Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Let The Games Begin!

As you can probably tell from my last couple posts, I'm quite excited about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Olympics, no matter the season, are magical. I adore the idea of athletes from various nations setting aside cultural, political and military differences and just competing for the honor of representing their country.

We all know that the ancient Olympics trace back to Greece, several centuries before the birth of Christ. Back then it was just the summer games, of course. The modern Olympics took off in the late 1800's with the winter games joining the scene in 1924. It wasn't until the mid 1990's that the summer and winter games started being hosted on a staggered basis...before that, they were both held every 4 years and in the same year.

Which brings us to this year. Consider this your guide to the 21st Winter Olympics in Vancouver!

  • Opening Ceremony - can be long and drawn out. Tune in to the last 30 minutes to see the presentations which lead up to the lighting of the Olympic flame. Countries always try to out-do each other and I'm always interested to see what they come up with...just not willing to commit to the several hours that it takes!
  • Alpine Skiing - I love watching this because I like skiing, speed, and watching wipe outs. It's the perfect combination. But I won't be offended if it isn't flashy enough for you.
  • Biathlon - boring
  • Bobsled - love watching it on TV but couldn't imagine a sport that I'd least like to see in person. Especially if I was paying as much as people pay to see the Olympics!
  • Cross Country - slow and I don't watch it but have watched small races with friends competing before and it was very exciting then. Some sports are exciting in and of themselves but others are only exciting to me when someone you care about is competing. I guess this is one of those for me.
  • Curling - I've been reading up on this to see if it would become any more interesting once one was educated in it. Fact: It isn't! The only impressive thing I found in my 30 minutes of Wikipedia research is that if a participant breaks a rule, it is up to them to be an "athlete" of integrity and fess up to it. There are no referees. I like that.
  • Figure Skating - I LIVE for this. It is so impressive. I know there are those that scoff. Those that think it is for sissies. To the doubters out there, my challenge is to watch just one routine and if you can do a fraction of what they are capable of, then let the snootiness continue. I think you'll find that these people and what they can do is nothing short of miraculous.
  • Freestyle Skiing - these guys are CRAZY! So entertaining to watch but I find myself holding my breath for them more often than not. Not for the weak of heart!
  • Hockey - Like hockey but don't go out of my way to watch it during the Olympics because it is something I can see more regularly than most of the other sports. Sorry.
  • Luge - see "bobsled" above but insert more props for elevated danger
  • Nordic Combined - as the name suggests, this sport is a combination of cross country skiing and ski jumping, the events being held separately but in the same day of competition. See notes on "cross country" above but add a little more interest due to addition of ski jumping.
  • Short Track - this version of speed skating is becoming very cut throat and the U.S. is boasting some very hopeful prospects. Stay tuned!
  • Skeleton - I have to admit that I had to look into this one a bit. From what I can tell, it is the same as luge except that the athlete travels down the course head first and on their stomach which is the exact opposite from luge. Little known fact: this sport seems to be one of the most highly contested sports when it comes to race outcomes. Drama queens, enjoy!
  • Ski Jumping - these people amaze me. Even if I got the guts to put the skis on and hit the jump with any amount of speed, I'd lose all composure in the air. These people are flawless.
  • Snowboarding - as a skier, I hate these guys when I'm out on the slopes. Your amateur snowboarder tends to ride about 10 feet before joining his buddies in sitting in a long line across the run, thus blocking other people from safely descending the run. Skiers like me despise this. I was, however, pleased when snowboarding was recognized as an Olympic sport for the first time during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. This year's Games will only be the 4th chance that snowboarders have to compete on this level. Professionals are so much more pleasant than their amateur cohorts.
  • Speed Skating - doesn't excite me but I am impressed with their speed when it is the only thing on at the time!
  • Closing Ceremony - Does anyone really watch this? I never have but I like the basics of the tradition: 1) Athletes enter all together with no distinctions of nationality. 2) Three flags raised...the first representing the host of the games just concluded, the second of the next hosting city, and the third for Greece, the original ancient host.
There you have it. No need to do any research beyond this. Just tune into NBC whenever you can to check out all these cool events. And if you feel the emotional urge to cry each time they play the National Anthem when an American wins a gold medal, go ahead. It's really okay. And when it is all over, we'll have Jay Leno's controversial return to The Tonight Show to look forward. There's a topic for another day...

Without further ado:

10 days until the Olympics begin!

Keep It Real!

1 comment:

  1. Maggie, I'm sorry, but 30 minutes of Wikipedia research will not due justice to curling, the world's greatest sport. You must, must, must watch a curling match on the television box to make a truly informed decision.

    Also, the greatness of said sport is exhibited by a series of blog posts I wrote four years ago: