Miscellaneous musings, Olympic edition.

I had thought of writing a post condemning Mike Pence’s appallingly boorish behavior at the opening ceremonies but decided I didn’t want to waste that many words on him. Suffice it to say that he insulted our allies, embarrassed our country, and showed a lack of appropriate decorum and understanding of the international norms of proper behavior in such situations.

True confession: I love curling. I love curling so much that I felt motivated to look up and see if there was anywhere around me that gave curling lessons. I mean, this area produces loads of figure skaters and it has a hockey team, so ice sports come naturally, right? Alas, the only curling club I could locate is in Oakland, which is too far.

I should be in bed, but as I write this I am sitting up watching the men’s gold-medal curling match between the US and Sweden. I’m yawning so hard I’m leaking tears, but I can’t seem to tear myself away.

I try not to use terms like “crazy” or “insane” casually. They are too loaded.  But damn if the big-air snowboarders don’t make that hard. I watch them fly off the end of what looks just like a ski-jumping hill and twist and turn and corkscrew, and the only thing I can think is “Jesus, that looks just insane.”

Dave Geherty, a golf commentator which for some reason was in studio to give his views, gave his explanation of how ski-jumping started. According to Geherty, it had to have involved someone saying “Here, hold my beer.” This accords with what I’ve always thought.

I have a hierarchy of who I root for:

The Americans.
The host country, usually.(Not the Russians in 2014, though, and possibly not the Chinese in 2022.)
The Canadians, except in ice hockey.
Athletes from countries that aren’t Winter Olympic powerhouses, like women bobsledders from Nigeria and Jamaica and figure skaters from Kazakhstan.
Athletes whose medals will be significant for their countries: I was delighted at Javier Fernandez’s bronze, the first-ever figure skating medal for Spain.
Athletes from countries that are dear to my heart: the Spanish, the Kiwis, the Brits, and the Dutch. I root against the Dutch in speed-skating, though, because no country should have that much of a dominance in a discipline. (We’ll not talk about the US and snowboarding.)

Biggest disappointment of the games: the revelations about Shaun White’s history of sexual harassment. It always hurts when someone you thought of as one of the good guys proves not to be so.

Biggest delight of the games: a three-way tie between Adam Rippon’s performance in the team figure skating event, the US women’s hockey gold, and Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall’s gold medal in the cross-country sprint relay. It was the first gold medal ever for the US in cross-country skiing. It was also the most exciting finish to any event I’ve watched this Olympics.

Favorite US athlete: that’s hard, but it’s probably Adam Rippon. Or else Erin Jackson, the speed skater who started on ice in 2016. (She had been an inline skater, but still… to go on ice skates for the first time in October 2016 and be skating in the Olympics 18 months later is impressive.)

Favorite non-US athlete: Hannah Ledecka, the Czech snowboarder who also won the women’s Super G. Her look when she saw she had won by .01 of a second was priceless. Or perhaps the aforementioned Nigerian bobsled team, who didn’t medal but who did perform respectably.

Favorite event I only heard of in the past two weeks: team relay luge. Of all the sports that you have relays in, luge strikes me as making the least sense. Therefore, I find it fascinating.

One of the things I love is the sound of the Olympics: the swish of skates on ice, the rattle of bobsleds hurtling down the run, the clash of hockey sticks, the broad Midwestern accents of the men’s curling team.

Ah, well. Another 48 hours, and I’ll have to wait four more years to get such a concentrated dose of very athletic people spinning on the ice or flipping through the air.

I can hardly wait for Beijing, 2022.

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