14 February 2006

Winter Olympics update

BerlinBear avatarI didn't get a chance to post a round-up of the Germany's performance at the Winter Olympics in Turin last night, so I'm making up for it now, inspired by the news that the German team has picked up its third gold medal this morning, in the men's biathlon.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. What happened yesterday? Well, it was certainly a better day for Germany than Sunday had been. The medal count grew by one (or 33%, if you're a glass-half-full kind of person) with a bronze medal for biathlete Martina Glagow. Though a medal of one colour or another in the women's 15 kilometre race was at least hoped for, nay expected, the winner was something of a surprise. Glagow was perhaps the least favoured of the German women in that race, whereas Uschi Disl and Kati Wilhelm had been expected to dominate. No such luck for them though, as they performed poorly in the shooting to finish 13th and 17th respectively. It was Glagow's sister's birthday yesterday, and the medal was dedicated to her - with tears of joy all round. Martina Glagow is delightful and was feted on all the television shows last night. She must have spent the whole afternoon and evening racing from one studio to the next, poor thing, but her smile never faded. If you're interested
, she has her own web presence and even her own fan club. Lucky for some.

What else was yesterday? Well, the German figureskating pair (or are they called ice-dancers these days? I can't keep up) of Aljona Savchenko und Robin Szolkowy (good German names those) did alright, considering that they had been put through two weeks of hell before the Olympics as a scandal erupted around their trainer, Ingo Steuer. He stands accused of working for the Stasi, the infamous East German Secret Police, back in the bad old days. Accordingly, there was a big kerfuffle with the German Olympic Federation attemmpting to bar him from attending the Olympics as a trainer. Despite all the hoo-hah, the pair finished sixth and are considered a real hope for the future. Incidentally, one of the pleasures of watching figure skating in Germany is the commentary. It's not just that the commentators and presenters know what they are talking about (not necessarily the case in New Zealand, I assure you), but that one of them is Katarina Witt. Woohoo!

There were other events, of course, but none that really caught my eye or made big headlines in Germany. (This is very subjective Olympics reporting, in case you hadn't already noticed.)

Which brings me back to today and another gold medal. Sport1.de screams in its current front page headline:

GOLD! Fischer has race of his life

which should give you a clue that a) the biathlete in question's name is (Sven) Fischer and b) the Germans are quite excited about his victory this morning in the men's 10 kilometre sprint event, beating the two Norwegian stars Halvard Hanevold and Frode Andresen into second and third respectively.

The Germans are also expecting more precious metal this evening, when the final round of the women's luge is completed. Overnight, the German women were sitting pretty in ranks 1, 2 and 3.

Perhaps the most amusing Olympics "news" I've seen so far is the (unsolicited) opinion of fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana on the uniforms worn by the various teams at the opening ceremony. The fact that they described the German team as "looking like they'd had an overdose of Vitamin C" has been noted with some mirth here. It is, incidentally, an utterly accurate observation. The Chinese team came off even worse though. Apparently their uniforms are too kitschy and their long jackets made them
“look like sandwiches, even shorter than they already are.”

Delightful. D&G reserved their greatest praise for the Kazakh team:
“If casting for a fashion show, we would hire these athletes in a second: so stylish in their black coats and Borsalino hats, so Dolce and Gabbana.”

I'll leave you to decide how seriously that needs to be taken. But I will give you a little taste of what a Vitamin C overdose looks like. It looks like this:

And it looks like this:

Yes, those really are examples of the German team's standard sweaters and jackets at this Olympics. All the rest of their leisure and warm-up kit (not the racing kit, that's in traditional white, black, red and gold) looks similarly, umm, loud, in the same colour-scheme. It looks really good on some of the athletes and terrible on others. C'est la vie, I suppose.

Perhaps you'll get a further update this evening, especially if the luge ladies clean up. Let's wait and see.