Getting Down with the Sochi Olympics

The flame is lit for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russiai. Photo Courtesy: Tim Hipps
The flame is lit for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Photo Courtesy: Tim Hipps, U.S. Army IMCOM

By Will Martin

Once in a while the kids of today can get this middle ager to laugh for a moment when reminiscing about ‘those pre MTV times’ when there was no ‘information age’.

Makes me think my generation had it the best. Able to coincide and coexist with one another before all the political correctness had to enter the lexicon of day to day living.

Many a habit or a hobby tend to go back to an earlier point in life. A moment forever frozen in time that captured your mind, your heart, your imagination, your sense of pride and desire to learn about a great human interest story.

Could be that’s why some of us are drawn to soap operas in the daytime. The escapism or the fantasy of a better way of life.

Some fantasies-through hard work-can manifest themselves into making a dream come true. For a person, for a family, for a community, for a country.

Go back to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich Germany. Sure the tragedy that unfolded on that Labor Day weekend that Jim McKay somberly reported on September 5th. An ugly reminder of how politics always seems to enter the challenges of competition.

What I remember-this in a day where all you had for news sources were ABC, NBC, CBS, and UHF-was seeing a kid named Mark Spitz rack up seven Gold Medals.

You knew this was newsworthy when all the adults at dinner around the table in Morristown, NJ talked about that feat for hours and days. That stayed deep within me. The price of being rewarded for achievement. One reason why I watched.

Most people between the ages of 40-50 can tell you exactly where they were when ‘The Miracle’ was going down in Lake Placid New York. A bunch of kids led by Coach Herb Brooks and Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig did the unbelievable in pulling off an unthinkable 4-3 upset of the Russians in Hockey? The voice of Al Michaels proclaiming, ‘Do you believe in miracles? Yes!’

That early part of 1980 was not a fun one here in the States as we dealt with a hostage situation in Iran after radicals stormed an American Embassy 11-4-79 holding our people hostage for 444 days. That win over Russia in some weird, crazy way united Americans to not be afraid to stand up and fight for the right cause in the name of competition.

There was also an American speed skater who was creating quite the buzz much like Seattle prodigy Apollo Ohno in the last decade. His name was Eric Heiden. I believe he had himself a five medal tournament.

Weird to see the aforementioned events were on a tape delay and not live. Similar to what we deal with today with all the available social media. That winter I was glued and watching what was happening. Again there was a human element in place. When Team USA made their appearance on Johnny Carson after the Olympics ended I remember hearing some of the loudest cheering ever. That notion of working as a team for one common goal.

That alone should be the mantra for the Olympics be it Summer or Winter. We watch to see what the human spirit can strive for, attain, supersede, struggle with, overcome, outlast, outshine, defy the odds, overcome tragedy, show humility in victory in defeat, and yes along the way I’m sure we’ll count a few medals in the name of pride and competition for country and for self. This is why we watch.

Count me in among those who like to watch those X Games events of the Winter variety. Now fast approaching the twenty year mark in the States I am told that a few events are now being utilized in the Winter Games of the Ski Slope variety. No doubt this will engender a new legion of fans and better enhance the chances of the United States gathering medals in this 22nd Winter Olympiad.

Yes, there are some amazing human interest tales about to be learned by the world as these games commence and finish out in a two week span. We watch, we cheer, we boo, what we see…

A bunch of kids with a set of goals and aspirations to be played before a worldwide audience, parents in the audience, a stern coach in their ear or mind, and then we learn whether or not success is achieved.

Having spent some time already watching the biathlons, luge, and team skating events through the first three days I’ll be the first to say I am so locked in to watch hockey. Men’s and Women’s. I remember how electric my bar was when USA and Canada went at it in Vancouver in 2010. I expect more of the same in 2014. We might also see the same with USA and Canada on the Women’s side of things.

On a local note both Dallas Stars Captain Jamie Benn and Coach Lindy Ruff will be a part of the Team Canada ride to Sochi as both had to leave for Russia. Both are very excited to be a part of the process.

Yes we are going to hear about people like Bode Miller, Shaun White, Hannah Kearney, Hilary Knight, Emily Cook, Sage Kotsenburg, Gracie Gold. Jason Brown, Evgeny Plushenko, Jamie Anderson, Lindsey Jacobellis, Jenny Jones, and learn about terms like frontside 720 or Cab 900 or maybe a switch backside 540 Indy.

This slope stuff is pretty rad. Like totally (smile). I’m pretty sure the numbers have to do with number of revolutions/turns a ski-sloper takes on a given ride. 360 is a full turn so 180 would be half.

It’s different, it’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s out of the realm of what you or I might do, but…when tuned in…it’s a reason why we watch!

Keep in mind you can keep track of the games in so many ways today on your computer, your phone, your Ipad or just by reading what the daily bloggers have to impart. Much different from my day of watching the recap on NBC or ABC back in the day.

Just when you’ve gotten the hang of the all the event watching to talk about with your friends the games and the ceremonies are over and done. Done, gone and forgotten until we resume in 2018 at the next locale. Only to look back and remember what happened and how we remembered it!

Yes, host cities have a way of adding the medal count in the name of home cooking. Think back to the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles 1984, Korea 1988, Germany 1972, Vancouver 2010, Lake Placid 1980, you can expect more of the same in Mother Russia.

One country that has been incredibly successful throughout many Olympiads and in many of the events of the biathlon and slalom variety is Norway. Based on all that I have read and seen I expect them to have a lion’s share of the Gold and overall medal count.

With the United States and Russia each contributing 225-230 athletes expect those medal counts to be high. You can also add Canada to the mix and track the medal counts here.

While there is no such thing as a perfect presentation, here is hoping that the drama that unfolds on the fields from the players, teams, and games, are not overshadowed by the politics, selfishness, tragedy, or idiocy of someone’s actions off the of it.

Jason Brown and Gracie Gold: I see great futures for the two of you!