Published 1/22/14 by: Kaitlin
My Olympic idol, Michelle Kwan, at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics
While I’m more fanatical about the results and winners of the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics are much more fascinating, terrifying and awe-inspiring to me. This is mainly because all the winter Olympic sports make me nervous, and I’m too wussy to participate in them. Therefore, I’m really engaged in what’s happening because I can’t imagine somehow making my body do all of the things these winter Olympic athletes excel at. When I was a kid I swam, dove, played softball, and had a very brief stint with gymnastics. While those sports are grueling, difficult and require copious amounts of coordination, they’re fairly traditional. Whereas someone lifting their entire body into a triple axel while on tiny silver blades, and sliding around on ice is unfathomable. Someone opting to ski or snowboard up a half-pipe and throwing their body into the air to do as many rotations as possible? Flat out nuts. Rocketing yourself down an ice tunnel on a sled with blades? You’re certifiably insane. It’s these daring feats that make the Winter Olympics so thrilling – what’s that saying about the great unknown? Because I’m into it (from my couch).
Here’s the other aspect that makes the winter olympics such a show-stopper: a lot of these athletic events don’t have bigger venues. While gymnasts and track athletes have competitions that may not be as prestigious as the Olympics (but possibly more monetarily rewarding), most winter Olympic athletes don’t attend any tournaments or competitions in the same realm as the Olympics. In other words: if you’re a bobsledder, a speed skater, or on a luge team: the Olympics are it. This creates such a do-or-die atmosphere, that you’re literally fist-pumping for sports you hardly know any of the rules of (maybe I should just speak for myself). Unlike the World Series, or the Stanley Cup Playoffs where winners have 7 games to prove themselves, Olympic sports call for perfection on game day – one failed triple salchow double-toe-loop combination and you’ve just bought yourself another four glory-less years until the next winter games.
What events and athletes are you all looking forward to seeing this February? Who should I be keeping an eye on as the next “Gold medal hopeful”?by