It has long been part of Olympic lore: heavy petting behind the speed skating oval, tangled limbs in the athlete’s quarters, and orgiastic parties in the village—from the ice luge to the vodka luge.
But now, thanks to technology, competitors don’t even have to leave their dorm rooms—or the slopes—to find someone to keep them warm between the sheets. While Russia’s equivalent of the gay hook-up app Grindr might have recently been hacked, erroneously informing users that they were in violation of Russian law forbidding “homosexual propaganda,” use of Tinder (basically Grindr for straight people) at Sochi has apparently reached the “next level,” according to U.S. Olympic Snowboarder Jamie Anderson.
“It’s all athletes! In the mountain village it’s all athletes. It’s hilarious,” she told US Weekly. “There are some cuties on there.” Too many cuties, in fact. “There was a point where I had to be like, OK, this is way too distracting. I deleted my account to focus on the Olympics.”
The insatiable sexual appetites of Olympians is something of a cliché—and something of an inevitability when thousands of young, impossibly fit athletes from around the world convene to showcase their Greek god-like greatness (there’s a reason we call them Olympians). In 2012, journalist Sam Alipour shocked and titillated readers of ESPN magazine with a detailed exposé of the unseen sexual Olympics. Former alpine skier Carrie Sheinberg described the Olympic village to Alipour as “a magical, fairy-tale place, like Alice in Wonderland, where everything is possible. You could win a gold medal and you could sleep with a really hot guy.”
Ultimately, the behind-the-scenes stories were even more sordid than Alipour’s editors—and, presumably, ESPN’s lawyers—would allow in a family magazine. “It pains me to recall the spicy tales we couldn't run—down-low same-sex relations, infidelity, the use of props, birthing of ‘Olympic babies,’” he later wrote, “because of space constraints, taste or legal concerns.”
And nothing ignites the primal instinct to procreate more than exceptional talent, especially in the form of strong, agile freestyle skiers and wasp-waisted figure skaters, all clad in body-sculpting lycra. It’s no wonder that, in between long jumps and triple axels, competitors often engage in acrobatics of an entirely different nature.
Indeed, there’s a reason 100,000 condoms were distributed amongst the 7,650 Olympic athletes in Sochi—a minimum enforced by the International Olympic Committee after they ran out during the 2000 Sydney Games. But only in recent years have athletes begun to divulge lurid details of Olympic sexcapades and debauchery. Alipour’s 2012 revelations quoted retired U.S. soccer star and 2008 gold medalist Hope Solo justifying rampant fornicating amongst Olympians as an attempt to make the most of “a once-in-a-lifetime experience...to build memories, whether it’s sexual, partying or on the field. I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open. On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.”
And long before Russia’s anti-gay legislation, former Olympic diver Greg Louganis cozied up with the boys on the Soviet Union diving team during the 1976 Montreal Games. “Culturally, [Russians] are more openly affectionate toward each other, which I just drank up, since I was still discovering who I was,” he told ESPN. “But I had my eyes on one Soviet. I’d curl up in his lap; we’d hug and cuddle. I felt so protected.”
As for the spectators, we don’t really care whether sex enhances or disrupts athletic performance, nor are we much interested in affection and the establishment of long-term connections. We merely want the gossipy, titillating stories of sculpted men and women pumping and screaming. And with any large gathering—the Super Bowl, CPAC, the World Cup—a media story develops about the uncontrollable sexual urges of those participating or in attendance.
Because when we tire of pretending to care about sports no reasonable person actually cares about (skeleton?), the idea of a curler getting a handjob behind a shed can really liven up the spectacle.
Disclosure: Tinder is owned by The Daily Beast's parent company, IAC.