Ah yes, the Winter Olympics are here, that quadrennial frozen festival where five full days of athletic competition are packed into a 16-day period. For some inexplicable reason, they decided once again to schedule the Winter Olympics during the dead of winter.
This week the opening ceremonies will take place in Pyeongchang, Korea. I’m sure Korea is a lovely country (although it didn’t look all that great on the sitcom M*A*S*H). Of course, whatever beauty the country has will not be on display during the next two weeks. Think about it: during the winter, all northern hemisphere nations look exactly like desolate asteroids, only colder. Which brings us to the primary drawback of the Winter Olympics: they are always held when it’s cold and dark and snowy. Yuck.
I had to flee from the cold and snow for a few days last month just to keep from losing my mind. We spent five days in Florida, and it was great. So, despite the undeniable truth of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which states: “Palm trees are ALWAYS better than frostbite,” the Olympic organizers insist on scheduling this international event at the worst possible time of the year. The off-season hotel rates can’t be THAT good.
Anyway, being a sports fan, if an athletic competition is on television, I’ll usually watch. This is true even for those Olympic events that are not actual sports, such as synchronized swimming, luge, curling, badminton, and figure skating.
What’s that you say? Oh please, don’t get me started. Figure skating is NOT a sport. It’s a dance recital on skates. There’s no ball or puck or stick or goal, and there’s no opportunity to knock your opponent on his or her butt (except in the dressing room, which I hear happens quite often). So, it may be lovely and graceful and athletic, but it’s not a real sport.
Figure skating is more like a NASCAR race. All the spectators say they’re there to watch the speed and power and precision, but what they really want to see is a crash. In either case, whether slamming into the wall on Turn 3 or tumbling to the ice after a missed triple toe loop, any chance of winning is gone.
The sad reality is that all Winter Olympic events must take place on either snow or ice. If I remember correctly from high school science class, I’m pretty sure for snow and ice to work properly, a major dose of coldness is required. Who in their right mind would want to travel to a place with all the ambiance of Antarctica and then sit outside on bleachers for hours on end just to watch some guys named Fritz and Sven go zipping by on the luge track? Not me, that’s who.
I’ve never been a spectator at an Olympic event, but over the years whenever the Summer Olympics were being held — Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, London, Beijing, etc. — I can remember watching on TV and thinking to myself, “It must be fun to be there in person, in the bright summer sun, enjoying the festivities and athletic events.” (Except in Beijing, where the spectators were enjoying the bright summer haze and smog.)
Whenever I’ve watched the Winter Olympics on TV — Sarajevo, Calgary, Salt Lake City, Sochi, Vancouver, etc. — I never once thought, “Boy, I’d like to be there in person to experience firsthand what a 30-below wind chill can do to my nose and fingertips.”
It is the Olympics, so I’ll definitely be watching on TV — inside my comfortable living room while wearing a sweater and fuzzy slippers. With any luck some of the figure skaters will spin out on Turn 3 and crash into the wall.