National Talent

If you want to see toned butts go watch some ice skaters. I saw The Nutcracker – On Ice on Saturday night and squeezed into leotards were all these svelt Russian bodies with noticeably large gluteal muscles, not that the performance wasn’t extraordinary already, but as the Flower Duet played on, my mind wandered, and that was the most profound observation I could derive.

I had a weekend of ice with Sunday night being my first ever ice hockey game. I watched, obviously, I feel I can safely say that in my lifetime, playing ice hockey is something I will never do. Considering the fact that I can’t skate (no seriously, it’s not even funny watching me try, it’s just sad), I dislike violence (and there was enough of that to make me feel bad for the players’ mothers) and I don’t like the cold, there was enough of all three of these things on Sunday to put me off the sport. Except that I really enjoyed it. Fast paced, exciting and altogether very bizarre. But most sports are, when you look at them closely. “I know, let’s make a game where you can only touch the ball with your head and feet” “ooh or what about one where you hit a little ball all over the countryside into small holes in the ground.” Just silly.

However, I wondered if ice hockey and figure skating look particularly remarkable to me because it’s not something I’m used to seeing. The Nutcracker cast were all Russian, half the ice hockey players were imported from the northern hemisphere. Our climate has made us averse to being naturally capable at winter sports. We only boast one Winter Olympics medal. So if the Russians have figure skating, the Austrians have skiing, the Brazilians have soccer, what is it that we in New Zealand can, as a nation, do? Swim? No, we have twice the rate of drownings as Australia. Play rugby? We may have the world cup but statistically, soccer is the most popular sport for kids under 18.

What do we have natural grassroots prowess in? Backyard Cricket? Building sandcastles? Not too marketable are they?


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