Holy luge and curling, Batman! The 22nd Winter Olympic Games are underway in Sochi.
I know what you’re thinking: Who not named Shaun White watches the Winter Olympics? Not this guy...well, maybe. Believe it or not, the Winter Olympics have actually produced some pretty interesting moments, on and off the field of play.
In 1994, Harding and Kerrigan were competing for dominance in the world of U.S. women’s figure skating. In an attempt to secure a victory at nationals and an Olympic berth, Harding’s ex-husband ordered a steel-pipe “hit” on Kerrigan’s knees during a practice session.
While I will abstain from divulging what age I was while this real-life Lifetime movie played out on the nightly news, I can tell you that the image of Kerrigan curled up on the floor of an ice rink, holding her knee, and screaming “why!” will forever be ingrained in my memory.
Crazy story, huh? There are many more bizarre instances patched into the quilt of Winter Olympic history. Here are a few of the craziest.
In the Salt Lake City Games, two gold medals were given out to representatives of two different countries (Russia and Canada) for the first time ever.
During the figure skating pairs competition, it was uncovered that the French judge (Marie-Reine Le Gougne) was pressured to award the Canadian team (Jamie Sale and David Pelletier) low scores in hopes of helping the French tandem advance further in the competition. Tsk, tsk.
Ice dancing was almost stripped of its status of being an Olympic sport following discovered instances of corruption in its judging process.
During the Games in Nagano, an ice-dancing judge was recorded trying to predetermine the results of a competition. In weirder news, the average fan still cannot differentiate between ice dancing and figure skating.
The tropical nation of Jamaica sent their first-ever representatives to the Winter Games in the form of a bobsled team.
Yup, you heard me—a Jamaican bobsled team. They didn’t even have their own sled!
Playing the role of the ultimate underdogs, the Jamaican bobsledders captured the hearts of everyone following the Games in Calgary. The pressure of being global darlings must have gotten to them because they crashed their sled during an official run and could not finish the competition.
On the bright side, Disney adapted the team’s experience into a feel good, fish-out-of-water movie called Cool Runnings. Oh, and they are back this year...look out!
Denver became the first city to turn down the opportunity to host the Olympic Games.
In order to quell the concerns many citizens had of overcrowding with the masses of global spectators expected to attend the ceremonies, the Olympic committee moved the games to Innsbruck, Austria.
Wait, an American city turned down an opportunity for publicity and tons of tourist dollars? The '70s were indeed a unique time.
During the Games in Grenoble, Austrian alpine skier Karl Schranz was awarded a “do-over” in the slalom race when he claimed that a “mysterious man dressed in black”, as documented by the Australian Olympic Committee, appeared out of nowhere and interfered in his downhill route, resulting in a slow time.
In his second run, Schranz was able to speed it up and capture the gold medal, only to have it taken away later when judges discovered he missed a slalom gate during his first run.
The old “mysterious man dressed in black” trick almost worked…almost.
With the Sochi Olympics already shrouded in controversy, I’m sure there will be a few noteworthy stories to come out of the 2014 Games. The tales of twin toilets, yellow water and shower surveillance already have me intrigued enough to watch.