By Geoff Kirsch
This past Friday, the world took a break from political strife, economic tumult and debating whether or not Lady Gaga got snubbed for an Oscar nomination and shifted its gaze to Beijing, China, where elite winter athletes from across the globe have gathered to see which country’s biochemists can concoct the least-detectable performance-enhancing drugs.
To some, the Winter Olympics represent an opportunity for the nations of Earth to unite in peace (and spandex). To others, they symbolize planetary inequality and toxic nationalism. For everyone, the 2022 Beijing Winter Games are a great excuse to spend 16 days glued to the TV firmly convinced you’re doing something worthwhile.
And, because women’s volleyball is a summer event, you’re mercifully spared those awkward viewings with your father-in-law, who, it turns out, is kind of a dirty old man. Likewise, you won’t have to endure your wife’s endless commentary about the male swimmers and how “sick” everyone’s “bod” is. It’s not your fault your six-pack transformed into a pony keg. Well, maybe it is, just a little.
Despite the absence of scantily clad athletes, the Winter Olympics are still ground zero for skin-tight bodysuits, which, in some ways, leave even less to the imagination. You will not escape your wife’s endless commentary about that. Oh, well, that’s what you get for watching men’s luge in ultra-high definition.
Still, thanks to the Beijing Games we all have something else we can compulsively check our new feed about. What a nice change of pace from the Neil Young/Joe Rogan/Spotify flap and which GOP member said what about Liz Cheney.
The 2022 Winter Olympics feature 109 events across 15 disciplines in seven sports. Personally, I’m partial to biathlon, an event that combines Nordic skiing with rifle shooting. Sure, this may sound like an odd mix, but as any Alaskan will tell you, rifle shooting pairs well with everything.
Obviously, I also enjoy the non-ballistic Olympic events, like figure skating—although, can you imagine if they added rifle shooting to that?—and Alpine racing, specifically, Super G, which happens to be the name of my crime-fighting alter ego. And who doesn’t love mixed doubles curling?
I’m a total fan of the Sliding Centre events, too: bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. I mean, not enough to follow them in the intervening four years between Olympics; or, even to remember which one is which. But for these two weeks, I’m a “sleigh’r,” a “luge-fiend,” a “skeletonhead.” I kind of want to build my own Sliding Centre at home, you know, hose down the driveway, break out some plastic cafeteria trays, slip into a spandex bodysuit (pony keg be damned)…
Anyway, that’s not to call the 2022 Winter Games free of concerns or controversies, especially about cost, environmental impact, censorship, espionage, COVID-19 and human rights issues. You know, all the usual stuff that goes with professional sports.
Plus, there’s the Russian doping scandal, not to mention concerns related to the ongoing tensions at the Ukrainian border—but again, like I said, who cares? I mean, as long NBC doesn’t pre-empt Nathan Chen’s long-form program.
Luckily, a full week exists before the whole thing wraps up and we can focus our attention back where it belongs — the Academy Awards. But as you watch the remainder of the 2018 Winter Olympics unfold, consider these ponderables:
Whatever happened to Bode Miller?
Is it just me, or is Shaun White a dead-ringer for Carrot Top? Maybe they’re the same person. Ever notice how you never see them in the same room together? Although to be fair, I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with Carrot Top, either.
Why aren’t they re-using any of those super trippy buildings from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics? Bring back the Water Cube!
The 2026 Winter Games will be held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. But the bidding remains open for 2030. Bidders thus far include Sapporo, Japan, Barcelona-Zaragoza, Spain and Vancouver; potential bidders include Salt Lake City, Utah, Schmalkalden, Germany, and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
No offense to these other locations—especially Schmalkalden; everyone knows how touchy Schmalkaldenians can be—but it sounds like a wide-open field. I say we mount our own bid. Sure it’s spendy, but just look what it’s done for cities like Albertville, Nagano, and Lillehammer.
You heard it here first: Juneau Winter Olympics 2030. Now all we need to do is raise $4 billion. Better print up some raffle tickets.