I bet you can see the dark circles under my eyes from where you are because I woke up this morning at 5 am after being jolted out of a particularly bad dream. I am thankful that my brain wakes me up before things get too bad in my dreams – I guess that in real life I would turn off a movie if it was getting too dramatic and luckily my brain agrees and presses the standby button! Thankfully, my husband was right there beside me to comfort me and we gave up on the idea of having an extra hours sleep in favour of a nice cup of tea and a cuddle. He also remembered that the Winter Olympics were already in full swing by that time in the morning so we took out tea and sat in front of the TV to watch the Mens Ski Slopestyle event at Sochi 2014.
Ever since the London Olympics took over my life in Summer 2012, I’ve been a little bit crazy over competitive events. Okay, I’m still not that much into football, but I’m getting there! In particular, any worldwide sporting competitions will have me glued to my TV so you can imagine my excitement when the Winter Olympics were pending and I knew I would have two weeks of awesome competitiveness to enjoy. After a lot of dedicated viewing, I’ve come to the conclusion that I love the Winter Olympics even more than the normal Olympics. Although nothing can compare to being the host nation of the summer Olympics – I don’t think anything will top that in my lifetime – I actually enjoy the disciplines of the Winter Olympics more and, wrongly or rightly, I think that’s because of the jeopardy of the sports.
I’m not saying that I want to see anyone get hurt or do any serious damage, but it does add to the excitement of the event that the athletes could slip over at any moment! You don’t really get that many people falling over in the normal Olympics and aside from a couple of bike crashes in the cycling events, there’s not much danger involved in the track and field sports. The exhilarating enjoyment of Winter sports is that most are performed at super-fast speeds – think of the skeleton, speed skating, luge, bobsleigh, slalom etc – and lots of the competitors are flinging themselves in the air in the name of sport – in the slopestyle, figure skating, mogul and halfpipe for example. I’m already holding my breath when the skiers start their run and although I’m always willing them to do fantastically well (which they usually do, and take my breath away with their tricks) I am on the verge of a wince for every landing and the relief when a competitor makes the run without damage is great. But (and I can’t be the only one!) I just can’t look away during the slips and falls, the loose skis flying through the air and athletes tumbling downhill. There’s always that moment of holding your breath until the snowboarder hops back up and you know they are ok as they continue their run. I think that the speed and the height of some of the events adds to the drama of potential injury but luckily the snow or ice means that there is very little friction and the fallen skiers just slide along largely unharmed until they come to a stop.
I hope I’m not coming across as someone who wants to see people get hurt because this is absolutely the opposite of what it is about the Winter Olympics that I enjoy. I have massive respect for athletes that are willing to do a dangerous sport just for the love of it and even after massive injuries they still come back for more – just look at British downhill skier Chemmy Alcot who recovered from 42 fractures and 4 breaks and was yesterday hurtling herself down the slopes just for the love of her sport, declaring that her 19th position was as good as getting a gold medal for her. I don’t think I’d ever strap myself into a ski ever again if I’d gone through all that!
It’s the whole ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ factor of the Winter Olympics that I really enjoy, combined with the smooth gracefulness of the athletes when they get it right. Have you been watching the competition yourself? What do you enjoy about it? I’ve got a fun weekend of nothing but snowy sports ahead of me and I can’t wait!