The Winter Olympic Games (les Jeux Olympiques in French) are in full swing, and I’ve been following the sports on French television. The French athletes have been a bit unlucky so far, and at first the commentators blamed it on badly-made courses. I think they’ve given up on that angle now but they certainly haven’t stopped saying: “Ooh la la”, nor the variation: “Ooh la la la la”, nor the variation of the variation: “Ooh la la la la la la”. Seriously, the commentators are la la laing so many times that I’m losing count. As the Men’s Cross-country Relay went on (and on and on) last night, the commentators became more and more worried, using more “Ooh la la”s, when the Norwegian approached from fourth place, and eventually made it to second place, ousting the French team to fourth place. Vincent Vittoz from La Clusaz was in that team, and it was pretty much his last chance of winning an Olympic medal after many years of trying, so the commentators were hoping for him as much as I was that he would get at least a bronze. There’s still a chance he might get one because the French team have complained about Sweden (or is it Norway?) bringing two pairs of skis instead of one. If their complaint is successful, Vincent and the French team will move up to win bronze. And the commentators are sure to la la la themselves into oblivion if that happens.
Between the Ooh la las, it’s often difficult to hear much else because the commentators like talking over each other. During the replay of some figure skating last night, I wondered if they’d forgotten to turn off a few microphones as there were no less than four people talking at the same time. Really, I’m not joking: four people at once. The French do seem to have a knack of being able to talk and listen at the same time in everyday life, so such commentary probably shouldn’t surprise me as much as their moment of absolute silence when Ladies’ Downhill hopeful Marion Rolland hurt her knee and fell just seconds after she started her run. The French commentators had been excited about her run and they switched directly to her when she was getting ready to leave the gates. Bing! Off she goes! As she veered directly to her right and off the course, only one commentator let out a single, sad “Non”. Ten seconds must have passed before any of them could muster up the ability to speak. The catastrophe of another French athlete going down was just too much.
As I write this, the French are ranked equal sixth in the medal tally. Compare this with my native Australia — a country renowned for producing sporting champions, which has a whole three medals, putting them in sixteenth place. We’re better at summer sports really. Us Aussies are rapt with our best ever winter Olympics medal tally despite it being nowhere near the top-ranking countries. So, France, don’t fret: you’re doing alright. And may Vinny get that bronze.