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Winter Olympics offer lots of gold moments

Posted: February 26, 2014 - 3:41pm

The karma around our abode became chilled for awhile after the Winter Olympics kicked into gear. 

I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because we subtly assumed the cool attitude of the high flying skateboarders or totally zoned out on NBC’s continued riveting drama of the status of Bob Costa’s pink eye.

On the positive side, his abbreviated absence was refreshing because we keenly preferred network coverage of world class athletes launching for the ozone layer over his annoying attempts to infuse political melodramas into the games. He’s a pain enough during the football season.  

On the other hand, his stand-in, Matt Lauer, was as entertaining as watching a bag of Sleepytime Tea soak in a sink.

Thankfully, there were a few remarkable analysts that were skilled enough to give color commentaries that prevented viewers from going comatose during the curling and blinding pants competitions. 

Let’s not forget their cohorts who valiantly tried to amp things up by becoming so unglued toward the end of cross-continent ski races that they nearly shattered their larynxes attempting to make the finishes sound like fiery, bumper to bumper, climaxes at the Daytona 500. Kudos to them and the brand of coffee they snorted to keep upright throughout those competitions. 

On the other side of the viewing spectrum, things became rippin’ in Alpine skiing.

The action starred certified maniacs and featured events such as the slalom and Super-G. 

Contestants in the downhill reached speeds of more than 80 mph and have been known to veer off course and crash land in adjacent countries. 

It’s amazing how the competitors are able to ignore the vulnerability involved with high speeds and sharp turns on pure ice or slush, especially since downhill skiing is considered slightly less hazardous than parasailing from precipitous cliffs without a canopy.

Then there was the freestyle skiing and snowboarding:

The skills showcased wicked special tricks, sub-orbit aerials, humungous recycle bins for Red Bull containers and its own language such as, “Dude, I beefed bad after smacking a death cookie during the huckfest. I’m talkin’ crashtastic, bro.” Interpretation: “I fell down.”

The events showed neither mercy nor respect for the elderly either.

Shaun White, 27, the two-time gold medalist in snowboard half-pipe skipped the slopestyle event to concentrate on his primo venue but bombed out and must now sadly fall back on his clothing lines, million-dollar sponsorship deals, and touring as a guitarist within his rock band, “Bad Things” that got its name from the
type of music it plays.

The new ski-cross competition was incredible with the winner being occasionally decided by whose body part crosses the finish line first.  

As far as speed skating went, some of it was righteously electrifying when steel bodied athletes, who featured thighs that could crush a tour bus, screamed around the short-track like loons rushing the doors of a federal building after the announcement of a new giveaway program.  

Figure skating was something that was tough for me to watch.  

It wasn’t a macho thing where I sat stunned to see dudes wearing costumes that the Rockettes would envy. Nope. It’s was the apprehension of being witness to someone taking a face-plant after years of preparation for their big moment particularly if it occurred during warm-up or fine tuning the lights on their body tights. 

Mistakes like that smoke any chance for a Wheaties box cover and the skaters usually end up featured on a milk carton with the caption, “Have you seen this loser?” sponsored by the coaches who watched in horror as their years of intense tutelage came to a end with an ignominious butt bounce 30 seconds into a program.  

The luge and bob sled contests were turbo fast but the skeleton runs were nail biters. Why would anyone blast down ice chutes, head first, while clinging to a brakeless device called a skeleton? 

If I took a ride like that, I’d end up with my boots poking out of my helmet.

I once answered a sudden need for speed and an adrenaline rush by leaping onto a toboggan that I discovered crashed half way down a hill at Boy Scout Camp. The result was a short run resulting in a clarion call for a medic and subsequent a fencepolectomy involving a delicate orifice. I haven’t gone near one since.

I learned quickly that the only thing I was a natural at was running into things so I took up football and left flying off of mountain tops to the experts.

The 2014 Winter Olympics is over and it had its ups and downs along with some surprises such as a new contest for Journalists’ Competitive Whining. 

Note: I’m still perplexed as to why, on the last night, NBC wasted 90 minutes of perfectly good potential highlights time by showing a documentary on Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. I really don’t care that Harding has ended up mud wrestling gerbils at country fairs. Watching our athletes perform at their best, one more time, would have been icing on the cake.

Maybe by the time they get to Seoul, the media will show half the class that our world’s outstanding contestants bring to the games. If not, there’s always the mute button. 

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com. 

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