Anne Horrigan Geary: Exhausting Olympics



Did you know couch-sliding is an Olympic sport? It is if you are lying on the couch, watching the luge races at two in the morning. As the announcer details how the racer points her toes, I point mine with the same small curve, and push my head a little harder into the pillow. I am ready for the ride of a lifetime!

I think one of the most satisfying parts of two weeks of Olympics’ watching is that I can try so many sports in such a short period of time. I love women’s curling. I was right there on the ice with them, measuring the shots and sliding that smooth hunk of blue and green granite down the lane. Curling is actually something I think I could really do, since precision is more important than speed, and I wouldn’t have to wear one of those form-fitting suits the skiers and sledders seem to have painted on their slim torsos.

For all the timed sports -- skiing, luge, bobsled, skeleton, and speed skating -- the difference between medals and no medals is measured in tenths of a second. It blows my mind to think that in the time it takes me to blink, a skier slides out of medal contention.

I enjoyed the pieces on vodka-making, granite-mining, and living in Siberia. I didn’t much care for the microscopic examination of some athletes’ lives and families. I want to kick the television -- and, vicariously, the commentator’s lower torso -- when he/she asks the snowboarder who just lost a competition how they feel. Duh! It makes me want to send some of those interviewers backwards down the luge run, without benefit of a sled. Maybe it’s just the lack of sleep talking; but I think each one of those athletes, who has given many years and endured innumerable personal sacrifices in training for this two week event, deserves a platinum medal and a million bucks.

I also enjoyed the opening ceremonies, from the parade of nations through the torch-lighting. It is a hopeful sight to see men and women of many nations coming together, not only to compete but to spend time in each others’ company. Good athletes generally display good sportsmanship as well as fine athletic form, so I’m hoping some bridges were formed among competitors and countries during this brief time of togetherness.

Of course I cheer the loudest from my comfy cushions for the athletes dressed in red, white, and blue sweaters despite Ralph Lauren’s horrid choice for the design. But I also quickly find favorites from other nations, whose skill and determination are so evident on my flat screen. I smile to see the expressions of joy on the unexpected winners, and I cringe for everyone who falls or crashes. I am supremely sympathetic to the skiers who wipe-out because my most vivid memories of my short-lived skiing adventures are those of lying prone on the frozen snow, looking up at the pale blue sky.

While this fortnightly run of late hours and confusing time delays has left me bleary-eyed most mornings, I don’t want the Olympic spectacle to end. Watching all these wonderful competitors gives me joy, hope for the future, and a sense of solidarity with the peoples of the world. The athletes represent what is strong and courageous among us, especially among the young adults of the world, and when they take off their uniforms and leave their skis and skates behind, I hope they will continue to live strong, courageous, and altruistic lives.

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.


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