By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
Speed skating is a dangerous, yet thrilling, sport to watch, but you know what would make it even better? Green shells, item boxes and banana peels. That’s right: Mario Kart.
In a video titled, “Sochi 2014 – Speed Skating Double Dash Final,” filmmaker Michael Shanks edits a speed skating race from this winter’s Olympics by adding some of the most infuriating weapons from the Nintendo’s franchise, and the result is pretty awesome.
Speed skating is one of those sports that require a mixture of skill and chance to succeed – crashes and falls from other skaters can make or break your chances of medaling. U.S. speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, arguably the face of short-track, won a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics after the two South Korean skaters who were in first and second place at the time crashed. Similar instances are not uncommon.
So what better way to poke fun at the drama and high stakes of the Olympics than comparing it to Mario Kart? It’s genius. The best part is that Shanks’s video makes Mario Kart Olympics seem so real because of the risky nature of speed skating.
After all, what’s better than the bad-ass feeling of knocking out the guy in front of you with one clean hit of a red shell or lightning bolt? Anyone who’s ever played the game knows what I’m talking about. Don’t deny it.
Let out those maniacal laughs and go ahead and punch the air because you’ve landed sweet victory.
By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games are coming to an end, but that does not mean an end to the glory that they inspire.
Last week, prank group Improv Everywhere orchestrated a fake torch run in New York City, complete with 400 willing participants to play the part of encouraging spectators. You may recognize this group’s work from their “no pants subway ride” prank.
Their video on the fake torch run was only posted Monday, but it will not be long before its joyfulness and patriotism inspires countless YouTube users everywhere.
The video opens with one of the group’s members posing as an injured Olympic Torch runner. She goes up to various people on the streets and asks them if they would be willing to complete her section of the run and pass the torch to its next recipient. Though the first few people sheepishly decline, the woman is eventually successful in obtaining several eager replacements.
As these new participants round the final corner of their run, they are greeted by the applause of countless supporters, all of whom are a part of the elaborate operation. The ruse is then continued via a fake news interview with an on-sight reporter from their team.
What I love most about this video is even though a joke is technically being played on the people who acquire the torch, the organization is not being mean-spirited in their prank or causing any embarrassment.
There are so many good feels in this video, especially when it comes to watching the runners proudly finish their leg of the run as they are cheered on. People of all ages are given the fake honor of passing on the olympic torch, including what appears to be a boy no older than 3. All of the American flags and balloons make me wish that I was around to be asked to run this fake passing of the torch.
Just as in the real Olympic games, this video is at its core about establishing a sense of joy and togetherness.
By Danny McCarthy, Staff Writer
6. Simon Cowell had his baby:
According to EOnline.com, the American Idol and X Factor judge has become a dad! Simon Cowell and his girlfriend Lauren Silverman had their first child together, a little boy. The baby, named Eric Selig Phillip Cowell, is named after Simon’s late father. The little bundle of joy has already experienced quite a splash of fame, when Cowell first revealed Silverman, then the wife of his best friend, to be pregnant with his child. But all seems well in the Cowell household. Let’s hope that becoming a dad will make Simon a little less harsh to those singing hopefuls!
5. “Orange is the New Black” season two:
The hit Netflix drama has a release date for season two! Rollingstone.com names the special day as June 6th. Season Two will take the focus away from Season One’s main character, Piper, and begin to delve into the story-lines of the other characters. Show-creator Jenji Kohan said, “As much as I love Piper and Taylor [the actress who portrays her] and her journey, I think people are interested in everyone’s journey.”
Prepare your life for a lot more of Crazy Eyes, Yoga Jones and Red!
4. The Olympians get romantic:
Not even the cold winds of Sochi, Russia can chill the fire burning in the Olympians’ hearts. This past Valentine’s Day, the Olympians got all romantic. U.S. Olympian Nick Goepper needed a Valentine, so the 19-year-old put it out into the world, hoping to find one. He wants something creative to catch his attention. Other Olympians took to Twitter and Instagram to get into the lovey-dovey spirit. Some were funny, some were sweet and some were downright aww-worthy.
Tell me in the comments below, who is your Olympic Valentine?
3. Frozen live performance:
Frozen just can’t let it go, can it? The smashing, now-iconic wonder that was the story of love between two sisters has taken it to the next level. The stars of the movie, including Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Josh Gad, performed their songs live for an audience. It was a beautiful moment and showcased the actors’ impressive talents. Josh Gad hosted the event and belted out a few numbers of his own, but of course the gold star goes to Menzel for her beautiful rendition of the now-famous “Let It Go,” the song that has swept the our nation.
2. Bangerz tour kick-off:
Finally! Miley Cyrus began her Bangerz tour on Valentine’s Day in Vancouver. To kick things off, she made her entrance coming down a slide shaped like a tongue — because why not, right? — and bedazzled her way into our hearts with her crazy outfits. This tour could prove to be the solidification of a whole new Miley, and a celebration of her transformation so far. According to an EOnline.com article, Miley was having some pre-show nerves, tweeting, “I don’t know if it’s Valentines Day or #BangerzTour but I’m most definitely having a panic attack.” Aww, Miley!
1. Michael Sam and Ellen Page:
Taking the topic from Miley to something a little more serious, this week has been groundbreaking for the LGBTQ community. Two prominent public figures, NFL draftee Michael Sam and Ellen Page of “Juno” and “Inception” came out of the closet. Hailing from Univeristy of Missouri-Columbia, Sam is a defensive lineman and a top pick for the NFL. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay football player in the NFL. Page came out at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Conference. In a beautiful, heart-warming speech, Page decided to stop “lying by omission” and genuinely thanked the HRCFC for all the work that they have done in helping her life and the lives of others.
By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
Anyone who’s been watching the Olympics knows from endless P&G “Thank You, Mom” commercials that it takes an incredible amount of talent, parental support, time, hard work and dedication to make it to the Olympic Games.
But what we tend to forget is that the cost of actually getting to the Games can be exponential. For many young athletes, their parents finance their children’s coaching, equipment, training facilities and travel expenses to various competitions around the world.
17-year-old figure skater Michael Christian Martinez, the only athlete representing the Philippines in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, is a prime example.
In an interview, his mother Maria Theresa Martinez revealed that the family had to mortgage their house in order to send Martinez all the way to Sochi.
She had allegedly written to Filipino President Benigno Aquino III asking for financial support but had not received a response and was forced to mortgage their house.
In an email his mother sent to CNN, she said, “the family patched together donations from a local shopping mall ice rink, friends and his skating club. The family’s life saving has been depleted and their family’s farm in Luzon province has been damaged by typhoons last year. If [he] hadn’t qualified for the Olympics in 2013, he would’ve had to quit competitive skating because [they] couldn’t afford it.”
His tale is an inspirational one, for sure. Martinez first began skating at the age of eight, despite having had asthma attacks from dabbling in other sports, and often had to train in skating rinks inside shopping malls.
The Philippines has never before medaled in the Winter Games, but on Feb. 13 Martinez qualified in the men’s short program to compete in the free skate program, making him eligible to contend for a medal and make history.
The Martinez family isn’t the only one to have suffered financially from sending their young athletes to the Olympics. The families of U.S. gold medalists Gabby Douglas (gymnastics) and Ryan Lochte (swimming), two stars of the London 2012 Olympics, have also filed for bankruptcy and faced foreclosure, respectively.
Though Douglas and Lochte are now both earning enough to fund their own training expenses through endorsements and other deals from sponsors, there is no doubt that their parents had to have sacrificed plenty of money along the way to even get them to reach the high levels they are currently at in their athletic careers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour and prestige of the Olympics and even feel inspired from Proctor & Gamble’s heartwarming “Raising an Olympian” series, but we often forget about how much parents really have to give up in order to support their children.
It takes much more than encouragement from mom and dad and a tough mindset with the determination to make it. Hopefully these successful Olympians are finding ways to give back to their families for all their years of support.
By Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
If you know me at all, you know I am crazy about the Winter Olympics. From ski jumping to curling to skeleton, there isn’t one event I don’t enjoy watching.
As an avid skier and general athletic enthusiast, I grew up on snow (I was a competitive alpine ski racer for 13 years). My parents have always joked that I can ski better than I can walk, which, according to the many scars on my knees, might be true.
So, as you can imagine, realizing that I was going to be in a foreign country for the entirety of the 2014 Sochi Olympics sort of stressed me out. How was I going to be able to ensure I could watch Ted Ligety fight to win his second Olympic giant slalom gold medal?
It turned out to be easier than I had imagined.
Luckily, the British Broadcasting Corporation, also known as BBC, allows no advertisements and thus has no incentive to embargo events until prime time.
Unlike NBC back in the U.S., BBC is paid for directly by citizens of the countries in which it is broadcast. Everyone who buys a television in the U.K. has to pay a “license fee,” which funds BBC and its many channels. For a color television, this fee is £145.50 per year, according to BBC’s website, which is equivalent to approximately $238.60.
So, this morning, even before I got out of bed, I was able to live-stream the men’s downhill medal heat right to my phone via BBC. And I haven’t had to miss many events. I got to catch Hannah Kearney, my favorite Olympian – who, before her US Ski Team days, skied for the Waterville Valley BBTS just like I did – capture the bronze medal in women’s freestyle skiing as it happened.
My friends and I also got to see the opening ceremony in real-time, unlike all our friends back in Boston and all over the U.S. (it was also interesting to see Americans tweet about the show later on, and to see them react to what we had seen hours before).
BBC also does a good job broadcasting all performances for each event. So, regardless of how well the U.S. does, we over in the U.K. can watch our hometown heroes compete, which has made watching the Olympics a much more patriotic, social event for us expatriates. We’ve spent the last few afternoons and nights crowded around the basement television, dinner plates in our laps.
Speaking of which, I’ve got to run and catch the re-airing of the downhill competition. There’s no way I’m going to miss an opportunity to watch Bode Miller’s (kind of disappointing) run again. Go team USA!
By Vitalik Schafer, Staff Writer
Businessweek is calling the Sochi Olympics the most expensive in history, topping out with $51 billion spent. As you can tell from the high cost, Russia invested more than what it would cost to just build a venue for the winter sports.
Recent news stories about the Olympics have not been about the athletes, but rather about the corruption, security and political issues, not to mention the funny hotel picture tweets from journalists.
Typically, the Olympics are an opportunity for the host nation to show off their art, culture, infrastructural feats and athletic stars. And, as President Putin has said, “build bridges.”
By heavily investing in the relatively unimpressive Russian south, Putin had hoped to turn an outdated Soviet style resort into a destination where people would want to come back. Supposedly, Putin chose Sochi as the location for the games because it is the favorite vacation spot among Communist elites. The $51 billion price point makes sense when you consider that 85 percent of Sochi’s infrastructure had to be built from scratch.
For Russia, this facelift on Sochi is an investment in its future. Russia is hoping to achieve the same success that Salt Lake City had with its resorts, which experienced a 37 percent increase in profits since its 2002 Olympics and turning it into a billion-dollar industry.
This tremendous investment however is a big risk for Russia. It’s unlikely the government will recoup the ludicrous amount spent. It is also difficult to compare Sochi to any other Olympic host cities: Sochi is the only host city that had to start from scratch, a complete opposite from the last winter games in Vancouver (whose $7 billion price tag boosted the city’s tourism and afforded a face-lift to several resorts).
Sochi, however, is $46 billion more expensive, and its success will rely primarily on people seeing the resort as one of the most elite in the world. That is the big gamble here, what image will people leave Sochi with?