SPORTS TALK: Wasn’t that a lovely show North Korea put on?

by James McCarthy- February 26, 2018

Right into it this week as we lay bare the best (and the worst) of the big show in PyeongChang, South Korea:

That’s a shame

So the 2018 Winter Olympics are over and everyone has gone home. And I mean everyone.

No one defected, which is a shame because that’s half the excitement anytime a major international sporting event happens. Count the times Cuba’s baseball team lost at least one of its athletes when they travel outside of the country.

Every single North Korea watcher, including myself, salivated at the thought of one or more members of the North Korean delegation making a run for it while in South Korea. Remember, any North Korean who manages to survive being shot at while making a run for freedom through Panmunjom at the demilitarized zone receives immediate South Korean citizenship and plenty of support from the South Korean government.

Kim Yo-jong, right, shakes hands with Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, during the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 8. Wasn’t she so resplendent, being the face of an oppressive regime? photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Alas, it didn’t materialize. But my, didn’t that army of beauties look good?

This was one big propaganda spin for the hermit kingdom, made even more nauseating by the number of stories written about how Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un, was winning diplomatic gold medals and how the aforementioned beauty brigade was all in sync with their songs and dancing. Because all of those routines were spontaneous.

Seems we’ve forgotten that North Korea is a state where every basic freedom is non-existent. Thankfully, not everyone was fooled by the lame platitudes being heaped upon the hermit kingdom and people realized that this was all for show to buy the stooge running that circus more time.

Get married already

So Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir solidified their legacy as perhaps the best ice dancing team the world has ever seen. I say that because even though I still consider ice dancing to be the most rigged and shambolic event in figure skating, they’re Canadian and that’s OK by me.

They won gold in the event on Feb. 19 and did it in world record fashion. CBC even decided it was worth a mosaic of the pair growing up together in figure skating, as they’ve been a duo for the better part of two decades.

They’ve also had to endure endless questions about their relationship status. Their perpetual answer is they aren’t together, but the images do not have me convinced. I, for one, was waiting for Moir to propose to Virtue on the podium.

But here’s perhaps the best response to the whole thing: Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star wondered on Twitter where their statues should be placed. The Twitter account Down Goes Brown came up with the answer:
“One at each end of the country staring at each other and then the rest of us can stand between them and feel love for the first time.”

I got nothing, not even a smart-assed comeback for that.

In other news …

A Russian (not really Russian) athlete tested positive for a banned substance. Well, colour me discombobulated. If you thought this wasn’t going to happen, then you’d believe Elizabeth Swaney is really a freestyle skier. Speaking of that …

And finally:

Good Idea: An athlete being at the Olympic Games by right.

Bad Idea: Elizabeth Swaney being at the Olympic Games by right.

You’ve probably seen this already and I still cackle every time I do.

Elizabeth Swaney was a “Hungarian” athlete who competed in the women’s freestyle ski halfpipe event in PyeongChang. She got the Hungarian passport thanks to her grandparents being born there and that’s fine. She isn’t the first to use the “blood line” rule and she won’t be the last.

The problem was her performance at the Olympics, which has been panned over and over again. You really need to see the film. I’ll say this: give me a week and I’ll be able to do what she could do. My two-year-old could probably do it.

Now, before you try and call me out, I’m not saying Swaney cheated to get to the Olympics. She qualified by using the rules that were laid out. All she had to do was have a certain number of top-30 finishes leading up to the Olympics. Swaney simply played the system smartly, kind of like how Michael Larson jobbed CBS when he appeared on Press Your Luck and won himself more than $110,000.

Larson didn’t cheat – he merely beat the game. That’s what Swaney did. She found events where she knew she could finish in the top 30 and, with the knowledge that Hungary didn’t have anyone to compete against her when it came to qualifying, she was in.

So yes, she was an Olympian but you can bet she won’t be making an appearance in 2022.

Until next time, folks…

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