Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic impressions

I told myself I wasn't going to write about the Olympics before a Canadian won home gold for his country, and thank goodness - on the second day - someone did, in the moguls. The same event in which another Canadian, altho now competing for Australia - dual citizenship - was entered. Much was made of that by the announcers, and it looked for the longest while like the Australian was going to win the gold. A very exciting ending!

The moguls. Boy, I find them difficult to watch. Maybe it's because my granddaughter is having problems with one of her knees that I am so conscious of them, but that event looks awfully tough on the knees to me! How could it not be?

Did you watch the opening ceremonies? I was going to, but then found myself falling asleep before they even started! LOL I think (hope!) my son-in-law taped them for me. I'll have to get out to their house sometime this week to watch them. I won't expect anything of a spectacular nature, like what I saw from Beijing two years ago, but I've heard they were very nice and have seen glimpses here and there. Am looking forward to watching them in their entirety.

A life lost before the games even began. Terribly unfortunate. My take on all this is that, while it is tragic that a young man lost his life, he did it doing something he loved and in pursuit of a dream. How fine! A shock for his family and friends back home and for the entire Olympic community, some of whom had already gotten to know and admire his youthful zeal and tenacity for the sport of luge.

But really, folks, these Olympic athletes push the boundaries of safety and personal well-being every time they get on the ice, snow, gymnastic apparatus, track, or wherever in their never-ending quest to go faster, higher, or be more innovative. Very few of the Olympic sports offer little in the way of danger for the competitors ... curling and ping pong, to name two right off the top of my head ... much of the rest are fraught with peril, and we should not be too surprised when an athlete suffers an injury and goes down. Saddened, and perhaps gripped with the all too human morbid fascination of watching the accident replay again and again, but not surprised.

Yesterday, I found myself immersed in the Nordic combined, an event in which an American (to the best of my understanding) had never won a medal. This is an event that begins with a ski jump and start times for the continuation are taken from that. There were three Americans 1-2-3 in the cross-country portion for the longest time with a fourth gaining ground little by little to try and join the front pack of eight or so.

Ordinarily I would never watch such an event, but the novelty of three (and possibly even four) Americans being in the hunt was quite thrilling. I am not big on medal count. I am much more into personal stories, such as the one of the young man who came in third the other day in speed skating. Such courage and determination! And, an interesting side note to this story was that his doctor was Don Jansen* (???), the former speed skater who won (five, was it?) gold medals himself in the sport.

[*Was it Don Jansen, or was it Eric Hayden? I'll have to pay attention the next time his name is mentioned so I can come back and correct this portion. Sorry about that. I'm terrible with names. Just terrible!]

Anyway, getting back to the Nordic combined - and I think there's another, longer version, scheduled for later on in the Olympics (I might just have to watch some of that!) - it was exciting all the way to the finish. All the way! One of the Americans did medal, altho it wasn't the one who had led all the way. He finished just out of the medal picture. It was truly a sprint to the finish. A fellow from France, I think, won the event. All three of the medalists collapsed immediately after they crossed the finish line. Immediately!

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and NBC had a lot of wonderful little tidbits to share with us in honor of the event, but the one that most caught my attention was that of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the Chinese husband and wife team who are entered in the pairs skating.

They have been skating together for 18 (!) years. A few years ago, he suffered what most would have thought to be a career-ending injury ... a "ruptured" (I think the term was) Achilles tendon. She was one of his mainstays during his recuperative period, and their relationship blossomed and deepened into marriage.

I watched them skate the short program last night. Flawless, to my (really) uninformed eye. To the judges', as well, because their score set a new record for the short program. However - there always seems to be a however, doesn't there? - the judges also found favor with some of the other competitors, and tonight's long program should see a near-record number of viewers, of which I'll be one.

I'll be rooting for China to win the gold in this event. How about you?


The Bug said...

We've been watching all the same stuff! I didn't catch the Chinese skaters though (I was in the kitchen) - Dr. M told me their routine was amazing. He got pretty annoyed with the scoring of the other couples (thought it was too high), so I'm sure we'll be pulling for the Chinese.

It was Eric Heiden - not Jansen (who is Dan, by the way, not Don). It was a pretty amazing story.

One of the women's mogul skiers has had SIX surgeries on her knees (three per knee) - so yes it really is hard on the knees.

BTW - my favorite parts of the opening ceremony were the poem & the song by KD Lang - amazing! Well, there were a lot of visually amazing things, but I liked these two performances the best.

Goldenrod said...

Am looking forward to the poem and KD Lang's singing. Think she is fantabulous! Thanks for your input there, Bug, as well as the correction on Eric Heiden.

Barry said...

And now Canada has two gold medals. Thank goodness because now we get back to just enjoying the games.

I'm with Bug, KD Lang and the poem were excellent as was the special effect of the whales swimming across the arena.

Goldenrod said...

I watched the opening ceremonies with my daughter yesterday. She made special comment on the whales, too. I thought the visual effects throughout were amazing.

I first heard KD Lang sing this particular song a year or two ago, and I really enjoyed hearing and seeing her perform it again. (No lip-synching for her!) She included this number in a concert that was recorded in Australia, I believe. It's one of the loveliest songs - combination of music and lyrics - I have ever heard, and I cannot imagine anyone else singing it.

I especially liked the fact that the athletes were all present to enjoy the ceremonies. Don't recall ever seeing that before.

I've been interested in reading Jo's comments showing a Vancouver perspective. (I think you both follow her blog ... A Majority of Two.)

I'll be watching the men's long program (ice skating) tonight. There are four competitors that I'm interested in. Weren't the Chinese silver medalists (pairs) fun?