Olympics Report: There Is Nothing Like a Dane

One of the perks of covering the Olympics is that I’m granted access to luminaries such as gold medalist Casey FitzRandolph, who was signing autographs at a store at The Gateway on Monday (I didn’t go), and to a bunch of Danish non-athletes at a breakfast.

The breakfast occurred Monday morning, the same day as the Casey FitzRandolph appearance I didn’t go to. A friend of mine named Jjudy (names have been changed) lives in a neighborhood of Salt Lake City where the Danish delegation is being housed, and Jjudy’s house serves as Daily Breakfast Headquarters. She invited me along to enjoy some free food and to be chummy with the Danes.

A bit of history of Denmark may be in order. Located in Norway, Denmark is a country with a monarchy, currently headed by a queen named Queen. The unit of currency is the Dane; a 100-Dane bill is often called a “Great Dane,” and that is where the dog name comes from. Famous Danes include Hamlet, Scooby-Doo, Dane Judi Dench and the Broadway musical “Dane Yankees.” The population of the country is such that if you were to count every person in Denmark, you would know the population.

What I learned about the Danes is that 1) their Winter Olympic teams always stink, and 2) they don’t care. For example, as of Monday morning, the Danish teams had done so poorly, their only chance for a medal would be if they bribed the French judge AND made everyone else in the race fall down.

As a result, the 20 or so diplomats, officials and consuls general who tagged along are spending their time skiing and buying peanut butter. (Apparently, peanut butter is rare in Europe, probably because of the Nazis.) They were chatty and friendly over breakfast, and they spoke better English than the Utah native I ran into at SmithTix, who pronounced “February twelfth” as “Feb-uh-ary twalth.”

The Danes were met with a dilemma this particular morning, as they were going to a hockey game between Germany and Sweden. They were unsure whom to root for, because if there’s anyone the Danes hate more than the Swedes, it’s the Germans. (“What about the French?” I asked. “Oh, yeah, of course we hate them,” was the casual answer, as if I were silly to even ask the question.) The reason for their dislike of Swedes is that the Swedes tend to act superior, and of course the Germans had that World War II thing. (The Swedes wound up winning the hockey game, so take THAT, Adolf!)

To my disappointment, the breakfast included many nice bagels and English muffins, but no Danishes. The Danes told me they really don’t eat that many of them back home, which means some of my information on Denmark might be a little off. I’ll contact Queen and ask her.

Was there ever a column about less? I had breakfast. The end.

The reports came back to me that the Danes I'd written about specifically found the column amusing. They certainly seemed to be a jovial, fun-loving group when I talked to them, so that didn't surprise me.

Naturally, other people had to get upset -- people who had nothing to do with it. It's called Getting Offended By Proxy, and I wrote about it in a previous column.

For example, there is this letter, e-mailed as a letter to the editor with a copy sent to me, too. My copy said, "Dear Eric, What possessed you to write such a dumb article?" as a preface before launching into the official, on-the-record letter:

Dear Editor,

Since reading Eric Snider's February 20, piece, "Rubbing Shoulders with Great Danes," I've talked with several folks of Danish ancestry, including Jytte Svendsen here in Provo. In a failed attempt to be humorous, Eric has rubbed a lot of Danes the wrong way. [Have I really? Or are you just making that up? Which Danes, specifically, did I rub the wrong way?] The article is not worth dissecting in this letter, but let it be said that Denmark, one of the oldest, and at one time the most powerful, kingdoms in Europe, sent some fine athletes to the Olympic games, and while they didn't win any medals, they are worthy representatives of that country. [I'm sorry I said they weren't. Oh, wait, I didn't say that. Huh.] From Denmark have immigrated over 20,000 people who have established homes, families, and communities, and have contributed immensely to the growth of the church in the intermountain area. [I'm sorry I suggested no Danes ever emigrated to this country. Oh, wait, I didn't say that, either. How strange.] It is estimated that over one million members of the LDS Church are of Danish ancestry. Queen Margrethe is highly regarded in Denmark and throughout Europe. [Again, I apologize for ... wait, none of this is relevant, is it?]

The only part of the article that rings true is in the penultimate sentence, "...some of my information on Denmark might be a little off." Eric Snider has written several very humorous articles, but this is not one of them. He owes our Olympic visitors and the public an apology.

Kay J. Andersen

I wrote back to Ms. Anderson and told her what I told you: That the Danes in question found the column funny. I added, "Apparently, some of the Danes were able to get their senses of humor past U.S. customs, while other Danes' senses of humor were confiscated."