Every two years, the Olympics brings the world together to celebrate athletic prowess
The 2014 Olympic Games will begin in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7. The Summer Olympics always receive paramount attention, but the Winter Olympic Games never seem to match the fanfare of their counterpart. Usain Bolt and LeBron James might not be skiing down the slopes in Sochi, but the Winter Olympics are far from dull. Here are some reasons to watch:
1. Capitalism is better than Communism
The last and only time the Olympics — Winter or Summer — took place in Russia, the U.S. was part of a boycott of the games because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. That was 34 years ago. Now, the Soviet Union is broken up, communism is all but dead in Europe, and Russia and the U.S. are not worried about the imminent threat of nuclear holocaust. Yay, capitalism!
Basketball is to the Summer Olympics as hockey is to the Winter Games. It is the biggest true team sport on the slate, and the best hockey players in the world will be taking a break from their season in the NHL to compete in Sochi. In 2010, Sidney Crosby buried an overtime winner to lead Canada over the U.S. in the gold medal game in one of the most climatic events of the entire games. Hockey has always been one of the biggest and most exciting events (Miracle on Ice), and should not disappoint this year either.
3. Shaun White
White recently cut off his signature, flowing red locks, but he still remains one of the favorites in the men’s halfpipe snowboarding event. He has dominated the event for the past two Olympics — winning the gold medal in Torino and Vancouver — and appears to still be in top form. According to Yahoo Sports, White will also be giving the slopestyle event a go for the first time in his Olympic career. Not bad for a guy whose nickname is “The Flying Tomato.”
4. Ski Jumping
If there is a way to get an adrenaline rush by sitting on your couch, ski jumping is it. Skiers/daredevils/crazy people fly down an 80-meter or 120-meter hill, depending on the event, and fly through the air at heights well higher than human beings should be flying without a parachute. Somehow they land hundreds of feet from their launching point on two skis, evidently not defying the laws of physics.
5. Crazy uniforms
The Winter Olympics do not have sports like basketball and soccer, which have pretty standard, if not boring, uniforms. Most athletes will be wearing skin-tight snowsuits with flamboyant-to-completely outrageous designs. The outfits may not end up on the runway in Paris, but they will leave you unable to turn your head away from the screen.
6. Figure skating
For something so graceful, figure skating may be the shadiest event of the Winter Games. The Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan fiasco happened on the eve of the games in 1994. There was the incident in 2002 when Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were apparently robbed of a gold medal by a French judge. Stay tuned for more sinister activities in 2014.
7. Lolo Jones on a different type of track
Many people know Jones as the outspoken, self-proclaimed virgin track star who was not quite good enough to medal at the 2008 or 2012 Summer Games. For the winter festivities, Jones is trying her hand at something a bit different – bobsled. She’s gained about 20 pounds, eating about 9,000 calories per day according to an interview on the Today Show, in preparation for her new gig, hoping to finally bring home an elusive Olympic medal.
Here is a fun game to play with friends — have them watch curling, and see how long it takes them to figure out what is happening. Winner gets to understand curling – truly a gift in itself.
9. The Jamaican bobsled team
Remember that movie “Cool Runnings?” That was actually based on the true story of four Jamaican bobsledders who competed in the Calgary Games in 1988, according to USA Today. Now, they are back for another go for the first time since 2002. The Jamaicans, who lack funding and adequate training grounds, will be severe underdogs, but remain a remarkable story.
10. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Even if you do not like sports, the Olympics present the rare opportunity to root for your countrymen above everything else. Be a patriot. Watch the Olympics.