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Opinion: Why the Winter Olympics leaves Britain cold

Think Winter Olympics and ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, soaring feet off the ground, (on his way to 55th place out of 56 – the 56th placed jumper was disqualified) springs poetically to mind.

Is it a bird, is it a plane? Er, no - it's the 55th best ski jumper at the Calgary Olympics.
Is it a bird, is it a plane? Er, no – it’s the 55th best ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Beyond the undeniable grace of Torvill and Dean, the ironic eagle gave Britain its defining moment at an event that traditionally leaves the nation cold.

It’s no mystery why we give the Winter Games such a frosty reception.

Its summer sister – especially in the afterglow of 2012 – conjures up magical memories for Brits to binge on… Coe, Ovett, Thompson and Redgrave, Holmes, Wiggins, Farah and Ennis.

When the weather’s warm a solitary bar of Spandau Ballet’s Gold compels even hardened republicans to spontaneously sing the national anthem.

But can name a home-grown Winter Olympics star? Yes, yes, aside from that nice Scottish lady with the broom…

Still thinking?

The media mirrors such indifference. Nail-biting Nordic combined cross-country racing merits meagre mention in our sports pages simply and soundly due to the fact that we’re a nation more at home with rain puddles than parallel slalom.

When it comes to snowy sports, the 100m winter morning dash to the station – avoiding the council’s sand gritters – is just about our Olympic limit.

Unknown-1Our standing among hardy Scandinavian folk – who laugh in the face of central heating – is a notch or two beneath Jamaica.

Is there a remedy to our snow aversion? Might sitting through the final series of Dancing On Ice help make the crucial difference?

In the minds of the British public, there is no way to drag the Winter Olympics out of the sporting ice age.

TV viewing figures from Sochi will no doubt prove yet again that any sport played on frozen water is alien to a nation that grinds to a halt under the merest scattering of February sleet.

First published at

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About Me

Newspaper editor and publisher with 30-years’ experience at national and local titles in the UK and USA including the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and Jewish Advocate. Editor of Jewish News (Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year 2021/22) since 2009. Columnist for The Times, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, Independent and others.


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