It's looking like the Vancouver Winter Olympics already has a scandal -- a bad real-estate loan might leave the city on the hook for a cool billion -- plus two fuck-ups -- NBC is set to lose $200 million (Conan's $45 billion buyout is kinda pitiful in comparison) and the snowboarding venue, Cypress Mountain, is unseasonably slushy right now.
But it wouldn't be a Winter Olympics without a scandal and/or a fuck-up, right? And Vancouver is just an appetizer as far as snafus are concerned: According to the blogosphere, the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, are primed to feature the most outrageously corrupt scandals ever.
So as Vancouver creeps ever closer to its opening ceremony, now is the ideal time to look back on the biggest missteps in the history of the Winter Olympics.
10. 1988, Calgary, Canada: The Jamaican bobsled team flips and gets disqualified -- but walks their sled to the finish line -- after much publicity and before a marginal John Candy movie. I love Jamaicans and I love John Candy, but the former should stick to track and field and reggae and the latter, Jah rest his soul, should have stuck to SCTV and non-Jamaican-bobsledding movies. However, the Jamaicans redeemed themselves by besting the U.S., Russia, France, and Germany in 2000.
9. 1948, St. Moritz, Switzerland: The U.S. inadvertently sends two hockey teams. Both are disqualified. I don't know who was in charge here, but apparently nobody was.
8. 1988, Calgary, Canada
1984, Sarajevo, then-Yugoslavia: Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards sails into ignominy. Not many people have a rule named for them for being bad, but Eddie does. Thanks to this last-placing British ski jumper, now you have to finish in the top half of international competition to make it into the big show.
7. 1998, Nagano, Japan: Canadian gold-medalist snowboarder Ross Rebagliati tests positive for weed. The best part of the story is that weed is not considered a performance-enhancing drug, so Rebaglaiti keeps his gold despite his love of THC. Stoners: 1, IOC: 0.
6. 2006, Turin, Italy: A month before the games, Bode Miller tells 60 Minutes, "Skiing drunk is not easy." Controversy ensues.
5. 1968, Grenoble, France:
Two women on the East German luge team heat the runners on their sleds to go faster. After the powers that be catch and disqualify the pair, they blame it on a "capitalist conspiracy." No big surprise -- there is big capitalist money in the luge. No, wait. There isn't.
4. 2002, Salt Lake City, U.S.A.: In "Skate-gate," somebody apparently paid off a French figure-skating judge to fix the Russians over the Canadians. It's really hard to understand that anybody would put their bribing money into figure skating, but Russians drink a shit-load of vodka. Just so you know.
3. 1976, Denver, uh, Lake Placid, U.S.A.: In 1975, Denver taxpayers vote down any spending on Winter Olympics venues after the city was awarded the '76 games. The games go to Innsbruck, Austria
Lake Placid, N.Y. instead of Denver/Evergreen/Loveland (see below). This had never happened before and hasn't happened since. Nobody tells the IOC to fuck off. Except us. Fuck off, IOC.
2. 1994, Lillehammer, Norway: Tonya Harding allegedly sends her lover and henchman to take out Nancy Kerrigan's knee. They fail. Harding is somehow allowed to skate and falls down. Kerrigan takes silver. Who again let Tonya Harding skate after the attack? Bud Selig? I also noticed a bunch of creepy erotic Tonya Harding fan fiction over at www.tonyaharding.com. No idea who's in charge over there.
1. 2002, Salt Lake City, U.S.A.: Salt Lake City does Denver one better and bribes the IOC for the games. Well, you can have 'em. Anything to change those backwards liquor laws.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.