Winter wonderland

I have disregarded this blog for some time.  Maybe was the hot weather, or maybe getting back into the groove after my holiday.

I mean there is lots to talk about.  The supposedly ‘Abbott ascendancy’ and how the ABC has become a mouthpiece for the Liberal opposition is one.  The increasing list of injuries to Melbourne Victory at the wrong end of the season is another one.

One event that I am enjoying though is the Winter Olympics.  There is nothing better that sweltering on a hot summer night and watch people competing in the snow.   I know that Vancouver hasn’t been endowed with lots of snow.  But as I write the temperature in downtown Vancouver is 8 degrees which is much better than the 30+ temperatures we have been experiencing.

While I do enjoy the event I know that it is not really in the Olympic spirit.

I agree with Avery Brundage when he said that the ideal of Olympics as ‘universal’ could not be applied to the Winter Games.  To be good at winter sports you need snow, mountains and ice.  And these are absent in many countries that are not above 35 degrees in latitude which cuts out all the countries in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

Winter sports also require lots of infrastructure. Ski lifts, Bobsleds/luge courses, high jump structures, ice rinks etc.  which developing countries cannot afford.   The movie ‘Cool Runnings‘ shows up very well how the concept of universality is held up to ridicule.  The idea of a tropical (and also not wealthy) entering a team in the bobsled competition is seen as a joke.  The whole movie runs a very patronising line, so that affluent countries that have snow can have a laugh.    Any competitors which happens to come from a ‘non winter’ country is treated as a freak show (Youtube link).

But is still watch it, and despite the misgivings above enjoy it.  Why?  That is because it gives me the only chance in Australia to see skiing competitions, something that I used to watch quite a bit on the TV in my childhood.

I grew up in a period when Italians used to dominate the downhill skiing, the famous ‘Blue Avalanche’ which had champions such as Piero Gros, Gustav Thöni,  Erwin Stricker, Helmuth Schmalzl, and Tino Pietrogiovanna.

So while I am happy when an Australian does well, it is the Italian team that I really am interested in, because they are a powerhouse in Winter sports.  Not that you would see that by following the Channel 9 coverage.  Although  so far it hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Also after 35 years of being told that ‘you don’t look like an Italian’ it is good to see that athletes that come from my part of Italy also ‘don’t look like an Italian’   like  Arianna Fontana.

I also like the fact that it shows that Italy is not a completely latin country.  Look at the list of athletes and you have names such as Christof Innerhofer, Armin Zöggeler, and Katja Haller which shows that while Sud Tyrolean Italian citizens of German ethnicity may not perhaps feel Italian, many are happy to represent the nation with distinction.

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2 Comments

Filed under Musings

2 responses to “Winter wonderland

  1. Savvas Tzionis

    Olympics tv coverage has to be the WORST type of Sporting Coverage in the world!

    At least as far as what I see in Australia. I wonder how overseas countries present their coverage?

    Is there a non-nation affiliated voerage?

    Like a CNN or ESPN type coverage? Even then, I daresay they would focus on the Anglo countries.

  2. Savvas Tzionis

    Thats a large contingent of ‘Tyrolese’ representing Italy.

    It reminds me a little of Greece’s Slavic minority in Macedonia.

    What ended up happening in Greece is that the Slavic-speaking minority of Northern Macedonia either opted to become fully fledged ‘Greeks’ or rejected outright (and often took their fight with them to the diaspora).

    Whereas, in Italy your northern minority group appears to have been left alone. As a result, they have not embraced their Italianness, yet have not created ripples with land claims, etc.

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