For another four years the Olympics are over. Well, four for the Winter Games. The summer Olympiad will be around in just a couple. One of the best things about the Olympics, winter or summer, is that we get to see sports that we’d never see anywhere else. There are some sports we suspect that are designed specifically for the Olympics.
Some competitions you aren’t going to see anywhere else without doing some hard digging. How often do you get to see curling, the biathlon, or the skeleton. In the summer you could look for a while and not find competitive badminton, judo, or canoe slalom on a Saturday afternoon sports show. Our favorite new sport (or new to us) is the Snowboard Cross.
You all know Snowboard Cross. It’s Motocross without the trail bike. Six Snowboarders come down the mountain at the same time, over bumps and lifts, around bends and turns, and try not to wipe out thus sending themselves and half of the remaining field into the side barricades. That part always happens. We didn’t see one heat, men or women, that saw the entire field make it to the finish line standing up. Now that’s competition!
We’re not quite sure how this got added to the Olympics. There are other snowboard events that seem to tie in very well with the “faster, stronger, higher” image of the games. For example, the Parallel Slalom pits two snowboarders together in a snowboard version of the Super-G. Very civilized as far as “falling off a mountain” event can be. Then there are some events like the half-pipe that are reminiscent of the junior high school boy’s dream of winning the Olympics by being the best skateboarder in the neighborhood. But the Snowboard Cross, that’s the right cross between mayhem and competition that makes you sit on the edge of your seat simultaneously wondering, “How do they do that?” and “You’ve got to be nuts to do that.”
One of the local sports commentators moaned on the opening day of the Winter Games that they should do something about the sports choices and put in more competitions that people care about like hockey and get rid of the ones that nobody wants to see like curling. What he really was saying is that he has no imagination and no respect for anybody who dares like something that he doesn’t. If he was a true sports “expert” he’d have been in front of his television every broadcast minute and drunk in the variety of competitions presented at the Olympics and no place else.
Perhaps your favorite new sport isn’t one of the Olympic events either. But maybe it’s influenced by what’s happened over the past two weeks. The luge reminds us of an old fashioned snow shovel race. Sort of. And there are lots of things you can do with a snow shovel besides ride on one. There could be competitive snow throwing – how far, how high, high flat, and/or how even can you make your driveway lining snow piles. Or maybe you’re more influenced by the bob sled. Dig out that old Flexible Flyer, find three of your closest friends, and see how fast you slide off your roof, over the front lawn, across the street, through the neighbor’s freshly made snowman, and into his garage.
It’s hard to imagine that with so many different sports at the same time that one cannot be fascinated with the sport itself. Is it something completely new – or new to you? Is it something that reminds you of your youth? We know we’ve been moved by what we’ve watched during these competitions. They gave us the opportunity to look at other parts of the world and see what those people think of when they think “faster, stronger, higher.” We’re certain that with an open mind even Mr. Cynical Sports Show Host would have discovered a new favorite sport. Maybe even Snowboard Cross. After all, how often can you find a junior high school boy’s fantasy come true complete with real gold medals?
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?