Curing the Winter Blues: Olympic Style
Daily Vidette Photo Editor
Nestled in a two-week span after the Super Bowl, after the atrocious NBA All-Star Weekend, but before the snoozer called MLB Spring Training is the most exciting athletic event of the season. The 2010 Winter Olympics.
I’ve read all the Facebook statuses hating on the Olympics. I’ve heard SportsCenter analysts describing the events as “not real sports.” This is simply a tall glass of hater-ade.
I’d like to see Skip Bayless strap samurai swords on his feet and try to race around an ice rink. Of course I’m referring to speed skating, one of the Winter Olympics’ finest and most exciting sports.
I sat in my living room in awe of Apolo Anton Ohno as he embarrassed all the racers in his qualifying round. He rope-a-doped them by skating comfortably at the back of the pack, and then jumped ahead to win first by over one second in final two laps. Trust me, it was sick.
Not to mention America’s Hannah Kearney’s gold and Shannon Bahrke’s bronze medal runs in the women’s mogul. Imagine speeding over moguls at over 30 mph and launching over ramps, doing tricks, and keeping your knees together the whole time. Can you say, “torn ACL?”
That was only Day Two. On Wednesday night, I watched snowboarder Shaun White, “America’s favorite ginger,” crush the competition on his first run. He went on to score even higher during his victory lap, even pulling out his signature, “Double McTwist 1260.”
What makes the Winter Olympics so exciting is that these sports are fast and very dangerous. We were reminded of just how dangerous these sports are when Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger from the Republic of Georgia died after losing control of his sled at 90 mph.
And we haven’t even got into the Skelton yet, which is the same as the luge, but the riders go down headfirst instead of feet first.
In the summer Olympics, the fastest runner, Usain Bolt, caps out at a little over 23 mph. What’s the worst that happens if he loses control? He might end up with a scrapped knee and a bruised ego. I guess Michael Phelps runs the risk of drowning, especially if he’s high as a kite.
The point is that Winter Olympians are daredevils. Lugers and bobsledders push 90 mph. Skiers careen down the mountain weaving in and out of gates at over 70 mph. One bad edge or patch of icy snow could end your career or even your life.
Events like the biathlon prove just how crazy awesome the Winter Olympics can be. Biathletes ski on a course going both uphill and down hill firing rifles at targets along the way (a la James Bond in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”).
There are, however, a few lulls in the excitement. I can’t really get into men’s figure skating, but I can respect the intense rivalry between Evan Lysacek of the American Team and Yevgeny Plushenko of Russia. I can also respect curling, because it gives the janitors of the world a chance to show off their God-given ability of floor scrubbing.
People may consider regional competitions at these sports pretty trivial and I’d agree, but when a gold medal is on the line, everything carries weight. Gold medals are right up there with Super Bowl rings, NBA championship rings, Masters Jackets and the World Cup. A gold medal means you are the best at your event in the whole world for four years.
It’s a great time to be a fan of America, the U.S. Olympians have earned 24 medals total, with a whopping seven gold medals.
Please put down your glass of hater-ade, grab a can of Coca Cola (official beverage of the Olympic games), sit back with some Chicken McNuggets (official food of the Olympic village), and watch these top athletes go for the gold.