After nearly two weeks, the Winter Olympics are winding down. I will miss watching them each evening, wondering how in the world do they do those things. I appreciate the basics of most of the competitions—whoever gets to the finish line first wins. It’s all those other “sports” that require a judge to decide the winner that leave me somewhat confused and unsatisfied.
I have enough difficulty bending over and reaching to tie my shoes, so seeing those athletes up in the air spinning and twisting and flipping around like beached trout is beyond my understanding. I don’t mean to diminish the amazing physical skill shown by the snowboarders and freestyle skiers and figure skaters when they do those incredible physical feats. I just like my sports more basic—go faster, jump higher than the next guy. No arguments can result when the clock shows who the winner is, unlike the men’s figure skating where the judges decided the winner and the Russian skater won the gold medal for whining. What could be more basic than ski cross where four skiers scream down an icy mountain to see who can get to the bottom first. The grueling cross country ski races that push the athletes to the limits of their stamina and strength are the epitome of pure sport, unlike ice dancing, which is nothing more than a pretty interlude between real sporting events.
I know this argument will go on and on every time the Olympics are held, be it winter or summer. And I will always come down on the side of those events that put the judges in the spectator seats away from any decisions about the outcome. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that I am in awe of the tremendous skills shown by the competitors in those exhibitional events. I want to know who the first guy was to do a flip in the air while skiing down the hill and then deciding that it would be cool to do it again, only this time flip backwards. Who dreams up these things? And while I am entertained by those feats, I still want the stopwatch to tell me who the winner is.