By Don Stuart
---- — Of all the exciting events on tap during the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, NONE promises to be so much fun as this column previewing them!
Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Heck, this might not even be the most fun pre-Olympic preview, considering that NBC television has posted a video about “Russia’s Vodka History.”
Did you know that the guy who invented the Periodic Table of Elements – Dmitri Mendeleev, dedicated his doctoral studies to perfecting vodka’s chemistry, and published the “standardized” formula for vodka in 1894?
These days, there are more than 600 different brands of Russian vodka. And one of them is named Mendeleev Vodka. It’s got the crystal clear water and fermented wheat that every “standardized” Russian vodka must have. But dark rumors have it that it gets its extra-special kick from the addition of healthy amounts of Mendelevium, the element named after Dmitri. I think this could possibly be true. After all, as I knew even before I double-checked on the internet, Mendelevium is “a metallic radioactive transuranic element in the actinide series”; and on the Mendeleev Vodka website, there are numerous photos of bee-yoo-tee-ful Russian girls posing with bottles of the stuff while wearing bikinis that barely hide any of their positively radioactive suntans.
Speaking of bee-yoo-tee-ful girls (how’s that for a smooth segue back to the topic of this column?), let’s get up-close and personal with one who will compete in downhill skiing. It’s Chemmy Alcott of Great Britain, which is either part of England or the United Kingdom, I’m not sure which.
Chemmy might strike you as an unusual name, largely because it is. It’s short for “Chimene,” which Alcott’s mother chose after watching the movie El Cid, which featured a character named “Chimena,” portrayed by Sophia Loren, who many would agree was every bit as hot as a metallic radioactive transuranic element in the actinide series.
Anyway, I rooted out some biographical info on Chemmy and on one website, she recounts a dream she had as a little girl, which she wrote down so she wouldn’t forget it. In it, she wins an Olympic gold medal, sings the British national anthem atop the medal podium, and is embraced by a throng of adoring fans before winding up in the arms of her mother, who whispers to her “Darling, your hair isn’t right.”
Among some of the other Sochi Olympians that I found notable:
• A guy from Austria who rides the luge – a mode of transport that can easily get airborne – has a most appropriate name for a luger, because it reminds me of a boy who could fly: Peter Penz.
• Carmen Kung is a curler for Switzerland and Cong Han is a figure skater from China, and if only they were partners in ice dancing, or pairs figure skating, you’d have the team of Kung/Cong.
• Pretend you’re watching “Jersey Shore” (you’d pretend because nobody actually watches that, right?) and let’s say Snooki tells Pauly D that she wants JWoww (I only know these names from Googling them, honest!) to meet them. Wouldn’t Snooki say to Pauly D something like this Russian ski jumper’s last name? – Irina Avvakumova.
(C’mon, think along with me; start with four English words – “have her come over”; convert into one Joisey word; Avvakumova!)
• I don’t know about you, but I can really groove to the rhythms of the Japanese Olympians:
Fujimoto, Fujimura, Nagashima, Ito.
Ishizawa, Murikami, Oshigiri, Kato.
Sakagami, Takahashi, Yamanaka, Kubo.
And so on.
• Officials at the Sochi hockey venues are wrestling with the problem of how to keep fights from breaking out between fans of Niklas Bäckström. This is because Niklas Bäckström plays goalie for Finland. And Niklas Bäckström plays forward for Sweden. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Anyway, the point is, there are two hockey-playing guys named Niklas Bäckström.
This could present interesting challenges for TV announcers. Can you imagine Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray trying to deal with this? “Holy COW, did that guy just score a goal on himself? Hey, did you know that Bäckström spelled backwards is ‘Mörtskcäb’?”
• Lastly, the Canadian women’s hockey team has a player that reminds me of the vast number of icons cluttering my cell phone screen – dumb games and diversions No. 5 son (age 12) has downloaded: Gillian Apps.