Winter Olympics skating on thin ice when it comes to sport
Friday February 12, 2010
FORGIVE me for sounding like a cynical, miserable old fart but €” just between you and me €” I reckon they take the piss at the Winter Olympics.I mean, consider that big ice-slide that those guys go down on their fancy toboggans. We are told this is sport, but it looks suspiciously like a ride to me. I reckon if they introduced water-slide races at the Summer Olympics, people would feel the same way but, simply because the water is frozen on this slide and Winter Olympic athletes refer to it as an "ice-track", we are supposed to have an alternative take on the sport and not view the winding apparatus as a slippery-dip for grown-ups.I appreciate there is technique and expensive equipment but it is still a slide.And what about those guys who dress up and dance on the ice?My mum will watch that rubbish all night long and, sure, it is probably wonderful television for fans of dance and ballet, but doesn't this fall under the heading of arts and drama, rather than sport?I still harbour dreams of winning a gold medal for Australia and I wouldn't mind hitting the ice, cranking up the Stones and busting my Mick Jagger moves to Gimme Shelter.I understand the judges are likely to be unmoved but if I'm doing a dance and I'm doing it well and the watchers suspend their disbelief for the briefest of moments and actually see Mick on Ice, well, why shouldn't I be in medal contention?Russian pair Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are a $5 chance to take out the figure skating "ice dance" gold medal, but did you know their act - up until recently, anyway - involves dressing up in Australian Aboriginal "bodysuits", complete with white markings, red loin cloths and fake leaves, with one leaf evidently stuck on Maxim's forehead?Naturally, the act has been branded culturally insensitive.As for punting on the Winter Olympics, TABSportsbet put up its markets yesterday and despite the dubious nature of some of the events, media manager Glenn Munsie said punters would bet on anything."We had a bloke out yesterday polishing the floors of the hospital to try and work out the curling form for us," he said. "But I can guarantee you, once you put a market up, and it can be the most obscure thing, people will bet on it."At Centrebet, its Scandinavian office is handling the books for the game and publicity man Neil Evans said it was expected big money would come for "live-betting" events such as ice hockey, with the lion's share coming out of Europe."But some of these sports are right up there with stamp collecting and kite flying," he quipped.Betfair's Jake Norton said the Winter Olympics might be about as interesting as "watching the process of precipitation" but punters who backed speed skater Steven Bradbury at the 2002 Games felt differently."The term 'to do a Bradbury' is now firmly entrenched in the Aussie vernacular [and] the patriotic Aussies who backed the great man at Salt Lake at any old odds must think the Winters are bloody sensational," Norton said.Meanwhile, Sportingbet punters are already thinking Australia can win three or more medals at the Games, and that bet type has firmed from $3.25 to $3, despite the fact my "Jagger on Ice" routine did not make the cut.