Last night, the Time Olympic team got a taste of Turin, site of the 2006 Games, at Casa Italia. The Casa, a restaurant created on the second floor of a Salt Lake office building by the Turin Organizing Committee and the Italian Consulate General, is staffed by a chef flown in especially for the occasion. Italian athletes, support staff, dignitaries and their guests feast every night on a buffet of northern Italian delights, and drink from a never-ending supply of red wine. By the looks of things, Turin will be a very pleasant site for the next winter games, and the lobbying of editors has begun. But the real excitement surrounds the Winter Games of 2010, and the question everyone wants to know is, Will we be able to go to Smiggin Holes?
Smiggin' sounds like Cockney slang for something unspeakable, not the site of the most prestigious sporting event in the world. But Smiggin Holes is a real place, a tiny town in the rolling hills of New South Wales just a few hours from Sydney, Australia which, lets face it, has hosted what will probably remain the best Games of all time.
The Smiggin Holes bid is the brainchild of Rampaging Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson, two Australian comedians (real names John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver) who have become the media darlings of the Olympic movement. Well-known radio personalities for more than a decade in Australia, the two gained an international following during the Sydney Olympic Games with their irreverent nightly television show, "The Dream." Unimpressed with Sydney's official mascots, the boys created their own, Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat, which became a runaway success and was carried around the Games by the likes of Billie Jean King. Athletes clamored to be on the show, willing to offer themselves up to ridicule for the chance to appear on must-see TV. If you were in Sydney and you weren't watching Roy and H.G., you weren't living.
Roy and H.G. came back to the Olympics for Salt Lake, taping the "The Ice Dream" every night for broadcast a few hours later on Australia's Seven network. Due to popular demand, Seven also fed the show live through an internal Olympic television channel to the athletes' village and the International Olympic Committee. Day Five was dedicated "President's Day", for "his awesomeness," IOC President Jacques Rogge, who appeared on the show. A former surgeon, Rogge was asked by Roy whether he missed operating, and when the last time was that he had cut someone up. "This morning, actually," Rogge replied. "And was it a successful operation?" Roy asked. "It was an executive board meeting," Rogge countered. These boys bring out the best in everyone.
Within a few nights of the Ice Dream, Roy and H.G. had accused every country (except Australia, of course) of cheating, mercilessly mocked ice dancing and run a poll on Prince Albert of Monaco. (You choose: The monarch is a) an awesome spunk, b) a fully sick goose, c) a dork or d) a tight, up-his-own-date dickhead.) They were also receiving some 2,000 emails per day, pulling in an awesome audience share in Australia of more than 40% although, admittedly the nation's population is the same as that of New York State. Up to 700 people in Salt Lake applied each night for a chance to sit in one of only 35 audience seats in the boys' "hunting lodge."
Guests on the show received an exclusive Olympic pin depicting a seagull skewered by a ski pole and a T-shirt supporting the Smiggin Holes bid. So far, Tara Lipinski, Katarina Witt, Tristan Gale, Johann Koss, Alexei Yagudin, Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl and Miss Utah, Jaclyn Hunt, have all been very supportive.
So how will Smiggin Holes work? It already has multiple mottos "Unleash the Mongrel," considered a big improvement on Salt Lake's lame "Light the Fire Within;" the somewhat less inspired "Winter Wonder Down Under" and the fabulous "If you've got the poles, we've got the holes."
Roy and H.G. have bold plans for the Australian Winter Games: For starters, Australia's highest mountain, Kosciuszko, may need to be raised 1000 feet. "We've got two possibilities," says H.G. "We build a new mountain in Smiggin itself, or we build another 1000 feet on Mount Kosciusko." The new-look mountain would be named after Australia's first ever winter medallist, speed skater Zali Steggall. "We've just got to get the nation to dump all its rubbish on top of Kosciusko, compact it a bit and voila, Mount Steggall."
The modifications don't stop there. "We'll have live targets, something that will make a noise when it's hit," says Roy of the biathlon competition. "And we can have a kangaroo cull. God we're going to have fun." Apparently, the caravan park at Smiggin Holes has been thrown open for the athletes' village, and the local operator of a toilet cleaning business, Dougie Does Dunnies, has promised to provide the cleanest toilets of any Olympic Games in history. Jacques Rogge called the official bid film "very impressive," and the latest good news is that the Kentucky Fried Chicken in nearby Cooma has come on board for catering at Smiggin Holes. As of Saturday, 24,022 Australians had signed up on the duo's website to act as volunteers.
Kentucky Fried Chicken in Cooma? Turin 2006 is sounding good after all.