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O.A.R. (the Band) Is Pretty Stoked About OAR (the Russian Olympians)

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Team Olympic Athletes from Russia looks on after losing 5-0 against Canada during the Ice Hockey Women Play-offs Semifinals on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If you went to high school ten to fifteen years ago, chances are you’re at least passingly familiar with O.A.R., the vaguely jammy Dave Matthews disciples who captivated the imaginations of lacrosse players and hemp necklace enthusiasts everywhere for a few years in the early and mid 2000s. Sadly for O.A.R., it’s equally likely that you haven’t thought about them much in the decade and a half since you were regularly rocking Rasta-colored IPATH sneakers. But all of that changed with the 2018 Winter Olympics. O.A.R. is back, baby!

In response to the government-involved doping scandal that plagued the Russians in the 2014 and 2016 games, the International Olympic Committee handed down an esoteric punishment, allowing the nation to compete this year, but without displaying the Russian flag on its uniforms or tallying its medals toward Russia’s long-term count. As part of this punishment, the athletes are designated by the IOC only as Olympic Athletes from Russia, not official representatives of the country. And because “Olympic Athletes From Russia” is a mouthful, announcers have mostly been referring to them as OARs.

An ESPN reporter had the ingenious idea of reaching out to frontman Marc Roberge to ask how he felt about his band name being bandied about on national television in this way. He loves it:

“It’s been surreal, absolutely surreal,” he said Tuesday from Montana, where he was skiing with his family. “At first I thought it would be a cool coincidence, maybe somebody would mention it on TV or something. But now, every single morning I’m getting phone calls, emails, text messages. Family, friends, strangers. It’s pretty wild to think somebody is watching the Olympics and thinking about us.”

“They never say Olympic Athlete from Russia. It’s OAR over and over and over,” Roberge said. “This is the most coverage our band name has ever had. Everyone, everywhere, all around the world saying OAR.”

It’s unclear whether emails and texts to Roberge will translate to an actual resurgence in listener interest, but he’s hoping that’s the case: they’ve got a new single out, and just announced a summer 2018 tour. We wish O.A.R. the best of luck in all their future endeavors.