PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- From the day it was announced, the term was clunky and a mouthful. On the jerseys and jackets at the Winter Games, the label OLYMPIC ATHLETE FROM RUSSIA has looked more like a scarlet letter than a team name. So it makes sense, then, that the title for the 169 Russian athletes competing under the Olympic flag has been simplified to "OAR."
Which has had an unexpected effect halfway around the world for the lead singer of the 2000s alternative rock band O.A.R.
When O.A.R.'s lead singer, Marc Roberge, heard in January that the International Olympic Committee would allow 169 Russian athletes to compete in Pyeongchang under the label "Olympic Athletes from Russia," he knew they would be referred to as OAR.
He didn't know there would be something of a popularity resurgence for his band.
"It's been surreal, absolutely surreal," he said Tuesday from Montana, where he was skiing with his family. "At first I thought it would be a cool coincidence, maybe somebody would mention it on TV or something. But now, every single morning I'm getting phone calls, emails, text messages. Family, friends, strangers. It's pretty wild to think somebody is watching the Olympics and thinking about us."
People have had fun with the parallel. Twitter has been filled with mentions that "Shattered" and not the Olympic theme song should have played when the Olympic Athletes from Russia entered the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.
Roberge and his bandmates came up with the name in a friend's basement when they were in high school in the late '90s. O.A.R. stands for "Of A Revolution." There is a word that comes before "of" that the band has never revealed.
"We always wanted it to be this mystery," he said. "As a kid, you have all these dreams of being Led Zeppelin, and that's what we came up with. Just some kids in the basement in high school. Now with all this, talk about a coincidence."
"They never say Olympic Athlete from Russia. It's OAR over and over and over," Roberge said. "This is the most coverage our band name has ever had. Everyone, everywhere, all around the world saying OAR."
Roberge -- whose band has performed at the 2015 Special Olympics and recorded a song for the 2012 Summer Games -- said he has watched quite a bit of the Olympics, catching many of the hockey games in the morning with his family. He, of course, found the USA-OAR men's game on Saturday particularly entertaining.
"I mean, I'm not rooting for them. I want to see the U.S. win," he said. "But that makes it so weird. I'm watching the U.S. hockey team go down and get it pretty good from Russia and they just keep talking about OAR dominating over and over and over."
The timing couldn't be any better for the band, which released a new single, "Paradise," and announced plans for its 2018 summer tour just last week.
"It's kind of nice that people hear about OAR -- the athletes -- go, 'Oh yeah, I remember that band,' look us up, and there's a new song and a tour coming your way," he said.
It perhaps factored into his answer when asked his take on the Russian doping scandal.
"Yeah, I'm sure the world really wants to know my thoughts on the doping scandal," Roberge said, chuckling. "Absolutely no one cares what I think about that. Nor am I even remotely educated enough to make a statement. I'll tell you this -- we're just trying to have a good time, cracking jokes and taking this all in."
In other words, Russians buy albums, too.