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Withering Glance and the Winter Games

  • February 8, 2014 - 2:00 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: Happy 22nd Winter Olympics, my sports-nutty friend. You watching?

RN: With a 10-hour delay from Sochi? I’m thinking not. The Games are also stretched out over a bloated 17 days. Seventeen! In the ’70s and ’80s, the Winter Olympics generally fell in the 10- to 11-day range. NBC is going to pre-empt “Days of Our Lives” until the spring thaw.

CP: More than 50,000 police and armed guards, plus drones, air-defense missiles and Black Sea swift boats are helping to secure the Olympics sites. Which is certain to have a calming effect on those pairs skaters nervously awaiting their turn on the ice.

RN: As if the prospect of a tag-team quadruple Salchow wasn’t already anxiety-producing.

CP: I guess some new sports are being added this year, including Graft, Bill Padding, Cronyism and Alpine Bribery. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his pals are considered favorites to win gold medals in those.

RN: For the U.S. team’s uniform, it appears as if Ralph Lauren has entered himself in the heated Knit as Many Graphic Images as Humanly Possible Into a Single Shawl-Collar Cardigan Sweater competition.

CP: Knitwear meets NASCAR equals dreadful. But I would snap up one of Ralph’s navy peacoats in a heartbeat. They are blissfully free of the dull sochi2014.ru logo.

RN: That graphic-design tackiness is reason enough not to watch. The Russians could have taken some visual clues from the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo, because the Japanese knew a thing or two about classic logos. Although these Games have more going on, controversy-wise.

CP: The POTUS has taken heat for naming three gay athletes to the U.S. delegation to Sochi, signaling U.S. displeasure with Russia’s anti-gay stance. When one of the three is tennis legend Billie Jean King, a true pioneer of gender equity in sports, I salute.

RN: King had to cancel because her mother became ill, but figure skater Brian Boitano will help represent. The 1988 gold medalist shocked the world in December when he announced that he’s gay.

CP: Yeah, it’s not every day you find a gay man in the world of figure skating.

RN: Pre-Games, I haven’t seen much in the way of celebrities-in-the-making. Who will emerge as Sochi’s Dorothy Hamill, giving women and gay men everywhere a haircut to aspire to?

CP: Winter Olympians from yesteryear, from Peggy Fleming and Jean-Claude Killy to Tonya Harding, remain big names. This year, snowboarder Shaun White is the sole athlete I’ve even heard of.

RN: Rather than actually tune in to NBC, maybe I’ll wait for someone to make a movie that takes place in Sochi. Like the way “The Cutting Edge” — with its nuanced mix of pairs skating, hockey and “The Taming of the Shrew” — brought the ’92 Albertville games to life.

CP: Or we could just read a good book. There are many fine Russian novels from which to choose.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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