They seem to sneak up on us every four years. The Winter Olympics.
Yeah, yeah, I know, NBC has been promoting them for weeks, but that was during football games in which all of us were focused on more important things at the time like can Peyton beat Brady, holy cow Andrew Luck is really good, and what the heck did Richard Sherman just say?
Well, ready or not – the XXII Winter Olympics are here.
In fact, I enjoyed watching some figure skating last night to open up the events. It made me think, “Why do I only watch these events during the Olympics?” Figure skating takes place on TV here and there, at World Championships and such, and it doesn’t even register on the radar. Same for other events like downhill skiing, ski jumping and everyone’s favorite – the luge.
I did some luging on my way to work yesterday. Nothing says sports like a man or woman on a thin piece of steel hurling themselves down a steep embankment at a high rate of speed.
But we watch during the Olympics. And the Winter Olympics are much different than the summer games.
The Summer Olympics are all about swimming, running, throwing, jumping and basketball – something all of us know how to do. Winter? Try skating, skiing, slap shots, and sliding rocks with handles down an ice rink. Not everyone has experience doing much (if at all) of this in our everyday lives (unless you live in Canada).
This stuff is flat-out interesting. Mix in the fact that national pride is at stake and you have the makings of TV ratings and water cooler talk during February. Now that football is over, we’re all watching.
Some random thoughts about some of the Winter Olympic events:
- Anyone else look at those massive blades on the short track speed skaters and think about fingers getting sliced off when the racers put their hands down along the ice on the turns? Makes me nervous.
- Curling is simply shuffleboard on ice. With rocks. And brooms. “Hurry!” What the hell does that mean? Seriously though, it looks easy, but it is quite a talent to play it at a high level. I think they should add a keg at each end for the participants, but that’s me.
- The athletes that ski the moguls simply remind me of why I avoided black diamond runs during my high school ski trips in the first place – too much work. How about a new event where you simply head down a blue run as fast as you can without braking? I was a master of it back in the day. What? Oh, they added flags to that and call that the Slalom Ski? Got it.
- What’s dumber? The Luge or the Skeleton? I respect the athletes, I really do. However the Skeleton is all about going down the route head-first. But they wear helmets, so you know, it’s all good.
- The Aerials would be more entertaining if they had a lottery and grabbed people out of the stands to go airborne on skis and see how they react. There would be a lot of arm swinging. And screaming. But think of the ratings.
- Who came up with the ski jumping idea back in the first Olympics? If we were meant to fly we would have been born with wings. But don’t let that stop us. Besides, we’d never have “the agony of defeat” highlight from Wide World of Sports without it.
- My favorite event of the Winter Olympics is the Biathlon, mixing cross country skiing with precision shooting. Where else can you combine high-level cardio with a loaded weapon? Besides Compton?
- I lied, my actual favorite event at the Olympics is the hockey, both men and women. This marks the fifth Olympics where NHL players will compete for the men, and the competition will be quite good. Literally any one of five countries could play and win gold. The women? It gets no better than the rivalry between Canada and the USA. If you’ve never paid attention to the women ice hockey, I highly recommend it. This will be quite a war and the two will probably face off for the gold medal.
The Opening Ceremonies are tonight, which are always great. Who will carry the flag for the United States on the way in? Who will be chosen to light the Olympic Flame that will burn for the next two weeks? Will Bob Costas’ infected left eye have its own Twitter feed by tonight?
This is why we tune in. Ok, maybe not the Costas part, but there is no question that the Winter Olympics are must-see TV. Enjoy the games.