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7 Dubious Ways to Gain an Olympic Edge

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The Winter Olympics are supposed to be a shining beacon of sportsmanship and goodwill, but things don't always work out that way. Sure, you know all about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, but there have been all sorts of other scandals in which an Olympian used dubious tactics to gain an advantage. Some tricks were successful, others failed, and some of them deserve gold medals for shear gall.

1. See a Mysterious Black Figure

Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy was on his way to sweeping the three alpine skiing events at the 1968 Games in Grenoble if he could take the slalom gold, and his run in the event had been blisteringly fast. Killy's Austrian rival, Karl Schranz, wasn't faring so well. In the middle of his slalom run, he stopped and claimed that a mysterious black-clad figure had crossed his path. Schranz demanded a second run with no distractions, and this time he beat Killy to take the gold.

Race officials huddled, though, and realized that Schranz had actually missed a gate well before the alleged black-clad figure crossed his path. The judges eventually decided to disqualify Schranz for missing the gate. On top of that, none of them had even seen this mysterious figure scamper across the course. The officials yanked Schranz's medal and gave it to Killy.

This episode is still quite controversial. Killy backers swear that Schranz made up the story about the black-clad figure after realizing he'd missed a gate, while Schranz fans claim that the French judges or police snuck a man across the course to distract Schranz and help local boy Killy.

2. Accuse the Competitors of Loafing

lake-placid-1932
Americans can do a lot of things well, but we haven't always been the most gracious Olympic hosts. Take the speed skating at the 1932 Games at Lake Placid. European skaters were used to skating one-on-one around the track in this event, which is how you'll see things work in Vancouver. When they showed up for the Games, however, they were informed that they would all be on the ice at the same time and would start in a giant pack—a style that's now used in short track skating but was then a totally unfamiliar format outside of North America.

The Europeans were already behind the 8-ball thanks to these weird starts, but things got even stranger in the second heat of the 1500 meter event. The judges stopped the heat when it was halfway over, berated the competitors for "loafing," and restarted the race. No big surprise: Americans swept the four speed skating gold medals, and only two Europeans medaled.

3. Whack the Coach

Although hockey can be a violent game, its players usually adhere to a certain code of ethics regarding fighting. Of course, some players take a pretty loose interpretation of these unwritten rules. Just ask Sweden's Karl Oberg. During a match against Canada at the 1964 Games, Oberg lost his cool and smacked Canadian coach David Bauer in the head with his stick. That sounds pretty bad, but it gets worse: Bauer's full title was Father David Bauer. He was also an ordained Catholic priest.

Father David apparently preferred divine retribution to pulling a sweater over the other guy's head. He ordered his players not to retaliate against Oberg, and although they were all itching to drop the gloves and go after the thug, the Canadians left him alone and cruised to a 3-2 win.

4. Break Out the Citrus

It's not just Olympians who can be a bit uncouth; the fans can get out of control, too. At the 1956 Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, spectators were not happy about the scores the German figure skating pair of Marika Kilius and Franz Ningel received after their performance, so they bombarded the judges and the referee with a barrage of oranges. The citrus artillery continued and the ice had to be cleared three times. The German pair still only finished in fourth place.

5. Get Physical

Short track speed skater Cathy Turner didn't take the ice to make friends. The American skater repeatedly bumped and clipped skates with other competitors throughout the 1994 Winter Olympics, but her most controversial moment came in the final of the 500 meters. With two laps to go, she passed Chinese skater Zhang Yanmei. During the pass she brushed Zhang's thigh, but Turner went on to win the gold.

An enraged Zhang protested that Turner hadn't just brushed her thigh; the American had actually grabbed her. Judges couldn't tell from the video replays, so Turner's medal stood. Turner, who also worked as a singer, then wowed the crowd with one of her compositions, a song called "Sexy Kinky Tomboy."

6. Send in the Professional Amateurs

While you'll be able to see your favorite NHL players take the ice in Vancouver, professionals weren't always welcome at the Games. Prior to the 1998 Games, ice hockey players were supposed to be amateurs, so most countries sent their best players who hadn't made the pro ranks yet.

Of course, Communist countries found a loophole in this system. The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and other countries declared that there weren't any professional hockey players in their countries. Their teams were made up of amateurs employed by the government, so they weren't technically NHL-style pro hockey players.

This flouting of the rules so enraged other countries that Canada skipped the hockey events at the 1972 and 1976 Games, with Sweden joining the boycott for the 1976 Winter Olympics.

7. Buy Off a Judge

time-olympicsWhen the Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier skated at the 2002 Games, they performed so marvelously that television commentators and fans felt certain they were a lock for the gold. However, when the scores came out, it turned out that their Russian rivals won despite an obvious technical error in their routine.

A little bit of digging showed that the judges from Russia, China, Poland, Ukraine, and France had all felt the clearly inferior Russians' routine was gold-worthy. The French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne then admitted that she'd only voted for the Russians because her boss at the French skating union twisted her arm. There was allegedly a deal in place to boost the French ice dancing team's scores in exchange for a little assist for the Russian pairs skaters.

In the end, the Canadian pair had their medals upgraded to gold, but the Russians got to keep their golds as well.

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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