Winter Games

Four years have come and gone, and we are once more plunged into the world of winter sports as we watch the Winter Olympics. The beauty, the pageantry, the three glorious minutes of spectacle before we go back to ten minutes of commercials. These take the gold medal for network profits.

Of course, in modern times we have the internet. You can stream most any Olympic sport you like and only have to deal with the ads that pop up on the side of your screen. But those are animated and often distract your eyes at every pivotal moment. Fear not there will always be a replay and then another replay and another and another and another, all sponsored by someone different. One spectacular jump, sixteen different commercials. Besides, which is more important while watching sports: seeing the first ever Quintuple Lutz, or refinancing you home? There must be priorities.

Now, I don’t want you all to think the Olympics are only about the commercials. Perish the thought. Just like millions of others, I am dazzled by the spectacle. Except when it comes to figure skating, where I am even more dazzled by the sequins than the spectacle. It’s totally amazing. (Note to self, check Google to see if the figure skating sequin requirement is one or one point four million per costume.) I’m not really sure what the skaters are doing, because all I ever see is blinding flashes from what look like a thousand cameras moving around a sheet of ice. The announcer calls out, “Wow! That was amazing.” But I missed it. I was too busy recovering from retina burn.

The other day I saw a skater with no sequins on his costume at all. It was a great performance for one minute and thirty seconds, then ruffians from six sequin manufacturers came out on the ice and beat him up. I guess the sequin business can be made or broken by one Olympic games. Who knew?

On the plus side, the games actually make me smarter. Did you know that the difference between a Toe Loop, Salchow, (pronounced Sow-Cow), Axel, and Lutz is the edge and toe placement of the skate as the jumper takes off? Pretty amazing, huh? One thing even more fascinating is the fact the judges can tell the difference. These people can tell the toe placement of a skater, moving at forty miles-per-hour, while being flashed by two-point-four million sequins. That’s one phenomenal ability. If you ask me, and no one ever does, the judges are the ones who should get the gold medals.  

Another sport that baffles me is Snowboarding. Those folks strap on a single piece of wood, slide down a hill, then jump into the air and do spins and flips. Incredible you say, but that’s not all. The people take off their helmets, and you see they’re just twelve or so years old. It blew my mind until I figured it out. I thought about it long and hard for many days only to have my teenage son give me the answer. He was fixing my computer, for the sixth time this month, when it hit me. Teenagers can do anything on a computer. Oops I should have said “*** Spoiler Alert***” Snowboarding is not real! It’s all done in CGI. (CGI stands for digital animation. I included this explanation, because there are no C’s, G’s, or I’s in the initials of ‘digital animation’) Notice how they all look like avatars going down the hill. Teenagers sit at home, because they hate to go outside, and animate themselves doing spectacular stunts. They send the video to the IOC, which, in turn, rates the best ones and puts them on TV. (With loads of commercials, of course).

Another great sport is Alpine Skiing. Now I believe this on is real. In fact, I have gone skiing myself. To ski you dress up in heavy warm clothing, glide down the mountain once or twice, then go inside by the fire and drink hot chocolate and various alcoholic drinks. However, it is different at the Olympics. There you dress up in skin-tight nylon onesies, and do three interviews before you slide down the mountain, and you slide down only once. What’s so hard about that? I guess training for all those interviews must be brutal. Then again, going sixty miles-per-hour, with very low temperatures, in your skivvies, should count for something. Just don’t ask me to try it.

I was on a social media site for the Olympics yesterday, and it’s truly amazing how many folks are mesmerized by them. Everybody wants the athletes back story. People want to know the hardship the skier went through when his family moved to Neverland when the kid was six. How some fourteen-year-old lived in the back seat of a car for twenty-six years. How mom and dad had to sell one of their seven vacation homes to get the best coach. All of these sad things that culminated into an Olympic performance. Specifically, I was watching one story and it was very similar to my life, with the exception of the training.  Nobody ever spent seven minutes in prime time to tell my story. I didn’t make the Olympics, so the mundane details of my life aren’t exciting enough. I will say they were pretty exciting to me. If truth be told, I know an athlete who qualified for the last summer games. Sadly, he couldn’t go, because he came from an ordinary suburban middle-class family, and the network thought his back-story was boring. 

Anyway, that’s your Olympic update. I truly hope you enjoy the games. Remember they’ll be gone soon, then you’ll have four years to ignore the six hundred events. You might keep up with hockey. We now return to our regularly scheduled program, (and commercials).


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