Anticipation hung in the air, just like the freezing breath emanating from competitors and visitors alike, as the Winter Olympics School Sports day got underway. Early concerns whether enough punters would actually show up had abated; with ticket sales having shot from 25 to 78% in little over a month, it was cheering to know that only one in five seats would now be empty!
As is inevitable at these events, there were tensions. The chill Siberian wind mirrored frosty relations between the IOC (or PTA if you prefer) and Russian parents, most of whose children weren’t allowed to compete this year. Drug use allegations have never gone down terribly well in schools!
On the visitor-reserved bench, the chill between two parents was even more pronounced. At one end sat Mr Mike ‘Silver Fox’ Pence (representing USA); at the other, Mrs Kim ‘Ice Maiden’ Yo-Jong (representing North Korea). Mere metres away, but light years apart in terms of mutual good feeling. Threats of ‘fire and fury’ on the one hand and of destruction ‘in a sea of fire’ on the other, had done nothing to thaw relations. Neither did the seat-warmer, heat packets and knitted hat provided for all visitors to counter the chilly atmosphere. A shame, because the bad blood was mainly between Mr Pence’s boss back home and Mrs Yo-Jong’s bro, neither of whom could attend (which was also a pity, since the -15C temperatures would have been perfect for freezing the spray that kept their ridiculous hair styles in place).
While Pence and Yo-Jong refused to talk or even look at each other, their respective progeny, who were about to do battle on the slopes and in the rinks, were getting on a lot better. They’d figured that if you focus on the fun and Games and leave the politics out of it, you can rub along quite nicely. There were events to be enjoyed after all – including egg & spoon (well, if curling counts – stone and brush are sort of substitutes if you imagine hard enough); and the bobsleigh, a kind of high-speed ice-and-gravity-charged sack race. Of sorts.
For those attending in true Sports day (and Olympic) spirit – fantastic fun lay ahead.