News » Whistler

Pique'n'yer interest

by

comment

Buddy, it's hot here.

The sun doesn't beam down on your skin the way it does in Canada. No, the rays make their way stealthily through a thick soup of air molecules and pollution, penetrating ever-spare space, and by the time the sun finally hits you, you are already sweating like a mad dog. Let me tell you, you can't even walk down the street for five minutes before breaking out into a grotesque sweat - arm pits drenched, chest soaking, face dripping.

Perhaps that is why it is so unusual to find her sitting here, underneath an umbrella in this beastly heat, watching the 2010 Winter Games. Scenes of icy white snow flank the screen of the TV in the restaurant where she is perched, while rubber green vegetation climbs the wall behind her in fertile jungle glory. A fan hums from above.

There goes Britt Janyk! There goes Maëlle Ricker! There go the rest of the Canadians! The Americans! The Russians! The Swedes ! Down they go, over the alpine race course, across the sliding centre, over ski jumps - and beamed to Malaysia through a complex network of tubes and computer modems. She cheers every now and then on this terrace in Kuala Lumpur, a stone's throw from the Petronas Towers, partly because seeing snow is such a luxury against this steamy landscape.

Time to order another lime juice to stay chilled. Waiter!

Vancouver and Whistler's Olympic Games are being aired on three stations in Kuala Lumpur: ESPN, Star Sports and Channel 24/7. Sometimes, they are aired in the back of bars or on television sets in restaurants, but not too often. Today, she had to make a special request to switch the channel from Discovery to the Olympics.

Elsewhere in the city, enthusiasm for the Games is high, but no one is watching. The Premier League is on right now and, besides, Malaysia doesn't have any athletes competing in the Games. Several blocks away from the hotel, a few 20- year-olds are gathered in a food stall to gossip and eat and, hey, while they are at it, they may as well watch the Winter Olympics. But their attention on the Games is fleeting, to say the least.

"The only time I hear about the Olympics is in papers or social networks such as Facebook or Twitter," says one of the girls, Dina.

Maybe it is not all that surprising that most people in Malaysia aren't watching the 2010 Winter Games. After all, giant slalom and ski jumping are not popular pastimes in this land of mangrove trees and durians.

What I am surprised about, though, is to learn what's happening in London.

"There is very little coverage concerning the Winter Games here," explains Laura, an Aussie girl living in London. "They show highlights on the main channels, and they have a few stories in the paper, but nothing substantial. I haven't heard one person talking about the Winter Olympics except for people on Facebook."

But... But... Surely people in London must care. They have athletes competing! Snow sports are more common among their residents! And they are hosting the very next Olympics in 2012! Tell me, what's going on here?

No, people in London don't seem to care too much, Laura restates firmly.

The realization that the world is watching us with one eye, not two, is upsetting, especially at this point in the Games, when the only thing I haven't had copious amounts of over the past 14 days is sleep.

Buddy, we are letting loose and partying like we've never partied before; in Vancouver, people are even drinking on the streets, let alone dancing in the streets; in Whistler, Pride Canadiana is burning so bright it seems bizarre that only a few short months ago not everyone was onboard with the 2010 Games.

Surely, someone, somewhere, should be watching with baited breath as we strut our stuff?

As fate would have it, the phone rings.

"Hello?"

It's my grandmother from Portland, Oregon, along with my aunt, uncle and cousin. They are packed around the TV set after watching U.S. athlete Ms. Vonn win gold in downhill, and they are breathless with excitement.

"Everywhere we turn, there are images of Whistler being flashed across the TV," they exclaim, almost in union.

"It must be magical up there right now," states my uncle.

"The halfpipe has been the event that has really caught my attention," says my aunt.

"Mind if I visit you during the Paralympics?" asks my cousin.

And with that, how can I do anything but breathe a sigh of relief: maybe not everyone is watching us, but at least some are looking at us like they have never looked at us before.

 

 

Add a comment