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Rockin' the 2014 Winter Olympics

Posted: February 15, 2014 - 3:09pm

Just as I was getting our cabin back in order from a rather successful but somewhat pre-apocalyptic Super Bowl party, along comes the Winter Olympics.

Except for some Tim’s potato chips and bits of popcorn stuck up on various high window sills, the front room now looks more or less presentable and the dogs have waddled off the extra butt pounds gained from scoring spilled dips whenever the Seahawks slammed in another touchdown.

We were deeply pleased that Willie and Turk behaved themselves this time around by bringing along dates that didn’t start chewing up the furniture after a couple of brews and couldn’t remember what continent they were on after three.

Needless to say our insurance company is ecstatic and my wife will not be seeking out the dark retribution she solemnly promised if anything close to that last disaster happened again. 

But I digress, on to Sochi.

Things have been very different and laid back around the abode since the Olympics have kicked into full gear.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because we’ve subtly assumed the cool attitude of the high flying snowboarders or finally totally zoned out on NBC’s continued riveting drama of the progression of Bob Costas’ pink eye.

I certainly wish him well but definitely prefer the network coverage of the world class athletes launching for the ozone layer over his annoying attempts to infuse political melodramas into the games. I get enough of that during football season.  

On the other hand his stand-in, Matt Lauer, is as entertaining as watching a bag of Sleepytime Tea soak in a sink.

Thankfully, there are a few remarkable venue analysts that are skilled enough to give color commentaries that prevent viewers from going comatose during the curling and blinding pants competitions. And, let’s not forget their under paid cohorts who valiantly try to fire things up by becoming so unglued toward the end of a what seems to be an endless cross-continent ski race that they nearly blow out their larynxes trying to make the finish sound like a screaming bumper to bumper conclusion to the Daytona 500. Kudos to them and the brand of coffee they’re snorting to keep upright throughout those competitions.

On the other side of the viewing spectrum, things can get ripping in Alpine skiing.

This is a sport for certified maniacs and features events such as the slalom and Super-G. Contestants in the downhill can reach speeds of more than 80 mph and have been known to go off course and crash land in adjacent countries.

It’s amazing how the contestants are able to ignore the vulnerability involved with high speeds and sharp turns on pure ice especially when downhill skiing is considered slightly less hazardous than parasailing from alpine cliffs without a canopy.

Then there’s freestyle skiing and snowboarding:

These skill showcases come with wicked special tricks, sub-orbit aerials, humongous recycle bins for Red Bull containers and their own language such as, “Dude, I beefed bad after smacking a death cookie during the huckfest. I’m talkin’ crashtastic, bro.” Interpretation: “I fell down.”

These events show no mercy nor respect for the elderly either.

Shaun White, 27, the two-time gold medalist in snowboard half-pipe skipped the new slopestyle event to concentrate on his primo event but bombed out of the medals and must now; sadly fall back on his clothing lines, million-dollar sponsorship deals, and touring as a guitarist within his rock band, “Bad Things” that got its name from the type of music it performs.

As far as speed skating goes some of it can be flat exciting when steel bodied athletes, who feature thighs that could crush a tour bus, scream around the short-track like loons rushing the doors of a federal building after the announcement of a new giveaway program. 

Figure skating is something that is tough for me to watch. It’s not a macho thing where I sit there stunned to see dudes wearing costume that the Rockettes would envy. Nope. It’s the apprehension of being witness to someone taking a face-plant after years of preparation for their big moment on the world stage especially if it occurs during warm up or fine tuning the lights on their body tights.

Mistakes like that smoke any chance for a Wheaties box cover and those skaters usually end up featured on a milk carton with the caption, “Have you seen this loser?” sponsored by the coaches who watched in horror as their years of intense tutelage came to a end with an ignominious butt slam 30 seconds into a program. 

As I write this the luge contests are underway and some women who could make a ton of gold just modeling are roaring down ice chutes, head first, on a device called a skeleton with no brakes. Why, I don’t know.

This year a new event is the luge relay, in which four members, two single-sled riders and a double sled, form a team. Competitors press a touch pad after crossing the finish line, opening the starting gate for the next insane teammate. Again, why, I don’t know.

But then, maybe I do. It’s the need for speed, challenge and the adrenaline rush that I was expecting the first time I skied which, unfortunately resulted in an embarrassing clarion call for a medic and a subsequent skipolectomy.

These great Olympic athletes revel in limelighting their exceptional talents and the comradeship the games bring and they’ll continue to do so until the closing ceremonies so, Go USA!

It’s time now to get back to watching rather than writing.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t trying to catch up on some sleep after trying like hell to watch five NBC affiliates 24/7 including the losers’ bracket in curling.

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