Su Lum: Slummin
August 20, 2008
A lot of us at The Aspen Times have been a bit bleary-eyed after staying up until the wee hours to watch the gymnastics finals, the thousandth swimming event and the trillionth ad. Budweiser seemed to be the only one savvy enough to put a number of different ads into the rotation.
Worst ad medal goes to the Sylvester Stallone look-alike who knocks down the Parthenon with a discus. I have no idea what the ad was for (demerits for product branding), but every time it came on I thought, “Oh no, that thing again.”
Not being one for ceremony, I missed the opening ceremonies with the “computer enhanced” fireworks and the Milli Vanilli moment when the pretty little girl lip-synched what the ugly little girl sang.
The prestidigitation continued when we were told not to believe our lying eyes, the Chinese gymnast, Kexin He, who looked for all the world like a girl of 10, was really 16. Really. Truly. Can’t modern science determine gymnasts’ age by their teeth? Hint ” if they still have baby teeth they are under 7.
Speaking of science, whatever happened to those saliva tests to determine gender? Inquiring minds were curious about some of those female weight lifters.
New viewers could not be faulted if they assumed that the Olympics involved a contest between China and the United States, with a few “extras” to fill out the events. You watch a couple of hours of Chinese and American gymnasts and when the final scores come in, whoa: FRANCE? RoMANia? Where did those guys come from? I guess they did their routines while NBC was slo-mo-ing us and the Chinese contestants, with interruptions for Michael Phelps to get yet another gold, zooming in on his face during the national anthem, looking for tears.
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I was close to tears watching the little girl gymnasts sitting alone winding bandages around their ankles, toes and wrists. Hey ” MEDic!
The announcers, as well as being a pain in the butt, were brutal. “Well, THAT will give him nightmares for the rest of his life.” “That was the very best he could do” (implication: not very well). “That was a disaster of epic proportions.” And my favorite, said of a diver, “She looked like the Tin Man before Dorothy found the oil can.”
I remember the first time a male gymnast ever let go of the high bar (on purpose) and grabbed it again. It brought the house down. Now they routinely fly off the bar, do a couple of back somersaults with twist variations, grab the bar and do it again.
In my day Sonja Heine was the darling of the world and top star of the Ice Capades. Her tricks were to skate around the rink with one leg out behind her, and to go into a sit spin with her leg stuck out in front of her. No triple jumps there.
Sonja, by the way, was 11 when she entered her first Olympic competition in 1924, and Nadia Comaneci was 14 when she swept the boards with 10s in 1976, so maybe the age limit should be lowered. I think the idea was to protect young bones but hell, if they start training at age 3, shouldn’t we let them have a shot before puberty sets in? I don’t have the answer.
All I know is, we’ve come a long way, babies, and the ante and the stakes keep getting higher and higher. Kind of like trophy homes in Aspen.
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