Well, the Winter Olympics are over and now what will I do with my time?
First, I mean. What will I do first.
There’s always too much to do and not enough time to do it in. That’s how life works. But sometimes you have to put things aside and just bask in the weirdity of things, and if there is a bigger stage set for weirdity than the Winter Olympics on this planet I have yet to find it.
They’re not like the Summer Olympics, which are all about who can run faster, jump higher, swim longer, or kick a ball better.
No, the Winter Olympics are all about who can survive hurtling down a chute made of pure ice at speeds of over 80mph while riding a sled with about four inches of clearance and no safety gear. You can do that feet first or face first, your choice. If you’re feeling cautious, you can do it in a tube-like sled. They’re all about who can race in circles wearing knives on your feet without crashing head first into the side boards and taking out everyone nearby and severing everyone’s arteries including your own. They’re about training for the Finnish infantry with skis and rifles and trying to do so faster than anyone else. They’re about hurtling off a cliff on skis or snowboards while spinning like a top and flipping like a politician at a debate. They’re about grabbing your partner by the sensitive bits and tossing them across the ice while they spin dervishly and hoping they land on the knives on their feet without falling.
Seriously – who needs hard liquor when this stuff is happening right in front of you?
I got to see a lot of the games this year. We all sat for the Opening Ceremony, while the athletes from the various nations paraded in and the lighting techs showcased the state of the art in theatrical technology. The American network was even nice enough to acknowledge the presence of non-Americans once in a while, so you have to hand that to them.
We’re all big fans of curling here and this time around there was curling on pretty much every day. The girls used to curl every season here in Our Little Town. This year their worlds got too busy so no curling for the moment, but perhaps next year. To make up for that, we watched a lot of curling.
SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP YOU BASTARDS!! SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!
I like the sliding sports. Luge. Skeleton. Bobsled. I just can’t imagine what kind of reckless disregard for personal safety it requires to take up any of these sports, but I can’t help but admire the spirit of those who do.
Kim and the girls like the figure skating. I can take it or leave it, myself, but Savchenko and Massot’s pairs routine was a thing of pure beauty and elegance that managed to hush even Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir’s incessant chatter.
The snowboarders looked like they were having more fun than anyone else at these games, mostly I suspect because they never seem like they take themselves all that seriously. Figure skaters always look like they’re trying to decide which lever to pull in one of those trolley problems that your ethics professors nattered on about in college. Snowboarders just look like they’re two slices into a pizza but it was their turn to perform so they told their buddies to keep their next slice warm for when they got back.
Kim took the girls to visit her brother and his husband out in San Francisco last week and, for long and complicated reasons that made sense when we booked this trip but rather less sense when I was home by myself, I stayed behind. So I watched even more Olympics.
The women’s hockey gold medal game kept me up until the very last shot even though that meant I’d been awake for about 20 hours at that point.
And I watched every rock of the men’s gold medal curling game, as Team Reject scored the most unlikely gold medal in the Olympics after Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecka’s victory in the downhill Super G skiing event. No, I have no idea what a G is in skiing or how you make one Super (radioactive spider bite?), but the fact that NBC had to cut back to that event after pre-emptively declaring a winner and then apologize for their hastiness was all kinds of goodness on a bun. The American curlers weren’t quite that level of odd, but for a group of guys who had been cut out of the official program and had to work their way back in to win a gold medal in a sport where no American had ever won such a thing is a great story.
I enjoyed the women’s gold medal curling match too. How could you not?
But now it’s over and so it’s back to reality, or as much reality as I can stand these days. You have to parcel it out carefully or it will get to you.
I’ll miss the Winter games. I have no doubt that behind the scenes they were the usual array of corruption and greed that the Olympics always are, but for two weeks I could forget that and just watch the world’s largest display of goofy fun and enjoy it.
It was nice.