Sport on TV: Bare cheek of the Brits as they peak far too early on mountain

 

After skating rapidly through 90 years of the Winter Games, detailing their controversial and often highly politicised climate – relations between nations have often been frosty; just look at the Cold War – Dan Snow concluded The History of the Winter Olympics (BBC2, Thursday) with a far more obvious observation: it’s actually a struggle between man and nature. Just don’t tell the Russians. They don’t like it when men have to wrestle with their true nature.

The event’s dangerous past is all set to be repeated in Sochi after several decades of relative triviality, what with the threat of terrorism and the global disapproval of Russia’s new anti-gay legislation. It seems like hell will freeze over before President Putin admits, amid all that homoerotic posturing with his top off, that he is in fact a big gay Russian bear.

Dan Snow is the ideal presenter for this story, and not just because of his name – think Alan Brazil and Rio Ferdinand at the World Cup, or Clare Balding interviewing the Charlton brothers – but because he is obviously a posh lad and this is essentially the story of how British Alpine pioneers blazed a trail to the top of the mountains before the rest of the world caught up. Since then we have been buried under an avalanche of everyone else’s medals.

It all began with one of the first travel agents, Henry Lunn, who formed the Public Schools Alpine Sports Club – no doubt those bastions of single-sex education with all their faggings and floggings never produced any gays – and launched the first package holidays to the Alps.

Then his son Arnold invented the downhill slalom ski race, beating the Scandinavians to it – probably for the last time. Racing on skis had, bizarrely, never been included in the Nordic Games, and the Norwegians were furious; they claimed it was like the Eskimos rewriting the laws of cricket. Lunn Jnr responded that it might not be a bad idea, because there would be fewer draws. Anyone who has tried to play cricket in April might agree the Eskimos could teach us a few things. They would be masters of sledging.

The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924, but in fact the Brits got there first too: the 1908 “Summer” Games in London went on for six months and lasted so long that the first winter event, ice skating, was staged in October. But that was before the two World Wars, before the rise of fascism and Communism, even before Tony Gubba. It’s all been downhill since then.

The Jump (Channel 4) has a comic-book apocalyptic feel to it –assuming that by this stage you can still feel anything in your frostbitten fingers. The latest batch of nonentity “celebrities” have spent all week trying out different Winter Olympics sports, with the worst pair having to perform a ski jump to decide who is eliminated.

It may as well be their own personal doomsday approaching, such is their desperation as they throw themselves down chutes of ice for one last hurrah in front of the cameras. In a comic book, of course, some of them would probably meet a grisly end, and there must have been a fairly good chance of that happening given that they were being coached for the jumps by Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards – who was so bad at the Games in Lillehammer in 1988 that he became a celebrity loser, just like this mob.

Perhaps soon we will see a version of the celebrity diving contest Splash! (which, incidentally, Edwards won last year), simply called Jump!, in which they fill the swimming pool up with concrete and invite the most desperate attention-seekers in Britain to come along and drink lots of booze. Then all those keyboard terrorist trolls can have an officially sanctioned outlet for their hatred, and we watch what happens.

Sadly, the Winter Games attract a small enough TV audience here as it is. After The Jump, there might be no viewers at all. Talk about “Touching the Void”.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album