Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.22.10
Stanstead, Quebec


Your Winter Olympic questions answered

Why the Winter Olympics?

The Winter Olympics were created in 1924 as a showcase for winter sports and as a means for North American and European countries to win more medals without interference from those pesky southern hemisphere competitors.

The Winter Olympics are also a means of distracting the population from the cold days of February and from controversial global events, such as, in the case of the current Olympics, Canada's participation in the largest air assault in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not competing in Vancouver but is expected to be a contender in the 2012 summer games in the 500 Metre Fleeing From Gunfire Relay.

What is a mogul?

A mogul is a bump in the middle of a ski run. Moguls first appeared in Slovenstrudenwonkenhammer, Switzerland as a result of incompetent trail grooming. Resort owner Jorgen Borgen convinced patrons that the bumps on the trail were intentional. The patrons bought it and surprisingly enjoyed it, which says a lot about skiers. Soon, Borgen was constructing moguls on ski hills throughout Europe, becoming the world's first mogul mogul.

In Lillehammer in 1994, Olympic organizers attempted to transform their entire ski hill into one giant mogul but failed miserably, which is what happens when you make a mountain out of a mogul.

How did curling become an Olympic sport?

Curling was introduced out of pity for Canada, which, for a country where winter lasts 321 days, hadn't exactly been raking in the medals. Canada pleaded with the IOC to introduce some sport that Canadians exclusively excelled in. With darts disqualified as a bi-seasonal sport, curling was in.

Since the introduction of curling as a competitive sport in 1998, however, Canada has started to show some snowballs in other sports, especially hockey. As a result, curling may be removed as a competitive sport and replaced with something Canadians are terrible at, namely Downhill Federal-Provincial Relations.

What's with the ice dancing?

Don't knock ice dancing! It takes tremendous athletic skill to pull off the difficult moves as well as tremendous chutzpah to pull off the costumes. The skaters must demonstrate grace, cohesion, athleticism, creativity, and abominable taste in music in order to impress the judges and win sponsorship deals.

Ice dancing is also hugely popular with spectators, so much so that Olympic officials are considering combining skating with other arts, including ice painting, ice cooking, and ice karaoke.

Speaking of abominable, what's with the French judges?

The French hate figure skating. This stems from the days of German-occupied France when the Nazis forced citizens to perform double axels at gunpoint. Sadly, the rest of the western world turned its back on this atrocity, and the French have never forgotten it. Consequently, they have vowed to ruin figure skating for all mankind. And yet strangely, we keep giving them judging credentials...

The biathlon: am I missing something?

Again, there's a historic connection. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviets plotted out invasion scenarios. However, after viewing the humiliation of the Russians in the 1984 Patrick Swayze film Red Dawn, the Soviets realized that they could have defeated those irritating teen American rebel-warriors if only they had been adept at shooting on skis. Thus, a new sport was introduced, and because this was the Cold War with its arms race and space race, there was a resulting biathlon race. Though still an Olympic event, the biathlon has lost favour in a post-Soviet world where shooting on skis is useful only if you're James Bond.

Is doping prevalent in the Winter Olympics?

Not as much as in the Summer Olympics, although in 2002, three Austrian skiers were stripped of their medals after they tested positive for blood doping, and a Canadian curler was disqualified after his blood was found to be 82 percent mashed potatoes.

One more figure skating question: Given the limitations of the human body, gravity and skates, is there anywhere else for the sport to go?

Two words: Jet packs.