This week, I did what I would have done if I had gone to Sochi, Russia where the Winter Olympics is currently on: Watch the Games on TV.
Seriously, that is what professional sports reporters do on official assignments. At any rate, from the heights that press boxes are located at most venues, all sports appear to be played by crazed ants. So TV it is which everyone is dependent on.
After watching the Games on the TV over the last three or four days, I can tell you that the most superfluous thing at the Winter Olympics is winter. I mean bulk of the events are held indoor only.
Here I have handpicked three Winter Olympic sports and explained their nuances in easy and every-day language so that when they are on television you need not, henceforth, log on to the internet avowedly to understand its intricacies, but end up, like every one else, on a porn site.
Ice Hockey: Ice hockey is mostly similar to regular hockey, excepting for the facts that it is played on a rink and — this is something that many other sports would do well to emulate — fighting is legal. No, I am not joking. Scuffling among the players is a major tradition in this sport, which is just as well, because there is nothing else in the sport to keep you engaged as a spectator. Wayne Gretzky and Evander Holyfield are the two biggest legends of the sport.
The sport is mostly fast-paced and frenzied with the players scrambling between the two ends, mostly in search of the ball (puck), which is difficult to sight as it is no bigger than the ‘striker’ that you use in carrom.
Like in normal hockey, the point of this sport, too, is to put the puck in the opponent’s goal, which is just a couple of sizes bigger than a standard postbox hole and guarded by a goalkeeper who is mostly four times bigger than it. In other words, it is practically impossible to score if the goalkeeper is basically built to the dimensions of Mohanlal.
Ice hockey is hugely popular in parts of America, and in Canada, where it is not uncommon for an icy winter to last for one and half years. The game is also gaining toehold in sections of Europe, where thanks to the adverse effects of global warming, winters are getting more pronounced and people are increasingly becoming Canadians.
Curling: It is a laidback sport that is deliciously redolent of a charming old world when sport was not exactly sport. In olden days, anything could be called a sport provided a few people attempted it. Exhibit A: Fencing. Today, things are different. Sport is anything that has a governing body mismanaging it spectacularly.
The point of curling is, however, simple where two teams keep hurling (granite) stones from one end of an ice mat towards a circle at the other end, till such time one of the teams feels bored and eventually gives up the cause. Or at least that is what I think it happens. I caught a couple of games during the Sochi Games. I couldn’t get a hold of the scoring pattern, which seemed to be more random and illogical than anything that Subramanian Swamy has said in his life.
Still, I would like to update you about a game between Chinese and American women, a contest that went on and on and in the end, in a dramatic turn of events, Sri Lanka clinched a nail-biting win off the last ball. That is because unable to take anymore of the utter tedium of the curling game, I had switched over to the channel beaming a T20 contest between Sri Lanka and another team that was not Sri Lanka.
Luge: Before you understand what luge is, you have to first ask yourself whether you understand what supine is. Because the books describe luge to be ‘a small one or two-person sled on which one sleds supine and feet-first’. OK, when you translate this to every-day English, it reads: It is an extremely dangerous sport.
The luge event involves a small fibreglass sled, just big enough to rest one’s back in normal circumstances but good enough for three people to travel in a Chennai share auto, and the luger has to slide down on an icy slope at breakneck speed while you, as a spectator, hold your breath and bite your nails in anticipation that the luger has a dramatic crash. A fall or tumble or spin is the sole attraction of this sport. Otherwise it is as boring as the F-1 races, which anyway you watch for the shots of leggie groupies with curves on their bodies more deliciously dangerous than the chicane at Monza.
The luge event has another variation called Senseless. OK, it is officially called Skeleton. But Senseless is more like it, as the luger slides down, headfirst, at a dizzying speed. I couldn’t catch this event, most likely due to the fact Censors had banned it as being too violent for TV audience. Nobody in his right mind would attempt this sport. I think they just strap an uncomplaining coma patient on to the luge and push him down the slope. As far as coma persons, well, it is a fair guess that plenty will be found at the spectators’ gallery in the curling venue.