Notes on the 2018 Winter Olympics

February 2018

              Once I completed my stretching and was sufficiently warmed up, I began the evening watching Olympic women’s snowboarding. A few minutes in, one of the commentators just explained “for those of you not familiar with snowboarding,” what people in the snowboarding biz mean when they refer to a snowboarder’s “front side” — it means “the chest and the front of the body”) versus the “back side” — which means “the back of the body, like your back and your bottom.”) Understanding that distinction is key to distinguishing a “front flip” from a “back flip.” What if I’d had the TV muted? I might never have known… He didn’t talk about left versus right, in case you’re wondering. I think he didn’t want to get into that degree of technical detail for fear of losing the audience. 

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             They’ve now switched to men’s downhill skiing. A skier named Ryan Something began his descent, and within a few seconds he bobbled, smashed into a gate, fell on his face, lost a ski, and slid down the hill. He came to a stop, face down in the snow. After a few seconds, he managed to collect himself and get to his feet, and limped off the side of the course. The expert commentator said, “I don’t think that’s how Ryan intended for his Olympic debut to go.” I’m so glad that guy is there for us, providing the kind of keen insights that we viewers could never hope to come up with on our own. (FYI, Ryan was bruised but suffered no major injuries.)

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             So just now they showed a woman luger who was coming down the chute at top speed. She miscalculated and grazed the wall, spectacularly crashed against the opposite wall and then spun, hurtling out of control down the course, with bits of debris bouncing in her wake. Surprisingly, the commentators didn’t say anything about the debris, from which I inferred that it wasn’t little pieces breaking off her sled, but instead little poops of terror that the poor woman was unable to control. (Luckily she wasn’t injured, despite a possible case of what one of my friends with no medical experience termed “terror incontinence.”)

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             The reason I’ve seen 6 or 7 events in one night is because my husband records an entire day’s competition, then fast-forwards through all the commercials and human interest stories, so we’re going to be able to see the entire Olympics in less than 3 hours. The downside is that I enjoy a lot of those human interest stories. I got mad at him last night because he fast forwarded through Dr. Oz’s expose on groin injuries, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir comparing the aerodynamics of sequins vs. rhinestones vs. feathers, Katie Couric making ramen noodles with Red Gerard, and — the one I most wanted to see — Mike Tirico and Ted Ligety discussing ski socks, callus pumicing and blister care while getting pedicures together.

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             There was some dead time between marquis events, so they showed part of a curling match. (I think it’s called a match. It could be called a game, a set, an arc, or an ordeal of curling. I don’t know.) Happily, the curling commentators were refreshingly interesting and seemed very knowledgeable. In fact, one particularly astute announcer confirmed something I’d suspected for a long time: some of the best sweepers out there don’t wear grippers on their shoes.

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             Winding up tonight’s competition watching biathlon, it occurs to me that it would be a much more interesting sport to watch if the competitors were allowed to shoot at each other as well as at the targets… and if they put bayonets on the rifles.

©NLWalsh, All rights reserved.








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