I don’t know what figure Seven paid for the Winter Olympics, but it was definitely too much. The IOC cleverly bundles the winter and summer rights, but if screening ice dancing in prime time is the price of broadcasting Beijing 2008, I’d have let Foxtel snap up the lot.
Skiing and skating are fun to do but tedious to watch. And snowboarding is so dull that even the competitors listen to their iPods throughout.
Winter sports are only exciting when competitors put their bodies on the line. The ski jump and aerials are essentially fancy ways to put yourself in hospital, while hurtling down an ice track with virtually no protection would be considered an imaginative means of committing suicide if there wasn’t a luge or skeleton medal up for grabs.
If only all events involved the potential for death or serious injury – even figure skating should be a contact sport. Tonya Harding should have been able to vent her frustrations with Nancy Kerrigan on the ice, instead of hiring someone else to attack her.
Then there’s the biathlon, where cross-country skiers shoot at targets. As we’ve seen in so many Bond films, a blend of guns and skis can be tremendously exciting. Imagine if competitors shot at one another instead.
The skiers would hurtle down the mountain pursued by a hail of bullets, like James Bond escaping from the KGB. It would be fantastically entertaining, especially if the US was represented by Dick Cheney.
But the biggest beneficiary would be curling. It has to be a very dull day in the alpine village before sliding a rock along ice becomes entertaining. What if the granite block was released from the top of the mountain instead and the curling teams were forced to skate in front of it, with only brooms to defend themselves against the resulting avalanche?
Even though we’ve won gold, Australians will never really warm to the Winter Olympics. But if the sports were made more entertaining, we’d love them almost much as we love those clips from Thredbo where idiots in ridiculous gorilla costumes ski-jump into pools of water.
Come to think of it, why isn’t that an Olympic sport? It’s more deserving than curling.
PHOTO: White out … sliding down the killer ice.