Tag Archives: Sochi 2014

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.

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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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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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Shop for the Olympic Look!

Below is a list of countries with links to the designer or retailer websites of 2014 Olympic clothing:

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Is Sochi a ‘Hot Mess?’

hot mess:  1.  An item that is dizzyingly chaotic in appearance; a situation or incidence that is extraordinarily bad.

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Sochi’s Bolshoi Ice Dome. Does this mean we’re in store for wild and unpredictable competition there?

Four days from now the 2014 Winter Olympics will begin, and there’s a huge lack of preparation for several.  Sochi is still scrambling to finish construction on some of its venues.  There are continued security threats, with many athletes’ family members choosing to stay home rather than risk their safety in Russia.  Some athletes are determined to protest Russia’s anti-gay legislation during the opening ceremony.   And I haven’t even mentioned the uproar Sochi’s twin toilets have caused.

This time four years ago I was stoked, prepped, ready for the games to begin.  So was the City of Vancouver.  And just two years ago, the excitement and preparation for London’s Summer Olympics was almost indescribable. Move forward to 2014 and I am under-prepared, tired, and wary.  My day job has left me little or no time to prepare, and the news coming from Sochi over the past year has made me frustrated and disappointed.   It seems that Sochi is a hot mess, and for now so am I.  We are both dizzyingly chaotic as we approach the eve of the XXII Olympiad.

Venue design is usually a topic that fills me with awe and excitement.  Thus far Sochi’s venue architecture leaves me bored, with one exception.  The Bolshoi Ice Dome impresses until it’s lit up at night and suddenly resembles a Uno card.  Where Vancouver and London had sustainability measures in place for their venues, the Russian government has yet to confirm plans for how it will recycle or maintain the upkeep of all the new construction in Sochi.

I am keeping a stiff upper lip and hoping for the best.  This is the greatest winter sporting event in the world!  I don’t want anyone or anything (toilets included) to dampen my spirits.  I’m crossing all fingers that these Olympics will have the grace and awe of  an Anna Pavlova, the smartness of a Kasparov, and the sparkle of a Fabergé egg.  It is what fans and athletes yearn for, hope for, and most of importantly, deserve.

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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Why We Need Winter (Olympic) Sports

KvitfjellI wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields….And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” – Lewis Carroll

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(Olympic) Information, Please!

I’m gasping for breath like a swimmer after an 800-meter race.  These Summer Olympics have way more events and athletes than the Winter Games.  In addition, live action is happening six hours ahead of me.  I’m struggling to find the time to watch as much of the Olympics as I can, while also holding down a full-time job, keeping up with my blog, and still managing to get some sleep.  Dark circles are starting to form under my eyes.  The delivery/take-out people now recognize me.  My dog looks at me forlornly, wondering when life will go back to normal.  My lawn is starting to grow past the ankles.  The laundry pile is growing.  Tom and Katie could have gotten remarried and I wouldn’t know it.   I’m in a bubble, only occasionally coming up for air.  I’m exhausted.

Which brings me to Question 1 that I’ve been asked:

1.  How are you liking these Olympics? 
I’m also loving, loving, loving these Olympics.  The enjoyment is always worth the stress!

Kind of like the stress under which athletes are placed, all for the chance to be an Olympian.  Athletes like Shawn Johnson or Danell Leyvan.  Which brings me to Questions 2 and 3 that have led readers to my blog:

2.  Shawn Johnson’s boobs?
I don’t know anything about Shawn Johnson’s boobs, breasts, rumored plastic surgery, etc.   Shawn Johnson’s height is 4 feet, 9  inches.  I don’t know what she weighs.  One never should ask a woman how much she weighs.  Gymnasts are under a strict diet when they’re competitive.  After retirement, their bodies are allowed to develop more.  Breasts and hips can get bigger.  It happens.

3.  Does Danell Leyvan have a girlfriend?  Is Danell Leyvan married?
According to his Facebook status, US gymnast Danell Leyvan is interested in women and lists himself as being engaged.  Sorry, girls and boys.

4.  Where are the next Olympics going to be held?
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be in Sochi, Russia.
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
2018 Winter Olympics:  Pyeongchang, South Korea.
2020 Olympics:   The three finalists are Madrid (Spain), Tokyo (Japan), and Istanbul (Turkey).  Tokyo is the front-runner.

NEW:  5.  Why are there cheerleaders at the volleyball matches?

The London Organizing Committee approved the use of cheerleaders during volleyball matches.  Viewers have probably seen them during both the indoor and outdoor matches.  Cheerleaders are part of the culture of beach volleyball, going hand in hand with the scantily clad women and loud music.  Since they’re present at beach volleyball tournaments, someone must have thought it would be good to include them in the indoor games too.  I find it ridiculous and shudder to think that the  British might be accepting this silly feature of American sports.

6.  Are Chinese swimmers taking steroids?
Read my next blog post to learn more about this!

Faster,  Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2012 London Olympics, Gymnastics, Olympic Fever

The Inspiring Journey of Seun Adebiyi

Photo: ESPN's "E:60" and Samson Chan Films.

A forest is not made in a season.  An eagle’s swoop has seen many seasons and floods…. -Nigerian Proverb

I recently learned about Olympic hopeful Seun Adebiyi from a segment of ESPN’s “E:60.” For this fanatic, his story was extremely moving.  It has stayed with me.

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