Despite the best efforts of this column (and the BBC), too many Brits regard the Winter Olympics with the same enthusiasm as they would a traction engine rally or a village fête. Well you are so wrong, people. Admittedly you can get fed up with the BBC TV breakfast presenters nattering away about how they are going off after the show to watch the Nordic combined, as if they really believe we believe them. And when you find yourself in the small hours, like me, watching the curling mixed doubles or listening to ice hockey commentary on the radio you are forced to question whether your life has gone seriously wrong somewhere. But hey, they are only on every four years and there’s plenty of reasons to love these Games.
In the studio, Chemmy Alcott, the former British champion skier, has been the star. She has been there, done that and worn the catsuit, and talks about the sport with great wit and authority. She told a wonderful story about meeting her idol, the seedy Italian Alberto Tomba, and he slipped his telephone number into her jacket. Oh no, she thought, don’t spoil it. Always good to see a lazy national stereotype in action. The skiing commentary has been a work of art: ‘There’s a 360 backstroke reverse alley-oop with a 920 variation and forward partial grab incorporating an octopus and 410 degree double kiss on the rails… oh my word, did you see that backside triple cork, humongous air with a 180 switch-up and a flying hand drag on the kink,’ and so on until the screen explodes. I haven’t a clue, not a clue, what Ed Leigh is on about.
Spare a thought for America’s über-broadcaster Katie Couric, who has come in for some heavy social media stick after claiming that the reason the Dutch are so good at skating is because they use their iced canals to travel about in winter.