It’s off the Russia we go

The brightest, hottest spot in the this long, cold winter is the Olympics.

The sports guys at the La Crosse Tribune used to give me a hard time whenever the Winter Olympics rolled around. Figure skating? If you bedazzle it and wear lace, that’s not sport, they’d say.

Well, it’s not NFL football, and that’s just fine with me.

From the time I was a kid, there was something magical about the Olympics. I love the stories, the heartbreak, the triumph, the can-do attitude.

But I really don’t understand the luge, the bobsled and skeleton.

I was watching late-night coverage last night as the commentators spoke breathlessly of the skill and athleticism of the lugers. I don’t agree. If a guy over the age of 40 in Spandex can lie down on his back and toboggan down an icy hillside, all that appears to require is guts to know if you hit the side of that ice tunnel, you’re toast … or at least a chip off the old ice block.

But these commentators claim to know how the tiny twitch of a toe or the bobble of a head can win the race.

More exciting are those snowboarders. Though I never watch snowboarding outside the Olympics, I have to admire the cheeriness of the whole group. A bad run? They grin, give a thumbs up, and trot off to try again. Blown away by a competitor? “Good run,” they’ll yell. I think this sport is the embodiment of what the Olympics should be.

But, OK, for me, it’s all about the skating. If it’s got a blade — barring hockey — I’ll  watch it. With speed skating, I’m amazed at the stamina. With short track, I’m amazed at the speed and danger. With figure skating, I’m just plain amazed. I can’t tell a double axel from a triple loop. I just know those girls in sequins are really fun to watch.

So pull up a couch and cheer on your favorite athlete. It just might get us through another week or too of the Polar Vortex.


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