SOCHI, Russia – It wouldn't be an Olympic speedskating competition without Kleintje Pils.
The Netherlands oompah band — the name translates to "Small Beer" — is carrying on its every-four-year tradition of entertaining crowds during the ice resurfacing breaks. They are introduced as the "Dutch royal orchestra" though there's certainly nothing formal about them, decked out in their orange-striped shirts, casual pants and wooden shoes.
The 11 members couldn't be at Adler Arena for the entire two weeks of the Olympics because of work commitments in the Netherlands. But they arrived last weekend to perform at the remaining sessions of speedskating, which runs through Saturday.
The group has played at every Olympic speedskating competition since the 1998 Nagano Games.
Kleintje Pils belted out "Y.M.C.A." during its first appearance in Russia, which might've been viewed as a poke at the locals over a new law banning so-called gay propaganda. But the song, a gay anthem to many, is part of the band's regular repertoire back in the Netherlands — and, besides, oval officials had already played the actual Village People song several times over the loudspeakers.
During Wednesday's intermission in the women's 5,000 meters, Kleintje Pils had the crowd singing and swaying with rousing versions of "Happy Together" and "Venus."
— By Paul Newberry — Twitter http://twitter.com/pnewberry1963
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu