The Boston Phoenix
September 21 - 28, 2000
[Out There]

Dating for gold

In some Olympic events, carrying the torch is a bad thing

by Kris Frieswick

It's a beautiful evening here in Sydney, and I'm just thrilled to be your commentator for the first-ever finals in the newest Olympic event: Olympic dating. I'm Cindi Baxter, with ZBC Sports.

And I'm Jim Watson, and you're right, Cindi. It couldn't be a more perfect night for the premiere of the dating event. You know, Cindy, as with any new sport, there was a swirl of controversy surrounding the addition of competitive dating to the Games this year. The traditionalists felt that dating is not a sport and has no real place in the Games. In fact, several prominent International Olympic Committee members filed formal written protests about the decision. Well, I'm betting those guys have forgotten what it's like to be on a third date, sweating over a menu written entirely in French. Now that's what I call facing the agony of defeat.

From what I hear, Jim, those IOC members aren't having any problems getting dates these days anyway.

So right, Cindi, so right. Now, up to this point, the semifinal action has been fierce, taking place over the past four Friday and Saturday nights. The field has been whittled down to just eight finalists, four in the women's category and four in the men's. The competition thus far has gone like this: the Olympians are sent out into a major metropolitan area, in this case Sydney, to procure dates. The competitors are judged technically on a series of compulsory events, including restaurant and clothing selection, but they are also judged artistically on style, conversational substance, and, most important, whether the date leads to a meaningful relationship or, barring that, sex.

And what a competition it's been, Jim. Originally, there were more than 50 competitors from 22 countries. The Italian men and women seemed very strong going into the semifinals, with all having secured third dates, but the entire men's contingent was eliminated during the last round, coincidentally for the same rules violation: uninvited groping. The Italian women were eliminated during the most recent round as well, and post-date interviews revealed that nearly all their dates said the Italian women were lovely, complex creatures, but in the end, the men just didn't, and I quote, "understand what the hell they were talking about half the time."

Wow, rough break for the Italians. And it was tough going for the Germans as well, Cindi. Not one German competitor was able to secure a second date. A review of the date-replay films indicated that the Germans' dating style, typified by a certain cold, regimented aloofness, left their dates utterly unaware that they had actually been on a date. So it looks like that team is going to be heading into some serious training before next season. Could we see a coach change there, Cindi?

I wouldn't doubt it, Jim. They've obviously got a lot of personal work to do before they're ready for this level of world-class dating. This brings us to the finalists: four French, two Americans, and a real surprise here at these games, two Australians, obviously the favorites to win this one.

The Australians are definitely a surprise, but they do have the home-court advantage. Tonight, we'll be following the play-by-play on a date between Paul Robideaux, a strong contender on the American team, and his lady friend, a woman named Regina, from a small suburb just west of Sydney. They've already been out together four times, and they appear to enjoy each other's company. Paul, a dentist, is 34, and has never been married. Regina, 28, is a graduate student studying natural-resource management. Their date earlier this evening was really quite a spectacle.

Jim, as I watched Paul pick Regina up at her flat, his execution of the compulsory car-door-opening maneuver was just outstanding. You can see why he's such a strong contender here today.

Absolutely, Cindi. Again, some IOC members had a problem with including that move in the compulsories, saying it was archaic and sexist, but it's turned out to be one of the highlights of the competition. As has the compulsory compliment section, which can be extremely tricky if not executed properly.

And again, watching Paul compliment Regina on her perfume was just stunning. It was subtle, and used just the right amount of offhandedness without being lecherous. Truly a gold-medal performance there, Jim. Now, as we review the tape from their dinner, we can see that Paul had a few stumbles during the optional "questions about the family" section. This is not a compulsory section, and it's clear that Paul is really pushing things here to impress the judges. Do you think he pulled it off?

Well, things definitely got dicey when Regina revealed her alcoholic-father situation. Paul is an experienced competitor, and he should have known better than to bring family into it so early on. I'm not sure he pulled it off, but it looks like he may have made up for it with the deft handkerchief offer when Regina's eyes welled up. Nicely done.

Paul's performance during the wine/food-matching compulsories shows just how hard he's been training for this competition. A Pomerol with the foie gras appetizer . . . pure genius. He could be bringing the gold home to the US this year.

Absolutely. Did you notice Regina's hair-flip/lip-lick combination when Paul placed that order? The judges just love the interplay that these two have created. It's electrifying chemistry.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. In order for Paul to be a medal contender, the judges want to see some indication that this relationship is going somewhere. Paul has consistently steered clear of taking any kind of initiative in this area, and both the judges and Regina are eagerly waiting to see whether he makes his big move here tonight.

We join the date as Paul is dropping Regina off at her flat. They've had some great food and conversation, lots of laughing. He's walking her to the door, he's bending down to kiss her. She's responding. Things look good.

Jim, it looks like Regina's hands are grabbing Paul at the base of his spine, a very positive sign for Paul. It looks like Paul is moving his arms around to the front of Regina's blouse, and. . . .

Oh, wait. It looks like Regina is backing away. She's backing away. Oh, that's got to be a crushing blow for Paul. He's trying to recover with a heartfelt apology, but I don't know if he's going to be able to land it after this gaffe. Regina looks like she's having none of it. She's opening the door to her flat, and . . . she's going in. She's going in. Not even a final peck on the cheek. Looks like this turkey's cooked, Cindi.

What a heartbreaking development for Robideaux, Jim. Fortunes turn just that fast in the dating competition. One false move and all the years of training, hoping, working toward a goal . . . all right out the window. Looks like the US will have to turn its hopes elsewhere for gold this year. Well, that's it for us here in Sydney. I'm Cindi Baxter. . . .

And I'm Jim Watson. For ZBC Sports, thanks for joining us.

Kris Frieswick can be reached at

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