As the torch is extinguished on another Winter Olympics, it's time for organizers to sit back, sip an expensive vodka and reflect on their accomplishments:
Athletes and journalists from around the world can now fluently say, "Why does my room contain no running water?" in Russian.
Soviet spies successfully hacked thousands of cell phone texts and are now in possession of useful information like, "Want Shaun White to be my BFF. Still cute w/o orange hair."
After a Soviet middle schooler found a flaw in the computer program, the malfunctioning fifth ring from the opening ceremonies finally opened.
Also, Sochi introduced the world to new sports or, more accurately, new twists on old sports. Snowboard Slope Style? Snowboard Parallel Slalom? Biathlon Mixed Relay? All made their debuts along with women's Ski Jumping, an event that, in terms of NBC-generated hype, rivaled the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Designed to keep viewers glued to their sets, these new sports achieved their mission, at least in my house. My wife, daughters and I eagerly debated the risks of including a Switch 1080 in the slope style final run as opposed to sticking with safer double rotation moves. Conversely, when traditional events aired, we opted for bathroom breaks or email checks while figure skaters performed triple lutzes and death spirals.
Now Olympic organizers have four years to breathe some life into those tired old events before the torch is relit in PyeongChang, South Korea. Here are a few suggestions:
Bickering Pair Skaters -- No doubt, skating partners occasionally annoy one another. It's not possible to spend eight hours a day on a sheet of ice, listening to a single music track on auto repeat without getting on each other's nerves. So let's insist they wear microphones during their routines. The conversation would be lively and viewers would no longer have to endure Scott Hamilton cry, "It's over" the moment either "overcompensates" on a landing.
The microphones would remain on as the pairs awaited their scores, which should make for entertaining television, particularly when the contestants are married.
WIFE: Every time you threw me, I didn't complain. I was perfect for the entire routine. All you had to do was land one lousy Triple Salchow and you couldn't even do that!
HUSBAND: Oh excuse me. Let's not forget who has to lift whom over his head. Incidentally, I'm lifting a little more than I did at the last Olympics, if you catch my drift.
WIFE: That does it! I'm calling my mother.
Wilderness Cross Country Skiing -- Seriously, how gripping is it to watch competitors jog on skis for 45 minutes across an open field? Beginning in 2018, all cross country courses will veer into woods from time to time -- woods populated with hostile wild animals. Ratings will triple as riveted viewers hear an NBC announcer breathlessly exclaim, "The American will win the gold if he can just outlast the Norwegian, the Russian and the grizzly bear."
Ice Twerking -- Forget Serpentine steps and synchronized twizzles; it's time to bring the Ice Dancing competition into the modern era. All couples must do their best Miley Cyrus twerk directly in front of the judges while Eminem or Jay-Z blare from the rafters.
Mid-event product endorsements -- I'm not against amateur athletes cashing in on their brief moments of fame by appearing in commercials or on billboards. Last I checked, there weren't a lot of 60-year-old ex-Olympians living off luge royalties. But for those wishing to drink the Madison Avenue Kool-Aid, why not hawk your product DURING your event? If a downhill skier stumps for a cell phone carrier, he or she must text while hurtling down the course. Shill for a sports drink? Great. Take a big swig in the middle of your bobsled run. Endorse a lip balm? Be prepared to reapply on that final short track speed skating lap.
Good luck to all the 2018 Olympians. Train hard and be prepared for abrupt changes to your events. Also, practice saying, "My window won't shut and there are ice chunks on the ceiling," in Korean.
COPYRIGHT © 2014 GREG SCHWEM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT SERVICES, INC