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Olympic highs and lows, heroes and falls

Behind every millionaire player and spectacular crash, there's still true Olympic spirit.

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Originally I thought this would be some kind of disappointed hockey post, but then I heard Samir Azzimani on CBC Radio this morning, and I realized exactly what's wrong with the Olympics.

Back in the old days when goalers had no head protection, the Olympic hockey teams (and basketball) were made up of junior players, but in 1986, the IOC voted to allow all athletes, including professionals, into the games. So now you have $8 million a year players getting all the glory and opportunity, and lets face it, probably a few more solid-gold endorsements. Blame Brodeur all you want for his stupid puck handling, but I think he'll survive the criticism.

But back to Azzimani. The Moroccan Alpine skier, the only one representing his country, was so excited to go to Vancouver that the France-born athlete brought eight kids with him from Woippy, the French suburb that erupted in riots last month. Apparently he organized everything himself (Azzimani learned how to ski on a school trip) and it sounds like the kids are having a blast learning how to ski, meeting celebrities and hanging out.

Also, I can't really feel too bad if Sidney Crosby loses gold when there are athletes like French skiier Marion Rolland falling out of the gate. The video was all over YouTube until the IOC yanked it, but it's a favourite on CTV's highlight reel (wonder if it's on that Best of DVD box set they're pushing). Imagine working for years on one goal to only be remembered as that one.

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Then there's Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic who majestically fell into a ravine, broke ribs and still managed a bronze medal. There's little footage of her actually crossing the finish line.

Remember Perdita Felicien? How many times did we watch her bring down that hurdle, and the other runner?


Perdita Felicien fall in Athens, 2004 @ Yahoo! Video

What does it say about us, collectively, that we enjoy watching people's dreams and bodies get crushed? Maybe Bob Saget knows. He made a career out of watching toddlers kick footballs into the crotches of their unsuspecting dads. Does it give us a sense of control to know that even ham-hock thighed professional athletes have crappy days too?

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