"I took big breath, closed my eyes tight and thought of Mother Russia." This is how Victor Brinov, Captain of Russia's Gold Medal winning men's synchronized swimming team described the long moments he spent under water in the frigid environment of Whistler's Ice Water Dome. "Yes it was little cold," he admitted, "But not cold like Novosibirsk."
The last competition of the Vancouver Winter Olympics was also the newest demonstration sport: Men's Synchronized Swimming. Foregoing the comforting heated pools of women's synchronized swimming, the men's competition is held in freezing temperatures. Some say it is the ultimate macho sport. And the Russian men won it walking away. Stung by recent revelations that Russia had lost badly to an all gay Canadian hockey team, Russia's Izvestia trumpeted the swimming result. "Russia have (sic) proven their athletic superiority over Canada. Is historic victory for all Russia," quipped Brinov in an interview with Izvestia news yesterday.
Canada took silver in the event, silencing critics who labeled them as warm water mama's boys. The French team seemed destined for bronze, but were disqualified for refusing to enter the water for their second of two required performances. "The Russians are not athletic. Their secret warmth is found at the bottom of a vodka bottle." accused the French captain Jean-Jacques Esprit as he shivered at poolside in his bathrobe and slippers.
Photo: Russian swimmer Victor Brinov and comrades share a light hearted moment after their gold medal winning performance.