I didn't medal because your pants are snug - Macleans.ca

I didn’t medal because your pants are snug

Scott Feschuk on blamers vs. complainers


I didn't medal because your pants are snugIt’s coming down to the wire—the Olympics are almost over and it’s neck and neck. Forget the medals podium, where the U.S. is running away with it. Focus instead on the race that’s riveting spectators around the world: who will win Olympic gold in the epic battle between Blamers and Complainers?

Before we recap the competition so far, a word to all the impressionable young children out there. Kids, if you want to grow up to be a Winter Olympian, you need to work incredibly hard, push the boundaries of fitness and endurance, or become a curler. But you also need to set aside time in your training day to prepare for the possibility of defeat. If defeat comes, you need to be ready to deal with it by insisting it’s the fault of someone or something else: your coach, your outfit, your barista, whatever. You need to be ready to blame or complain at an elite level.

Let’s take a look at some of the truly stellar performers from the 21st Winter Games:

The Blamers
Canadian skeleton racer Mike Douglas was disqualified for failing to remove the guards on his sled in time, and blamed his coach. Norwegian biathlon legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen finished 17th in the sprint and blamed the weather. A Russian skier did poorly in a cross-country race and blamed an early morning drug test.

Dale Begg-Smith finished second in the moguls and blamed biased judging. A U.S. speed skater failed to get a medal and blamed the “sticky” ice. Japanese speed skater Tomomi Okazaki finished 16th in the 500-m and blamed “the devils” inside her.

A Russian in the men’s biathlon blamed the snow for his 30th-place finish. A goalie on the Russian women’s team blamed the team’s failures on high humidity in the arena. The British press blamed Vancouver organizers for everything from the death on the sliding track to the weather to—I’m pretty sure—Prince’s last five sub-par albums.

American lugers performed poorly and blamed changes in the location of the starting line. Norway fell short in a men’s cross-country race and the team’s coach blamed the people who wax the skis. Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison failed to win a medal and blamed the Own the Podium program, his teammates and pretty much everyone associated with the Olympic movement.

The International Biathlon Union blamed “inexperienced volunteers” for a series of botched starts. Brian Joubert of France, a former world champion figure skater, finished 16th at the Olympics and blamed “personal problems.” John Shuster, skip of the American curling team, lost three straight extra-end games and blamed…himself. (Kids, ignore this man. He’s obviously lost all sense of what it means to be an Olympian.)

The Complainers
A Polish skier complained the cross-country course has “too many corners and hills.” Canadian skeleton racer Jeff Pain complained that his German rivals had attached magnets to their sleds. The Austrians lost at Large Hill ski jump and complained about the “modified boot bindings” worn by gold medallist Simon Ammann.

Skeleton rivals failed to beat gold medallist Amy Williams and complained about the contours on her helmet. Charles Hamelin failed to win a medal in a short-track final and complained about the noise of the crowd. Several curling teams lost matches and complained they were distracted by raucous spectators.

Evgeni Plushenko lost to Evan Lysacek and complained about Lysacek’s decision to not attempt a quad jump. Lysacek complained about Plushenko’s complaining. Plushenko’s wife complained about the “gross mistake” made by the judges.

American snowboarder Nate Holland complained that the pants worn by his Canadian rivals were too snug. Many foreign skiers complained they weren’t given ample time to train on Whistler’s runs in advance of the Games. Many Canadians complained that our athletes were given ample time to train and it didn’t seem to help.

So it’s a close race: some great blaming, some quality complaining. It’s a shame one of these two is going to have to lose, though afterwards it’ll be great to hear the excuses.

One final word to the kids. Boys and girls, as you aspire to one day wind up on the podium, or to undermine those standing there instead of you, it’s important to have a role model—and I don’t think you could pick anyone better than Elvis Stojko.

Stojko retired as an Olympian years ago, but he came into these Winter Games as though he’d just complained yesterday. He complained about figure skating’s new scoring system. He complained about Lysacek winning the gold medal. He complained about Canadian hopeful Patrick Chan not attempting a quad jump. He even complained about his complaints being complained about by a Skate Canada official. You can’t teach that kind of complaining.

So get back to your training. Ski those hills. Skate that track. Strive to be the best. And at all times remember the Olympic motto: Swifter, Higher, Waaaah! I’m Telling My Mommy!


I didn’t medal because your pants are snug

  1. I hate sore losers (Plushenko: I'm looking at you)

    But I have things to say about 2 commonly looked at as sore losers of this game:
    Apollo Ohno- The call was very subjective, and I don't think he voiced his opinion disgraciously or distastefully and he had a right to, in my opinion (yes, I am Canadian and I am very happy that we got 2 medals in that event). Besides, he was shut out all together (of that competition; he made it clear that he was very grateful for his other medals), it's not like he came in second or something.

    Speaking of coming in second, GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT. What you said about Dale Begg-Smith is totally inaccurate: the Australian's said that, yes, but Dale made a point of saying that he had no dispute with the judging and was ahppy for Alex's win. As for the people that say he looked like a sour puss, there were PLENTY of other athletes that looked WAY more dissapointed than him with a silver, he wasn't actually showing much emotion at all (either way), which he did when he won gold too…..the media and people just love to pick on this guy because he's (presumably) shy and private.

    Anyway, I LOVED the games (how crazy was Vancouver the other day after the Hockey win!), I always love the Winter Games, thank you to all the athletes and I'm looking forward to Sochi (which looks absolutely stunning!)

    • Begg-Smith looked, acted and sounded like a whiny baby. What were you looking at?

      • He looked…. emotionless. And never said anything against Alex or the judges. What were you looking at?

  2. Speedskater Sven Kramer also blamed his coach for not winning the gold (maybe rightly).

    Anyone who feels too badly for him, should watch this amusing video:

    Karma's a youknowwhat.

  3. I think the point is that, justified or not, complaining is pretty much irrelevant in terms of people caring or making any difference. So you might as well not do it. Unless there’s a French judge involved somewhere, that is.

  4. Amazing how the Dutch bobsled team has avoided comment by MacCleans. For those of you who didn't hear, their captain, Edwin van Calker, took one look at the Whistler track then decided it was "too dangerous" for him. So he flew back to Holland leaving his team stranded and non-competing. They didn't even have the chance to make a single practice run. I believe his action was unprecedented; I don't think any Olympic athlete has just openly chickened out like that in any previous Olympics.

    • I'm curious, was that before the luger's death or after? If it happened before the luger tragedy, his actions seem hauntingly prescient.

  5. Scott

    You forgot a complaint;

    Scott Feschuk having lost his Olympic spirit complained about;
    1. The speed of luge runs
    2. The competitiveness of women's hockey
    3. The Olympic ads
    4. The self esteem issues caused by the physical fitness of the athletes
    5. The lack of physical fitness of Olympic curlers (bonus points for finding a way to complain on both sides of that issue).

    I usually enjoy your cynicism but the series of articles on the Olympics is putting you dangerously close to Andy Rooney territory. You might want to check your eyebrows. Do they bare any resemblance to Ignatieff's? If so, it might be too late to turn back.

  6. This was funny stuff. Not all accurate, but no worries. It's not a serious piece of journalism or anything.

    Did the bialthlete really blame the snow? As for speedskating, the "sticky" track seemed to benefit the Koreans and hurt the Canadians and Americans in the early going, until they adapted. I got the impression they just weren't as prepared for skating on that type of ice as the Koreans and some of the Europeans were. Then again, it was just an impression.

  7. Elvis Stojko has been complaining about (the lack of) the quad for a long time.

  8. Feschuk, My favorite article is still "what's eating you mother earth?" but I love reading the things you write regardless of what it is on.