February 22, 2014 10:46 am
Updated: February 22, 2014 11:11 am

Cool tunes from the winter games: what our athletes have been grooving to

Silver Medallist, Canada's Mike Riddle celebrates at the Men's Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe Flower Ceremony at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014.


SOCHI, Russia – If you thought it looked like Mike Riddle had earphones in when he dropped in to the half pipe the other night to claim the silver medal in freestyle skiing, you were right.

Riddle was wired for sound.

He told Global News he didn’t just get pumped on the music before his run, but during as well.

His choice: the dance-club grooves of Scottish DJ Calvin Harris:

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As for Chloe Dufour–Lapointe, she got stoked for her silver-medal run on the moguls listening to Aloe Blacc’s conquer-the-world- mantra “The Man.”

And for the gold medal winning Bobsleigh team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, music has been so important to their training and motivation they practically broke out in song when asked about it at their first post-medal news conference. Their latest, favourite, inspirational song: “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.

Music has always featured big in the training and lives of elite athletes. It’s inspiring, it helps focus the mind and songs have that weird way of bonding to the events of your life and becoming intensely personal. Somebody else may have wrote and sang them, but if they’re part of a significant moment in the your life, they are yours.

These days, because you can pretty much pack as many songs as you have time for into your device, the options for self expression with music are essentially limitless.

And because you can squeeze your music into the tiniest of devices, you can cruise down the half pipe on your way to the Olympic podium grooving to Calvin Harris without a care. Twenty years ago you’d be tempting broken ribs if you tried to pull off a triple cork with a bulky DiscMan in your parka.

There’s also the culture of the new snowboarding and freestyle skiing events, where there’s a hint of the non-conformity you see in rock and hip hop music.

Listening to the athletes talk, it seems that club, hip hop and R&B are really big at these games.

Freestyle skier Keltie Hansen seems to be one of the few rockers, saying in her bio that she likes classic rock, Led Zeppelin in particular. The delightful 21-year-old wouldn’t be your first pick as a Led Zeppelin fan, given that they must seem positively ancient to her. Coming from Edmonton, I have to wonder if she listens to “The Immigrant Song,” with its refrain “We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow?”

Getting imaginative on this theme, it’s fun to think about what some athletes might listen to. For Canada’s short track speed skater Charles Hamelin, who crashed out of two events in which he was favoured to win medals, I wonder if he has found any solace in Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away?”

After the shock of his team getting bounced from the men’s hockey tournament by Finland, one could imagine Russian hockey star Alexander Ovechkin belting out Roy Orbison’s touching testament to good things lost “Crying,” the version with kd Lang of course.

That song could be a good duet for Ovechkin and Vladimir Putin. I bet Putin would insist on singing the kd Lang part. If you think that’s a totally weird and improbable idea, then you should check this out:

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