Every two years, no matter how much insanity and hatred is going on in the world, most of the planet puts their differences aside for two weeks during the athletic spectacle that is the Olympic Games. We laugh, we cry, we suddenly become die-hard fans of some random sport we’d never heard of before and will likely forget all about once the games are over. It’s a beautiful time, filled with hope and pride in our country’s young athletes. This year, we have been blessed with the lovely distraction that is the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Winter Olympics hold a very special place in my heart. Not that I don’t love the sweaty energy of the gymnastics, badminton and the pentathlon during the summer games, but winter gives us my favorite olympic sport — figure skating. Way back in January of 1994, I was an impressionable 10-year-old mesmerized by the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan drama. I became glued to the television, watching hours of news coverage and figure skating competition footage. I was obsessed.
At school, I organized what was lovingly called “dirt skating” which was just a group of girls taking turns running around, spinning and jumping in the dirt patch where we had recess at school. We even had a boombox and everyone brought their own tapes for their routines. On the weekends, I would drag my poor sweet Grandmother out to the ice rink. I was determined to master figure skating, and I must say I did quite well for not having a coach or any kind of training whatsoever. Of course, like most of the hobbies and activities I participated in as a child, ice skating fell by the wayside eventually. I never nailed the triple Lutz, but figure skating will forever have a place in my heart.
So far, the 2018 games have been incredibly entertaining to watch. I’m not even annoyed that we were forced to hear the 2012 YouTube Korean sensation, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” on repeat during the opening ceremony. Not long ago, the world witnessed U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu become the first ever American woman to land a triple axel in Olympic competition. It was an especially exciting moment for me, as my old pal Tonya Harding was the first woman to land that same difficult jump in competition at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It hardly seems like a coincidence that the Tonya Harding biopic and one of this year’s most critically acclaimed films “I, Tonya,” happened to premiere during a Winter Olympics cycle. Nagasu’s execution of the jump was flawless, and my heart fluttered as she casually floated through the rest of her routine.
Of course, figure skating isn’t the only sport worth watching during the Winter Games. Snowbording’s favorite “Flying Tomato” Shaun White redeemed himself last week by winning his third gold medal, a whopping 12 years after his first olympic victory. White won gold medals in both 2006 and 2010, but failed to medal at the 2014 games. Skiing sensation Lindsey Vonn has said that this will be her final Olympic Games, so I’m hoping she snags gold for sure. As much as we all love those major contenders, I personally am enthralled by any sport in which a human body plummets down an ice slide at 90 mph. I will never understand why a sport like skeleton luge was invented, but I love watching it nonetheless.
Grab the popcorn, it’s almost time for the ski jump!