Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Olympics 2010

Go ahead, sing the Olympic song. You know you want to. I'll wait....

Are we good? The 2010 Winter Olympics. Have you been watching? If not, shame on you. Now, I don't sit and watch every event. I have time for that! But when I am home and have the TV on, I make sure to have it on NBC. Why? Because the Olympics are historical. The winter games only come every four years. (As do the summer games) The first were the Nordic Games held in 1901 in Sweden. In 1940 they were interrupted by WWII and resumed in 1948. Obviously, things have changed since then, but the basic idea is the same: bringing countries from all over the world together for two weeks to compete in winter sports. It always amazes me; in the midst of war, all of these countries, I think it was around 82, come together, in one location, to compete in these sports. It blows my mind. I don't care where you're from, what country you want to win, but when those athletes step on that podium to accept their medals, it's the most emotional moment on TV. When their national anthem is played and their flag is raised and I can see the sheer joy in their eyes and the words of the anthem moving in their lips, it chokes me up. Every time. Of course, that moment is made sweeter when it's an American who's the gold medalist; when the Star Spangled Banner is played and the American flag is raised, chills cover my entire body. It never fails. But really, it's just as moving no matter what country, what sport, or what athlete.

If you have been watching, what were your favorite moments? Mine:

Did you see Shaun White win the halfpipe gold? This kid is a beast! He had the gold medal in the bag after the first round, but still he went all out in the second round with the gravity-defying Double McTwist. I don't know how he did it. But that's why he's a snowboarder and I am not. And while he celebrated, I couldn't help but have a huge smile on my face. Still, watching the videos over, it makes me tear up.

Canadian figure-skater Joannie Rochette, do you know her story? Her mom passed away just two days before she was to skate her short program. When she heard the news of her mother's passing, she said, "I'm going to skate." And she skated her way to a bronze medal. I was watching her long program while on the elliptical in the gym and I couldn't stop crying. Yes, in front of everyone in the gym, I was crying over this Canadian figure-skater. Her story broke my heart, but her willpower to push forward and continue on with her dream, her mom's dream, of becoming an Olympic medalist, it was inspiring. I'm so happy for her.

If anyone deserved to win a gold medal, it was American figure skater Evan Lysacek. He's the first American to win the gold since 1988 in Calgary; a title that's going to Russia or the Soviet Union for the past five games. And did you hear everything Russian skater Yevgeny Plushenko had to say after receiving the silver? And how he made a point to step on the gold medalist podium before making his way to the silver medal podium? And how he designed and awarded himself the "Platinum" medal of the Vancouver games because obviously he should have won? Such a sore loser. Lysacek, he clearly was the better skater of the night. Clearly.

I know nothing about hockey whatsoever. I do however know that it is stressful and exciting and exhilarating. Team USA was playing Team Canada for the gold and knowing it would be a great game, I made sure to watch it. It started while I was in the gym and I could not get off of the stair stepper machine because I was so into the game and didn't want to miss anything! When USA scored to tie the game with 24 seconds left in regulation, I was jumping up and down! But then, Canada was the first one to score in the 20 minute overtime, meaning they won the gold. I was heartbroken for the USA team. They had clearly killed themselves during this game, given it everything they had, and they're effort was not overlooked. I felt so bad for them, just standing on the ice watching Canada celebrate. And while I was so heartbroken for them, I also couldn't help but be excited for Canada. To win the gold on their own home ice, there must be nothing like it. To celebrate with their fans in their own country; I couldn't be happier for them.

Tonight, the closing ceremony took place. It, like all other Olympic ceremonies, was moving. Yes, I cried. You can't honestly tell me it didn't choke you up to see all the athletes from all over the world intermingling on the ice. Celebrating together. Smiling, laughing, crying, taking it all in, and saying goodbye to the games that they've been preparing for for four years. For their whole lives. It was beautiful.

So that's it. Another Winter Olympics have come and gone. Like always, I cried a lot. In the words of Jude Law a la The Holiday, "A good book, a great film, a birthday card, I weep. I'm a major weeper!" Vancouver, you've been great. See you in 2014 in Russia!

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