s and 70s, to get up a head of steam, then the fat bloke lies on top of the the smaller bloke. You’d assume it would be the other way around, since the bulkier one could probably take the weight, but no. Maybe that’s because the fat bloke would have more surface contact with the ice and slow them down. Also, the smaller bloke could roll off the fat bloke’s belly. Anyway, that’s what happens. This isn’t done face first, but feet first, known as ‘supine’. In case you’re wondering, they are also both face up. Any other combination could be considered slightly creepy if not perverted. Just in case you’re asking ‘if the fat bloke’s on the little bloke, what’s he on?”, let me explain. Besides valium, (I would be), he’s supine on a small tea tray with handles on the side.
Oh what joy this event gave me. Seeing somebody in lycra who, like me, tries to avoid mirrors like a traditional vampire, competing in an Olympic event.
My favourites were the Šics brothers from Latvia, Andris and Juris. Yes, they’re extremely talented and have
won lots of awards, but the best thing about them was the ‘big’ brother’s laissez faire approach to tight fitting sports attire and that their name is pronounced ‘shits’. Therefore, listening to a commentator describe the Shits coming down the run extremely fast or how difficult it could be to catch the Shits, appealed to my puerile sense of humour. To compound this, there was a little Shit and a big Shit.
So, thank you, winter Olympics, for the double luge. You’ve given a man with a middle aged shape hope. However, I have no idea if the Shits won or not. Maybe, just maybe, if you’ve been sitting in a bar drinking lager and watching Eurosport in a Torremolinos bar during the last week, you can let me know.