Sport on TV: Going to heaven in a handcart with ladies and their tea trays
Sunday 15 February 2009
The women's Bob Skeleton World Cup came to a juddering climax on Eurosport last Thursday. The glamorous Barbara Skeletons careered down the ice on their tea trays at speeds of up to 80mph without steering or brakes, like some kind of demented school run – if the schools were ever open in the snow. Their courage and athleticism put into perspective any sledding you may have tried to do in the park recently. But you still wouldn't back them to reverse into a tight space.
Not to be condescending about their descending, this really was a chilling case of 'Desperate Housewives' as the "Sliding Mums", Britain's Shelley Rudman, all-American Barbie doll Noelle Pikus-Pace and Maya Pederson of Switzerland, went head to head in the top-10 rankings, all within a year of giving birth. It appears that assuming the position and then hurtling headlong at high speed is an excellent aid to conception.
Even the venue, Lake Placid, sounds like a US soap opera. And these ladies are definitely glamorous. They all seem to have long, flowing locks – apart from the spiky German Marion Trott, who stole the World Cup from Rudman in the final round – and they were introduced strutting down the launchpad as if it was a catwalk with their figure-hugging catsuits on, the the wind machine blowing their hair and all the dry ice and backlighting their hearts could desire. They even have something called a "make-up race". And when they crouch down and start to rock backwards and forwards for the big push-off, it's time for an ice bath.
But real supermodels are more likely to dive headfirst into a different type of compacted white powder, and there was no sign of a size zero in this sub-zero. These power-babes could clear the snow off your drive in no time.
We were told that Rudman's sled was made by "Bromley", namely her husband Kristan, the reigning world men's skeleton champion. Luckily that's one DIY job that didn't go horribly wrong or else he might have got a distinctly icy reception from the missus.
* ITV managed to show England versus Spain without missing any of the goals, though they could have had several extended advert breaks during the game, so long were the Spanish in possession. Tic-Tac, whose ad interrupted the Mersey derby, have recreated Dan Gosling's goal on YouTube for those who never saw it the first time.
The match was preceded by Britain Does The Funniest Things, which featured the Lancashire town of Darwen and the third annual Gravy Wrestling Championships. It was, as presenter Stephen Mulhern said, like watching "the dinner that prepares and bastes itself". On the 200th anniversary of his birth, what better way for Sir Charles himself to have seen how far the human race has evolved.
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