08 February 2014

I Really Want To Go To Sochi - And It Isn't Just About Curling

The first Olympics I remember are the 1980 Games in Lake Placid.  ABC had a lot of coverage, covering all the sports.  Of course, curling wasn't an Olympic sport back then - I first saw that during the 1988 Olympic coverage from Calgary, when it was a demonstration sport - but the whole event was fascinating to me.

Ever since, I have followed every single Games, Winter and Summer.  Yes, even the 1980 Summer Games.  I was 8, and the only coverage was a little blurb on the evening news.  Worst thing Jimmy Carter ever did was declare the boycott on those Games.  All he did was make the 1988 Games in Seoul that much more important.

I worked for EDS, at Xerox, in 1996.  During those Summer Games, in which Xerox was an official sponsor, there were planes traveling from Rochester to Atlanta daily.  Clearly, they were there for the important people, and not peons like me, but that didn't stop me from trying to get on a flight.  I failed, but I vowed then to make sure I got to the next Games in the States.

That would be 2002, in Salt Lake City.  I didn't get there, either.  I did, however, start curling that year, but that's another story.  But I vowed I would get to the next close Olympics.

I almost made it, too.  I don't think I need to belabor the story of The Pants any more - not right now, anyway - but opportunities presented themselves.  I had event tickets, a place to stay, even plane tickets and ground transportation.... but no flights at all were available.  So I didn't make it.

This is what I just said on Twitter.
I meant it.  And yes, The Pants are an obvious reason why.  I do want to see what I believe is the greatest curling competition ever (I don't want to hear it about the Brier or Scotties.  This is the freaking Olympics, and Team Jones and Team Jacobs chose the Olympics (and Team Homan would have)).

But I would love to see the ski jumping.  And alpine skiing.  And those crazy X-Games wannabe freestyle events.  And especially figure skating. 

I visited the Olympic Museum in Lake Placid last fall.  It was awesome.  The outdoor speed skating oval was impressive.  I got to see the ice where the United States beat Russia.  I got to see Neal Broten's Olympic credentials, complete with cowboy hat. And a whole lot of torches and posters.

A whole lot of official Olympic posters
It was all something of a religious experience for me. You see, I love the Olympic movement - always have - and what it represents - harmony, peace and friendship where none seeming should exist.  The athletic competition is second-to-none, with great underdogs qualifying in many events. 

And we all have favorite athletes of Games past.  For me, the list is long and won't all be names you remember.... Eric Heiden.... Michael Edwards.... Elizabeth Manley.....Brad Gushue.....(all Winter Olympians, and you get bonus points if you can correctly identify their Games, event, country, and placement in event).

So I want to be there in person.  I need to be there in person.  I will be there in person.  Maybe not in Sochi.  Maybe in Rio in 2016 - a Summer Games.  Maybe in Pyeongchang in 2018.  Maybe in Oslo in 2022 - I really think they will win.  Or Lake Placid in 2026.

But I would love to go right now.  I would love to see it.  I would love to be part of it.  And if I had the chance, I would drop everything and go.  

By the way -

Heiden - 1980 speed skater for the US.  He won five golds.  You all knew him.  
Edwards - 1988. Ski jumper for Great Britain.  You knew him as Eddie "The Eagle".  He didn't medal.  He came in last
Manley - 1988.  Ladies figure skating, Canada.  Sick as a dog in front of her home country, she very unexpectedly won silver.   No one saw that coming.
Gushue - 2006.  Curling, for Canada.  Gold.  Canada's first modern gold in a sport they generally dominate.

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