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Piste De Resistance

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Robbo Robson | 14:59 UK time, Monday, 15 February 2010

The Winter Olympics - I've got no interest in any of the sports involved but I kind of look forward to it every two years.

Of course, the tragic death of the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili has already cast a shadow over the Games. I haven't seen the incident but apparently some TV networks are still showing it... which is as tasteless as you can get.

Of course there's not a lot of British interest in it, and frankly why should there be? During the recent snowfall that left Teesside looking like it had been smothered in a 300 tog duvet, a Canadian turned up in the Blue Bell, jerked his head in the direction of our Winter Wonderland and said 'Call that snow?'

Err, yes mate, we do call that snow, but in our twee little Northern English world we're not ones for cutting holes in ice-floes, culling seal pups and whipping huskies to within an inch of their lives.

We have to make do with the odd ice-skaters or occasional skiing toff whose ma and pa took 'em orf to the Alps every February. The rest of us think that salopettes are girls from Shropshire and a black run is what you get after binge-drinking on Guinness.
Alexandre BilodeauAlexandre Bilodeau on his way to winning gold for Canada in the moguls
And yet even though the closest I've got to a ski is the hazelnut yoghurts, there are still sub-zero events that are great entertainment.

Ski-jumping's great, although I'm not a fan of giving marks for artistic impression. A nine-stone Finnish weakling, wearing nothing except two planks and an ill-fitting fat suit has just jumped off a cliff and landed 108 metres away, for cripes sake - must we really tell him he should have had his skis a bit straighter?

I've enjoyed the moguls too somehow - especially the XXXL scally shell-suits they forced to wear - although the competitors do look like drivers of a rapidly disintegrating Robin Reliant passing down a particularly steep cobbled road. As if their teeth aren't chattering enough in that weather.

Still, the apparently random couple of jumps they have to throw in are potty and the whole thing is as gloriously eccentric as bog-snorkelling. By the time they're 30, their knee ligaments are going to look like the stringy bits in celery sticks, mind.

I've been put off ice rinks since a couple of teenage visits to Billingham Forum. The first time I went we were regaled by stories of blades removing the fingers of fallen first-timers so most of us tottered around the edge like Todd Carty impersonators.

Having said that, the short-track speed-skating is great. As they career round and round, you half-expect there to be a row of not quite enough chairs in the middle and for everyone to try and leap onto one when the music stops.

Ice-hockey, too, is one of the world's great sports: speed, sleight of hand, slapshots and scrapping - perfect! But by and large, an Olympic ice rink is left to the blades of a lot of flouncing jessies.

Any activity that involves sequins, snow-drift-deep make-up and the sort of fixed smile that makes you want to tap it with a claw hammer until each peg falls out one by one cannot be considered a sport.

There's also the problem - as with your synchronised swimming - that the music always sounds like it's being played from the boys' changing rooms and the scores are dependent upon a bunch of anonymous fur-lined madams with an axe to grind. And the wife gets all narky if I laugh at the falling over - which is, after all, the only good bit. Other than that, it's just a bunch of luvvies gate-crashing sport.

I'm looking forward to the men's downhill, although that is a direction that a lot of leading British sportsmen's lives seem to be heading in right now.

That's if you believe the tales of naked texts, golf-buggy thefts, and the all-too-rare sound of Neil Warnock calling for the suspension of a match official. I think Neil would favour suspension from the edge of a ski-ramp by the most tender parts of an assistant referee's anatomy.
Neil WarnockWarnock makes his point against Villa
While I can't help admiring Warnock's mouthy stubbornness, I do wonder why the linesman is getting it in the neck rather than the chump who let Stilan Petrov run in on goal completely unmarked to head the equaliser.

Villa are likely to be one of them teams in favour of the proposed fourth-place play-off for the Champions League. As a way of giving clubs outside the big four a shot at the big time, it looks good.

And it's a shame that's not the reason for it. Me, I just reckon it's another squeeze on the wallets of the poor intoxicated fan.

Another money-making farrago at the end of a season in which teams play way too many matches any road. Presumably whoever wins the play-off would then have to go to some Eastern European backwater in early July to get through to the group stage.

You know what? The race for fourth is great this season. Let's not faff about with it, eh? I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but there's enough flaming football already, thank you.

I adore footie, but even I've reached saturation point. The way things are going I'll be taking a book to the boozer, just so I don't have my eyes drawn to a Copa America fourth-round tie when I could be having a chat - probably about footie - with me mates.
No to the fourth-place play-off. There's no more flipping juice in the Premier League grapefruit so stop blinking well squeezing it!


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