More Salmon Breath
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 94 20:08:00 PST
Subject: More Salmon Breath
Forwarded-by: Martin Jara <Martin_Jara@macmail2.lbl.gov>
Forwarded-by: Karen Warrick
Forwarded-by: email@example.com (Brian Peterson)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave Barry)
Copyright: 1993 by the Miami Herald, R
Subject: Journalists wisely stay indoors to cover events at the winter
LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- Picture this: Thousands of
Norwegians are gathered outdoors at the base of a mountain on a
bright but bitterly cold morning. They are waiting for the
downhill skiing event. Many of them are standing on little mats
set in the snow. They have been standing here for hours, in the
cold. Normal people would be dead by now, but these are
Norwegians. They have eaten a hearty breakfast of cold salmon
slices topped with slices of cold salmon, and now they are out in
the frigid air, and they could not be happier.
There is a powerful public-address system, which is
blasting, at high volume, the song "Achy Breaky Heart," by Billy
Ray Cyrus. The Norwegians love this. They are bouncing up and down
on their mats in time to the music.
"Don't break my heart," Billy Ray is singing, "my achy
breaky heart ..." And thousands of bodies bounce joyously up and
down, Norwegians getting down and funky.
Meanwhile, way way waaaaaaay up on the top of the
mountain, crazy people are waiting. They are called "downhill
skiers," although this is not an accurate term, because the
"hill" is not really a hill at all, but what a normal person
would call a "cliff." These people are basically falling from a
tremendous height with skis attached to their feet. In a few
years, this event probably will evolve to the point where the
competitors no longer even bother with skis; they'll just climb to
the top of a 2,000-foot tower, and, one by one, they'll jump off
and see who can form his body into the most aerodynamic shape and
splat into the ground the fastest. This would be an extremely
popular Nordic sport.
But even with skis, the downhill is one of the most
dramatic Winter Olympic events, and many of us journalists are on
hand for the purpose of not looking directly at it. We leave that
to the Norwegians. What we do is watch the event on TV inside the
press building, which, by the way, is heated. That's right: We
journalists ride in buses for an hour to get to this event, and
then we watch it on TV. The reason for this is that, if we go
outside, we can see only the very last part of the run, plus we
could freeze to death with the sounds of Billy Ray Cyrus echoing
in our brains. So we wisely remain inside and stare at the TV,
following the progress of the competitors as they fall down the
cliff. Every now and then, when a competitor gets near the bottom,
we glance out the window, and in the distance we can see the skier
in the form of a colorful little dot hurtling down the side of the
mountain, causing the Norwegians to cheer and jump up and down on
Perhaps you are asking yourself why, if we journalists are
just going to watch the event on TV anyway, we bother going all
the way out to the downhill course. Why not just stay back in the
main press center and watch it on TV from there? Or, better yet,
why not just stay home and watch it from the security of the
United States, which is also equipped with television and, as a
bonus, does not have the same basic climate as a tank of liquid
nitrogen? In fact, why not go to a REALLY warm place, such as
Tahiti, and cover the Winter Olympics from there?
The answer is: If we did that, we would not be able to
give you all these insights into the Norwegian culture. Here's one
I had yesterday: They don't just eat salmon here. They also eat
reindeer. I had a sector of reindeer for dinner, and it wasn't
bad. I would say it tasted kind of like salmon.
WOLF-URINE UPDATE: This story just gets more and more
complicated. According to Hugin, the official newspaper of the
Olympic Games, the Norwegians ARE, in fact, using "chemically
produced wolf urine" to keep moose off the train tracks.
BONUS WOLF-URINE FACT: In the French version of the story,
"wolf urine" is translated -- I am not making this up -- as
"pipi de loup."
TONYA HARDING UPDATE: Under an agreement reached with the
U.S. Olympic Committee, Miss Harding will be allowed to compete in
the Men's Bobsled event.
(C) 1994 THE MIAMI HERALD
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
© 1994 Peter Langston