On the radio this morning the British Paralympic chef d’equipe remarked that there is far more coverage of these games than of previous Winter Paralympics, largely thanks to London 2012. This is excellent, but it is still not enough. Once you’ve accounted for the adverts, Channel 4’s highlights show is barely 25 minutes long. Last night we saw our excellent alpine skiers and our curlers (not doing so well today, alas – I knew they’d got those shirts wrong), but mere seconds of the biathlons, hardly enough for me to shout “Show me! SHOW me!!!” at the screen. I mean, they clear the schedules for whole football matches – couldn’t they have given us an hour a night over eight nights? It doesn’t seem much to ask.
We were, however, allowed to see a reasonably large chunk of sled hockey. If you’ve never seen this, it involves ice hockey players on sledges a few inches off the ice using two shortened hockey sticks to propel themselves and to whack the puck. The rules appear to be 1. Get the pucking puck in the pucking net. 2. Ram as many of your opponents as possible, preferably knocking them over, even more preferably turning them upside down. 3. Bundle.
As a game, it resembles nothing so much as that TV programme from a few years back in which teams of geeky men from places like The University of Birmingham Ringroad competed to build robots called The Slicer or MegaTron. These were then remotely controlled to do battle with each other whilst being harassed by the “house robots”, Masher, Sawtooth and Big Bastard (I may have misremembered some of the detail). Sled hockey is exactly, and I do mean exactly, like that. (Except for the flames which used to shoot randomly out of the floor on Robot Wars because a) that would be silly and b) it probably wouldn’t work on ice.). We have yet to be privileged to see the Canadians, who, if they have any sense, will genuinely have trained and shaved a bunch of grizzlies. Once padded and helmeted they would be indistinguishable from the other players and they would fit right in. It”s hugely enjoyable – catch it if you can.
Meanwhile, in other news, Arsene Whinger, I’m sorry, Wenger, is still banging on about some refereeing decision a couple of matches ago. Apparently the ref hadn’t been properly briefed that British premier league clubs are supposed to win any important matches they play. I don’t know what country he was from, but we should definitely ban them forthwith.