The Aussies are mad at us for winning gold in men’s moguls. They say the judges gave unfairly high marks to Alexandre Bilodeau. Skiers are mad at us about the cross-country course. They say it has too many turns and hills and whatever. And everyone is mad at us for the Muppet movie unfolding down at the speedskating oval, where competition has been marred by resurfacing delays and inconsistencies.
At the Whistler Media Centre, there are high-def TVs providing live feeds from all the competition venues here and in Vancouver. There’s no sound – just the images. I sat down to watch a little bit of the men’s 500-metre sprint, and instead I got a weird silent movie entitled Let Us Now Point at the Ice and Shake Our Heads in Dismay.
4:45 p.m. PT A coach from the Netherlands is gesturing at the ice. He looks angry. He theatrically musses his long floppy hair. His hair looks even angrier.
4:46 Closeup on the ice. It looks as smooth as Ray Liotta’s face.
4:47 Someone pulls out a walkie-talkie. This is getting serious.
4:49 Uh oh. Up until now it’s been team officials and Olympic organizers in blue jackets pointing at the ice and shaking their heads in dismay. Now onto the scene comes… a Man Wearing a Suit.
4:51 Man Wearing a Suit holds an intense conversation with Cringing Underling Holding a Clipboard.
4:53 The coach from the Netherlands returns to shake his hair at anyone foolish enough to get in his way.
4:55 A U.S. coach points at the ice. A Japanese points at the ice and tilts his head skeptically. Your move, Uncle Sam.
5:12 Crowd shots. There’s no audio, so I’m left to deduce from the movements on the screen that people are either singing along to YMCA or suffering a collective seizure.
5:16 Long, thrilling shot of an official running his hand gently, seductively, along the surface of the ice. In slow-motion. Wocka-wocka-WAH. (Porn music.)
5:20 Every silent movie needs a villain, and onto the scene comes… Sweet mercy, that’s Ottavio Cinquanta! Last seen presiding over the 2002 pairs figure skating debacle in which a Russian couple won gold, then Jamie Sale and David Pelletier won gold, then everybody else on earth with skates won gold, etc. etc. Relax, everyone: Ottavio Cinquanta will solve this ice-resurfacing problem (come get your gold medal, Zamboni driver).
5:29 Ottavio Cinquanta keeps talking to a group of officials and workers. I’m beginning to suspect he solved the crisis several minutes ago but now is just telling everyone that his hotel suite has a hot tub.
5:34 After a 90-minute delay, skating begins. Ottavio Cinquanta is free to go. And just in time! He’s got a 5:45 appointment to tie a helpless woman to some train tracks.