I love the Winter Olympics. They’re smaller, more intimate than their summer cousins. Oh yeah, and the athletes are far, far more insane. Everything seems to be about throwing oneself across frozen surfaces in one manner or another at great height or at great speed or both. And what happens when you have a sport like speed skating that is basically the winter equivalent of track, and thus reasonably sane? They shorten the track and put more people on it who have to maneuver among one another in close proximity at high speeds on a slippery surface…with very sharp blades on their feet. Voila! Short track speed skating. As far as I can tell, that leave about three events that are not insane in the context of threat to life an limb. Ice dancing doesn’t seem to have the death defying throws that figure skating does, but some of those costumes reflect a different kind of insanity. (That being said, I will never pass myself off as a fashion critic. I could post some pictures of me to prove this, but I won’t…for now.) Then there’s curling. Sliding rocks and using brooms to guide them to the highest scoring position. OK…it’s not really insane per se. I think the game may have come about as a way to kill time when a winter got too long. So maybe it was a defense against insanity brought on by cabin fever. That leaves Cross-Country skiing. Like speed skating, it’s the winter equivalent of running, so I can’t claim that it’s insane. I’m including biathalon in this category as well. As long as people handle the rifles properly, it’s not a risk to life an limb, so not really insane.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy the Olympics. In fact, it is the courage of these athletes to engage in such insane, sometimes death-defying feats, that make the games so much fun to watch, and Vancouver did a phenomenal job of putting on a show for the world. I had a blast watching, and I wish I could have gone in person. After all, what’s life without a little insanity?