Friday, February 7, 2014

That sporting event in Russia

I first started bloging in 2008, which was a year in which the Summer Olympics were held, so I did a couple of movies on the them back then. The Winter Olympics being held two years apart from the summer games wouldn't be held until 2010, and looking at the list of posts from February 2010, it looks as though I never wrote any posts using the Winter Olympics as a hook.

Thinking about it, though, I don't think there are quite as many movies out there dealing with the Winter Olympics as there are with the Summer Olympics. The Summer Olympics are bigger in terms of the number of athletes and number of sports, and because there's a good portion of the country that doesn't have much of a winter, that part of the country probably wouldn't have cared about the Winter Olympics, especially back in an era when there wasn't anywhere near as much artificial refrigeration to have ice rinks all over the country.

From the "based on real events" files, there's certainly Cool Runnings, the story of the Jamaican bobsled team. I would have guessed that they started with Jamaicans living abroad in more northerly climes, but the official story is that the team actually was founded in Jamaica. One of their members was succesful enough that he eventually took Canadian citizenship (having fallen in love with a Canadian) and won a silver medal representing Canada.

Even more recently is Miracle, the movie that lets us Americans bask in one of our moments of glory at the Winter Olympics, beating the mighty Soviets at ice hockey at Lake Placid in 1980, in the days before professional athletes were offically allowed to compete. Of course, the actual gold medal game still had to be played against Finland, but everybody remembers beating the Soviets -- or at least everybody claims to. The game was only shown tape-delayed on TV since wall-to-wall live coverage of the Olympics woulnd't come until later, and even now here in the US, events that bring in the women advertisers crave are being held for prime time airing on broadcast TV. That's one of the reasons I don't care too much about the Olympics.

Another reason is that I don't care too much about figure skating, the event that gets the big prime-time coverage. When it comes to figure skating and Hollywood, though, one need only say "Sonja Henie". Henie won three Olympic gold medals in figure skating. Her first Hollywood film, One in a Million, actually has her training for the Olympics as a plot point, although she's in Switzerland and not her native Norway. Unfortunately, the movie also has the Ritz Brothers, whom I find terribly unfunny.

Robert Redford trains for the Winter Olympics as a Downhill Racer, with Gene Hackman as his coach, but I don't think I've actually seen this movie before. I'm sure Redford, the scenery, and female lead Camilla Sparv all look lovely doing what they do on screen. This as opposed to the East German biathlete who chases a wheezy fifty-something Roger Moore through the Italian Alps in For Your Eyes Only. That one's even got a young figure skater with the hots for Bond. Even though the movie is probably the best of the Moore Bonds, there's something creepy about that.

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