Watching Olympics has its own challenges

February 21, 2002|By Kevin Cowherd

IN BETWEEN Chevy commercials and Coke commercials and commercials for the Capital One "no-hassle" credit card, NBC continues to give us occasional glimpses of the Winter Olympics. For instance, as I type this, women's figure skating is on and ... oops, there's the Friends commercial again, where what's-his-name, the mopey guy who's not real bright, is falling in love with Rachel.

Well, while we have a moment, let's throw this out: What do we have to do to get rid of ice-dancing?

Please, someone tell me. Because whatever it takes - petitions, call-in campaigns, bursting into the offices of key Olympic officials and holding them hostage - I'm willing to do it so that we never, ever have to sit through that again.

I mean, is ice-dancing really a sport?

What, is the fox trot coming to the Summer Olympics? C'mon, if ice-dancing's a sport, so is knocking back a few drinks and cutting a rug with your wife at a wedding reception.

And where do they get these ice-dancers from, The Block?

The guys all look vaguely seedy, don't they? They all have the long, thinning Billy Ray Cyrus hair and the wardrobe straight out of the Siegfried and Roy collection.

And the women all look like they arrived at the arena 20 minutes late because they were selling amphetamines to school kids.

And how 'bout the makeup on these ice-dancers? The heavy mascara, the lipstick, the eyeliner - and that's just the guys. (I know, I know ... you could see that one coming up Charles Street.)

That male French ice-dancer the other day looked like Joan Collins, only less under-stated. They must need pressure-washers to get this stuff off after the competition.

By the way, we now have an undisputed winner in the competition for Winter Olympic Sport Most Likely to Claim a Life.

And that would be ... the envelope, please ... aerial skiing!

My God, have you seen this? Basically, the competitor hits a vault, soars 50 feet in the air and tries to do as many twists and flips as possible.

Then he or she either lands on the skis or gets carted away in a body bag.

Instead of adjusting their bindings before they jump, these people should slip on toe tags.

The other night, a guy from the Czech Republic became the first in the men's aerials to attempt five mid-air twists and three flips in a jump.

I thought he was going to land headfirst in the snow like a javelin.

But he nailed it, and the Gen-X announcers - who all sound like they're on their eighth Mountain Dew - started frothing about his "huge air!" and how "amped!" he was.

I had no idea what they were talking about. They might as well have been speaking Portuguese. Viewers my age are more used to hearing: "He's gotta really work to pick up that 7-10 split."

Still, the aerials are fun to watch. Well, fun in the sense that cliff-diving in Acapulco is fun to watch, as long as none of the divers do a full-gainer into the rocks and go splat!

Speaking of splat!, skeleton began yesterday. (Say, there's a great name for an Olympic sport - "skeleton." I guess "autopsy" was already taken.)

This is the event where the competitors roar headfirst on a sled down an icy chute at 80 mph with their chins inches from the ice.

As they do this, scores of plastic surgeons line both sides of the chute handing out business cards.

You know the doctor who worked on Greta van Susteren's eyes? I could have sworn I saw him at the finish line last night, swilling champagne and checking his pager.

Skeleton was actually dropped from the Winter Olympics after World War II. But now, apparently because of the wonderful advances in medical coverage and facial reconstructive surgery, it's back.

And so is women's figure-skating, the marquee event at the Winter Olympics, which is heating up again.

As far as American fans are concerned, the story line this year has the cool veteran Michelle Kwan going up against the edgy upstart Sasha Cohen.

Me, I watch both of them skate and all I can think is: Ladies, how 'bout a meatball sub?

Is it me or are these the scrawniest little things you've ever seen?

Cohen is 5-foot-1 and 90 pounds soaking wet. Kwan doesn't weigh a whole lot more and has arms like twigs. If either of these two were my daughter, we'd be starting every day with a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's and ending it with a run to Krispy Kreme.

Or maybe to McDonald's.

Speaking of which, I see NBC just went to another McDonald's commercial.

Hard to believe, really.

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