Well, the Olympics certainly got off to a rough start this year. By now I’m sure just about everyone’s heard about the 21-year old luge slider from Georgia, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training accident before opening ceremonies. The Georgians chose to stay in the Olympics, walking into opening ceremonies with black armbands to commemorate their teammate. A Romanian luger was knocked unconscious, also during training. During the opening ceremonies, the arms of the torch were delayed and one of the arms of the torch malfunctioned and did not come out at all, leaving it with only three legs. Then, during speed skating at least one skater fell during every round of qualifying, making you wonder there is something wrong with the track. The weather has not held up particularly well with both fog and rain causing some concern for the ski slopes and requiring them to truck and helicopter in snow throughout the day. But through all the issues, the competition continues.
I don’t know what it is about the Olympics that I love (though I’ve always been a fan of competition so that might be it plus the deeply personal stories that we don’t generally get during other competitions), but I try to watch as much as I can manage. There’s always a lot of excitement: Apolo Anton Ohno back (“Ask yourself before you go to sleep, did you do every single thing you could do today to make yourself the best.”) in the best shape of his career, the Canadians aiming for their first win on home soil, Shawn White (whose hair has gotten ridiculous) returning, and occasionally some scandal (over 50 medals have been stripped during the last century).
One of the other interesting things to see about the sports is we get a lot of insights into the different sports. For example, in speed skating the athletes who skates in front throughout the race (to set the speed and remain in control) is called a front runner. Or that the knees separating on moguls signifies loss of balance. I like that we get to understand the small details and therefore can appreciate the complexities of sports that look so simple. There’s also something amazing about how these people have dedicated their lives and their bodies to a sport, to love something so much that it becomes the only thing they do even though it is rare for an athlete in sports that aren’t necessarily popular to become well known or get much sponsorship. (There are exceptions of course, as in the case with Ohno, but overall, it’s pretty rare.)
The news so far:
-Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death led to a shortening of the track among other adjustments but not all of the athletes are pleased with the changes, saying the track is too slow. The race has commenced without another Georgian, who pulled out before competition began.
-Canada’s hunt for a gold continues as Hannah Kearney defeats defending champion Jennifer Hiel in moguls UPDATE: Canada has now gotten four golds on home soil.
-Ohno comes in 2nd in short track (after two Koreans took themselves out and stopped a Korean sweep) and JR Cleski takes bronze (coming back from a massive injury some months ago), numerous spills plague competitors, knocking out two of the South Koreans right at the end; Ohno becomes the most decorated US winter Olympian
-US leads in number of medals but there’s nearly a week left of competition
-US medals for the first time in the Nordic Combined thanks to Johnny Spillane (receiving a silver)
-Shaun White absolutely crushes the competition
-Shani Davis defends his speed skating title with another gold
-Lindsey Vonn takes first in downhill skiing despite injury, Julia Mancuso comes in second
-A wipeout by Vonn during Giant Slalom leads to a broken finger and a ruined run for Mancuso.
-US won its first gold in the Nordic Combined
What are your favorite Olympic sports? Got a favorite athlete?