The Olympics are the Super Bowl of global sporting events, if their mutual fondness for Roman numerals is anything to go by.
Soccer’s quadrennial World Cup comes pretty close, but it’s hard to beat the international spectacle of flag-waving parades bookending your party.
And the last few cooler versions provided a bounty of opportunities for Canadians to at least lease the podium, if not own in outright, with medal success in several events almost a sure thing. Maybe not as guaranteed as Olympic Athletes from Russia having to sit by themselves in the lunchroom this year, but still.
But what’s going to happen in 2018? The Games starting Friday in South Korea could provide some drama.
Questions to be answered include:
(a) Can you get up early enough for the opening ceremony?
(b) Can you stay up late enough to watch that biathlon relay that means so much to you? There’s going to be plenty of time to get sick of hearing that Korea is 13 hours ahead, so pace yourself as if you were in the cross-country 50k classic.
Some prognostications seem like safe bets. For instance, I’ll defer to the experts who are confident that Canucks will prevail in curling, or, as I call it, crokinole on ice.
Women’s hockey in Pyeongchang should shake down to the all-too-predictable final of Canada versus the United States, since they appear to be the only competitive teams in the world, but it’s the men’s tournament that looks both fraught with unpredictability and the potential for casting new heroes.
National Hockey League brass opted not to shut down operations for two weeks, so Sidney Crosby won’t be on the cover of Sports Illustrated like he was in 2010 when destiny allowed him to beat the Americans on home ice. But a golden goal in overtime won’t necessarily come from some Bad News Bears outlier on skates: Canada’s squad has a collective 5,544 games of NHL experience.
Whoever lights up your Wi-Fi-connected goal-light beer glass, they’re going to be Sasquatch-sized folk heroes if Canada does well.
Here’s one solid sure thing: it’s never bad to predict that something unpredictable is going to happen during the Olympics. Who could have foreseen the encapsulation of elation when skeleton dude Jon Montgomery chugged that pitcher of beer in Whistler, B.C., after his win in 2010? And who knows what country Vladimir Putin’s forces will invade this year while the world is distracted? (If you hear that Olympic timekeeper Omega is sponsoring the Doomsday Clock, hide.)
So, for the XXIII time in winter, let the Games begin.
A short stint in skating lessons in elementary school marked the beginning and end of my formal participation in winter sports, but the neighbourhood where I grew up in Amherst had plenty of kids who went on to lengthy careers in pond hockey and ball hockey. (“Car!”)
The notion that you can sometimes get paid for watching TV wouldn’t be formed for awhile, but it might have been planted in 1970, watching with Dad when Bobby Orr scored his Stanley Cup-winning goal, and encouraged in 1972, having been sent home early from school to see Team Canada beat the Russians. (“Henderson has scored for Canada!”)
Tim Arsenault’s favourite Winter Olympics events are heavily influenced by the X Games, so anything that combines speed with amplitude. And don’t forget hockey. Follow him on Twitter, @nowthatstyping.