Devang Desai

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Canada's Patrick Chan reacts in the "kiss and cry" area during the Figure Skating Men's Free Skating Program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

The stage was set for Canada’s Patrick Chan. The figure skating star that had won everything except Olympic gold just watched his rival, Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu, falter in the free skate.

It was there for the taking. Chan was four and a half minutes away from doing what no Canadian man had done before: win figure skating gold at the Olympics.

Maybe it was the weight of the moment. Maybe it was the tired legs that affected just about every competitor on Friday. Chan didn’t have it.

He made three glaring mistakes during a ‘safe’ program. He played not to lose and lost.

The competition was over, but the fun had just begun.

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People walk past the cauldron at the Olympic Park as the moon rises over the Caucasus Mountains during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics,

Usually, the world’s most corrupt governments like to keep the truly abhorrent stuff behind closed doors.

Shadow trials with ‘judges’ is the common course. Activists sent away three years for a transgression nobody can really pin down is how the story goes.

It’s been different this time. The temerity shown by the Russian government during the Sochi games has been revealing.

Four gay activists were arrested in St.Petersburg on the opening day of the 2014 Winter games. 61 people were detained across Russia on the same day for voicing their displeasure with archaic laws, how much money the games cost and more.

“Human rights are generally violated in Russia,” said Polina Andrianova, a gay-rights activist in St. Petersburg, via the New York Times. “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter.”

Ah, yes. The Olympic Charter. Few things in this world have less relevancy than a charter that looked the other way when Apartheid, racism and fascism stared it in the face.

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SALT LAKE CITY OLYMPIC COMMITTEE CEO MITT ROMNEY SPEAKS DURING NEWS CONFERENCE IN SYDNEY.

Sochi has been inundated with feel-good stories that have warmed the coldest of hearts in recent days.

A Canadian cross-country ski coach, by way of California, became a household name when he came to the assistance of a fallen Russian skier.

Denny Morrison won silver in the men’s 1000m long track speed skating event after his teammate, Gilmore Junio, gave up his spot for the greater good.

That’s all well and good – but the love-in that has become Sochi 2014 is getting a little nauseating.

What happened to the Olympics we knew and loved? The ones with shady back room dealings, rampant doping and if we were lucky, physical violence? Where are the Olympics we jaded cynics grew to appreciate?

Fear not. A quick perusal of the history books reminds us of halcyon times when the Olympics were at their best. An era when the happenings of the Games took a backseat to petulant stars, horribly corrupt officials and trashed hotel rooms.

Sochi After Dark presents the first installment of the “Olympics: the Bad,” when all was right with the world. When Olympic committees and their athletes, unperturbed by public relations flacks and public decorum really showed us what international competition was all about.

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Lipnitskaya of Russia finishes team ladies' free skating at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

There are very few Tara Lipinskis in this world.

The American figure skater captured gold at the Nagano Olympics at the age of 15. For most Olympians, success at such a young age is a death knell.

How do you parlay an early moment of fame into a career? Lipinski did it, touring professionally for several years while making appearances on some of the biggest television shows of the late 90s, including Touched by an Angel, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Malcolm in the Middle.

There was a period of downtime, when Lipinski devoted her efforts to philanthropic endeavours, but she’s back now, leading NBC’s fantastic figure skating coverage alongside Johnny Weir.

Lipinski is an outlier of sorts. For every teenager star that has ‘made it,’ there are others who never found a way to deal with comes after. What happens when the phenomenons of today slide into the abyss that is weekend supermarket appearances for $50 a shot.

The long-term isn’t an issue for most of us currently. Yulia Lipnitskaya and Ayumu Hirano have been the breakout stars of these Olympics because they’re almost too young. No 15-year-old should be able to laugh in the face of reality. Hirano shouldn’t be able to beat Shaun White on the biggest stage. Lipnitskaya shouldn’t be a bigger star at this moment than Evgeni Plushenko.

But they are. They are because the younger these athletes are, the more we are intrigued. The reasons why, however, aren’t always consistent.

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Czech Republic's Moravec stands next to Sweden's Lindstroem at shooting range during men's biathlon 12.5km pursuit event at 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

For one police officer in the sleepy town of University Place, a suburb just outside of Tacoma, biathlon was just a hobby.

“Me and my buddies just loved to ski and shoot on the weekends to unwind, you know,” said officer Mark Pendergrast, father of three.

Little did the 12-year-veteran of the force know his biathlon acumen would help bring down Tacoma’s most notorious criminal, Christoper ‘Slim Thuggins’ Williams.

At around 11 p.m. on January 23, 2012, Pendergrast received an urgent call from dispatch. Williams had been spotted in Chambers Creek Park, just west of 99th ave.

The 35-year-old acted quickly, taking the skis and rifle he had dubbed Batman and Robin out of his trunk.

An hour later the man thought to be Williams was subdued, with one bullet wound in his leg soaking the snow with crimson blood. Later, authorities learned Pendergrast had shot the wrong man, but boy could he ski and shoot.

“Would I do it again?” asked Pendergrast rhetorically. “You bet,” he said while being whisked away for the internal investigation that would eventually cost the city millions.

The Winter Olympics gives us a chance to watch sports we barely get to see. While World Cup events in Oslo provide a welcome respite from Saturday’s crushing hangover, no sleep is lost over the results of a Super G in Kitzbühel.

It’s a different story when the Olympics are involved.

We care about the results because it gives us the opportunity to belittle lesser nations. Have you seen how shambolic Kazakhstan has been in Sochi? My word.

But how much do these skills help Olympians in everyday life, when the games are finished and the advertisers leave? Of what use is an adept ability to hurl a stone down a sheet of ice when gunmen are holding your family hostage at a Radisson in Budapest?

Sochi After Dark presents the 2014 utility rankings of Olympic sports.

5) Biathlon

Long before the days of pizza delivery and public transportation humans relied on two things. Hunting their food and moving from place to place by their own means.

Biathlon combines the two seamlessly. Skis and rifles remain a way of life in the most northern parts of the world.

Most kids today can’t even load their own rifles. Somewhere along the way we, as a society, lost our way.

4) Figure Skating

You can’t make it in Hollywood these days without being a dual threat.

Sure he can act, but can he dance? Scott Moir, one half of the Moir/Virtue ice dancing team, has been hailed as one of the best actors not plying his trade for the big studios. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

 

Moir1

 

Moir2

 

An insider taking a break from the game–he currently sells fabric in Toronto– once told me Moir can be the next Zach Braff, but with actual talent. Doubt him at your own peril.

3) Bobsleigh

Simply put these people are probably the most fit people at the Olympics. Whether they’re fire fighters back home or club bouncers at some of the world’s sketchiest clubs, these people have true value to the world outside of a sleigh.

When your head is being smashed into the pavement for being jerk at China Rouge, the hottest club in Macau, remember these faces. Also remember that you probably deserved it.

2) Snowboarding

All of the cool people I knew growing up where snowboarders. Now our definition of ‘cool’ changes as we grow older, and some of these people currently list vagrant as their occupation, but snowboarders remain some of the slickest, most laid back folks there are.

Whether it’s touring with the X-Games are doing whatever Red Bull tells them to do, being a professional snowboarder has perks beyond competing at the Olympics.

One time my dentist used the word ‘stoked’ unironically during a cleaning. Needless to say I changed dentists shortly after.

1) Speed Skating

Having legs the size of tree trunks will come in handy when the world devolves into a winter hell scape devoid of warmth and the sun.

By then we’ll be living on a giant sheet of ice, with roving bands of thugs on skates menacing the weak and weary, demanding what little food they have left.

Skating at high speeds will come in handy. You can be sure the Dutch will become our new overlords when, not if, iceworld becomes a reality. Get to the leg press while you still can.

NYT2

The town of Akhshtyr, a mountain village close to the border with Georgia, is within spitting distance of the $8.6 billion road super road slash high-speed railway built to connect Sochi to the mountains that surrounded the Black Sea resort town.

map

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India's Keshavan prepares for the start during the men's luge training at the Sanki sliding center in Rosa Khutor, a venue for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics near Sochi

The Press Trust of India’s assessment of Luger Shiva Keshavan’s performance in Sochi was blunt: he sucked.

The 32-year-old placed 37th out of 39 competitors after his final two runs on Sunday. This wasn’t a surprising result. He had finished 28th in Nagano, 33rd in Salt Lake City, 25th in Torino and 29th in Vancouver.

There’s more to this story.

The fact Keshavan competed after falling off his sled during a training run was a marvel in itself.

His training regimen on the highways of the Himalayas became a internet sensation because, well, take a look for yourself.

Olympics: Figure Skating-Team Pairs Free Skating
The two men – dressed well, but not suspiciously so – walked into the restaurant and sat at a table near the back.

Their waiter approached with a friendly smile, but the gentlemen were not in the mood to talk.

“Close the restaurant,” grumbled the older, more sinister of the pair. “Tell everyone else to leave.”

The waiter, unaware why an Olive Garden in Queens would be the preferred destination for these two ‘businessmen’, called his manager.

“We can’t close the restaurant, fellas. I’m sorry.” At that point the man who had yet to speak opened his coat to reveal a Glock 36. The manager of the best Olive Garden in New York understood. “We’re closed, everyone. Go home.”

The best conspiracy theories involve completely outlandish reasoning. Why would they do that? How does this make sense?

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Olympic flame is seen after the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

With the opening ceremony out of the way we can start looking forward to the events. Here’s everything you need to know about the XXII Olympic Winter Games.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing consists of the Downhill, Super Combined, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom.

Olympics: Opening Ceremony

Toronto, land of the untamed politician, provided the perfect lead-in to Friday’s opening ceremony in Sochi.

There, the maligned mayor of North America’s fourth largest city demanded a Pride flag, flown at City Hall to promote LGBTQ rights during the Olympics, be taken down.

“This is about [the] Olympics,” said Rob Ford. “This is about being [patriotic], this is not about someone’s sexual preference.” Ford wasn’t alone. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong echoed Ford’s message. “It should be about sport and about Canadians,” he told reporters. Fly a Canadian flag. This isn’t about politics.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Toronto’s political class is wrong. The Olympics are a political spectacle. No other sporting event combines patriotic chest thumping with geopolitical nonsense so seamlessly. The IOC, global leaders in institutionalized corruption, love the stuff. It gets them into the best parties.

The opening ceremonies at Fisht Olympic Stadium were spell binding. An array of vibrant dance sequences, booming musical numbers and visually stunning pyrotechnics were accompanied by the Parade of Nations, speeches from dignitaries and of course, the lighting of the Olympic flame.

It wasn’t all clean, however, and those who doubt the Olympics’ ability to spew political narratives must not have watched Friday’s extravaganza.

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