Monday, February 17, 2014

Sliding, Olympic style

Though some politically oriented pinheads in the USA continue trying to find ways to criticize the various venues on display at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, one such venue appears to be beyond reproach. The Sanki Sliding Center. This is where the bob-sledders, lugers and skeletal people go zooming down a serpentine chute of ice with walls on both sides, reaching speeds of roughly 80 MPH. What a magnificent course indeed.

Being ignorant to the technicalities of such things, the only difference yours truly can discern between the luge and the skeleton, is that people ride a sled feet first in the luge, and go head first in the skeleton. Either way, going 80 MPH on a sled has to be quite the rush, not to mention downright scary. Especially those bony folks leading with their faces. Perhaps that explains why these are basically sports for young people. Long on courage, but short on common sense -- they're fearless. Put middle-aged people that have started to realize their own mortality on those rides, and you'd see a few yellow stains on the ice along the way as their bladders cut loose. Theoretically, even the elderly could compete. Hey, the sled and the ice don't know the difference. But it likely wouldn't make for great viewing watching them slide over the finish line, only to discover they were DOA from cardiac arrest. That could become problematic, and the above mentioned pinheads might want to start a war for some reason. Not good.

But the bobsled is different. To become world-class in bobsled events typically takes many years of training and rising up through the ranks. You won't see any 18-19 year old hot-shots showing up for the first time and winning a medal. Nosiree Bieber Bob. This takes maturity, and age isn't necessarily a factor.

This was evidenced by Russian Alexandr Zubkov, age 39, and at his fifth Olympics, piloting a Russian bobsled to the gold medal. Thing is, though pushing 40, and obviously a geezer, Zubkov still trains like a maniac. The dude's harder than FOX on the Obama administration or, conversely, MSNBC on Chris Christie lately. Let's just say he's ripped.

On the other hand, American Steve Holcomb, age 33, steered a USA bobsled to their first medal (bronze, by .03 seconds) in 62 years. By outward appearance, Holcomb looks like he might have trained on the kiddie chutes at Mickey D's after having downed a few quarter pounders. Let's just say he's not going to be the centerfold of Playgirl magazine any time soon.

And who knows? Right now, McDonald's is offering an Olympic special of 20 chicken McNuggets for 5 bucks. If he loads up on enough of those, throws in a few big Macs, and maintains a super-sizing training regimen -- he might well be back in 2018 to claim the gold.

But a medal is a medal, and good for him. Sixty two years is a long time to wait, but finally the drought is over for the USA in bobsled -- even if they only finished third.

It could have been worse. The Boston Red Sox waited 86 years in between World Series titles. The Toronto Maple Leafs haven't hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1967. Good grief, the ever-lovable Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series in 106 years, and counting.

And of course there's the saddest sack of them all. The Detroit Lions. They are one of only 4 NFL teams that have never even appeared in the Super Bowl, let alone win it. The others are Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland -- all expansion teams. The Lions don't appear to any closer to claiming the Vince Lombardi trophy than the Leafs are to another Cup, or the Cubbies winning the Fall Classic.

Maybe the Detroit puddy-tats should follow the lead of Steve Holcomb. Forget all that pumping iron stuff, and running around. Obviously, that hasn't worked. Just chow down and go sliding at 80 MPH over and over again. Couldn't hurt.

And think of the entertainment value to their fans. Ndamukong Suh rocketing down an icy course, likely screaming the whole way in absolute terror? Priceless.

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