I absolutely bloody love sport, and I absolutely bloody love the Olympics.
Football, cricket, tennis, running, jumping, give it all to me and I will watch it, pick a competitor - always, always, always the underdog, because I was raised properly - and support them with all my heart.
I’ve always been incredibly competitive, even to the point of repeatedly playing Monopoly on my own as a child in order to ascertain the exact strategies required to joylessly maximise my chances of success. So sport was a natural fit: I love competing, I love the drama of it and I love giving absolutely everything to achieve victory.
The small problem I have always had achieving those victories, however, is my almost total lack of talent.
The world might teach you that if you try hard enough, you can achieve anything. And, for a while, I believed that. Surely the scouts would spot my subtle, patient, Makelele-esque passing game eventually? Turns out, however, that that is actually total bollocks. What it turned out, right, was that I was just not very good at football.
Nonetheless, I have adapted. I know my strengths: passion; effort; work rate, ‘getting in their faces’. When the Football Manager scouts came to rate the players in the ShortList five-a-side team, they hit the footballing nail on the head:
My top attributes? Positioning, strength and long throws, with a highly commended for work rate. My worst? Flair.
Just what every kid dreams of isn’t it. There it was, in black and white: the best you will ever be, Dave, is a trier.
But you know who loves a trier? Well, God, obviously, but also: the Olympic Games.
Eddie the Eagle. Eric the Eel. Jamaican Bobsledders. If you’re crap but you have a go, the world will fall in love with you.
I have been ice skating about three times in my entire life and I don’t think I’ve ever let go of the side. I’m worried my ankles will snap. I’m worried I’ll fall over and it’ll hurt. I’m worried I’ll fall over and, while wincing in pain from the fall, will have my fingers sliced off by a little showboating bastard who’s not paying attention.
Skiing? Do me a favour, why on earth would I put something on my feet which would make me slide down a massive slope. That just looks incredibly dangerous. Snow and ice is incredibly slippy - I’ve learned that during my time on this earth - why would you make it even slippier?
The sporting event at which I would definitely be the worst would be the Winter Olympics. But if I went all in, gave it my all, really got in their faces representing Team GB on the world stage then my total and utter lack of all relevant and necessary talent and expertise would surely be an asset. I would go viral. People would love my never-say-die spirit-of-the-Olympics attitude. I would finally achieve my boyhood dream: to become a sports star.
So off to Pyeongchang I must go. And this is how I would get on.
Ah, bobsleigh. I’ve seen Cool Runnings, and that has taught me that you can basically prepare for this event by sitting in the bath with your teammates and leaning left and right occasionally. I can drive a car and this must surely be pretty much the same, just a bit faster. And with no brakes. Overconfident, I would volunteer to be the driver while I would form a team comprised of my mates who also have no real-life bobsleigh experience, since I have learned that friendship is more important than winning.
Inspired by the traditional mantra, “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time!” the vast majority of my training would be spent listening to mid-’90s pop reggae in order to prepare myself to enter the ‘bobsleigh zone’ but sadly, upon getting to the top of the course, I would suddenly be hit with the realisation that this is UTTERLY TERRIFYING and I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING.
After the initial push-off, I would quickly realise that the bob is moving faster than my legs can manage so the only course of action is to just hold on to the little handle thing at the front for grim death. All of my teammates would have stacked it trying to get in, leaving me, alone, being dragged along, totally out of control, down a very slippery slope. As I turned a particularly sharp bend I would finally lose my grip and be flung over the side, where I would arc gently through the sky and become impaled on the horns of a passing moose.
Final result: DNF (dead)
Another one I know how to do, I have spent many Sunday evenings being educated by ITV’s Dancing on Ice, witnessing the soft encouragement of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby and the cruel chiding of Jason Gardiner. Sure, it looks difficult and, as I’ve already explained, I’m yet to stand up on skates by myself, but it can’t be that hard? Kem from Love Island can do it and, evolutionary-speaking, he’s one up from a sea sponge. Due to my fear of having my fingers sliced off and to avoid picking up any unnecessary injuries, I decide to do all my training on dry land which, when you think about it, just means practising normal dancing.
After a month’s intensive training at Inferno’s, my routine, to the unmistakable sound of the Ricky Martin’s ‘She Bangs’ is honed, and confidence is high. However, on the night, stepping out onto the ice for the first time without the support of the handrail, and dressed in full bullfighter outfit, I flail about like an ostrich on ice for fully sixty five seconds in front of a thoroughly confused judging panel before I realise that I’m going to have to gamble to salvage the routine.
As the chorus kicks in, I punch the air with both fists, feel my skates come up from beneath me, perform a 180 spin in the air and land directly on my head, with the sound of my skull splitting reverberating around the auditorium. One of my skates, which has come free during the spin, lands down on the ice, severing all the fingers on my right hand before medics rush over. I die from a combination of blood loss, shock and spinal injuries, but at least with the comforting feeling of knowing that I was right to be worried about skates slicing my fingers off for all those years.
Final result: 1.0 (dead)
I used to play a bit of hockey at school. It’s basically football with sticks isn’t it? So, once again, I am feeling confident: I understand the tactics, I understand the passing moves, the sense of teamwork required to succeed and I know what my role needs to be: getting stuck in, working hard and getting in their faces. During practice, I manage to overcome my skating limitations by essentially using the stick as a third leg to obtain an awkward-but-just-about-sustainable balance. Sure, it means that I can’t actually hit the puck as the stick is otherwise engaged in keeping me upright, but then that’s not my main job in the team. Others can do the fancy stuff, I’m there to get amongst them.
Our first game sees us take on the Russian team (yes, ‘Olympic Athletes from Russia’, fine, fine) and I decide that the way for the Brits, not usually noted for their ice hockey prowess, to proceed is to make a statement early in the tournament. To show that we fear no one. To show that we’re not scared. Revved up and full of adrenaline, as soon as the puck-off (or whatever it’s called) happens, I race over - as fast as you can race while using a hockey stick to maintain balance - straight to their biggest lad in midfield and punch him in the face before screaming: “Not so big are you now you big prick?” He stares at me silently for a couple of seconds with eyes that have definitely seen his family murdered in a Soviet-era incident of which the authorities have no records, before calmly headbutting me with his full force, snapping my neck like a twig. My limp, lifeless body is removed from the ice and the game continues, with Team GB performing substantially better than in all the friendlies.
Final result: Team GB go out on penalties in the second round, I am dead
Of all the skiing disciplines, this is the one I’m most confident about. Because, you see, it appears to me that to be good at ski jumping, you don’t actually need to be able to ski. There is no changing of direction, no zigzagging around - you just hold one pose for about 15 seconds and then, when you suddenly realise that the floor isn’t there any more, you hold another one. Then there’s the landing bit which to be fair which does look quite tricky but, hey, if you’ve flown through the air long enough, you’ll do well on the distance score bit and then any extra landing points can just be a nice little bonus. Look, Eddie the Eagle did this event: this is clearly my chance for Olympic immortality and my own biopic featuring the music of Gary Barlow.
Training goes well: I practice my first pose, I practice my second pose. I practice jumping off my sofa and landing without falling over. Surely a gold is guaranteed. Event day comes around and warning signs flash as soon as I get to the top of the hill; actual, literal warning signs, since there’s about to be an avalanche and the arena is being evacuated. Sadly though, I’m so petrified by the extreme height that I ignore the sirens going off around me, robotically head to the starting point, black out as soon as I let go of the starting thingy and the next I know I’m stuck in the snow having broken both legs upon landing. My last moments on Earth are marked by opening my eyes to see the onrushing sheet of snow which will engulf and suffocate me.
Final result: I actually do a decent distance but, alas, am dead
Everyone loves curling - even, these days, Mr T. And, what’s more, this is an event that I have prior experience of; during the heady days of Great Britain’s gold medal winning performance at the 2002 Salt Lake City games, a mate’s house party got out of hand and we buttered the floor of his kitchen before conducting a tournament using his mum’s ornamental curling stone. It is, truly, a great sport - a kind of bowls on ice and, crucially, one which you would think would be impossible to die doing.
You’d think that.
Despite giving a host of interviews in the build up to the event where I attempt to become the ‘bad boy of curling’ by calling out our opponents (“get in their faces”), my career ends in failure as, given the task of being one of the ‘broomers’, my lack of skating ability means that, as I slip trying to keep up with the stone, I overbalance and, attempting to right myself by holding on to the broom, it slips through my hands with the end planting itself straight in my eye socket. Temporarily disoriented and overcome by panic, I hit the deck and flail about like a fish, inadvertently propelling myself like a rocket toward the target zone, where I collide headfirst with one of the stones. This is enough to knock me out cold, but not kill me. No, that job is done by my own stone, which hits my stationary head, crushing it against the stone which originally inflicted my concussion, but now causes my noggin to explode like a grape.
Final result: the actions of my head inadvertently cause the stone to hit the bullseye, so I go out in style. Nonetheless, Great Britain eventually lose the game, and I am dead
The Winter Olympic equivalent of modern pentathlon, this is the one which is just bloody weird, combining as it does cross-country skiing and rifle shooting - you basically do a bit of skiing on the flat and every so often have a lie down to take some shots at a target. Depending on how well you shoot, extra time is added on to your total time. According to Wikipedia, this event “is rooted in the skiing traditions of Scandinavia, where early inhabitants revered the Norse god Ullr as both the ski god and the hunting god”. Already, I know what you’re thinking: given your track record in the other events thus far (five events, all ending in death), this is the one which actually involves a gun, so you’re going to die again, aren’t you?
Incorrect, my friend. Given that the ‘normal’ race is 20km of skiing, and I have no idea how to propel myself forward whilst wearing two bloody ridiculous bits of wood on my feet, I would pass out with hypothermia 400m from the start line, long before I got the chance to accidentally wander into the line of fire of a fellow athlete.
Final result: DNF, but still alive after a spell in a Pyeongchang hospital
I mean, obviously, obviously, I would die.
I’ve looked at all the videos and I can’t see a way that I would not die.
Final result: DNF (dead)
It’s worth reiterating at this juncture that I have never skiied in my life. I don’t really get the appeal to be honest. I remember attempting to learn to windsurf once and, while I’m sure it’s a thrilling experience to ‘catch a wave’ and hang out with all the cool bros in Newquay, I’m not sure it’s worth the utter, mind-numbing agony of constantly falling into cold water, hauling yourself up on the board again, falling over after approximately 0.01 seconds and repeating the process another thousand times before you finally get good enough and then get eaten by a shark. I tried it once on a lake in Essex and it was knackering, dispiriting and freezing.
So skiing looks pretty much the same to me: knackering, dispiriting and freezing. Still, my country needs me, so I would have to put aside my reservations and get going on the slopes, where apparently I have to do the slalom, downhill (isn’t it all downhill?), giant slalom, super-G and combined. My initial thought would be to simply stick to what I’m good at - i.e. just hold one position and ski in a straight line down to the bottom, thus missing every single gate, but then I remember that’s the coward’s way out and I am here to win the hearts of all who see me compete. At the same time though, as I cannot ski, I would not make it further than about 10 yards down, which would be embarrassing.
No, what I must do, is attempt to ski without using skis. And what’s the quickest way to travel down a hill? Forward rolls.
Lining up in the starting trap for the slalom, when the gun goes I would leap forward, leaving my skis behind, and begin my forward roll descend, skilfully winding my way through the gates. The crowd are agape! They’ve never seen anything like this before! I’m even going at a decent speed! Who could have possibly thought that this could work?
But then. Suddenly.
He’s picking up snow! He’s getting bigger. Oh god he’s not going through the gates anymore, he’s knocking them over! He’s out of control!
And then, with the giant snowball that I have now become reaching a diameter of 100 metres, I am unable to stop at the finish line and continue onward, ploughing through and killing a bank of spectators before smashing through half a neighbouring village, murdering hundreds more. I am arrested for manslaughter and jailed for the rest of my life.
Final result: 1st (new WR) but unable to be presented with my gold medal due to incarceration
Does it really need to be said? Obviously dead. You’re going down an ice-laden tube on a tea tray for Christ’s sake, whoever thought that was a good idea?
Final result: DNF (dead)
Eaten by a bear 200m and four hours in. Next question.
Final result: DNF (dead)
Tell you what, looks like an absolute laugh, this. Proper showboating with people skiing backwards and all of that, and all the competitors seem really nice and say that everything is ‘sick’ and ‘rad’ in a completely unironic way. Upon arriving in Pyeongchang I’d unexpectedly be added to the freestyle skiing WhatsApp group, (“wassssup Dave looking forward to seeing some mega moves from you out on the slopes bud!”) and, the night before the competition we’d all end up going out on the large, putting rivalries aside, doing karaoke till 5am (obviously ‘Informer’ by Snow would be every other song).
In the morning, I’d miss my alarm, oversleep, and then have to rush over to the slopes, where I am handed my skis and told that I’m next up. Feeling utterly appalling, I’d suddenly have that weird clarity you get when you feel like you might actually die from your hangover and all other modes of potential death seem like trivial matters. Thus, with no fear, I throw myself fully into a truly electric routine, spinning, jumping and whatever else-ing despite having never done freestyle skiing before. Sadly, with a very possible chance of a medal, on the final jump the inevitable result of somersaulting after an all-day bender comes to fruition and I unleash an enormous projectile vomit which covers the entire judging panel.
Despite being disqualified, the rest of the WhatsApp group think I’m an absolute legend, as does Great Britain, and I am knighted in the next birthday honours for services to banter.
Final result: DSQ
This is ski jumping followed by cross-country, apparently. Bugger that.
Final result: DNS
This is quite possibly more terrifying than either the luge or the skeleton due to the aforementioned high likelihood/near certainty of having all of my fingers sliced off. This, frankly, is an absolute joke of an event. It is far, far too dangerous and even my desire to become a celebrity is not enough for me to attempt it normally. No, the only way to treat this event is the same way you treat facing up to a very fast and scary bowler in cricket: with the maximum amount of protection.
Therefore, shortly before stepping onto the ice, I layer myself up with an entire ice hockey team’s worth of padding and jumpers so that I resemble the Michelin Man on skates. While this means I move extremely slowly, it also means that I am invincible and, after being lapped several times, I hit upon the cunning ruse of ‘pretending’ to fall over as my opponents enter their final lap. They all hit me, are thrown into the sides where they break a variety of bones and, with no one left to challenge me, I win the 500m in a time of 45 minutes and 28 seconds.
I receive the gold but, alas, am booed to the rafters for my unsporting behaviour. I return home a sporting outcast.
Final result: 1st
After my antics in the freestyle skiing, I am banned from this event but go along to support my new best mates and have an absolutely brilliant time smashing down the Jagerbombs in the crowd and then the post-Olympics party with the rest of the lads.
Final result: absolutely leathered
(Main image: Tristan Cross/other images: Rex)