Monday, February 22, 2010

The Best Really Are Better

It was G'ma's 87th birthday on Friday, so my surveillance of these Winter Games for you,  devoted readership, was somewhat curtailed.  Still, I don't feel like I missed that much.  Ice Dancing is just not watchable (sorry, Nance).  I was unable to get through a single performance while sitting still.  How this is considered a sport worthy of Olympic inclusion and Women's Softball is not remains an unsolved mystery.

There were some wonderful moments, though: 

Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway (possibly the handsomest athlete at the games) won the men's Super G by 0.28 of a second.  The next two competitors were separated by 0.02 of a second.  That's the blink of an eye in a performance of 70.00+ seconds.  Amazing as that was, what was even more remarkable was our immediate and simultaneous recognition that, in certain instances in these Games, the best are really much better than everyone else.  

I could tell, even from thousands of miles and a tv screen away from the event itself, that  Svindal and Bode Miller (the US skier who placed 2nd) were stronger, less worried about self-protection (hitting those gates at 60mph has got to hurt, even if they are spring loaded to snap away when pushed), and most of all that they were skiing much closer to the edge of what normal people would consider sane behavior on the slopes. 

Performing on the biggest stage you have once every four years adds adrenaline to everyone's run, I'm sure.  But there were moments, when they were parallel to the ground, held above it by the strength of their ankles and their obliques and their hip flexors, balanced on the sides of their skis...... it's that moment when you know you are watching something very very special.

The course was soft and mushy and the crowd was silent as the 40 year old Swedish racer slid into the rough and lay still.  Others slid down the slope using their faces as snowplows.  Some tried to correct their mistakes and ended up creating more problems for themselves.  Landing on your upper spine after trying (and failing) to straighten out your twisted legs cannot feel good.  
It was very cool to see the reflection of the crowd in Bode Miller's reflective goggles as NBC was interviewing him.  Listening to him talk about the connection he feels to his 2 year old daughter's moods renews my faith in fathers-in-sports.  Tiger's bitching about the papparazzi's following his kid to school rings hollow in comparison.  
Bob Costas puts everything in perspective - he's fair and funny and kind and smart.  He's definitely on my list of People With Whom I'd Like to Share a Meal and and Activity of Their Choice.

The bobsleigh (bobsleds having gone the way of the brontosaurus) demands a certain leap of faith, since it's run on the death same track that hosted the luge competition.  The American driver was wearing a fur helmet condom (I'm sorry, but I just don't know what else to call it) and a giant parka and then he took off the parka and it wasn't all that big but he certainly was.  The curlers don't look much like athletes but this guy is a sausage stuffed into spandex. And every piece of himself was there, for full frontal viewing.

There are times when someone who loves you should take you aside and warn you that you don't want to go outside looking like that.  This is one of those times.

The Netherlands' sled is bright orange.  Their speed skater is wearing orange tights and sleeves.  I'm sensing a trend here.  I tried to figure out the background, but my inter-web search got bogged down in William of Orange....

Attention  speed skaters: I don't care how much faster those plastic over-pants are - they look ridiculous and definitely don't say sleek to me.  Do they really have to look like you've wrapped your thighs in zip-loc bags?

Shani Davis, on the other hand, has the coolest red teardrop on the back of his outfit and his long long arms swaying and pulling him around the ice have me swinging left -to-right-to-left as I watch him.  He won the silver medal (though the Dans who comprise the announcing team kept insisting he'd take the gold... oops...) Upon winning the gold, Tuitert of the Netherlands embraced his coach and they hugged and cried and hugged some more and they were just so happy that I couldn't feel bad about our Chicago kid.

Shani was gracious and couldn't wait to get away from the interviewer. He'd just done as well as he could and it wasn't enough and he's obviously a shy person so I wonder,  why does he have to be a talker too/??
The short track skaters have very cool glasses. The US team has great knitted ski caps 

Mary Carillo appears to have spent the last several months traveling around the world having very cool vaguely Olympic related adventures.  Tonight she showed us film of the day she spent training with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  There was lots of marching and carrying and yelling and stifling of smiles and then, at the very end, she got to put on one of those extremely cool outfits with the exceptional hat and I was jealous.
The US beat Canada in hockey tonight.  The score was 5-3.

There was ice dancing.  I didn't watch it.

I did see some curling, which is surprisingly addictive in a watching-paint-dry kind of way,

But, honestly, I couldn't muster much enthusiasm for the Olympics today, and when Amster said she could come over for dinner and a movie I was happy to shelve the competition.  We have ff-ability, so now that she's left, we can speed through until the score changes and then go back and see the excitement.  Other than that, yawn.....

Because, when it comes right down to it, I'd much rather watch Casablanca than anything NBC or MSNBC is offering right now.

Since this post began with the best, it seems fitting to end with the best.  

There are still some of us who know that TODAY, February 22nd, is your natal day.

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