Five-ring Circus

My Theory of Olympic Fame

Good morning, Troy,

Last night’s prime-time lineup left me cold. Try as I might, I can’t seem to work up much excitement for freestyle moguls skiing. First of all, it looks really painful—almost like the sport was designed expressly to damage the ankles. I get twinges in my lower tibiae just watching.

Also, the name throws me. When I hear about skiing over “moguls,” I half expect the competitors to be racing not over artificial snow mounds but rather over the supine torsos of Ron Perelman and Harvey Weinstein. I picture the well-fed executives compressed farther down into the snow as each racer slides his ski-tips up and across their bespoke-suited midsections. By midway through the event, a small trail of blood runs down the slope from Weinstein’s abdomen. Stray Italian dogs enter the course and lap at the red-tinged ice as the film exec moans in agony.

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Apolo Ohno

I’m not sure what just happened. Let’s move on to short-track speed skating. Last night saw Apolo Anton Ohno get some redemption, as he advanced in both the 1,000-meter individual event and the 5,000-meter team relay. Short-track is a lot of fun to watch—all the jostling and tangling of limbs, and the occasional violent wipeout. That relay, with 16 skaters on the ice at once, all engaged in a mad, mercurial scrum, is quite thrilling. I’m most fascinated, though, by Ohno’s carefully tended soul-patch.

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Which brings me to my theory about the keys to Olympic fame. As I see it, there are four principle means of achieving stardom at a given Olympics. The first, of course, is complete domination in your events (Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis). The second is to show some skin (like American snowboarder/FHM model Gretchen Bleiler). The third is to be “controversial” (Johnny Weir) or “a dick” (Bode Miller). And the fourth method is to cultivate interesting facial hair.

Everyone remembers signature face hair. I recall when Major League Soccer first launched, and the only player anyone could name was Alexi Lalas—who was not a particularly standout talent but did have a fiery red goatee. Johnny Damon was just another center fielder before he grew his drifter-in-a-train-yard beard. Is Rollie Fingers a Hall of Famer without those handlebars?

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Were I an Olympian, I would grow a crazy, Salvador Dali moustache. During my events, I would paste it back along my cheekbones, to visually enhance my aura of speed and aerodynamism. I might have mutton chops, too, just because I like them. On the podium (because I would win, natch), I’d hang my gold medal not around my neck but from the ends of my lustrous ‘stache. Supernova fame ensues.

Did you catch the men’s curling team’s loss to Italy? I was devastated.

Tonight brings the very welcome return of Johnny Weir, in the figure skating long program. Sadly, I believe Camille will be left in the dressing room for this event. She will be missed.

(S)wanly,
Seth

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