Whether you are an ardent sports fan or just a casual observer you really can’t go wrong taking a few minutes out of your schedule to sit down and watch the Olympic Games. Chances are, you get one of the many channels that are carrying them, with nearly nonstop action all day, depending on where you turn.
Yes, it’s tough because the time difference is so great between here and Russia, and if you don’t want to know the results of an event before you get a chance to watch at night, stay off the Internet during the day. Case in point, I was watching the men’s ice skating finals on Friday evening and actually knew how it was going to end up. Even though I knew who would be wearing the gold, I did still enjoy watching the routines. Although it was odd that nearly every skater in the final group – world class skaters, mind you – all seemed to fall during jumps in one particular area of the ice. Seems like with that many skaters doing that many leaps and twirls and spins, the Zamboni should be coming out after each one to smooth the surface. The final skater was young American Jason Brown, 19, who had a shot at bronze but, like those before him, lost points when his landings weren’t clean. Even so, his elation and smile as wide as the horizon when he learned it was a ninth place finish made you proud he skated for America. A top 10 effort in the Olympics is nothing to take lightly; his whole demeanor was one of appreciation, acknowledging what he was able to accomplish. And watching skeleton silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace fly off her sled in undeniable joy to literally climb over the fence into the stands to hug her family … one of the best moments TV has given us in a long time. Not to mention one that wasn’t even scripted.
This year, I am seeing a lot more events that I just didn’t pay attention to four years ago – or maybe it’s just that I am taking time to enjoy more of the Games. The snowboarding was entertaining, the slope style skiing was crazy fun to watch and the traditional bobsled and downhill always amaze me with the power and speed required to win. Basically, it has just been riveting TV; I marvel at the dedication and sacrifice all these athletes have put in.
Of course, it would be great to see the USA come out on top all the way around and bring home the most medals but as I get older (and wiser?) it occurs to me that it really is just about being there in the first place. Once an Olympian, that is something no one can take away. You got there. You are among the best in the world. You will always be known as an Olympian, medal or not.
Some of the most decorated athletes will move on to get TV or commercial deals, probably serve as analysts and commentators in their sport down the line, or even go on to coach future Olympians. Others will go back to lives put on hold for training and competing, and resume school or work, or possibly hit their training regime even harder in hopes of returning to the Games four years from now.
Sure, there have been some disappointing results for athletes that felt they should have and could have done better but all in all, there have been victories to savor in multiple venues.
And perhaps the best part, what I have really enjoyed the most, is the performers.
Regardless of country, there has been a real sense of camaraderie displayed among these athletes, who seem truly happy for each other’s successes and share the love of their sport and the competition itself. That makes it all the more worthwhile, whether the flag they are ultimately hoisting is American, Canadian, Norwegian, or the host country’s Russian flag. Really, that is the heart and soul of what the Olympics are all about.
The Games continue until Feb. 23. Do yourself a favor and watch for a while.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.