Do you remember the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City? Me neither. Here’s a reprisal of my take on the games that I wrote four years after the flame went out. What good, clean fun!
Meddling at the Mormon Games
It’s four years since the XIX Mormon Winter Games ended, and new scandals are no doubt imminent in Turin, Italy for what may be the XX soft porn edition. Remember the Salt Lake City games? We recall that SLOC closed the books with the announcement that the winter games posted a $100 million profit. This was achieved by SLOC members faithfully attending routine daily creative-accounting practice. Plus the opening ceremony was awarded an Emmy! This was a well-deserved windfall and notoriety for the city that, as some SLOC official said, and I paraphrase, “will now be on the world map.” But is this profit and hoopla really so well deserved? Let’s recap the games from a Utahn’s perspective. But first, here’s some Olympic history.
The Olympics were invented by ancient Greek sports conglomerates to advertise sports equipment and steroid supplements. Soon Roman Numerals were introduced to score the events because the electronic voting machines weren’t working properly. Unfortunately, there is no symbol for zero in Roman Numerals (other than that zany Zero Mostel, who you may remember from such movies as “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Senate Hearings”). Because of this oversight, the Roman Olympic Committee found it could not accurately score the Curling competitions.
Financial accounting practices in the early games were suspect. The ledgers frequently showed such charges as “Hand-made collector’s edition weapons from SlingShot Discount Emporium – $CL each” and miscellaneous billings from “Remus Orgy Supply” for the entertainment of visiting International Olympic Committee dignitaries. “We wrestled (HAR!) with these problems and indiscretions for many months and we now believe these charges are well hidden in the books,” says early games organizer Mitt Romulus.
Jumping ahead to the new Millennium, we learn that history indeed repeats itself. The first problem for SLOC, after putting its own commemorative rifle and women escort problems behind it, was to come up with a catch-phrase theme. The Salt Lake Olympic Games theme slogan was chosen from submissions garnered from the local color. And by “local color” I mean “Caucasian”. Although the final, official slogan was “Light the Fire Within”, some intermediate favorites were:
• Light the Firestorm within – submitted by the French Figure Skating Committee
• Fire the Blighters within – submitted by the British in response to the French entry
• Fight the Liars within – submitted by the Canadian Pair Skating team
• Light the Fire with Incentives – submitted by SLOC
• Light the Fire with Intifada – vetoed by Dick Cheney’s Secret Service Team after misplacing their list of terrorist operatives
• Light the Fire with Incense – submitted by the Thailand Incense Exporters Association
• Light the Fireworks with Indians – submitted by an overzealous fan of opening ceremony pyrotechnic displays
Although the opening ceremony theatrics were impressive, we all agree the highlight was watching Dubya talk on a cell phone to a U.S. woman athlete’s mom. It was difficult to read the President’s lips, but I imagine the conversation went something like this:
ATHLETE: Mr. President, like, would you like to say hi to my Mom? (hands the phone to W).
DUBYA: Hello. This is….
ATHLETE: (Turning the phone rightside up) No, Mr. President, you speak into this end.
DUBYA: Hello? This is the President of the United States speaking!
MOM: Yeah, right, and I’m the President of, like, Pakistan.
DUBYA: Oh, pardon me Mr. Putin. I must have the wrong number.
MOM: (Playing along, in Russian accent) Da. Is okay Mr. President.
DUBYA: (Hands phone back to athlete and chokes on Olympic pretzel snack).
I will now recap all the competition events that anyone remembers.
As in all winter Olympic games, Figure Skating’s skating figures figured prominently in the spotlights. The Salt Lake Olympic scandals moved into the arenas with the alleged bloc voting for Russian pair skaters by a French judge. By “alleged” I mean “busted”.
Then the Russians complained about the Women’s Figure Skating Final.
Then the Koreans complained about the Short Track Speed Skating.
Then in a brief intermission from skating, the Russian and Finnish doping scandal happened in Nordic skiing.
But getting back to the skating, to fully appreciate this sport you must be familiar with all the twists and turns, upsets and spills, defeats and victories. But enough about the judging controversy; let’s look at what the skaters actually do.
The “Camel” is a favorite maneuver named for large humped animals. It is defined as “a spin performed in an arabesque (I’m not making this word up!) position.” In summer months it is frequently performed by hardy desert nomads, balanced atop the humps, whose owners also spin with one leg extended forward and the other backward. But that’s because the sand is too hot. In winter the camel is performed by people trained in special Afghani camps. While skating on box cutters, four skaters glide undetected past security, and simultaneously perform Death Spirals around the Axis of Evil. The camel has never been successfully landed–or even positively identified–on air traffic control radar.
Here are some other skating moves:
Spinron – refers to the diversion of Olympic funds to influence competition outcomes. This move is not scored by conventional means as the numbers never seem to add up.
Axel of Evil – any judge spinning out of control.
Death Spiral – spinning past security into any Olympic Venue.
Flip – the act of repeatedly changing one’s score. Used with “flop”.
Salchow – the name of skaters’ favorite fast food venue.
Toe Loop – skating with body piercings visible. Also called “Navel loop” and “Nose loop”.
Lutz – skating backwards away from any Olympic judging controversy.
Variations on the Lutz:
Klutz – a Jamaican skater paired with a skater of any other nationality.
Putz – French judge spinning in chair while the skaters warm-up.
Smutz – off-ice maneuvers performed by IOC members and their guests.
Nutz – any maneuver performed on a hard icy surface while wearing thin blades on your feet while spinning wildly in front of thousands of people, nine of which who can ruin any hope of lucrative post-Olympics corporate product endorsement contracts.
Rutz – failed triple-Klutz resulting in deep nose trenches in ice.
Finally we have the most difficult and rewarding of all maneuvers. Invented in Utah, it is the
Quad Butz Rotation – performed by one man skating on thin ice between four wives and five houses over seven days. Requires immense stamina and dexterity with palm pilots.
If you couldn’t watch a spinning feat and feet in person you probably saw them at home on TV. And by “TV” I mean “commercials”. There were some excellent advertising competitions in 2002. Here’s a typical sample:
“Wipeout Accounting scores big with our customers. We navigate the financial gates of bookkeeping on the icy downhill course of auditing practices so you can cross the finish line of success without blowing-out the knees of your IRA. We show you how to wax the profit margins of defeat and speed to the bottom-line of your employees’ pension plans. At Wipeout Accounting we aim to take you to the high podium of financial reporting success so you can win the Golden Parachute medal of victory.”
But getting back to the skating, because Figure Skating is so prominent and because Salt Lake City achieved particular notoriety in all the controversy, I believe the skating event and the 2002 Games should be retroactively renamed to emphasize their true places in history. Here are some ideas I got by simply rearranging the letters in FIGURE SKATING:
URGING IT’S FAKE
U.S. TAKING GRIEF
FAKE GIG RUNS IT
And to memorialize Utah we can rearrange the letters in SALT LAKE CITY OLYMPIC GAMES to yield:
LET KEY POLYGAMISTS ACCLAIM
LIKE SALTY POLYGAMIST MECCA
CALMEST ICY POLYGAMIST LAKE
Well, that’s all the time we have for this announcer’s recap of the 2002 Mormon Winter Games. It’s time to dope up so we can tolerate Turin. In the torchlight of the $100 million profit and the Emmy award, SLOC has shown us the true meaning of the Olympic Games. And maybe all the steroid doses and the judging and bribery scandals are just sour grapes because in the final score it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you spin the flame.