Diary of a Village voice
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

In an attempt to distance himself from the corruption of the Juan Antonio Samaranch era, new IOC president Jacques Rogge is staying in a dorm in the athletes' village instead of a luxurious penthouse suite. He is providing Page 2 with a diary of his Olympic experience ...

Feb. 6: Just moved into my room and am pleasantly surprised. It's just like being back in University! First thing I did was set out my Carlos Castaneda books and the cinder block bookshelves.

Found chocolate mint on pillow, an obvious gift from an overzealous Olympic lobbyist. Not on my watch, though! Will return it to the responsible party tomorrow. The days of bribery and corruption are over!

Mental note. Must ask Dick Pound whether we can get a new official supplier of toilet paper. This stuff is rougher than the cheek of a Russian woman figure skating judge.

Feb. 7: This dorm idea -- c'est magnifique! Walking around with all these exuberant athletes makes me feel two decades younger already. There is no better way to soak in the joy and spirit of the Olympic experience than to spend a day "getting down" with the young people. Not to brag, but I think I fit right in. They were most impressed that I knew all the popular new troubadours, such as Foghat and Hootie's Blowfish.

I cannot wait to spend more time with these wonderful young people. And I must find out where is this Linkin Park I keep hearing about.

"Here I am in the village with Juan Antonio Samaranch, center, and SLC Committee CEO Mitt Romney, left."
Feb. 8: Games open today, and I meet roommate for next 17 days. A Bulgarian bobsledder. Sacre bleu! Has he not showered since Lillehammer? Competing in same sled must be unbearable for teammates. Mental note: Be sure to use the toilet before the Bulgarian each morning.

Feb. 9: Odd burning smell coming from the Canadian snowboarders' rooms as I walked by this evening. Are they cooking something in there?

Feb. 10: Saw Canadian figure skater Jamie Salé working out on Stairmaster in the fitness center. Ooh-la-lah! I asked whether she would like to make an old man very happy by performing the triple-lutz in my room, but she only grimaced and walked away. North American women. C'est la vie.

Feb. 11: Ah, youth! Some crazy Norwegian speedskaters short-sheeted my bed, filled toilet bowl with Jell-O and placed my hand in pan of warm water so that I urinate in my sleep. I had good chuckle and then ordered them evicted from the Games. Two can play that game, no?

Feb. 12: Spent morning at first-aid clinic after accidentally stepping in front of American bobsledders Jean Racine and Gea Johnson in cafeteria line. Doctors say nose should stop bleeding anytime, but to keep weight off right leg for several days.

Feb. 13: Smelled same odd aroma from the snowboarders' rooms again. Must tell housekeepers to check to see if they're using unauthorized hot plates.

David Pelletier, Jamie Sale
"Staying in the Village will give me the chance to really get to know the athletes -- especially Canadian figure skater Jamie Salé."
Feb. 14: Sent Valentine's Day card to Mademoiselle Jamie Salé, along with box of Belgian chocolates, bottle of Chanel No. 5 and Victoria's Secret bustier. Have not heard reply.

Feb. 15: Damn punk Italian skiers kept me awake all night with wild party. Asked several times for them to turn down music -- they refused each time. All night long the pounding, pounding, pounding. And they call this music? Party finally ended at 4 a.m. And then the Bulgarian comes home, passes out on bed and begins to snore. I get no sleep.

Feb. 16: Why is Jamie avoiding me in hallways?

Feb. 17: Another sleepless night. Italians throw party with Jamaican bobsled team that lasts until 6 a.m. Was just falling asleep when U.S. hockey team throws refrigerator through plate glass window in next dorm over. Meanwhile, damn Bulgarian roommate refuses to stop smoking, no matter how strenuously I explain the dangers from second-hand smoke. Room is like living in a Gdansk smelter. Perhaps I can convince a biathlete to accidentally shoot him.

Feb. 18: What the hell is that smell from the snowboarders' rooms?!?!

Feb. 19: Am ready to move into hotel with rest of IOC. Woken today at 5 in morning by Bulgarian arguing with wife on phone. Cafeteria serving exact same meal for two straight weeks. Overheard Italians, Jamaicans and Irish teams planning big party for tonight. And all day long, it is infernal rap music playing on every stereo. Do not know how much longer I can hold out.

Why does Jamie not return my phone calls?

"I'm still recovering after stepping in front of Jean Racine and Gea Johnson in the cafeteria line."
Feb. 20: I've had enough! I am patient man, but even I have limits. Tomorrow I will take action, knock on door of the Canadian snowboarders' room and demand to know the origin of smell!

Feb. 21: I was too suspicious. The Canadian snowboarders explain they are botany students at Whistler University and working on important class project that involves the growing and drying of their nation's beloved symbol, the maple leaf! As I understand, part of the research process includes the occasional burning of leaves.

Such relief. And to think I suspected sinister plot.

Odd, however, that maple leaf on the Canadian flag has only three leaves and the snowboarders' have five.

Feb. 22: Bulgarian roommate celebrated personal best in first heat with what is called Biggie-Size meal at Taco Bell. Mon dieu! Must keep the windows open tonight. Question: If I smother Bulgarian with pillow during his sleep, would American courts find it justifiable homicide?

Lying in bed, I am saved by thoughts of Mademoiselle Salé. Oh, Jamie, Jamie, Jamie! My heart feels so much l'amore for you. Why do you not long for me as I for you?

Feb. 23: I was completely wrong about those snowboarders. They are swell bunch. They invited me in this evening and presented me with tray of brownies. C'est magnifique!

"Now I understand how snowboarders are able to get so high."
Suddenly, I see Olympics so clearly. We are doing everything so very wrong. By growing ever larger and inviting ever more sponsors into Games, we become nothing more than quadrennial marketing arm of the world's major corporations. We must grow leaner and return to Baron de Coubertin's original ideals. We must take the Olympics back from the soulless corporations and return them to the athletes. By making the Olympics smaller, we actually make them a larger and more relevant force in the world. It is by contracting that we can expand and expand and expand until we reach to the end of the universe and fill up the black hole in space. Like wooahhhh ... that's really heavy, man.

I felt compelled to return to my room and share my vision for new Olympic world and express my love and appreciation for the Bulgarian and, like, tell him how important he is to me, when I suddenly realized that what I really wanted most was a bag of Doritos.

Feb. 24: I sleep through the closing ceremonies.

Feb. 25: The Olympics are over. Today was time to bid tearful au revoir to all my new friends. Jamie left without so much as a goodbye, even though she promised to stop by my room. Bitch! I am glad the French judge hosed her!

Bulgarian also left without saying goodbye. And he stole my hair dryer and shaver, too.

At least those splendid snowboarders presented me with a baggie full of their research maple leafs when they left. Such an emotional moment. I could not help but shed several tears. I will never forget their friendship and fellowship.

But why were they smiling so when they warned me to be careful going through customs?

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Over the next two weeks, he'll be in Salt Lake City, uncovering the wild and wacky side of the Winter Olympic Games for Page 2.



Jim Caple Archive

2002 Winter Games Index

Caple: Figure skating, what a sport!

Caple: Beatle invasion of broadcast booth

Cap'n Jimmy: Super Bowl wagering is kids' stuff

Caple: A history of First Fan fiascos

Caple: How well is Wells?

Caple: The Cuban Blizzard Crisis

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