Swifter, higher, stronger … er, slipperier?

By Jim Chase

One of the few
things that
comes close
to my love
of watching
stormy, rainy weather is
watching the Olympics – specifically,
the Winter Olympics.
With the closing ceremonies
taking place this
weekend (has it been two
weeks already?) I thought
I’d take the occasion to unplug
my eyeballs from NBC
and MSNBC (yes, I watch in
spite of serious moral questions
about patronizing the
cable station that employs
such dangerously defamatory
and ultra-biased liberal
loonies as Keith Olbermann,
Rachel Maddow and Chris
Matthews) and write about
my infatuation with the
quadrennial winter sporting
I watch the Olympics the
way many of my guy friends
watch football or basketball
– riveted to the tube day in
and day out. Not wanting
to miss a single moment of
competition, I flip back and
forth between the two NBC
affiliates like Norway’s Aksel
Lund Svindal between Super
G slalom gates.
My appreciation for the
winter games might be because
so many of the athletes
are not yet gajillionaires represented
by an entourage of
agents, publicists and managers.
In interviews they
don’t brag about the socially
responsible electric car they
just added to their multimillion-
dollar stable of cars,
or how the landing lights
on the helipad at their new
Telluride vacation mansion
are 100% solar powered –
because it’s the responsible
thing for a concerned citizen
of the earth to do, you see.
For so many of these Olympic
athletes (certainly not
all, I realize), they come not
with press agents in tow, but
with their family members,
including parents who have
mortgaged homes, worked
multiple jobs and lived out
of their family cars in order
to make it possible for their
Olympic hopeful to train
with the right coach, practice
on the best ice and enter
the necessary competitions
to realize their dream. Upon
winning a medal, they don’t
look for the “I’m goin’ to Disneyland”
camera, but rather
wrap their country’s flag
around their shoulders and
search the crowded bleachers
for moms and dads and
sisters and brothers and fiancés.
Maybe I watch so intently
because – rightly or wrongly
– I feel that I could actually
participate in some of
the sports. After all, back in
the day, I would ski to the
limits of my downhill ability
and wonder, what if I had
done this since grade school?
How good could I have been?
Good enough? Probably, most
likely, not. But I do know
how good it feels to go really,
really fast. I’m with the
Olympians in spirit if not
ability. Even so, I do think I
could be talked into attempting
a downhill, giant slalom,
ski-jump or even a half-pipe
event – once. Then I’d have
the next two or three years
immobilized in a full body
cast to wonder what in the
wide world of sports had ever
possessed me to try such an
idiotic thing.
What about figure skating,
you say? Well, have you seen
me? Not only can I not skate
backward, I can’t lift my dog
over my head much less another
entire person. Besides,
the thought of my ample
physique covered in stretchy
lace, sequins and feathers
gives even me the heebie jeebies.
On the other hand – if it’s
late enough at night and
I’m still watching – I can
certainly imagine trying an
event like bobsledding, luge,
or that ultimate sport of Walter
Mitty types everywhere –
curling. I mean, what’s not to
love about a sport where the
maximum physical exertion
involves pushing a 44-pound
granite rock across the ice at
glacial speeds while wearing
bedroom slippers with Teflon
soles as your teammates yell
and scream at the defenseless
rock while frantically
sweeping the ice in front of it
with tiny little brooms. Yep, I
was born to curl.
In fact, I think I’ll start
checking Sport Chalet ads
for a sale on curling brooms.
I mean, 2014 isn’t that far
away, right?
I’ll see you ‘round town.