Tag Archives: British Columbia

Scott Hamilton is a pissy jerk

So I’ve been watching the Olympics in Vancouver, or as Stephen Colbert calls them, the Quadrennial Cold Weather Athletic Competition. Hopefully he won’t sue me for using his language. As an aside, I do keep trying to trademark the phrase, “I love you,” because whoa, think of the lawsuit-generated revenue! I mean, if I can’t use the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” when I may actually need that sentence someday, in dire circumstances, if that is taken away from me, then I think I should get a piece of the pie, too.

At any rate, the Olympics were tantalizingly close to us this year—just a 4-hour drive to Seattle and a couple more hours north over the border into Vancouver. But alas, they’re right smack in the middle of the semester, and even curling match tickets were $65. So we decided we’ll have to go to some other really close Olympics sometime.

Watching from home, I was a bit taken aback by the coverage of men’s figure skating. I wouldn’t call it my favorite sport, but I can see that it requires fitness, balance, endurance, and an oil tanker load of practice. In my book that counts as a sport. But then there’s the judging. In football, unless you’re committing an illegal move, block, or tackle, it doesn’t matter how you run, hold someone off, or bring them to the ground. The ball is the indicator of the action, the referees only looking to ensure the rules are followed objectively. In fact, people get very upset if they think the referees are being unfair; they’re so hawkish for signs of bias that they’ll yell obscenities even when nothing is wrong. Millions of dollars have been spent on instant replay systems just to make sure nobody’s pinkie toe broke the plane of the sideline, because surely then, the integrity of the entire NFL would come crashing down.

It would be utterly absurd for the line judge to say, call the refs and umpire over after whistling the play dead because he didn’t like the angle at which the center was holding the ball, but in figure skating, all of the athlete’s hard work is reduced to whiny judgy-ness. At least if Scott Hamilton is the Judge in Charge. Some of his comments really floored me, accusing Johnny Weir, for example, of not practicing hard enough. He’s at the Olympics, dude! How many people try to go to the Olympics and don’t make it? He had to have spent at least a little bit of time on a slab of ice!

One after another, the skaters took the ice for their short programs. With nearly every axle, lutz and salchow, Scott had a comment, usually negative. “Oh, he really had to struggle for that one,” “just barely made it,” or “that looked bad from the start,” peppered the music in the background, and made me think we were watching Snarkfest 2010 instead of the Olympics. Perhaps these are the voices he hears in his head when he skates, I can’t say. But I felt like calling Scott and telling him that you know, this stuff is recorded and/or sent out to millions of people, so maybe some of those thoughts should stay in his brain.

The intra-skater rhetoric started simmering, too, in the days of the men’s competition. After the short program, Evgeni Plushenko castigated the gold medal winner for not attempting a quad jump, which, among all the other garbage that came out of his mouth, made a little bit of sense to me; after all, a home run counts for one no matter in which inning it’s hit. Same for basketball, lacrosse, futbol, tiddlywinks, and marbles, and virtually every other game I can think of. But in skating, a pretty hard jump done late in the routine is worth more than a harder one done first, to reward the skater for doing something hard after fatigue has set in. Thus Plushenko could have done the same thing, omitting the quad jump and not fiddling around with stupid-looking spins for the last minute of his routine, but actually still making and landing some jumps at the end.

It made me wonder how these guys talk to each other behind the scenes, if they’re so audacious in front of the camera. “He’s okay but his toe loop sucks” could be something to overhear in the Olympic Village cafeteria, who knows?

Plushenko has been such a baby that now his Web site lists his latest win in Vancouver—he took second place—as a Platinum medal. Seriously. Perhaps he needs to try another jump, because that boy needs to get over himself. (Ba-da cymbal crash!) So just to put things in better perspective, here’s a site of funny faces during the competition thus far.

The people in curling have been much nicer, and the whole endeavor seems much more friendly and stereotypically Canadian to me, so I’ve been watching that ever since, eschewing the ice dancing competition.

It’s a good time, of course, for British Columbia to advertise itself as a tourist destination, and there are plenty of folks out there updating their tourism sites. One of them, apparently took a picture of me drinking tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC, and posted it up on the page she manages. I’m not sure whether I should be flattered or horrified, but really, my only question is why she changed my name to Erin. I do hope, however, that the image of me enjoying the Empress’ house blend tea (and hiding a chin pimple) encourages others to take high tea at their establishment. I wonder if I should have trademarked my image.

Meanwhile, I hear that the Indianapolis Colts, after their Super Bowl loss earlier this month to the New Orleans Saints, are metalsmithing a platinum World Championship trophy to commemorate the achievement.

Newbies on the Kootenay

Having been a fan, in my youth, of many a water flume ride, I often wondered if white water rafting was merely a few degrees higher on the dial of the same animal, or an entirely different adventure, not the least because it was off a metal track and in the open outdoors.

I now have my answer.

We dragged ourselves groggily to the meeting location, most of us wearing layers like we’d been instructed. The Kootenay river runs very near the much larger, longer, Columbia, but the Kootenay is home to more sacred Native lands and is said to be the source for some ancient medicines. One by one we lumbered in, and I watched the cousins, some of whom Susanne hadn’t seen since the wedding, greet each other and start to wake up. We read over the liability releases, made sure we had everyone we were waiting for, and piled into the yellow school bus for our 1/2 day trip to the river.

“Cousins on the river,” they shouted like a pre-game warmup cheer, and we rumbled to the rafting site.

We listened to the guides give us our safety instructions, but we were ready on our own accord, coming armed with 5 epi pens in case an evil peanut or honey bee should come at us in one of the rapids. I chatted up the guide at the back of the raft, our conversation repeatedly redirected so that we could “paddle forward,” “left back, right front,” and so on. The Kootenay has dug through a lot of earth over the millennia, and we found our selves in some deep river canyons, limestone cliffs on our right, deep dark soil thick with evergreens off the port. The cousins at the front of the boat were soaked head to toe. Wet cousins do indeeed look like drowned rats.

We hurtled over class 3 rapids like young bucking bronco riders. Twisting alongside the Canadian rockies, we declared the experience thrilling and vowed to take on a more challenging river next summer. Hooray for the river!

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