Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The Winter Olympics - the only ones that matter, as any Canadian would tell you - are back, and for the second consecutive time, I'm in the country hosting 'em. Here is my not-so-informed commentary on Russia's greatest Games.

It's started off with a fair number of complaints, but I have to admit that I have little sympathy for the journalists posting about their #SochiProblems. That's what Russia's like most of the time, for its people and foreigners. Suck it up, stop being entitled and stick to bottled water like the rest of us. And as for the ring thing - well, Vancouver screwed up its torches. At least Sochi hasn't let Nickelback perform.

The curious thing about the Games is that very few Russians I speak to seem interested. Maybe they'll watch it if it happens to be on TV, but there's no cutesy comparison of the medal standings or exhaustive recap of the day's events. At least not in my circles. Sure, there are many problems associated with these games, but I don't think that is the issue. If anything, I'd attribute it to the general sense of apathy that seems to surround most current events. At the same time, swirly red-and-white jackets and leopard caps are appearing all over the streets of Moscow.

Many of the students are eager to talk about it, however, and I've tried to insert some Olympic festivities into my classes. All team games are now divided up as countries (so a class "Jeopardy" session might be Team USA vs Team Japan - I've banned Russia, since the students end up arguing over it). In addition, I put up the medal standings at the start of every class, though this has gotten embarrassing since Canada is ranked much higher than Russia. If we win at hockey I'll have to go into hiding. And yes - every single one of my classes has brought up Medvedev falling asleep.

Even though these games started out in uncertainty and controversy - and are far from losing either - so far, they have proven to be quite the interesting experience.Let us hope that the games continue safely and fairly - and that in the end, this does nothing but good. 


  1. Hah small world! I too studied Russian at u of t. Did you ever have Drs Livak or Holland? They are just awesome.

    1. Yes, it's a great department. I had both Livak and Holland as profs and their courses were excellent (especially Livak's Nabokov course). Did you ever have a class with Dr. Orwin (Tolstoy and various Tolstoy-related classes)? She was my absolute favorite.