Olympics a warm break in cold winter

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When the Christmas tree is taken down and winter has settled in for what seems like a never-ending stay, it’s easy for me to get a bit down in the dumps. Spring is a dream, and the reality is wind chills and snow shovels.

But, every four years there’s a respite from the February blues. There’s something that makes even a winter-hater like me applaud the snow.

The Winter Olympics.

I spent some time this past weekend reacquainting myself with the vernacular — remembering that a quad axel is very, very difficult, and that, on ice, women can traverse 1,500 meters in less than two minutes.

Every four years, so many of us dream of flying down a mountain on an ice slide — with nothing but a pretty insubstantial helmet protecting us from slamming into the walls of the slide at supersonic speed. I can even imagine the freedom of rushing down a black diamond run on a pair of skies with the grace of a Lindsay Vonn. In reality, my ski experiences are confined to the bunny slope and a week of epsom salt baths to ease the aching muscles afterward.

For a couple of dark winter weeks every four years, the Olympics give those of us icebound folks a bit of escapism by immersion. We can forget about the negatives of the season by watching those who embrace it.

The national figure skating championships were televised last weekend, and I found myself unable to change the channel. It was like being at a class reunion, “Oh, hey, Scott Hamilton! What have you been up to for four years?”

“Ashley Wagner, you’re back!”

“Who is that young kid who just dropped five quad jumps without mussing a hair on his head? I don’t remember him from our last get-together.”

I guarantee I will get caught up in the story lines coming out of South Korea. I’ll fall in love with the beauty of ice dancing once again. I may shed a tear when the stars and stripes are raised and the national anthem plays for the first time.

While, like everything else, beneath the veneer of patriotism and sport for sports sake, there are intrigues and secrets; a dark side where hearts and rules are broken. And, as the Games draw closer, we will dish about that.

The way to escape winter blahs, it seems, is to dive head-first into winter — the Winter Olympics, that is.