Olympic Memories

I did finally watch the final episode of Sherlock S3, but I’m going to wait a few days to talk about it because …

OLYMPICS.

I love the Olympics. My parents, living in the foothills of the Adirondacks, went to Lake Placid during the 1980 Winter Games. They couldn’t afford tickets to any of the events, but they said even just walking around downtown, sharing in the Olympic spirit, was amazing. So it’s only natural that I grew up loving everything about the Olympics, as well. I even love the Summer Olympics, but the Winter Olympics are unquestionably my favorite. When I was a kid, I cared about the figure skating and not much else, but now I love it all. Even curling.

I have some pretty awesome memories tied up around the Winter Olympics, too. Like being a flag bearer for the Torch Relay in Lake Placid before the 2002 Olympics. Getting to watch Jack Shea run in with the torch, surrounded by the women’s hockey team, standing there holding the Olympic flag across from my best friend holding the American flag … wow. One of the most awesome moments of my life.

(No pictures from that, sadly. We weren’t allowed to use cameras while we were carrying the flags.)

Then there’s all the pre-Olympic competitions, games, and races I’ve volunteered at over the years (again, growing up an hour away from Lake Placid had some fabulous perks). I never got to shake Jimmy Shea’s hand, but I’ve cleaned his shoes, how many people can say that?!

(If you watch the start of a skeleton event, you’ll see someone at the top run a stiff brush over the bottom of each slider’s cleats right before they go down, to make sure there’s no stray pieces of dirt caught. That was my job at one competition, and I was simultaneously elated at the responsibility and terrified I’d mess up and ruin someone’s run. Thankfully, everything went well!)

I’ve met and mingled with winter athletes from all over the world, serving them in one way or another. There’s a special bond between volunteers and athletes; neither of us would be there without the other. We were always so thrilled just to be able to participate in the event, and they were (almost always) so appreciative of our efforts (some were jerks, but honestly, most were genuinely nice people). Those years in Lake Placid were where I learned to love the sliding sports.

I want to go down a run on a skeleton sled at least once in my life. It looks like the biggest rush I can imagine.

I love the spirit of the Olympics, really. The spectacle of people coming together from all around the world, to celebrate the triumph of human spirit and endeavor over every obstacle and difficulty. I’m not a big sports fan in general, but the Olympics are so much more than sport.

I’m cheering for all the athletes, but most especially Noelle Pikus-Pace in women’s skeleton, the Night Train crew in men’s 4-man bobsled, Team USA in both women’s and men’s hockey, and Meryl Davis & Charlie White in ice dance.

Who are some of your favorites, and what do the Olympics mean to you?

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3 thoughts on “Olympic Memories

  1. I love the Olympics because people come from all over the world with similar goals, all united– okay, they’re COMPETING, but most of the spirit is not about beating-the-other-guys but about being the best YOU can be. I love the EVENTNESS of it, the hugeness, and how for everyone there it’s like the Best Thing They’ve Ever Seen. I love learning about the different cultures. I love when underdogs triumph.

    I love that the sports are ones you don’t see every day, and many of them are breathtaking to watch. Like I said on Facebook, I’ve been really loving snowboarding the past few Olympics. Figure Skating was my favorite when I was younger, but I think snowboarding has taken over more recently. But pretty much every sport in the Winter Games fascinates me to watch– I can’t say the same for the Summer Games.

    I have to admit that so far the Canadian ice dancing team has been captivating me more than Davis & White have– I can see how the latter are very skilled, but the former seems to, I don’t know, have more passion?

    • Snowboarding is amazing – and I was rather vocal in my dislike for it when they first included it in the Games, so that’s not something I say lightly! It seriously blows me away, and I love how good-natured and cheerful all the competitors are. (I have turned into a major Sage Kotsenburg fan, just from his attitude!)

      It’s curious, about the ice dancers. To me, Virtue and Moir are dull and lifeless, pleasant to watch but never captivating. Davis and White, on the other hand, are riveting. Every movement, every expression, just blow me away. And the differences seem so obvious to me that I think everyone must feel this way, and it’s good for me to be reminded of just what a complex sport this is, that what speaks to one person doesn’t speak to another, and that’s one of the beauties of it.

      I am not a competitive person. I’m usually the one who deliberately choose to lose because I don’t care, and I know others do, so I lose on purpose to keep them from feeling bad. And I don’t like competitive attitudes, so it surprises a lot of people how much I love the Olympics, but it’s just what you said – even though the participants are all competing, it’s more about being the best they can be, and just being at the Olympics is so huge, and they’re all so delighted by it (most, at least – there’s obviously a few jerks in each Games), that you can’t help but rejoice with them.

      Or at least, I can’t.

      • Re: good natured snowboarders. I was thinking about you saying this last night while I was watching the halfpipe competition. I was thrilled how genuinely INTO each others’ runs all the snowboarders seemed to be. How often do you see athletes cheering the competition on like that? It was like they were all just buddies hanging out at the skate park, daring each other to do better, and there just happened to be judges there giving out points.

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