Tag Archives: Winter 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.


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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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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How a Fanatic (Usually) Prepares

This Friday–even amid wariness and being ill-prepared–I’ll be glued to the sofa, my eyes fixed on the television, and a smile will spread across my face.  I’ll say to myself, “They’re here again!  The Olympics are back!  Yessss!”

I’m usually much more prepared than I find myself this year.  Being an adult really stinks sometimes.

Here’s an excerpt from an earlier post in 2012 about how I usually prepare:

Just as the athletes train, the fanatic must also prepare.  Before the age of the Internet, I relied solely on print media and television for information.  USA Today’s Olympic bonus section was my bible.  Today I  have all the information at my fingertips.,  It can be overwhelming.  Tweets from the athletes, Facebook updates from sports’ governing bodies, blogs, news sites dedicated to sports.  It’s almost pure nirvana, but dizzying too.

When I was a teenager, I took a two-fold approach in my strategic planning.  I taped to the walls of our family den USA Today’s schedule of events, highlighting the ones that were of special interest.  Then I took the viewer’s guide from TV Guide and taped it to the wall, highlighting special events being televised, cross-referencing those with USA Today’s chart.

Now well into adulthood, I don’t have as much flexibility as I once did….It drives me crazy that while I am at work there is Olympic competition going on.  (Again, thank goodness for the Internet!)  Just as I did in 2012, I’ll be taking a few vacation days this month to watch the Olympics live.  My house is the one with the giant “Do Not Disturb” sign planted in the front yard.

Even with the Internet, I’m still printing a schedule and taping it up on my living room wall.  As I get dressed for work, the TV will be on either NBC’s “Today Show,” or ESPN.  Better yet, I might see if I can get a stream of CTV Sports on the laptop.  Then I’ll scurry home after work to get ready for the evening coverage — unless it’s one of the days I’m staying home to watch the Olympics!

One new tradition:  Now that I’m married, my husband and I always enjoy an Olympic-themed meal. In 2006 it was lasagna and tiramisu (Torino, Italy).  In 2008 it we ordered Chinese (Beijing).  In 2010 it was poutine and fries.  2012, Beef & Alt Hot Pot with peas or carrots, and Schooldays Treacle for dessert.  This year?  Hard to say since we’re trying to go gluten-free.  Maybe meat and cabbage?

I’m sort of ready–Are you?  Let the Games begin!

Faster, Higher, Stronger

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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.


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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From the Olympic Fanatic Vault: “Why?”

Kerrigan shortly after the attack.

Kerrigan shortly after the attack.

With Sochi rapidly approaching, all of us–fans, media, and athletes alike–are getting excited for the 2014 Olympic Games.  But before we begin celebrating the opening of the next Winter Olympics, it’s worth reflecting on a dark event from two decades ago.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, an incident that forever changed the sport of figure skating, leaving a blight on a sport that until then was known for publicly being a symbol of poise, elegance, and class.

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