The U.S. 2006 Winter Olympics team is getting the cold shoulder. Primed to seriously compete in more events than ever before, the talented U.S. contingent has simultaneously managed to embarrass itself by demonstrating interest in silly snow sports as well as anger former NATO allies by depriving them of the singular joys they can count on once every four years.
The U.S. team is expected to contend for medals in events such as skeleton (sledding), bobsledding (group sledding), short track speed skating (skating), speed skating (skating) and curling (shuffle board)—all arcane sports typically dominated by countries with small armies and little sense of teamwork. In fact, the U.S. may soon eclipse the traditional northern European powerhouses in all sledding sports.
A recent poll showed that Americans had little collective understanding of many events featured in the Winter Olympics. Many thought curling was simply biceps weightlifting and that short track was automotive drag racing.
Many European nations have taken offense to what they perceive to be yet another clear-cut example of America’s cultural imperialism. Swiss biathlete Jakob Thuringer is a strong voice rising above the growing din of complaint. “Switzerland is a country known for tiny chocolates and Heidi, yes? Well, we Swiss are also fine skiers and marksmen, and it is not fair that such a big country as America should try to concentrate on winning medals that are traditionally won by the Swiss.”
In response to America’s swelling mastery of most winter Olympic events, Norway is petitioning for the introduction of the quadrathlon, which will feature a herring-eating contest, a reindeer rodeo, ice fishing and Scrabble with no vowels. In response to the quadrathlon, the U.S. petitioned to change the biathlon to shooting from moving vehicles.