Friday 7 February 2014

James Bond's Winter Olympics

During the 2012 London Olympics, I wondered which sports James Bond might have been tempted to watch after parachuting into the stadium. Based on what we know from the books and Fleming’s past, the list was a long one: judo, boxing, athletics (track and field), shooting, and swimming. James Bond is, of course, also a winter sportsman, and I imagine that he would be looking forward to catching up on some of the television coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Which sports would he be keen to watch, and which ones would he avoid?

Given his interest in skiing, James Bond is likely to enjoy the downhill events. Bond is no mean skier himself. We know from the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service that he enjoyed some success on the slopes in Austria as a teenager at the Hannes Schneider School and the Kandahar Ski Club, winning his Golden K badge for achieving a good standard in ski racing and possibly entering the famous Arlberg-Kandahar Challenge Cup. On film, Bond has been a frequent visitor to the slopes (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, and The World Is Not Enough). But while Bond would doubtless admire the racers at Sochi, he might think wryly, “Yes, very good, but try doing it when someone's behind you on skis at 40 miles per hour trying to put a bullet in your back.”

Not all skiing events, though, are likely to hold as much appeal for Bond. Bond would be forgiven for wanted to avoid the biathlon. Last time he watched the event (For Your Eyes Only), one of the competitors try to kill him. Still, his escape and subsequent extended pursuit led to Bond performing a rather nice 360 twist that might have earned some high marks from the judges of the freestyle skiing.

And while Bond's thinking of events he might like to avoid, he might also prefer to give the ice hockey a miss. He was knocked about a bit last time he entered the arena (For Your Eyes Only), although he did manage to score three goals, albeit by unconventional means.

Then there's the ski jumping. Bond doesn't have a bad record in this event. When he attempted his jump in Cortina (For Your Eyes Only), he appeared to reach close to K or critical point, which is considered par. His distance wouldn't have won him any medals, but it's respectable nonetheless. 


When it comes to figure skating, Bond is strictly an observer. He professes some knowledge of figure skating, having seen Olympic champion Jacoba Brink skate many times (For Your Eyes Only), but he doesn't seem to skate himself. At both occasions where he's been at an ice rink, he's been without skates.

It's possible that James Bond would want to follow the snowboarding events. Indeed, it could be claimed that James Bond was a pioneer of snowboarding, particularly freestyle. Though snowboarding emerged in the late 1960s, it became an Olympic event as recently as 1998, thirteen years after Bond had demonstrated his freestyle skills (off and on the snow) in Siberia (A View To A Kill). His equipment then was rudimentary, and naturally Bond might be interested to see how the sport has developed, though will no doubt be thankful that bad Beach Boys' covers have not become an essential part of the sport's culture.


I'm not sure whether Bond would be keen on seeing the curling. He attempts the sport at Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), but it’s a clumsy effort, Mr Bond, as he himself admits. Bond might be happy to not have to take part in the event himself, though perhaps would enjoy seeing the experts at work.

When it comes to the bobsleigh, James Bond has considerable experience, and would be keen to watch all the action. He piloted a two-man bobsleigh at Murren, Switzerland, and on skis followed a four-man crew in Italy (On Her Majesty's Secret Service and For Your Eyes Only). And he knows just what the competitors in the skeleton event will be feeling. Ian Fleming reveals in On Her Majesty's Secret Service that Bond attempted the Cresta Run and experienced sixty seconds of naked fear.

All in all, James Bond will probably be glued to the television over the next two weeks following all the Winter Olympic action. He might, however, be a little disappointed that the games are in Russia (too many bad memories), and wish that they – and he – were in Austria instead.

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