- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The curtain has fallen on the games of the 22nd winter Olympiad. The host country, Russia, was the overall winner with 33 total medals, while the United States finished with 28 total medals. But in my opinion, we, the viewers, also came away with a win because we were given a couple of weeks of entertainment like no other on TV.
As someone who was an athlete from my early childhood and into my college years, I can watch almost any sport. I developed a love for competition at an early age, and that continues today. I played all of the "stick-and-ball" sports that were traditional for a kid growing up in Kentucky, but getting to see the games people from around the world play during the Olympics, and especially the winter games, is a real treat. It's one thing to watch the summer sports where basketball, running and jumping events and other sports are the focus because I used to play those myself, though not at the Olympic level, obviously. But the winter games feature so many things that are beyond the scope of the viewer, and I think that's what makes it so exciting for me.
There are probably lots of you reading this who go skiing for recreation, but the competitive nature of events like the giant slalom, the "Super G" and other ultra-competitive skiing is beyond the imagination. And watching the snowboard slopestyle and slopestyle skiing is amazing. It also makes you wonder just how many times these athletes took some hard spills to learn they could execute the moves, much less make them look as easy as they do.
My wife enjoys the figure skating competition, and I have to admit I like to follow the U.S. skaters and see how they fare. But for me, ski jumping tops the list. Watching the jumpers take off from the ramp and begin to actually fly through the air, then land cleanly on their feet (most of the time) is fascinating. It takes such athleticism to execute the jump, and being able to come down on their skis at those speeds is hard to imagine, but it certainly looks like fun.
My interest in ski jumping started as a kid when I saw what is undoubtedly the most famous ski jump of all time, and it's one that was an epic fail. The name of Slovenian ski jumper Vinko Bogataj may not be one that rings a bell for you, but if you've seen the footage of a ski jumper flying off the side of the ramp as the old TV show "ABC's Wide World of Sports" came on the air, then you've seen him, too. Remember the announcer saying, "The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat?" Well, that's Bogataj taking a terrible tumble, and that's what I always think of when I see the ski jump.
The 2014 winter games are over, but as usual, they gave us a lot of great moments, and they provided even the casual sports fan with something unique to watch, as well as a chance to cheer on their country.
The only good thing about the games coming to an end is that now, without staying up until the wee hours of the night to watch them, I can go to bed a little earlier and get some sleep.