Russian press blames Canada

By STEVE TILLEY, QMI Agency

I always thought vodka was made from potatoes. Turns out it’s actually sour grapes.

The website for infamous Russian newspaper Pravda went down briefly the other day, after a nasty story about the Winter Games was posted on the English-language version of the site. Titled “Vancouver: Mutton Dressed As Lamb,” the editorial attacks not only Vancouver’s Olympics, but Canada as a whole. It got so many online hits that Pravda’s website temporarily cratered Wednesday afternoon under the onslaught of traffic.

“Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics,” sniffs Pravda editorial writer Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey. (And yes, as his name would suggest, he’s British. A Brit slagging the Winter Olympics? Who’d have thunk it?)

Canada is “the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom,” bleats Bancroft-Hinchey. “Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so … retentive, or cowardly.”

It seems part of Bancroft-Hinchey’s ire comes from Russian figure skater Evgeny Plushenko not winning the gold medal (and this is Canada’s fault how exactly?), as well as what the writer feels is unfair treatment of other Russian athletes. You can read the entire diatribe of comedy gold here: http://bit.ly/badpravda.

“It is a surprise that any Russian athlete would wish to remain in that sort of environment for a second longer,” Bancroft-Hinchey says in closing. Well, look at the bright side, my friend ... at least your hockey team doesn’t have to worry about that. BOOM!

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In an online search universe dominated by the 800-pound gorilla that is Google, Microsoft has been working hard to make its underdog search engine, Bing, stand apart from the ubiquitous offerings coming out of the Googleplex.

There’s some Olympics-related fun to be had with Bing, using its funky “visual search” feature. Like calling up a list of Olympians’ photos and sorting them by oldest (wow, curler Cheryl Bernard is 43? She looks fantastic), youngest (Australia has a 15-year-old freestyle skier at the games) or the athlete’s hometown (apparently there’s a fairly famous hockey player from Cole Harbour, N.S. – who knew?) To give it a try, surf to www.bing.ca/visualsearch.

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If you’ve been watching the Olympics coverage on TV, you’ve probably seen that segment in which actor Michael J. Fox explains our country’s connection to hockey, then stick-handles and shoots a puck into a net on a picturesque backyard shinny pond. It’s an inspiring bit, mainly because Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, looks so steady on his skates.

Canadian actor, Canadian game, Canadian flag waving in the background ... the segment practically bleeds red and white. But CTV Olympics anchor Brian Williams dropped a bombshell the other night – the Michael J. Fox video was actually shot on U.S. soil, in the Long Island, N.Y., backyard of former New York Islanders star Pat LaFontaine. They even had to take down LaFontaine’s American flag and raise the maple leaf in the background.

Scandalous! OK, not really. But an interesting tidbit. And I bet LaFontaine doesn’t have a loonie buried at centre ice of his rink.

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Steve Tilley is following the Olympics experience on TV and on the web throughout the Winter Games. You can e-mail him at steve.tilley@sunmedia.ca or follow him on Twitter at @stevetilley.

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