Okay, so I've been going crazy for the last week because the Olympics are finally here! I don't remember ever being so hyped up for two weeks of sports as I am this year, although I do remember experiencing great joy during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City - perhaps because they were close to home then, too? I think what's getting me this time is a combination of things: the location - it's practically in my backyard! - I have competitors that I am deeply loyal to (more on that later) & I have this driving force in me that desires to accomplish something great like Olympic competition. I want to be great at something - and I want to always be striving to be at my best, which is something that I feel like I haven't been doing in the last few years.
I'm not an athlete, but I do have a deep affection for sports, which is often veiled by my intense involvement in the arts during the last decade. For those of you who don't know, here is a brief history of my life in sport:
Age 4: Gymnastics. I took a Parks & Rec class with two other kids. My awesome instructor broke her leg or something equally terrible for a gymnast and was replaced by a horrible man who had legally changed his name to Jim Nast. No, I am not being facetious. I quit shortly after that - it wasn't my calling.
4th Grade: Softball. Played on a Parks & Rec team (The Purple Pandas) with my cousin. I recall being a decent catcher and I liked playing 3rd base also. My career ended due to the fact that my family moved the next year and I never got back into it.
5th Grade: Soccer. I was signed up for a team due to start in October - we moved before the first practice. Ha! End of soccer career.
6th Grade: Figure Skating. Okay, this wasn't really so much a sport that I participated in but rather was deeply obsessed with for a year or so. I've been on the ice maybe five times in my life, but I still love the sport. For a while I was desperate to be an Olympic figure skater, even though at that point I had never put on a pair of skates. Crazy? Maybe. Oh well. :)
6th-8th Grades: Track & Field. I fancied myself to be a sprinter - in my head I could handle it due to the short distances of the races. I ended up being a shot putter. I wasn't great, but I liked it even though I didn't compete in 8th grade. I was moved up a competition class - based on age and weight - and hadn't improved enough to feel like I could compete against the better kids.
7th-8th Grades: Volleyball. Probably my favorite sport to play. I didn't make Varsity, and I couldn't spike to save my life - hello, I'm 5 feet tall! - but I'm pretty competitive when I need to be, and I loved being in the middle of the action.
AND...that's the end of my sports career. I moved on to my high school life in the arts as a theater nerd. But it is far from the end of my career as a fan. I don't know why I hide this part of my life - I hide my enthusiasm so well sometimes that even I forget it's there...but these Winter Games in Vancouver have ripped open this part of my insides that's so excited and keenly devoted to these sports and these athletes that I can hardly contain myself at moments. It's weird.
So, to finish up this crazy little journey into my mind, here's a little rundown on the sports that I'm committed to for the next two weeks. If you can't find me between now and the end of the month, it's because I'm watching the Olympics.
Short Track (Speed Skating): Athletes to watch: Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski. I can't hide the fact that I am deeply loyal to Apolo Ohno - I've watched him in the Olympics starting with his debut in 2002 at SLC, and I have to admit that I watched every episode of Dancing with the Stars the season he competed (and won!). Okay, so I watch every season of DWTS, but that's not the point - that season was especially great. J.R. Celski, on the other hand is a new discovery - I learned about him a week ago when he helped train the contestants on the Biggest Loser. But he's no novice when it comes to skating, even though he's only 19 - he took Bronze last night in his first Olympic race - Apolo took Silver in the same race. And this is after a horrible injury J.R. experienced in September at the trials!
Snowboarding: Athletes to watch: Louie Vito and Shaun White. I love Louie for several reasons - one, he was on the last season of Dancing with the Stars. ...okay, it's a sickness, I admit it! Too much dancing. I was so excited when I found out that he would be at the Olympics. Snowboard Halfpipe - the one with all the crazy tricks - is one of my favorites to watch in the games, and is the event that both Louie and Shaun (the defending Olympic Gold Medalist from Torino '06) are competing in. I'm also super excited for the Women's Halfpipe, the Snowboard Cross, and the Downhill events.
Figure Skating: I haven't been following the sport recently, but I'm watching the Pairs Short Program as I write this, and remembering just how much I love this sport! I can't wait to watch all of the following events - Men's, Women's, Ice Dancing, and the Pairs Free tomorrow night. My favorite for the Pairs is the Chinese team of Shen & Zhao (sorry USA!).
Skiing: Just fell in love with Freestyle: Moguls last night while watching Hannah Kearney take Gold for USA, and watched the Men's a little while ago. I absolutely can't wait until Lindsey Vonn's first Downhill race on Thursday night, and the Olympic debut of Ski Cross.
Okay, that's my top 4 sports (ha!) for the Games. And my battery is about to die, so I will end this extremely long post. I just felt the need to reveal a piece of myself that most people in my life know nothing about. I learned some about myself through this, too. A good time all around, I think.
Are you watching the Games?