Belfast Telegraph

It's a Winter wonderland

By Billy Weir

You join me just after I've finished my morning session at the Cullybackey cresta run as my personal training plan for PyeongChang 2018 gathers pace.

The Winter Olympics may not be everyone's cup of tea – and talking of that my mother is none too happy that I was using her tea tray for the luge – but the BBC are like a polar bear at an all you can eat seal buffet – all over it.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, is my motto, so here's my A to Z on the first week's proceedings at Sochi.

A is for Aimee: The delightful bundle of fun that is Ms Fuller (right), part-slopestyle competitor, part-My Little Pony, and quickly becoming the darling of the BBC. I can't quite place though whereabouts in Bangor that accent comes from.

B is for bronze: Or bias, or Beavis or Butthead as commentating duo Graham Bell and Ed Leigh should be called. You can't fault their enthusiasm but cheering manically for slopestyle golden (bronze) girl Jenny Jones and then whooping when an opponent fell off their wee board is not the way of the BBC. Unless it's Wimbledon.

C is for curling: Curling is cool – apparently. Lots of Scottish people bedecked in red, white and blue and screaming like banshees, it could be Ibrox rather than the Ice Cube Curling Centre. I particularly like the motto for the games written along the side of the rink. The first two words are Hot and Cool. I think the third is Yours but Beverages would give it more of a chip van feel to make GB's finest feel at home.

D is for drugs: It wouldn't be the Olympics without a drugs story. As if speed skating and half pipes weren't bad enough, cross country skier Andrew Musgrave revealed that 'sometimes you ski fast, sometimes you ski like a tranquilized badger.' He didn't say whether it was a snow badger or not.

E is for Eddie the bloody Eagle: Whenever there's five minutes to spare you can rest assured that it won't be long that some producer at the Beeb says 'I know, let's stick on that piece we did on Eddie the Eagle.' I'd rather watch a re-run of the entire series of The Jump.

F is for Fisht: No, it's not a misprint, it's the main stadium and named after the highest peak in the Caucasus mountain range, which, Clare Balding informed us is translated as 'White Head.' Well, if it's progress, enlightenment and an understanding of equality you're after, east Antrim is as good a place as any.

G is for Germany: I know Germany didn't make a great job of their last snowy campaign in Russia but they have even less chance of succeeding this time turning up in a Timmy Mallet-designed winterwear collection (pictured below) that Lady Gaga would refuse to don.

H is for Hugh: What a joy to have Hugh Porter, the one-time voice of cycling dumped by the Beeb, back but now at the speed skating where a never-ending procession of people, mainly in orange, went round and round on a traditional route. It was all going well until the bend named Ardoyne Corner. Send for Ross Kemp.

I is for Iceland: The lack of success at the Winter Olympics for Iceland was solved by Robin Cousins at the opening ceremony, stating that 'maybe it's just a bit too cold to get out there and ski. They like to sit in front of the fire and have a tipple instead.' Or listen to Bjork, where's those skis?

J is for Jamaica: A huge cheer and happy smiling faces as the Caribbean country turned up at the opening ceremony only for the Beeb's Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford to ruin the moment somewhat by revealing that news was breaking of a place being hijacked. The plot for Cool Runnings 2 is shaping up well.

K is for Kate: Or Miss Summerhayes as she is better known, who slid out of contention in the slopestyle skiing but her coach Pat Sharples wasn't too despondent, he's hopeful that the Fun House will return any day now. Oh, Sharples ... I slipped up there.

L is for luge: A magnificent sport being played out at the wonderful Sliding Centre. It was all going well until someone's mum turned up with a basinful of soapy water and a packet of Saxo to ruin the fun for everyone. All eyes now turn to the freestyle snowman building.

M is for mountain: Handily while there's not a flake of snow to be seen in Sochi, there's plenty up in the hills, so it was fitting that the BBC chose Jason Mohammad to be their roving reporter. The mountain steadfastly refuses to come to him though, but that may because he's Welsh.

N is for names: Some great names on show, some I can't use in a family newspaper, but my favourite is Roman Kumpost who presented Jenny Jones with her medal. I have an image of a mulching bin full of vine leaves, leftover dormice, sandals and old togas rotting away at the bottom of a garden off the Via Appia

O is for Ollie: The really annoying bit at the end of Today at the Olympics when Clare and her shopping trolley are joined by Ollie Williams to keep us across all that's happening on the social media front. I don't care that Andy Murray is watching, nor do I want to see amusing pictures of singing soldiers. #diginthebakewithanipad

P is for Putin: Good to see a few myths being shattered about Russian leader Vladimir Putin (left) and his supposedly despotic ways. Seemed like a nice chap to me, although you worry when he disappears after a Russian competitor doesn't do that well. Those gunshots you hear are probably from the biathlon ...

Q is for queen of the slopes: Yes, Jenny Jones again, interviewed by Sir Matthew Pinsent after her all-conquering (apart from the two ahead of her) being affronted when her mum and dad (pictured right) turned up. You just wanted them to say, 'Well, you've had your fun, but you're 33, any chance you could slope off and get a job?'

R is for red dress: If it wasn't bizarre enough that Sue Barker is commentating on the ice skating, the head-scratching incredulity of Schindler's List featuring in a routine performed by a girl in a red dress will be hard to beat for the rest of the games. I half expected Ralph Fiennes to be sitting beside her.

S is for Sochi: It turns out that Sochi was the favourite summer haunt of Vladimir Putin and Stalin. One an evil, dictatorial ruler who has his terrified people in the palm of his iron fist and the other some bloke from long ago with a big moustache.

T is for TV: Hazel Irvine going off on a rant as Boris Rosing was held up as the inventor of television during the opening ceremony. It was John Logie Baird she barked as a can of Irn Bru bounced across the ice proving you can take the girl out of Scotland but not Scotland out of the girl.

U is for underpants: Not something you'd expect to be the talk of Sochi but silver medallist in the downhill skiing Christoff Innerhoffer is a part-time underwear model according to Balding. Graham Bell revealed he's 'a very good technical skier – lets it all hang out' as we looked for a discreet veil.

V is for Vanessa: No, not the big blonde lady, although with all those mountains about one would be tempted to let her loose, no this is violinist Vanessa Mae, who is representing Thailand at skiing. By qualifying, Hazel Irvine informed us, Mae is now 3,166th in the world. I think there's a fiddle going on somewhere ...

W is for Williams: Ah yes, yet another former sports star signed up by the Beeb, with the lovely Amy, like an excitable Springer Spaniel, sent off out and about Sochi being lovely. Good to see she spends a lot of time at the Sliding Centre, home of the luge, skeleton and bobsleigh, and just across from the Snowballing Arena.

X is for xenophobic: Good to see Balding expressing her hope that the Games would allow Russia to 'make its mark on the 21st century' and end its human and animal rights abuses and fully modernise. Indeed, Britain is a paradise but unlike Sochi, the venues aren't being flooded thanks to a 19th century infrastructure.

Y is for yellow: The lack of snow hasn't worried Clare, she's happy to be surrounded by yellow lines at the Olympic Park. However, a word of warning, if this should change, make sure you avoid the yellow snow, even if it's in a nice line.

Z is for Zimbabwe: It's been a few days now and I still can't work out why Zimbabwe came out ahead of Israel. Something to do with an alphabet and 33 letters, but I still can't work out why Zimbabwe and Israel were there.

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