Tag Archives: 2014 Olympics

Say It Ain’t So!

thirtysixIt’s been a long time since I’ve written–a long time since I’ve found any inspiration to write about my beloved Olympics. Perhaps today’s entry isn’t due to any inspiration, but rather to take a moment and open my heart, laying out some of my feelings with which I’m conflicted.

A few months ago I was dismayed to learn that a record number of cities had withdrawn their bids to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.  Out of the original six cities which bid, only two remain:  Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan.  Lviv (Ukraine), Krakow (Poland), Oslo (Norway), and Stockholm (Sweden) have all withdrawn their bids.  Didn’t we just have an Olympics in China some eight years ago?  Kazakhstan?  Really?  Never have I seen the selection of an Olympic host city be whittled down by the candidate cities themselves, bailing one by one, leaving the least popular cities as the only two available choices.  It’s already difficult to be excited about a 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.  I’m already frustrated in learning that new medal events will debut at these games:  mixed doubles curling, mass start long track speed skating, snowboard big air, and an Alpine skiing team event.  How much bigger of a circus can these games become?

Let’s see, then there was the report of dead fish filling the harbors near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (host of next year’s Summer Olympics), protests by Brazilians over slum evictions, the growing safety concerns for tourists arriving next year, and yes, the reminder that golf will debut in 2016 as a medal sport.  Yeah, it’s difficult to rally around the excitement which will soon begin building for these next Olympic Games.

Now I’ve learned that in the last few days one of 2012’s great heroes (and a favorite of mine from London) is under investigation for performance enhancing drugs.  Who can forget the gold medal finish by Mo Farah three years ago?  It brought tears to my eyes as he and two other compatriots won gold for the United Kingdom in track and field events.  Now there is suggestion that his win was not earned honestly.    Farah is one of many athletes who continue to fall under scrutiny for alleged cheating.  Some will be cleared of any wrongdoing; others will not, and their Olympic glory will be forever tarnished.  I thought we were past the decade of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs?  Apparently not.  Farah denies all accusations.   I hope his denials are truthful.  Say it ain’t so, Mo!

Sochi’s 2014 Olympics will probably go down in history as one of the most boring and lackluster games of the 21st Century.  The IOC continues to add sports left and right, diluting the value and uniqueness of an Olympic Games and its medals.  In addition, the cost of hosting is leading to potentially great hosts declining or withdrawing from the opportunity to host.  And athletes like Sanya Richards-Ross are demanding compensation in addition to their medals, claiming training costs are too expensive and that IOC members pocket too much money–money that should be given to athletes.

I’m not sure what direction this blog will take from here on.  Imagine how heartbreaking it is for this fanatic to feel so conflicted about the one thing she has loved and revered her entire life!

Say it ain’t so!

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

The Most Important Event at Sochi’s Games

Gorki“The stars seemed near enough to touch and never before have I seen so many. I always believed the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, but I was sure of it that night.” – Amelia Earhart

When someone asks me which event(s) I recommend watching during an Olympic Games, my typical response is, “Watch all  of  it!”  Yes, I still stand by this.  As a fanatic I believe that all of the Olympics are worth watching.  However,  if one isn’t going to tune in for all of the competition, I can say without doubt that there is one event in Sochi worthy of everyone’s attention:  Women’s ski jumping.

Back in 2010 I wrote a lengthy commentary on gender bias in Olympic sports, focusing on the ridiculous and inexcusable exclusion of women’s ski jumping from the Olympics.  The fact that in the 21st Century women’s

Pioneer and Olympian Lindsey Van (Photo:  WSJ-USA)

Pioneer and Olympian Lindsey Van (Photo: WSJ-USA)

ski jumping still wasn’t a part of the Olympic Games….Well, I still can’t wrap my head around it.  Yet thankfully with all the tireless efforts of athletes, coaches, and various sponsors, women are finally getting their opportunity to compete in Olympic ski jumping.  The historical event will begin tomorrow (Tuesday), February 11 with the normal hill  competition.  Pioneers like Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome who fought tirelessly for equality and inclusion in the Olympics are finally seeing the fruits of their labor.  And compared to what they’ve endured over the years to earn their place in the Olympics, launching off a 70-meter hill might be less daunting.

fis-womens-ski-jumping-hinzenbach-20140202-155832-313

Women ski jumpers will finally have an Olympic podium. (Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images Europe)

As a child I was inspired by the story of Amelia Earhart.  The tales of her courageous adventurous spirit and her belief in gender equality helped make me who I am today.  How many young girls out there have been–and will be–inspired by Lindsey Van Jessica Jerome, or Sara Takanashi?  How many of them watching this week will be encouraged by these athletes’ bold determination, mesmerized as they watch them soar through the air under a Sochi evening sky? Regardless of who will be standing on the podium tomorrow night, all of Sochi’s female jumpers deserve role model status.  Their dogged determination, conviction, and bravery is to be celebrated. Their gallantry deserves the gratitude of all women, old and young.

There will be other memorable stirring moments in these Olympics.  But tomorrow night when the first and last jumpers speed down the hill and launch themselves into the frosty air, history will be made.  And to all of them, I say: Thanks.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2014 Sochi Olympics, Ski Jumping

From Russia With Love: Opening Ceremony & Day One Recap

“Yes, love, ….I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbours; to love one’s enemies. To love everything….” ― Leo TolstoyWar and Peace

Friday night’s theme was love: romantic love, the love of sport, patriotism, and tradition.  With the first portion of the 2014 opening ceremony centered around a girl named Lubov (which is Russian for love), the program then continued with a  brief and very selective history of Russia depicted through animation and theatrical performances.  It was new IOC president Thomas Bach who stole the show.  His first speech at an Olympic Games was the first one of its kind that I can remember.  Never do I recall an IOC President speaking from the heart and making such bold statements.  It gives me hope for the IOC.  Perhaps I am naive.

It was a safe program; and while it wasn’t as visually appealing as Vancouver’s, it edges out Danny Boyle’s disaster of London two years ago.  But I was puzzled by the persons chose to carry the cauldron into the stadium.  Were the Protopopovs slighted because they defected from the former Soviet Union?  Where was Ekaterina Gordeeva?  I was, however, very pleased to see that Irina Rodnina was chosen to light the cauldron with hockey star Vladislav Tretiak.

Day one of the Olympics is usually jam-packed with events.  But after rising at 5:00 AM to watch live competition, I was done by the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t remember the first day’s schedule of events being so sparse.  So what was yesterday’s highlight for me?  Sven Kramer and team Netherlands sweeping the men’s 5,000 meters in speed skating.  I love watching the Dutch speed skaters.  They are a joy to watch.

Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day of Olympics to watch.  I’m staying in my PJ’s and ordering take-out.  Sochi is my Sunday sanctuary!

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Russia’s (Fashion) Runway

Russia2 (Bosco)

Love it or hate it, this is your host country’s uniform.

Interested in where to pick up some of these looks?  Click here for a link to where you can inquire about or purchase these Olympic uniforms!

For some, Paris Fashion Week is the most coveted event in fashion.  For me, it’s the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.  Few are wearing labels like Armani and Ralph Lauren.  And absent are the other fashion powerhouses such as Prada, Dior, and Valentino.  But what’s present is patriotic pride bursting forth in all types of colors, patterns, and lines.  It’s that time again.  Time for the opening ceremony fashion preview!

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Competition Couture

First, it was the Spiderman-inspired suits of the 90’s worn by American skiers.  Then in 2010 it was the pants of the Norwegian curling team.  Guess what, folks?  Both skiing and Norway’s men of curling are making new fashion statements in Sochi!

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Filed under 2014 Sochi Olympics, Alpine Skiing, Curling

The Power to Inspire, Unite–To Change the World

mandela flame

Photo: Reuters

Our hearts are heavy since learning of Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday.  Although old in age and having done so much to change our world, many of us are finding it difficult to say goodbye–to bid farewell to a pillar in our international community.

It is a sense of trepidation that I feel when I consider a future without Mandela.  I wonder how we will all continue to fight for equality and social justice when such an influential figure is no  longer here to inspire us.

13 years ago Mandela gave a speech in Monaco during which he spoke these powerful and unforgettable words:

“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

During his 95 years, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was always learning, growing, and advocating change.  He never gave up.  Never surrendered–even when faced with countless hurdles of cruelty and injustice.  Instead, he stood firm in his quest for a world without hate, prejudice, injustice, and inequality.  His unwavering strength, courage, and passion for change is known to have inspired countless others over the decades.   Yet perhaps now–in a post-Mandela world–is when his legacy should influence us all the more.

In less than two months the 2014 Winter Olympics will open in Sochi, Russia.  These games which were designed to ensure ‘all sports for all people’ are being hosted by a country where homosexuality is banned and stories of persecution against sexual minorities are being reported.  Sochi is this century’s Berlin.  A sporting movement which Pierre de Coubertin designed to promote peace, athletics, and equality is once again being held in a country whose laws and actions directly contradict the tenets of the Olympic Movement and the late Mandela.

The torch must  now be passed on–but not from Mandela to a single heir-apparent.  Rather, shouldn’t we all collectively take the torch and vow to move forward, to do our part?    Athletes competing next year in Sochi will represent both genders, all sexual orientations, all races, and a diverse number of religions.  They–along with us, the fans–have “the power to change the world.”  Their actions, their performances, and our support of them can help inspire change.  We not only owe this to Mandela, but more importantly, we owe this to ourselves and posterity.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2014 Sochi Olympics, Olympic Fever

2014 Olympic Medals Revealed

Medals

With just eight months to go until the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Sochi’s Olympic Organizing Committee unveiled the medals which will be awarded to hundreds of athletes.

There’s a lot going on in this medal design–so much, in fact, that I’m undecided as to whether I give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

I’ll be writing more about the symbolism behind the design of these medals as the 2014 games get closer. For now, what is your opinion of the medal design?

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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