Adam Goldfarb, the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide, The Guide for a Single Man and The Guide for a Single Woman. lists 19 things to know about the Games “to become, well, not an expert, but at least well versed.”
By Adam Goldfarb
The Summer Olympics are not designed for the lazy person. It’s hard to feel good about yourself, lounging in a La-Z-Boy and crushing some beers, while nearly-nude specimens are sprinting by in a blur, their muscles rippling and gleaming with sweat.
That’s why the Winter Olympics are so swell. With all the athletes covered up in parkas, ski caps, and goggles, and it being freezing outside in most of the country, being a lazy ass is way more acceptable.
Of course, the Winter Olympics is more esoteric than the Summer Games. There’s no running, jumping, or throwing shit—the general basis of athletic endeavor. The Winter Games are dominated by sports you’ve never even heard of, can’t believe are real—like, who the hell came up with skeleton?—or can’t afford to play anyway.
There’s no time to learn everything, so you’ll need a lazy person’s crash course to the two-week spectacle.
1. It’s being held in South Korea.
That’s the “good” one. (Although host city PyeongChang is just 50 miles from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.)
2. They’ve hosted once before.
That time it was the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, 78 miles west of PyeongChang. It was the last-ever Olympics to include the Soviet Union and East Germany. That was also the Olympics that a ’roided-up Ben Johnson ran the 100 meters in, like, four seconds.
3. North Korea is participating.
The North and South Koreans formed a joint team. That should go smoothly.
4. Russia isn’t competing, though.
That’s because of mass doping allegations. Nevertheless, certain (clean) Russian athletes are competing. I know, it’s odd. They’ll march under a flag for OAR, Olympic Athletes of Russia.
5. It’s already tomorrow in PyeongChang.
South Korea is 14 hours ahead of the East Coast. That means whatever you are watching on primetime TV is probably live and NBC can’t do their typical bullshit where they edit taped events together like some reality show and then tease the one event you actually want to watch for three hours before airing it a few minutes before midnight.
6. The one U.S. Olympian you’ve probably heard of is still pretty good.
Many experts place Lindsey Vonn as the favorite in the women’s downhill, even though since the 2014 Olympics she’s severely fractured her humerus, suffered a major back injury, made Toni Lehren yell on Fox News (but who hasn’t?), and faced typical airlines nonsense to actually get to Korea.
7. Oh wait, you’ve heard of Shaun White, too.
8. Is that Bode Miller guy still around?
No. Er, yes, but he’s now an NBC analyst. He’ll probably still figure out a way to clip a gate and crash.
9. Who is going to be the previously unknown U.S. darling of this Olympiad?
Even after a poor start to his Olympics on Thursday night, 18-year-old figure skating prodigy Nathan Chen is your best bet to make it on a Wheaties box.
10. The US Hockey team is not the Dream Team.
The Games have gone back to using non-NHL players for the first time since 1994. The U.S. team, made up mostly of washed-up former players like 39-year-old Brian Gionta, is not expected to medal.
11. Just like Ghostbusters, Cool Runnings is being remade with women.
The Jamaicans sent a women’s team to compete in bobsled this year, and they’ll be driving a rental sled. Even if John Candy comes back from the dead to coach them, they are unlikely to make the podium. (Side note: The Montego Bay airport has a Cool Runnings-themed bar that plays the movie on a loop 24/7. Worth a visit!) Nigeria is also sending a women’s bobsled team to PyeongChang, making it the first African Olympic Team to compete in the sport.
12. Curling rules!
Curlers wear blousey sweatshirts and ugly slacks and their sporting equipment is a damn broomstick. Yet somehow, this slow-moving sport is incredibly captivating and these curlers are still a ton more flexible than you are. Did you really think a bunch of Molson-guzzling Canadians would play something boring? Plus, for the first time, there’s “mixed doubles” curling this year.
13. Another cool first-time event is mass start speed skating.
It’s like a fucking!
14. Yet the only event with guns is surprisingly boring.
That’s biathlon. Cross-country ski for five kilometers, shoot a rifle at a still target, ski some more, shoot some more. So boring. Having said that, Susan Dunklee has a good shot to be the first U.S. Olympian to ever medal in the event.
15. Johnny Weir is still fabulous.
The figure skating announcer is makinglook demure these days and continuing to infuriate the kinds of Twitter users who use Pepe the Frog as their avatar.
16. There’s an openly gay Olympian that refuses to meet Mike Pence.
The vice president and his wife, Karen, are leading the US delegation in South Korea. Current US figure skater Adam Rippon, the first openly gay American to quality for the Games, made some remarks about Pence last month, telling USA Today: “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it.” (The same Mike Pence who President Trump allegedly said wants to hang gay people.) Pence, however, really wants Rippon to know there’s no hard feelings.
17. The hunky Tongan is back.
Remember Pita Taufatofua walking into the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony looking like a bucket of Turtle Wax had been dumped over his torso? Well, guess what, he’s back for the Winter Games. He wasn’t particularly great at tae kwon do and he’s not particularly great at cross-country skiing either. As Tonga’s only Winter Olympian he was again their flag bearer and, even with temperatures below freezing in PyeongChang, he went shirtless. Don’t feel bad, he may have better abs, but in two weeks he’ll have the same numbers of Olympic medals as you.
18. The Olympic rivalry most likely to be made into an I, Tonya-like movie in 20 years.
American Alpine skier Ted Ligety versus Austrian star Marcel Hirscher. Ligety got steamed when a giant slalom race, in Austria of all places, was canceled due to “inclement weather” (even though there wasn’t any) at the same time Hirscher was nursing an injury. Like any good American, Ligety went bonkers on Twitter, which is how we handle things these days as opposed to hiring mustachioed hitmen.
19. No, the U.S. will not win the most overall medals.
Norway, Germany, or even Canada will. Yes, Trump will likely tweet-blame Democrats or undocumented immigrants for this, maybe both.