- The winter Olympics start a week from today, and the projected temperature for first day of competition is a not-particularly-wintry 45 degrees. Nobody could have predicted this would happen when you hold the games in a beach resort town, huh?
- Russia was awarded the games in part due to the efforts of Gafur Rakhimov to line up support among Asian countries for Russia's bid. Rakhimov is described by the U.S. government as a key member of an international crime syndicate called the Brother's Circle and one of the world's leading heroin kingpins. Rakhimov responded to allegations that he secured the support of some nations with bribes by saying, "It was not necessary."
- Speaking of bribes, one Russian businessman who alleged that the government demanded kickbacks in exchange for construction contracts in Sochi says he was told that for his whistleblowing, "You will be drowned in blood!" This may or may not be a quaint Russian expression meaning, "All the ladies of the village will bring you borscht to restore our friendship and trust."
- And speaking of ladies, women will be competing in ski jumping for the first time at these games. In 2005, the president of the International Ski Federation explained that it would be improper for them to participate in the sport, because, "Don't forget, it's like jumping down from, let's say, about two meters on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view." Hopefully, none of the competitors' ovaries will explode when they hit the ground.
- Eighteen athletes from mostly warm-weather countries will be going to the Sochi Olympics all by themselves, making their inevitable last-place finishes all the more poignant. So spare a moment to cheer for Tongan luger (lugist?) Bruno Banani, Paraguayan slopestyle skier Julia Marino (a new event, slopestyle is what would happen if you covered a skate park in snow and skied through it), or Bermudan cross-country shusher Tucker Murphy, who will be wearing shorts at the opening and closing ceremonies (really!).
- Honoring a long tradition, Ralph Lauren created positively ghastly uniforms for the American athletes to wear during the opening ceremonies, complete with dorky hats. If we want to make a real splash in 2018, we could dress them in the Imperial Snowtrooper uniforms Darth Vader's troops wore during the Battle of Hoth. Just a thought.
- With three retired gay athletes in the official American delegation to the games, other gay athletes coming out, and straight athletes speaking out in opposition to Russia's oppressive anti-gay policies, it's safe to say that this has become the gayest Olympics ever, or at least since the Greeks did all that naked wrestling. How do you like that, Vladimir?
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