My favorite time of year, every fourth year, is the Winter Olympics. I love watching them. I find myself completely mesmerized and glued to the TV for the latest news and highlights.
In '98 I could not get enough of Schmirler the Curler, nor of the American men's hockey team trashing their hotel rooms (hmmmm hotel rooms, or rooms in the athlete's village?...hmmmm, if I recall correctly it was their hotel rooms...that does not seem very 'olympic-y' but that is not the point of this post).
In 2002 I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Canadian men's hockey team beating the American men's hockey team ON american soil - that was pretty sweet! I will discuss the women's victory later.
But I think my love for the olympics started in 1988 when I got to watch ski jumping, bobsled, hockey, and figure skating (just to name a few) all in my own back yard of Calgary. I was in grade 4 at the time and was fascinated by the "Battle of the Brians" and the final threads of the cold war - the hottest ticket in town was anybody vs. Russia. I instantly loved Eddie the Eagle and even got to watch him "soar" from the ski jump. And who could forget the Jamaican bobsled team - I even managed to get their autographs on a sweatshirt (too bad I ruined that sweatshirt!).
A lot has changed since then. Jamaica sticks to the other olympics (can you imagine if Usan Bolt decided to become a bobsledder instead?!), professional athletes are now allowed to partake, Mr. Gorbechev tore down his wall, interpretive ski-dance never made it beyond an exhibition sport, snowboarding became a sport (the highlight being when Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal for failing a drug test. He argued that the marijuana was from second hand smoke during a going away party before he left for the olympics. He got his gold medal back and became a national hero), Katarina Witt posed for playboy, speedskate technology changed - the new speedskate was dubbed the "clap skate" and instantly all records were demolished, mogul skiing was introduced, Tonya Harding proved that anything can be accomplished with a tire iron, Alberto Tomba seems to have been forgotten, and women started playing hockey.
Now, I agree with all of the above changes...well all but two. I often felt that interpretive ski dance was a vastly under appreciated sport. The other sport that I do not think belongs in the Olympics is women's hockey. (I will wait patiently until the rotten eggs and cabbage have been thrown my way to explain my point).
Why would any red blooded Canadian denounce hockey of any sort? To be honest I could care less if Canada won only 1 medal in the whole olympics - as long as it is gold and is for the men's hockey. So, what is different about women's hockey?
Competition. That is what is different. Every year the gold and silver medal goes to Canada and USA. All the other games are complete blowouts. Do not get me wrong, I love watching the women's hockey. The passing is phenomenal and the goals all belong on highlight reels. I am all for equality and think that it is great that both sexes have the opportunity to play hockey. Unfortunately this opportunity only seems to be prevalent in North America. Until women's hockey can prove to be competitive at the world level, I think the olympics should push this sport aside and make some more room for interpretive ski-dance again.
I am off to watch the day 5 highlights! Go Canada!