Mascot mavens, take note: Saturday via a gala television presentation, Russia will unveil the winner of a national vote for the cute and huggy, warm and possibly fuzzy hood ornament for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympics to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
You can read up on the candidates and their backstories here. Meanwhile, as a public service, my snap judgments on each are listed below:
Brown Bear: Been there, done that with 1980 Moscow Games mascot Misha.
Ded Moroz, aka "Father Frost": For a Santa lookalike, the dude's real name is a real downer. Are his elf assistants Ded Tired and Ded Wrong?
The Fire Boy: Sochi, at sea level with daytime temperatures averaging around 50 degrees in February, does not need another heat source.
The Snow(board) Leopard: Aloof but accessible, with a certain "Tony the Tiger" charisma. Essence of cool. My runaway pick.
The Little Sun: See "Fire Boy."
Polar Bear: Could live with this, especially if the choice drew more attention to the vanishing habitat of a magnificent animal. Backup pick.
The Snow Girl: Looks too high-maintenance.
Zaya the Doe Hare: Gender confusion could lead to calls for DNA testing.
The Bullfinch: Just doesn't say "winter" to me.
The Dolphin: Fun-lovin' marine mammal should be considered for Rio 2016.
Matryoshka Dolls: Best pick based on cultural reference and cute factor.