Unhinged Alaska: The Winter Olympics Sleep Deprivation Syndrome

It has taken a few weeks but I can finally walk a few steps without falling asleep while crossing the front room.


This newly acquired skill has been a boon not only to my knees, arms and extremely sensitive body zones but our furniture as well.

I flat overdid it when it came to the Winter Olympics this year. It wasn’t for the compensation. Nor was there any fun appeal in wading through hundreds of NBC broadcasts hosted by what seemed to be, at times, spoke personages recruited from cast members of The Walking Dead while the network’s served up more tape delay action than NCIS and Bones reruns on satellite TV.

There were two reasons I took the Olympic presentations head on.

The first, of course, was to watch the Olympians soar, spin, slide and power their way through the competitions. The second was because I wanted to see how the new South Korea compared to the one that I visited so long ago as a military man and under way different circumstances. Back then, I had no desire to return. The games changed my mind.

The opening ceremony was amazing and some of the wild eclectic presentations were so profound I thought I was flashing back to my college years when the only time you would experience such visions was if someone slipped something other than walnuts into your chocolate brownie.

I’m still stunned at the amazing display of miniature drone formations and the constantly changing kaleidoscopes of colors, figures and symbols soaring from and around the arena all topped off with a classic lighting of the Olympic torch once the athletes entered the stadium and were seated.

When the competitions commenced the snow boarders brought things to life. They hurled their bodies into near orbit while twisting, turning and flipping around so hard out of the half pipe that they left teeth impressions in their boards while holding mid-air poses.

What a way to start. Shaun White, a 31-year-old senior citizen, by snowboarder standards, took the gold in the half-pipe while nearly tickling the ozone layer during his last run. I’m not sure what he called those maneuvers but I still have major back spasms from trying to help him twist though the air. Chole Kim, 17, didn’t help matters when she struck gold in the half pipe. She indubitably deserves partial blame for my lingering kinks.

Kikkan Randall and Jessie set two records. One, they struck gold with a win in the cross-country skiing, two-person, relay that had me shouting at the TV so raucously it took us two days to discover where the dogs were hiding. Two, I actually watched a cross country event without slipping into a coma.

Then there were the big-air ski fanatics rocketing up to where they claimed to see China from their ski tips while secretly praying they wouldn’t hit so hard that they would be giving post-run TV interviews from the inside of their boot lips.

The excitement continued with moguls and downhill skiing. The competitions consisted of contestants banging their knees between their ears while attempting to make the best time to the bottom of the run without experiencing the joy of nose altering faceplants into man-made mounds of ice.

The downhill racer types merely had to try and remain upright while breaking the sound barrier sporting cool looking florescent Spandex. The bright colors were a safety feature in case they went off course and ended up somewhere near the outskirts of Seoul. Theory had it that satellites could pinpoint their impact sites a bit easier.

The figure skating was amazing except I couldn’t quite figure out the outfits. Some of the attire looked like it was designed by Christmas tree designers with a sequin fetish but the women’s attire rocked. Those observations aside, the championship finals were magnificent when the contestants managed to stand up.

I wish I had more space to cover the 15 sports and 102 events like, speed skating where steel bodied athletes featuring thighs that could crush a tour bus, scream around the short-track, the maniacs of luge, the craft of curling and the art of ski flying without turning oneself in a piece of abstract art, but I don’t.

I’ll close with a shout-out to some of our toughest athlete at the games, the women’s hockey team. What a match and knuckle gnawing victory. The dogs still won’t come near me.

Now, it’s on to the Paralympics.

Don’t worry, we’ll set up a “safe place” for the dogs in basement but they’ll be the only snowflakes allowed.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com during the competition’s commercial breaks or during some of the torpid commentary that’s as exciting as watching a bag of Sleepytime Tea soak in a sink.


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