Las Vegas Sun

April 14, 2024

Oddballs of the Olympics

These sports make the Summer Games a five-ring circus:

BMX

The International Olympic Committee makes a bid for a younger audience by stealing this sport from the X Games. The crazy men and women on the bikes with little wheels join the road racers, mountain bikers and the curious cat-and-mouse pursuit racers on the Olympic roster. Mike Day won the U.S. Olympic trials, but we predict the French will win the first BMX gold.

Handball

Think indoor soccer, but the players use their hands. Remember Magnus Wislander and Zinajda Turcsina? They’re handball legends of the magnitude of Michael Jordan in basketball. European teams dominate, and the Danes are shooting for double gold in Beijing. The men’s team may finally break through because early favorite Croatia will be without star Ivan Cupic, who ripped off his ring finger in a freak accident.

Trampoline

The king is Alexandre Moskalenko, the Russian Bouncer, who ate caviar and pancakes before competing. He has a gold and silver, and five world titles. He once suffered a fractured spine when a trampoline collapsed. No worries. He still won a world championship that year.

Wind surfing

Floridians Ben Barger and Nancy Rios are the only windsurfers of the U.S. sailing team. New Zealander Barbara Kendall has won gold three times. Windsurfing and other sailing competitions take place off Qingdao, better known for a recent massive seaweed-cleanup move by the Chinese military. Nasty weather is canceling practices, and forecasters are keeping watch on potential cyclones in the Yellow Sea.

Synchronized swimming

We know this sport is much harder than it looks. But we remember Harry Shearer and Martin Short in that “Saturday Night Live” skit in 1984, or the scene in “Caddyshack” just before the Baby Ruth shows up. So, we laugh every four years when it comes up on the Olympic schedule. We like the Russian men and women to rule the pool.

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