Outside Edge: A stream of unconsciousness

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The Independent Online

Talk about taking the piste. The discipline of the American winter sports team is going downhill.

Gérard Depardieu looks like a model of restraint compared to Robert "Sandy" Vietze, an 18-year-old member of the US ski squad. Flying back from training in Oregon, he became so drunk that he urinated on the leg of an 11-year-old girl while her parents were, unluckily, both in the toilets. He was charged with indecent exposure – always a danger at high altitude – and has been thrown off the team.

Meanwhile a former member of the ski squad, Ani Haas, was out running in the woods near her home in Missoula, Montana when she came between a black bear and her cubs. The bear began to chase her and scratch her, and she realised she couldn't outrun it so she turned and punched it in the face repeatedly, knocking it to the ground. At the next Winter Olympics she will be aiming for a Goldilocks medal – in bear knuckle boxing.


The number of sheep that were going to be herded down the main street in Auckland, New Zealand, accompanied by bikini-clad models riding on quad bikes to promote the Rugby World Cup, before residents and animal rights groups objected. Baa humbug? The crowds would have flocked to see that.

Lost orders at no-chance saloon

A sportsman's bet should be honoured but you can take it too far. Sebastian Steinzen certainly did. The German has travelled 800 miles and spent £1,000 trying to pay back a pint of beer he owes to a man called Patrick after he lost a wager on the golf course while on holiday in Mallorca back in 2005. He had gone home the next day and then lost Patrick's address.

All he knew was that Patrick drank at the Black Horse pub in Clapton-in-Gordano, Somerset. So he spent a week propping up the bar and playing golf in the area, showing his holiday snaps to the locals – to no avail. A trainer that was kicked up on to the roof of the stand at Hereford United's Edgar Street ground has been retrieved after nine years.

Richard Fensome hoofed it up there while kicking a beach ball during a half-time charity event. At least now he won't be branded a "looter" like the other lads walking around with only one trainer on their feet.

Good week

James Adair and Ben Stenning became the first pair to row unaided 3,200 miles across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Mauritius – though the British pair capsized within sight of shore after 116 days at sea.

The British dressage team won their first ever European Championship title in Rotterdam, setting a record for the highest total, 238.678.

Matthew James, 14, had a £35,000 bionic arm fitted with the help of Formula One's Mercedes GP Petronas team after writing to them saying he would let them advertise on the limb if they paid for it.

Bad week

Joe Wales, the great-grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, failed to break the British electric land speed record at Pendine Sands in Wales after hitting a pothole when the car veered off course due to poor visibility.

Borussia Dortmund football supporters had their chanting drowned out by a high-frequency sound system at Hoffenheim after an official found the songs offensive.

Portland Council in Dorset, who erected flags in the road into town reading "Welcome to Portland, Home of Team GBR Sailing" but found they were pointing the wrong way in the prevailing winds so they could only be read as drivers left the town.

Getting very cross about the dressers

Two teenagers were branded irresponsible after they had to be rescued while swimming around the pier at Clacton, Essex in a charity fundraiser – wearing women's dresses. One of them was a lifeguard, so really he should have known they might be dragged out to sea.

In Long Island, New York, lifeguard Roy Lester may be about to win the right not to wear Speedos when he's working. The 57-year-old sails through his annual exams but claims his refusal to wear the skimpy trunks – "there should be a law prohibiting anyone over the age of 50 from wearing a Speedo," he said – cost him his job of 40 years on Jones Beach. He is suing the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation saying he is a victim of age discrimination, and the appeals court has finally allowed him to pursue his case for the preservation of his historic dignity.

Prepare for the battle of the bulge.