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The Olympics are here, which means we’re getting a ton of sports we only care about once every two years mainlined into the American heart and soul. It can be difficult navigating and narrating the storylines and emotional posture of the winter sports, as they tend to apply to a very specific subset of the world’s audience. To simplify it, we’ve paired each of the Olympic sports with a record that might help you understand what exactly is going on.
Alpine Skiiing – Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Alpine Skiing is what your rich uncle does every year to prove he’s not an asshole. He takes a deep breath, and “Holocene” clears his mind of the divorce. Bon Iver makes us feel the outdoors in the most adult-contemporary way possible.
Biathlon – Stars of the Lid – The Tired Sounds of the Stars of the Lid
Biathlon is a sport invented by masochists where you have to cross-country ski for hours and then pick up a gun to shoot a few targets. This mix of spirit-draining endurance and pinpoint precision means that your average biathlon athlete likes to get hit in bed. Luckily for them, Stars of the Lid offers music that takes a ridiculous amount of stone-cold patience to enjoy. Be warned, watching an exhausted body trudge through the snow while listening to a 20-minute drone might make your head explode.
Bobsleigh – Lee “Scratch” Perry – Super Ape
We don’t have a good joke, sorry.
Cross Country Skiing – Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
Cross Country Skiing is when you take all the fun and exhilaration out of skiing and make it so that instead of going off of jumps, you hike through the bitter cold. It is the sporting equivalent of long division. Luckily, Them Crooked Vultures takes all the fun and exhilaration out of Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age, and Foo Fighters, and make the musical equivalent of long division.
Curling – Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones
How the hell has Tom Waits not written a song about a seedy old curling club somewhere in Bismarck?
Figure Skating – The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
OK look, this is an obvious joke, but it would be really, really funny to listen to pure evil while watching figure skating. That just seems like a worthy journey. You might learn something, or you might laugh forever.
Ice Hockey – Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps
Ice Hockey is one of those weird shared traditions between Canada and the U.S.A. It’s historic, ubiquitous, but still only truly appreciated by a relatively niche audience. Not unlike Neil Young live albums.
Snowboarding – Reel Big Fish – Everything Sucks
Much like Ska, the last time you thought snowboarding was cool was in 1999.
Luge/Skeleton – Bonnie “Prince” Billy – I See a Darkness
If you are a luger, that means you routinely send yourself cascading through an inevitable network of white lurching death, hoping to come out safe on the other side. You clearly are comfortable with the darkness of mortality, and understand that you cannot be saved. Clearly, you are the Bonnie “Prince” Billy of athletes.
Nordic Combined – Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
Not sure what this is, but right?
Ski Jumping – Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
Ski jumping should always make you cry. In fact, if Friday Night Lights was about ski jumping it would probably be a better show, so Explosions in the Sky is the obvious and correct choice.