Tag Archives: 2014 Winter Olympics

The Most Forgettable Winter Olympics?

Perhaps some of you noticed that I didn’t blog during the 2014 Winter Olympics.  No, my computer wasn’t broken.  Nor was I tucked away somewhere without

Even I wasn't the only one yawning. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Even I wasn’t the only one yawning. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

electricity.  I just didn’t have anything to say.  And that’s not a common occurrence when it comes to the Olympics.  I love the Olympics.  It’s the most exciting thing that happens in my life every two years.  Some might wonder if this is because I have an uneventful life.  No!  It’s because I love the Olympic Games that much.  That much.

One can imagine, then, how disappointed I am over these Winter Olympics.  Okay, I’ll admit I was never particularly excited about Sochi as the host city.  But I put my feelings aside and tried to throw myself into these Olympics as I normally do.  I took vacation days to stay at home and watch.  I even woke at 2:00 AM (or earlier) to watch events live.  But for the most part, the competition was dull.  The venues were architecturally sound, but not worthy of awe.  And when it’s February but the average temperature at a Winter Olympics is 57 degrees Farenheit, something is off.

Throughout the two weeks I kept trying to find that excitement.  Aside from the pairs competition, ladies ski jumping, and the cross-country skiing, there was no sparkle.  No athletes with whom I really fell in love.  No captivating stories.

The only consistency in Sochi was NBC’s continued terrible coverage.  It’s something the network has mastered.   While it offered more live streaming online, it plastered results all over its website.  And rather than forcing me to watch on my laptop, it could have made more use of the other channels it owns.  Quite often as I watched live Olympic coverage online, USA Network was showing re-runs of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and CNBC was airing infomercials.

The one bright spot in these games was NBC Sports’ choice of analysts for figure skating.  While Tara Lipinski  showed poise and articulated

Screenshots from my TV of Lipinski and Weir.  Oh, Johnny!

Screenshots from my TV of Lipinski and Weir. Oh, Johnny!

herself, her colleague Johnny Weir brought much-needed fun and sparkle.  I predicted Lipinski would be in Sochi, and I’m glad NBC decided to also bring Weir to Sochi.  I felt bad for those who weren’t able to watch skating during the day.  They were stuck with Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic for evening analysis.

Yes, it breaks my heart that these Olympics weren’t memorable.  But like any Olympian, I’m going to persevere and set my sights on the future.  I hope that Rio brings its A-game to the table in 2016.  And to Pyeongchang, let me say this:   I can’t handle another dud of a Winter Olympics.  I expect the next Winter Olympics to be phenomenal.  If you need any advice, e-mail me.  I’ve got some great ideas.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

 

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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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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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Promising News for Women’s Ski Jumping!

Women’s Ski Jumping USA just posted some promising news!  Click here to read about this announcement.

These qualified athletes still haven’t been allowed to compete in the Olympics, but today’s news makes me hopeful that such a wrongful exclusion will soon be corrected.

Don’t forget that female jumpers are still in urgent need of funding and support.  More information on how to help can be found here.

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Olympics: Looking Ahead to Future Games and the Possible Contenders

I decided to give myself a couple of days off.  After writing daily for three straight weeks and also keeping my regular job, I was a bit tired.  I figured that if Lindsey Vonn, Evan Lysacek, and others get a day off, then I can too, right?  Yet, I also have to be honest:  I’m in a post-Olympic funk.

With no Winter Games, I’m all the more ready for warmer weather, definitely ready for London 2012, and also curious about which cities the IOC will select to host both the 2018 and 2020 Olympics. These are the next choices they  must make.  Here’s a look at what we have coming up in the next several years:

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