The 2010 Winter Olympics is well underway and it has been fiercely exciting so far, along with some tragedy. My head is still reeling from the Luge deaths, in spite of the fact it was human error. It was absolutely horrifying and my prayers go out to the family and friends of those whose lives were so quickly taken during what should have been a shining moment for them.
On a happier note, Bode Miller (Is that the greatest name ever or what?) made me so proud that I cried (Yeah, no surprise there since I already cry over everything aside from football and Willie Nelson.), even though he got the Bronze Medal in the Men's Downhill event. Then, the American ladies made me even prouder and cry even harder, winning the Silver Medal and the Bronze Medal for the Women's Downhill. The downhill has seldom ever had Americans win the Gold Medal, or any other medal. It has always been dominated by by the Europeans and Scandanavians until now, which makes me so happy I could do cartwheels. (No, really, I think I learned my lesson, thank you!) American men and women ski teams are making history this time around folks. Never before have US Ski Team members shown such displays of expertise in Alpine Skiing skills and I, for one, am exceedingly proud of them.
I nearly swallowed my tongue when I heard that the US Men's Giant Slalom (GS) skiers were going to ski the same skis as they had skied on in the Downhill. What? Are they insane? Apparently not, since they won Silver and Bronze. However, you have to understand that downhill skis are designed for speed and nothing but speed. (I can say this because I trained for both the Downhill and the GS.) They are much more difficult to turn, which is the essence of the GS. The turns are what it's all about. GS skis are technologically built different, so that they turn more easily. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at the incredible performances of the men's US Ski Team, holding my breath or screaming at the top of my lungs during each and every run. Oh, and crying. Uh-huh.
Actually, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that most of the male skiers are so much older than in Olympic Games past. You sure don't see 40 year old American women still trying to win the Downhill or the GS, which might or might not have anything to with the fact that most women quit in time to have children and raise their families. Because I trained for the Downhill and the GS, I can tell you that these particular sporting events are both brutal on the body. You take risks in a skiing competition (especially the Olympics) that you would never take during training, often taking your own breath away by the sheer boldness of what you've done. It is terrifying and exhilarating, all at once. And, if you live through it, there are good times to be had. The training is even more grueling, which is all that prepares you for that which also takes a toll on the body. The race itself. It's a well known fact that men's bodies are stronger than women's and they take longer to age than our feminine bodies do. Yup. Life's a bitch.
And did the women snowboarders rock or what? The US will bring home the Silver and the Bronze in the women's Halfpipe Finals, which was awesome. But (Screeeeech!) an Australian won the Gold? Since when did Australia have winter sports? Evidently, Australia does indeed have winter sports (and has had them like forever), I just don't remember ever hearing of it before. Surfing, yes. Snowboarding, no. Obviously, I've been a hermit for quite some time or otherwise I would have known. However, the men outdid the women, with the US winning Gold and Bronze in the same event.
So, moving on along, I do not profess to know anything at all about figure skating, like my pal Heather, who once competed in figure skating. However, I was stunned that the guy who won the Gold Medal in men's Figure Skating did so without having accomplished a quad. Yes, they changed the requirements for the event, which I understand. I just don't understand why, since it seems to be a fairly difficult move to maneuver. You would think that would be worth mega points, but apparently it is not so since the controversial rule change. Please don't get me wrong here. I'm thrilled that the US won the Gold Medal. And yet, I felt Plushenko's pain as well. Frankly, it isn't unheard of in the world of figure skating, as they change rules on a fairly regular basis. I remember watching the skaters of long ago painstakingly doing the required elements of doing figures and now they aren't even required to do them. However, I must admit that Evan Lysacek was completely dazzling and threw so many triples I suppose no one even noticed the absence of a quad. Or even cared. Plushenko continues the old Russian standards and apparently the world (of figure skating judges at least) is ready for some changes. And, I simply adored the flamboyant performance of Johnny Weir(d). What a free spirit that guy is and he doesn't really give a flying flip what anyone thinks! He's an amazingly mature young man who admits that the world of figure skating is highly political, which is why he knew he's never take a medal home. He was there for the sheer experience of it all. I love that kid!
I do have to say that I was quite disappointed with the Ice Dancing Tango Competition, which is normally my favorite. I thought the judges were stingy with their points, but then again, I don't understand the fine points of judging. I wanted Virtue and Moir to win because I thought their performance was outstanding. Apparently, the judges disagreed. Theirs was at least the most romantic and emotional program of them all.
Another huge change (in my mind at least) were the blue lines on the snow for the Alpine events. Undoubtedly, it was a good change, making it safer for skiers, as well as aiding them in mentally mapping their course as they go screaming down the hill at mach 100 miles per hour. The margin for mistake is basically 0%. Even the slightest wrong move can send you into the nets or worse, into the trees and the resulting injuries can often be life altering. I also realized that in inclement weather, it could definitely save lives, so it's a winning decision all the way around.
I suppose you could say that I am more than happy with the Winter Olympics this year and I'm immensely proud of our athletes. All. Of. Them. So much has changed since the days when I was *in the know* that it's simply mind boggling, adding even more respect for our Olympic Athletes. Things are so complicated and yet so simple these days that you have to be as sharp mentally as you are physically. I think it's all good!