Did you know about this? I guess I haven’t been watching enough of the Olympics, but I guess there are cheerleaders at the events. Have the IOC lost their collective minds?
Here’s the full story from AP writer, Deborah Hastings:
TURIN, Italy – The Dutch oom-pah band had just finished Queen’s ubiquitous rock anthem “We Will Rock You” and the crowd was on its feet Sunday night, stamping and clapping. Then the Olympic cheerleaders ran onto the skating oval.
Dead silence. Followed by boos.
The official cheerleaders of the Winter Games just can’t seem to help it. They’re not exceptionally good. Ranging in age from 15 to 26, these Italians were hired to entertain audiences at each Olympic venue. They practiced for four-and-a-half months. It just doesn’t look like it.
They have a lot of heart, but not much rhythm.
They also don’t yell cheers. In fact, they don’t say a word. In glaring orange skirts and shirts, waving one orange pompom and one of gold, they dance a few unsynchronized steps and jump up and down.
In the true Olympic spirit of competition, they rejoice when anyone scores, in the same contest. Sometimes they misinterpret the proceedings and cheer over a disputed medal, or a penalty in a hockey game.
On Saturday night, the Czech Republic’s hockey star Jaromir Jagr was down on the ice, blood streaming from a cut to his forehead, while a fight broke out between his teammates and Finland’s players.
The uniformed young women lined up in a nearby aisle apparently thought it was a showtime cue and began rattling their pompoms.
And during Canada’s 16-0 victory over Italy, the biggest rout in Olympic women’s hockey history, the Italian cheerleaders popped up from their seats on the stadium steps and rejoiced against their countrywomen in the opening competition of the Winter Games.
Divided into three groups of 20, they perform during breaks in competition. At enclosed venues, they line the stairs in the stands. Their routines, to disco music that includes the theme to “Flashdance,” do include some classic high-school squad maneuvers such as cartwheels and round-offs — which they can pull off without a hitch. Not so with more sophisticated dance moves such as a scissors leap.
Which is not to say audiences are always unappreciative of their efforts. In some venues, they clap and gyrate along, and seem amused by the spectacle.
“I think the crowd is very excited about what we are doing because they cheer and dance with us,” said Julia Bianco, an 18-year-old cheerleader from Turin. “The crowd has been very passionate about what we are doing, and we are so grateful for that.”
She then trotted into a line of cheerleaders just before the puck dropped in Sunday’s U.S.-Sweden hockey game.
Leon Kersten, a 33-year-old fan from Holland, shook his head as the cheerleaders paraded in front of him.
“It’s silly,” he said. “I am here to watch what is happening on the ice, not what they are doing.”
Back at the women’s speedskating showdown, the Dutch oom-pah band Kleintje Pils (“small beer”), was pumping out “Volare” as fans in the audience yelled the only words they knew: “Volare,” “whoa-oh,” and “oh, oh, oh, oh.”
Plenty of lustily singing Dutch had come to see if the Netherlands’ Marianne Timmer would claim Olympic gold again in the 1,000-meter after winning the same event eight years ago at the Nagano Games (she did). They were the ones who booed when the cheerleaders had the misfortune to follow the band’s rousing version of Queen’s anthem.
Several Canadians, who’d come to watch Cindy Klassen, were wild about the oom-pah band, which was wild about Timmer.
“They really are the best,” shouted Mike Murray of Ottawa, trying to be heard above the tuba. “We saw them at the World Cup.”
His wife, Beth Clark, felt compelled to put in a few good words for the rah-rah girls.
“Considering they don’t have cheerleaders in Europe, you have to give them credit for getting out there,” she said. “They’re not like the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders — they’re fully clothed.”
Read the entire AP story HERE.
HT: Randy Parker