The Sochi Column - Issue 4

Kel Verbiest Kel Verbiest

Well, well, well. Where the shit do we start?! I know, let’s start with the WEEDLYMPICS! Yes, I wrote the Weedlympics but there’s a very good reason to do so but maybe I should copyright it first just in case someone decides to hold the first official Weedlympics. Let me explain.

Weed at the Winter Olympics

Weedlympics

The World Anti-Doping Agency met in May to discuss the allowed level of marajuana intake for athletes. It seems that they believed the threshold of permitted ‘cannabinoids’ in the body during a test of 15 nanograms per millilitre was too small. So they increased it tenfold to 150 ng/ml. Now, the new limits will come into action in the weeks leading up to World Cup competitions and the Olympics but does it actually mean that the riders will take advantage of it? Probably not, no.
You see, skiers have been used to the restrictions of the WADA for a long time and athletes (not just skiers) are well aware of what they are allowed and not allowed to take. I would safely assume that you aren’t going to see Tom Wallisch sparking up a joint just before he drops in.
There’s a huge culture of weed smoking in the sport of snowboarding and skiing but not at professional level. The only one skier that has been spoken about for smoking weed would be Tanner Hall but we’re not saying that he definitely does or doesn’t! You may also remember that Ross Rebagliati, winner of the first snowboarding gold medal in the Winter Olympics, was stripped of his medal for having THC in his system – weed basically. It got overturned as marajuana wasn’t on the banned substance list at the time but what does this mean now?
We could get a whole load of pro skiers and snowboarders sparking up to calm themselves or to give themselves a bit more style as they tweak out their tricks but more than likely it won’t do much to affect the riders.

There is a slight part of me that hopes we see Shaun White giggling his head off during his interview after winning another Olympic gold as everyone else pretends to smoke behind him by blowing steam out of their mouths due to the cold air. If anything, any rider that does smoke would do more damage to their career as they’ll probably be dropped by a lot of sponsors. Fingers crossed that the next Summer Olympics will be in Amsterdam! Can you imagine the carnage?!

Shaun White – the PR guru

In other news, Winter Olympic supremo Shaun White made a trip to New York the other day to talk to David Letterman about Sochi. He clearly and openly promoted snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle to the American public. It was disgusting! He sat there just talking about how good his fellow snowboarders are and how good the Winter Olympics is going to be. It was an utter disgrace and I don’t know how he can still be allowed to participate. As if the general public want to hear about a sport for reprobates! Watch a snippet of the interview below or watch the full interview here.

Obviously I’m not being serious but it’s interesting to see the promo for the Winter Olympics starting already. With the Olympics 6 months away from starting you would think that the hype would come along a little further down the line but evidently not!

The Gay Rights Issue

There has been an incredible amount of chatter going on over the last couple of weeks to do with Russia’s anti-gay laws. The short story is that Russia “outlaws the spreading of information that gives a distorted perception of social equality between traditional and non-traditional sexual relations.” – Yelena Mizulina
It’s a weird way of wording it but it seems that any protests in Russia that promote homosexuality is dealt with a firm hand by the Russian authorities, which also means that they’re willing to deal with Olympic athletes in the same way. The Russian Sports Minister has already said he will arrest any athletes or guests of the Olympics if they show any pro-gay tendencies (read it here!)
There has even been a petition started to urge the GB Team to wear rainbow colours in protest to the anti-gay laws. Based on what’s been said, this could lead to their arrest. Read the full story here.

What are your thoughts on it? It’s clearly a subject that’s caused a lot of controversy and will continue to do so. If past experience is anything to go by then we might see one person making a stand but the majority of people won’t do anything. If this is down to their governments telling them no because they don’t want to ruin relations with Russia, that could be one reason, or the other one being they just don’t want to be kicked out of the Winter Olympics. Share your thoughts.

Swiss Freeski Team Indoors

It might be summer for Europe at the moment but it’s not going to stop the Swiss Freeski Team from training for the Olympics. In fact, they head over to Holland for a little fridge action (indoor snow slopes to you and me) and it’s one hell of a quick run. Keep your eyes peeled for these guys in Sochi.

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