Guest blogger JILL BARNETT gives out Olympic medals. No, not for the sports, silly; for the names. But before we begin, an Olympic name trivia note: Roughly 20 percent of the U.S. men’s ice hockey team is named Ryan. Why? We’re guessing the inspiration might have been the hockey-playing heartthrob played by Ryan O’Neal in Love Story.
When I was in second grade, I had figured out two things: that the Rubik’s Cube could be easily solved by simply peeling off the colored stickers and reaffixing them onto the correct squares, and that I was destined to roller skate in the Olympics. Granted, there was no artistic roller skating event, but I was confident that if just one member of the International Olympic Committee could see me doing my best Xanadu routine while wearing my new unicorn-embossed roller skates with fuzzy pink pom-poms, he or she would recognize the need to include it in future Olympiads.
Being firmly grounded in reality, however, I soon realized that my gold medal dreams would more likely be realized by transferring my exemplary roller skating skills (I could skate backwards and forwards, and when I needed to stop, I’d gracefully dive into the grass) onto the ice. I would become a figure skater–the next Dorothy Hamill–and after a brief stop at the Olympics, I’d join her in the Ice Capades, or better yet, become a cast member of Disney on Ice!
With my new ice skating obsession, I was naturally fixated on the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, rooting for Rosalynn Sumners as she skated her way to the women’s silver medal, and cheering on Scott Hamilton as he won the men’s figure skating gold. I even stayed glued to the TV long enough to watch other events such as skiing, speed skating, curling (which I affectionately call “shuffleboard on ice”) and bobsledding, which of course inspired me to ride a greased cookie sheet down the hill in front our house and into oncoming traffic.
And even though my ice skating dreams quickly melted after I crashed into a wall at my friend Monica’s fourth grade skating party (I never quite grasped the concept of braking), I’ve continued to faithfully view the Winter Olympics on television every four years. But it’s not only the sporting events that I enjoy; I also love to hear the athletes’ names!
Rating the names has actually become a sport in and of itself to me, and if someone from the U.S. isn’t competing in a given event, I, like any reasonable name nerd, simply cheer for the participant with the best name. Likewise, if I notice an athlete with a particularly unfortunate name, I’ll lend my support to him or her. (This year, the dubious honor goes to Lilia Vaygina, a biathlete from the Ukraine.) Thankfully, for the viewing pleasure of name fans in the U.S. and beyond, the field of athletes from the 2010 Winter Olympics contains an impressive assortment of many gold, silver, and bronze medal-worthy names:
AMELIE Kober—Germany, Snowboard
AUERELIE Revillet—France, Alpine Skiing
EKATERINA Ananina–Russian Federation, Ice Hockey
ELENA Doronina—Russian Federation, Bobsleigh
JOON Munn—Korea, Speed Skating
KAROLINA Erbanova—Czech Republic, Speed Skating
LILIA Ludan—Ukraine, Luge
MATEA Ferk—Croatia, Alpine Skiing
VERONIKA Vitkova—Czech Republic, Biathlon
VIOLETA Stramaturaru—Romania, Luge
VITA Semerenko—Ukraine, Biathlon
ANDRES Ambhul–Switzerland, Biatholon
BROOKS Orpik –United States, Ice Hockey
CEDRIC Grand—Switzerland, Bobsleigh
GREGOR Bermbach—Germany, Bobsleigh
IVO Rueegg—Switzerland, Bobsleigh
KONSTANTIN Schad—Germany, Snowboard
MAREK Matiasko—Slovakia, Biathlon
Jill Barnett, a lifelong name fan, enjoys working with children, painting, drawing, writing, running, cooking, traveling, and following popular culture and politics. Her favorite color is yellow, her all-time favorite movie is The Sound of Music, and she has recently decided that peanut M&Ms are far more substantial than Milk Duds. Jill has enjoyed writing for Nameberry about yooneek names, stage names, and being less than pleased with her given name, and she looks forward to posting on Nameberry with so many wonderful people each day.