I love curling. I love skeleton. I love ice dancing.
There, I said it. I love obscure Olympic sports. I love all the wacky curling lingo, I love hurling yourself head first down an icy chute at over 90 mph and I especially love the way that ice dancers shake their, um … talent.
Since everything is better with lists, here’s a list of reasons why I love the Olympics:
1. Blatant xenophobia is accepted and/or encouraged.
Cold war buff? Hurl insults at the Ruskies. Not mean enough to hate on anybody? You’re Canadian. Not sure where Azerbaijan is? Neither do I, but it’s a great excuse to throw on a Borat accent and hope Azerbaijan is somewhere Middle East-ish (for the record, Wikipedia says that it’s “at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia”).
The point is: you’re allowed to do it and it’s all in the name of patriotism. God bless America.
2. Weird camera angles.
As everyday beer-chugging, steak-eating, Wrangler-wearing patriotic Americans, we’re used to the typical football, basketball or baseball angles. Three-quarter side camera angles? Booooring. How about the gravity defying shots of the marsupial ski jumpers trying to imitate flying squirrels? Ever see the shaking of the camera from a luger passing by at Snooki-punch speeds? Or how about my personal favorite, the behind-the-back camera angle (or as I like to call it, the “de-rear” view) — of speed skaters as they launch from the starting line? Tight pants + super tight spandex suits = win for every lonely person watching the Olympics. That’s what I call fun for the whole fraternity — or sorority (I’ve seen you ladies peeking at Apollo Anton “Oooh ya! I’m the winningest speed skater in U.S. history and that’s a totally better pickup line than anything I was using before!”).
3. Leading the medal count.
Translation: Being American. Whoooo!!!! Our economy is in the toilet, the rest of the world still hates us and China apparently owns us (literally). But by golly, we’re still pwning the world in something: winter sports that only matter once every four years! Actually, with our recent defeat of Canada in hockey, it’s enough to make us break out in chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S … wait. I can’t continue living a lie any longer.
Born in China, I moved to Nebraska (of all places) when I was seven, then moved to Toronto at the age of 10 after our temporary U.S. visas expired. While in Canada, I spent my glorious (super-awkward) pre-/post-pubescent years learning how to be universally nice to everyone you meet, playing hockey and saying “eh” every three seconds (in Canada, we’re taught to use eh instead of punctuation. OK, that’s not true, but if I had told you it was, you would’ve believed me). We became Canadian citizens in order to move to Florida and have been there for the past eight years (it’s a lot easier immigrating to the USA when you’re Canadian than when you’re Chinese. Probably has to do with China owning America and all…).
Sure, I’ve spent half my life in the States, but apparently, the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t think that’s enough for citizenship. So I’m Canadian only because it made being American easier. I loved my time in Canada, but frankly, up until a week ago, I was about as proud of being Canadian as my Asian parents were of me not being a doctor.
And then the Olympics came.
Canada had never won a gold medal on home turf and the entire nation was preoccupied with breaking the home-town jinx. After day one, when (their best hope for a Gold medal) Jenn Heil lost to Yale’s very own (well, kind of) Hannah Kearney in the women’s moguls, a Canadian headline read “Monkey 1, Canada 0.” That pesky primate just wouldn’t get off their backs and a whole nation’s spirits rested on its athletes.
Remember the disjointed and seemingly hallucinogen-induced opening ceremony filled with spoken word poetry, phallic ice sculptures and Native American dances? The reason why it was so weird is because usually the opening ceremonies are a chance for the host country to showcase their national identity. Canada — a nation without an ego, never one to say an unkind word about anybody, and content to just lumberjack by day, down a pitcher at night — frankly has been struggling to find an identity ever since the Vikings accidentally discovered it. But as the games began, all of Canada united under a singular identity in pursuit of gold.
When Alexandre Bilodeau moguled for a gold medal on day two, I, along with all of Canada, breathed a sigh of relief, teared up briefly, then reached for a strong drink. (Remember, Connecticut Law states that you must be 21 years of age to consume alcohol.) When the crowd, in unison, stood up to get a stirring rendition of “O Canada” in the ninth end (think of it like an inning — curling matches have 10 ends) of the Great Britain-Canada curling match to root their team to an eventual come-from-behind victory, I had chills run up my spine. When skeleton racer Jon Montgomery celebrated his gold medal run by chugging half of a pitcher of beer that some fan handed him — less than 3 seconds after getting off his sled — it was like Christmas came early. Btdubs, is there anything MORE Canadian than some blue-collar dude getting off a sled, met by a delirious Canadian fan WHO HAPPENED to be holding A FULL PITCHER OF BEER, then swigging half of it down before saluting the fans in triumph? I was a proud Canadian again.
So you know what? Here’s reason No. 4 of why I love the Winter Olympics: An entire nation, along with me, found a national identity. My name is John Song, and I … am … CANADIAN!
Well, only until that dual-citizenship thing works out.
John Song is a junior in Berkeley College.