My Big Gap Year: Dr Skivago

Despatches from Poppy Spalding

IT'S surely not just the president of Russia and me who found ourselves wondering during the women's parallel giant slalom 'is that as easy as it looks?' I had to go to Russia to investigate why Russians have such a problem sliding about on the very surface that covers their entire country.  

I got my answers on a ski slope north of St Petersburg: Snowboarding is actually really difficult. There aren’t stoppers like on a roller-skate so you just end up gathering speed before careering uncontrollably into a family. I tried shouting to warn them but the only word I knew was 'do svedanya' which means goodbye. They were really good about it though and even offered to drive me back to St Pete's for a tour.

They took me to the Church on Spilled Blood, built on the spot Alexander II was killed. The gran told me to pray to him because he was a saint of Russia. She said under communist rule, anyone could be a saint – including the BeeGees. What a brilliant idea! I reckon all churches should set about sanctifying celebs. Then when I go 'amen', someone out there actually says 'you're welcome' for a change. Furthermore, I reckon those snowboarders would slide faster if there was a halo in it for them.

The gran said Russia's Olympic disaster was all down to Vladimir Gorbachev. "In Stalin time, sportsmen not allowed DVD player or soft pyjama. If he won't win gold medal, he is attacked with big weapon. Old Russian joke goes 'skiing not so much fun when carrying knee caps around in little purse'."

Russian standards have dropped and they need to get back in the game. Though kooking around, it seems Russian women are more 'on the game' with their execessive foundation and inappropriate shoes. Then it came to me: Get those slappers off Nevsky Prospekt and onto the rink where they belong! It can't be that hard – Daniella Westbrook can do it and she can't even see.

The answer to all Russia’s problems in one easy step: sainthoods for everyone and tarts on ice. And that's what makes the USSR the greatest country in the world!