Another two years, but at least it’s not four

By Angela Shepherd

February 20, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I love the Olympics, both the summer and winter games.

I grew up watching them, glued to the TV alongside my grandma.

Even though grandma is gone, I think about her when I am glued to the television during these 2014 Sochi Olympics, made easier and more possible by my DVR.

Remember when the Olympics, both summer and winter games, would happen in the same year? I do and it was such an agonizing wait for me, those four years in between. But I was delighted in the ’90s when it was decided that the Olympics would occur every two years instead of every four.

I wonder sometimes at the training it takes for these athletes to become the very best in the world and I am always amazed at what they can accomplish.

And while it makes me all too aware of my own physical degeneration brought on by my propensity for a lackadaisical lifestyle and advancing age, I love it all anyway.

There is no denying that some past games have been the stages for political statements and tragedy. But the games are also a chance for unity and peace. I love the tradition, the ceremony of the games, too, and I like that the hosting nations get a chance to showcase a part of themselves and extend a welcoming hand to the rest of the world.

When I think of the origin of the Olympic games, a few thousand years ago in ancient Greece, the rebirth of the games in the late 19th century, and the evolution of the games since then, well, it is mind boggling to say the very least.

While I am not a fan of the figure skating stuff, grandma really liked it. The sport involving skates that I adore is the speed skating, especially the relays.

The treacherously long skate blades coupled with the speeds involved are such an edge-of-your-seat dangerous sort of thing, always seemingly on the brink of catastrophe, and yet these skaters make it look like it’s a piece of cake.

And while this round of winter games has not seen the United States on the medal podium nearly as much as we as a country have been accustomed to, the games have not been without their share of excitement.

My favorite moment so far is when the gold medal in the women’s downhill Alpine skiing event went to Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland. Yep, they tied for gold.

And in America’s poorer than expected medal sowings, the U.S.’s 36-year-old Bode Miller won bronze on Sunday, his sixth Olympic medal and a record for U.S. skiers. Through the years we have seen Olympic athletes become stars, household names.

We have all seen it and likely a lot of us have gotten caught up in the excitement, too.

I know I have.

Another favorite of mine to watch is snowboarding, something that did not become an Olympic sport until the 1998 Nagano, Japan games, but now includes all manner of men’s and women’s events in that particular discipline.

This year saw the inclusion of 12 new events added to the roster of winter games including the women’s ski jump, ski halfpipe, and slalom snowboarding.

I guess its a mark to progress the way the games continue to, on one hand, honor tradition and, on the other hand, continually evolve.

And as we are in the second week of the games I am already dreading the impending close of those games and the inevitable and agonizing wait to 2016’s summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

But there is still some skiing events to catch, exciting speed skating relays to check out, and snowboard slalom to take in before all is said and done and the games are concluded.

At least the FIFA (the Federation Internationale de Football Association, or the International Federation of Association Football) men’s World Cup tournament is in June and the women’s event is next year and these are things that will help tide me over to the 2016 summer games.

Angela Shepherd can be reached at (937) 393-3456 or on Twitter @ashepherdHTG.