Armchair Quarterback – Feb. 11

The good and bad of the 2014 Winter Olympics… thus far

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

Are we doomed to repeat another Salé-Pelletier scandal? I hope not. Jamie Salé and David Pelletier (seen here NOT at the Olympics) were awarded a gold medal at the Salt Lake City games after a judging scandal. Calgary Reviews/Flickr Commons

Are we doomed to repeat another Salé-Pelletier scandal? I hope not. Jamie Salé and David Pelletier (seen here NOT at the Olympics) were awarded a gold medal at the Salt Lake City games after a judging scandal. Calgary Reviews/Flickr Commons

Not many of you were likely around when I last wrote an Armchair Quarterback column – I was the sports editor here three years ago before I took over the editor-in-chief’s role – but this used to be my weekly opinion column on the goings-on in the sporting world.

Sometimes it was angry and/or disappointed in people in the sports community (my little shaming board, if you will), while other times it praised someone or a group of people who truly make the world a better place by doing what they do as athletes or organizations.

I can’t promise this feature will go back to its weekly frequency (I’m a busy guy, after all), but I can promise you that I missed doing it, and so I will do them whenever I have time and when I feel there’s something I need to talk about.

This week, in its re-inauguration, Armchair Quarterback will be a quick-hit rundown of what I see as the good and bad of the 2014 Winter Olympics being held right now in Sochi, Russia.

First, the bad:

More than $50-billion was spent and seven years of preparations went into this event – the most watched winter sports event in the world, and one that traditionally shows off all that is good about a host country (or as much as they can pack into a couple of weeks, anyway).

Yet as athletes and media folks converged on Sochi for the extravaganza, they were met by accommodations under construction, roads and pathways being seemingly laid at their feet as they stepped off the transit busses, open elevator shafts and manholes and stray dogs roaming the streets in gangs until they could be inhumanely “euthanized” by local authorities (by some accounts).

Photos have been circulating from those on the ground in Sochi depicting atrocious living quarters, undrinkable water coming from the taps (with a note from the hotel itself telling people not to use it on their faces, as it contains dangerous substances), light fixtures falling from the ceilings and warnings from accommodation management that people will be charged extra if their belongings are seen on the spare beds, as that counts as “occupancy.”

The coverage – other than being in the middle of the night here in B.C., which is just part of what you have to deal with every year it’s held half way around the world – has been shoddy, as well.

Sound not matching up with the video (sometimes not even the same feed) and announcers and analysts sounding like they’ve never seen the sport they’re talking about are just two examples I’ve seen thus far. Maybe a bit of a petty complaint, but with the amount that we – yes, the taxpayers of Canada, this is CBC, remember – are paying to see these Olympics, I hope they get their act together soon.

Okay, last one in the “bad” category, I promise.

Who is judging these events?

Granted, I just complained about some of the commentators not sounding like they know what they’re talking about, but when they are openly dumbfounded by the scores awarded and seem afraid of saying something about them, there’s something wrong.

I watched most of both the men’s and women’s slopestyle snowboarding, and even as just a casual watcher (and ex-participant) of the sport, I was shocked at the scoring, I have to say.

And now there’s a possible scandal involving ice-dancing judges? I’m not sure I can handle another Salé-Pelletier with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Well, I probably could, but I sure don’t want to.

Now the Good:

Well, this is going to be short and to the point, not only because I don’t want to go on all day about the Olympics, or because I’m running out of room in the paper, but because I can sum up the good with far fewer words than I could have with the bad.

The athletic performances thus far have been exceptional.

It seems every four years when the Olympics roll around, these participants achieve a whole new level in their grace and athleticism, and it’s a joy to see.

And oh, how nice it is to be a Canadian right now watching these performances from our countrymen (and women). They are really laying it down hard and seeing the results. As I type these words, Canada sits atop the medal standings with seven (three gold, three silver and one bronze) for the first time ever in an Olympic games.

I just hope the rest of the ancillary things catch up to the greatness of the athletes themselves soon, so I can enjoy the games even more.