Tuesday, February 23, 2010


*Chicago post coming. Keep your pants on. Unlike you could in Chicago*

When I was 8 years old, I drove across the country with my aunt (how I was there is a long, weird story that is not relevant and I'd probably get wrong anyway, being 8 and all – I mean, technically, she drove so I've already screwed that part up). Every place we stayed, the TV was full-time Olympics. Yes it was colour. I saw swimming and running and horses (hey, I know, go figure, but it was cool to an 8-year-old).

Most significantly, I watched Nadia Comăneci score a perfect 10. I had a hero and I was hooked.

I got home and somehow the planets aligned to get me into gymnastics class at the University. That room was a dream world. They had every exact piece of equipment that had been brought to life by Miss Nadia. I bounded around, flipped & frolicked, swung & twisted. I WAS an, no THE Olympic champion. I WAS Nadia. Of course, no one tapped me on the shoulder. No one pulled my dad aside and chatted with him while I wondered what they were talking about. There was no one-on-one attention, but 8-year-olds don't notice those kinds of trivialities. We're on FIRE BABY.


I LOVE the Olympics. Time stands still. For two weeks! Everything is my little hopeful 8-year-old self coming to life within each competitor. And no, not just the Canadians.

  • The bronze medalist that is more surprised than anyone.
  • The gold medalist who is known to be head and shoulders above all others and yet is still genuinely amazed at their score/rank/finish.
  • The silver medalist who is clearly disappointed in their performance.
  • The competitor who never really had a chance, but is hounded by their home-media as a rock star, because it's THE OLYMPICS!
  • Holding your breath as the figure skaters make their jumps – wanting them to nail it so badly you can taste it yourself (even when part of you wants to see them land on their ass so your own can squeak ahead).
  • Competitors persevering through injury to STILL come out on top. I'm looking at you Petra Majdič, Silken Laumann, Kerri Strug... did I miss any one? Or thirty? This is to say nothing of the invisible demons being cast aside at every turn.
  • The come-from-behind-because-everyone-else-has-crashed-and-you-stayed-the-course victory (I think snowboard & ski cross are my new favourite sports).
  • Feeling your adrenalin spike, ever-so, when you hear the starter's "pistol" (what the hell is that thing they're using now? It looks like something from Space 1999. Space 1999 is so 11 years ago!)
  • The rapid about-face, among the competitors, from the kill-or-be-killed focus during completion, to genuine elation for your rival for the best run of their career.
  • Commentators who have to fill two weeks of air time that end up saying things like "she is among the best in the world" Really? At the Olympics? Huh.
  • And for all the positives, there are the failures. Those that brought it this far and just could not slay that last dragon. They bring to light how significant the victories are. I feel immense pride for their accomplishments to bring them so far.


When I was in my 20s – probably mid – I was chatting with my grandmother. The conversation turned a little reminiscent. She laughed, "remember when you were taking that gymnastics class? One time I came with your dad to pick you up and was watching you at the end of class. Oh my goodness. You were the most awkward and graceless, gangly little thing out there. I felt so sorry for you!" Clearly, she figured I was old enough for the truth. I didn't have the heart to tell her I would not ever be. And my denial – in the form of multiple versions of "if only …" – rages on. Every two years I get to suspend all reality and re-view the world through those 8-year-old eyes. They tend to be a little weepier now.

On the weekend, I caught a glimpse of my kids outside "speed-skating" on the sidewalk...

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  1. Was it long track, or were they more like a couple of Koreans on the short track like those cheating bastards on Saturday night?

  2. That was not a racist or bigoted comment. Anyone who watched the semis and finals of the men's 1000m short track on Saturday knows what I am talking about.

  3. The post I think I am going to write is the opposite of this. I never dreamed of being an Olympic figure skater when I was growing up (and skating - obviously) but when I watch the skaters on the Olympics I always get nostalgic and wonder: what if....

  4. I'm a nervous wreck watching the Olympics, because I always think someone's going to hurt themselves really badly. Specifically, I'm talking about folks who flip themselves up in the air and could potentially land on their heads.
    And this started *way* before I became a mom.

    Oh, but I still watch anyway -- because, as you said, it's the Olympics! :)

  5. SciFi, I understand. "Cheating Bastards" is an equal-opportunity undertaking! But my kids, when trying to affect each others' performance, more resemble WWE than any kind of real sport. Cheating or otherwise. ;-)

    Nenette, I feel similar, but I'm not so concerned about injury, more about hoping they'll nail their landing. this darned "OK, take some prisoners, and maybe feed them tea & biscuits and give them a little foot rub" Canadian attitude is starting to piss me off!

  6. Just as long as we're all clear on this... the only medal that matters is the men's hockey gold. I mean, 12 million Canadians tuned in to watch them play Switzerland in the preliminary tournament - I'm not alone in my belief here!

    If the Canadian men don't win hockey gold, the nation will generally consider our Olympic medal count to be a disappointment, right?

    And if the Canadian men do win gold but lose at everything else, people would still say "but at least we won at hockey. They can't take that away from us!".

    I don't think you can say that about any other Olympic sport. Except possibly curling, in the more rural and backwards parts of our nation. And maybe those parts of the nation within an hour's drive of the US border.

    And given that men's hockey is the medal that matters, I urge all of my friends to curb your enthusiasm, lower your expectations, and brace for disappointment. In a tournament where one loss knocks you out and wins can be determined via a shoot-out, anything can happen!

  7. Oh I get that feeling too, I'm totally in awe of what all these people can do. I never was a "sports" person but the minute they have a wiifit plus Olympic event in free bike ride? I'm going to the podium!

  8. I loved this post - I've watched very little of the Olympics, but feel like I should now...

  9. Albert - just so *I'M* clear: I don't give a hot flying crap about hockey. I don't think it - or most (not all) team sports - should be there. Especially those where the athletes have another, arguably higher, priority (NHL). It's a topic of hot debate in our house. I'm probably wrong & it's mostly because I have a short attention span & get no satisfaction out of watching for 20 minutes. I'll go hand in my passport now.

    kyooty - you'll have some stiff competition from me. I *rock* that event.

    delicateandneurotic - thank you! Give it another shot - but not with hockey, IMHO ;-)

  10. Love the Olympics!

    for the last few Olympic games, I've been scanning the ages of the athletes to see if by some miracle I could get good enough in a sport to make the *next* olympics. (totally ignoring my lack of athletic ability). Now that hubby knows the father of one of the speed skaters, I think my time is up.

    Oh wait, there's still archery and skeet shooting in the summer games!

  11. my current favorite announcer comment (during the snowboard halfpipe): those finnish boarders are the "finnish mafia." they hang out together and talk finnish together.

    wow. really. i bet our americans are up there talking canadian together!

  12. Everyone at the Olympics has a higher priority... making money for the Olympics! It's a very successful business that makes a lot of money for a very small group of people... just like the NHL. Any propaganda about the greatness of sport, bringing together of nations, etc. is just that, propaganda.

    One reason the team sports are more honourable than the judged sports, though, is that even after a hard fought game like last night where one team was crying on the bench because they've been eliminated, the teams line up to shake hands. No pouting that they should have won because they did a quad jump, no announcement on their personal WWW site that they won a "platinum" at the 2010 Olympics.