ONCE EVERY FOUR YEARS

julia skate       downhill

Every four years I suddenly become enamored with sports I have never played, seen in person, or know enough about to tell you what goes on the three years in between. The Winter Olympics are here again and I am hooked. If I sit down to watch TV and the Olympics are on , I’m going to watch it. Sports like luge, figure skating, ski jumping, and alpine skiing which I could care less about in non-olympic years become the center of my interest. The scary thing is that I am terribly addicted to womens figure skating. The only ice show I have ever been to in my life is Disney On Ice when the kids were young and I found that to be terribly boring. My only memory of it is spending close to $100.00 on cotton candy and those flashlights with sparkly extensions coming out because all the other kids had one. They would break before even getting home. But every four years I am glued to see who will take home the gold in ladies singles figure skating. The girl from Russia, Julia Lipnitskaia, is only 15-years old. What were you doing at 15?  What amazes me is the pressure of representing your country, being a solo figure on the ice, and the need to be perfect…that’s pressure. I’m sure they have rehearsed countless hours for this one grand moment. I think the majority of us would crack under the pressure, but not the top skaters. Even if they trip or fall during their routine they get right back up like it never happened and continue on. If I was on a world stage like that and I fell in the opening moments, that would be it for me. Thanks for coming but I can’t continue. They have to be nervous, I know that I would have pit stains down to my waist if I were in that position. I can do without Ice Dancing…who enjoys that, the same people who watch synchronized swimming in the Summer Olympics? I love watching the luge and bobsled tems. Maybe it’s from my youth when the bobsledders would occasionally fly off the track into horrible crashes as tracks were not as finely engineered as they are today. You would even get bobsleds turning over upside down and you were left wondering what shape the riders were in after traveling down the track with their helmets scraping the ice the whole way. There is also something calming about watching sleds going that fast over a smooth curved surface. I would just once like to be the 2nd or 3rd guy on a bobsled run to see what it feels like. Luge also looks cool. Maybe I relate to that because it takes a heavier person to make the sled go fast, although I’m sure their extra weight is of the muscle variety. Speed skating is another sport that I know I’ll never see but once in four years, yet I watch it in the Olympics. It’s important to me to know if the Swedes beat out Finland in the 5,000 meters. I’ll never forget Dan Jansen from the U.S. who was the favorite to win both the 500 and 1,000 meter races in the 1988 Olympics. He was a heavy favorite but fell in both races to everyone’s dismay. He then readied himself for the 1992 Olympics where he again didn’t medal in either event. There was sympathy and a lot of Dan Jansen jokes by that time. Yet he qualified again for the 1994 Games and got a gold in the 1,000. Lesson learned about never giving up. Short Track Speed skating is more fun to watch as they race against one another instead of against the clock. Yoko’s brother, Apollo, carried that sport to popularity on his own shoulders.

The real turn in winter Olympic history was allowing the snowboarders in. Things got a whole lot better with these daredevils doing insane tricks. They brought in a whole new style and looseness to the Olympics. Shaun White led the pack and terms like stoked, knarly, dude, goofy-footed became part of Olympic slang. Each year they push themselves to do harder tricks and it has turned in to crowd favorite. This sport I have actually seen more than once in four years due to the X-Games. Ski Jumping is another favorite, but I’ve noticed it can become very repetitious after watching 20 fliers go off and do the exact same motion. I guess my absolute favorite would be Mens Downhill…that takes serious balls to compete in. They look as if they are on the edge of disaster at any moment. There must be a very fine line between pushing yourself to the limits and going overboard. I’ll be rooting for Bode Miller of the U.S. who at age 36 is still the one to beat…news update, Bode finished 8th. I like to imagine myself competing at the Olympics and each year the sport is different. While I was young I would have wanted to be a downhill skier, but now I would be happy to be a Curling Sweeper. I’ve had practice with a broom and all you have to do is walk and sweep…seriously is that a real sport?

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