Has anybody heard about the Winter Olympic games?

 For that matter, does anybody care?

 When they were held in Salt Lake City, it seemed like people were bombarded almost nonstop with olympic news and trivia. Everything from who was competing in what event and what the odds were on winning a gold medal, to what a huge bite the beefed up security was taking out of the olympic budget.

 This year, nothing.

 As near as I can figure, seeing television has just begun running commercials, the extravaganza starts in February in Italy. At a city named Turin (I've also seen the site named Torino, but I think that used to be a Ford).

 According to what little news has trickled out, which makes me think things in the native land of Sophia Loren and canned olive oil must be really bad, the Italian Olympic Committee is apparently having trouble selling tickets and travel packages to the games and figures to lose their collective shirt on the deal.

 Unlike the summer games in Greece, the Italians have managed to get all the venues built in time but if early ticket sales are any indication, no tourists want to attend the games. Rumor has it that Italy is a haven for terrorists as opposed to tourists.

 In viewing prior Olympic telecasts both live and on tape-delay, (oh, my, what a scandal those were and did the television ratings ever go down), I've had the pleasure of watching some strange things happen to the venerable Jim McKay and his broadcast crew.

 Like the poor slob who went sideways down the 80-meter ski jump and fell as he took off.

 Nobody remembers his name but kids sure enough knew who the "agony of defeat" was!

 Then there was the British two-man bobsled team that nobody expected to do very well who ended up winning the gold medal the last time the games were held in Lake Placid, New York.

 McKay asked the driver what he planned on doing to celebrate the victory and with typical English aplomb the guy replied, "I and my brakeman plan on having some dinner first, most of it liquid I expect." 

 Way to go, Jimbo! Good interview!

 Of course, who could forget the Jamaican bobsled team? 

 Not long ago there was the absolute silliness and "hype," even worse than Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's bricked-up storeroom in Chicago, when Alfredo Tomba, "Tomba La Bomba," was going to meet Katerina Witt.

 The Italian skier supposedly "had a thing" for Miss Witt and was going to meet her for the first time after she completed a practice session on the ice.

 All evening long viewers were forced to listen to: "What's going to happen? Is something seriously romantic going to develop between the two of them? We'll just have to wait and see."

 Remember, this was years before "Extreme Dating" and "Desperate Housewives."

 At any rate, Mr. Suave brought the lady a bouquet of flowers and introduced himself as he handed over the posies. Something like: "Allo, I'm Alfredo Tomba."

 To which Ms. Witt replied: "I'm Katerina, nice to meet you and thank you for the flowers. I have to go." Whereupon she turned and walked away from the fool who was left standing in the hallway outside the skating arena with a finger shoved in his ear and the television audience on the brink of hysterical laughter.

 Oh, well, such is life among the rich and famous. Tomba was probably able to console himself with the sports car daddy gave him for winning the gold medal in the downhill.

•••

 Christmas break is a good time to make contact with former Grant County students who are home from college or wherever to visit with family and friends over the holidays.

 At a Monument/Dayville basketball game, who should I run into but the well-traveled J.R. Moore.

 I first met Moore when he was a freshman at Long Creek four years ago and since then he has made the rounds of Grant County high schools attending Prairie City, a brief stop at Grant Union and even a stint in Pendleton before graduating from Monument in 2005.

 Moore still has his travelin' shoes on and he said he just got out of basic training with the U.S. Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

 He told me he is in armor and I expect the big guy will do well as a tanker. Good luck to ya, buddy! 

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