Tweets and stories you may not have caught on NBC reveal the full story of Sochi Olympics
By John Toth / Editor and Publisher
A lot of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is pretty boring from where I stand. I’m not much of a skiing person, and I don’t get that excited when a figure skater does a triple lutz.
I don’t care to watch speed skating, and it makes no difference to me who wins the curling competition.
What interests me are the behind-the-scenes stories that tend to lag in the mainstream media.
For example, not too much attention has been given to the fact that this is the 20th anniversary of Tonya Harding’s decision to hire some goons and whack Nancy Kerrigan in the right knee with a crowbar after a practice at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit.
Kerrigan was forced to drop out of the national championships, and Harding won. Kerrigan rehabilitated the knee and competed at the 1994 Olympics against Harding in Lillehammer.
On Feb. 23, the night of the Olympic short program, 48.5 percent of the nation tuned in to see the drama. It was the sixth-highest- rated TV show of all time.
Were it not for the knee-bashing incident, none of us would remember much about these two. Olympic athletes tend to get their 15 minutes of fame and go away for another four years, if they return at all.
But hey, that’s 15 more minutes of fame than you’ll or I’ll get, and they worked their rears off all their lives to get there. When we were out partying in our youth, they were practicing that triple lutz.
No matter what comes out of the Sochi Olympics, short of terrorism, the following are some of the lasting memories that will be around much longer than who won a bronze in the skiatholon.
Sochi is a seaside resort that has a stray dog population that was largely ignored until shortly before the world’s eyes focused on the city.
The locals didn’t care much. They feed the strays. From the photos I saw on Twitter, most of those dogs have not missed many meals. They are all over the place, or were until the Russian government decided to shoot them, hundreds of them.
That didn’t sit well with the dog-crazy West, so the Russians hired a company to capture and poison the dogs at $25 per dog.
As soon as the press arrived, the dogs took center stage. They couldn’t be poisoned fast enough, and showed up in many of the photos. Stories of them being exterminated didn’t go over well in the eyes of the Western world.
When most people forget all about who won and lost in these Olympics, they will remember the dogs of Sochi.
If the dogs were not enough negative publicity, the press had a field day with the lousy accommodations. Dozens of photos of poor construction, unfinished rooms, no water, heat, electricity, to mention a few, were posted on Twitter.
The poorly worded English signs were a blast, another example how the Russians are no good at paying attention to detail.
Then, of course, there was the side-by-side toilet. That picture made its way around the world a few times.
The Russians stumbled with damage control. They said that the reporters tore up the rooms. They also said that there are no gays in Sochi. That’s when the reporters started interviewing patrons of a gay bar ... in Sochi.
Note to Putin: Rule No. 1 when it comes to throwing a big event like the Olympics is to treat reporters like royalty. Keep the adult beverages flowing, and they’ll be more likely to write nice things about you. (That should not be much of a problem in Russia, the adult beferages.)
Rule No. 2: Don’t throw families out of their homes to make room for the Olympics. Find a way to work things out without strong-arming them. By keeping them happy, they say nice things about you to the foreign press, rather than complain about how the government bulldozed their homes.
Long after the lights go out on Sochi, and Olympic Village becomes just another pile of Olympic rubble, people will be talking about the dogs, homes being lost, lousy accommodations, and the dumb explanations by officials, who are not at all PR-savvy.
And, they will be talking about the four Olympic rings and one BP sign during opening ceremonies, and how the Russian TV showed five rings and no malfunction.
The guy who worked the rings that night is now in Siberia. Not really, but it is funny.
To get the best stories from the Olympics, Twitter #olympicfail, #olympic problems or #olympicgames. Don’t wait for NBC. Their reporters have running water in their rooms.
They’ll be talking about one more thing: The Russian Police Choir. Its performance of “Get Lucky” went viral on the Internet. It’s just a matter of time before they have a Top 40 hit in the U.S.
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