20 Reasons to Be a Summer Olympian
Today, we will be focusing on some of the most dangerous and exciting events at the winter games. Events like Luge, Skeleton and Ski Jumping. Events that require an extraordinary amount of physical and mental conditioning before an Olympic hopeful, such as myself, can compete without soiling his polymer body suit. While I’ve never actually trained for a spot on the U.S. Luge team per se, I experienced something very similar in the winter of 1999, when I slipped in the snow and landed on what rescuers believe was a discarded Volkswagen hubcap.
Whatever it was, I clung to it for most of my 3/4-mile descent down the “pro” slope, which I executed in perfect Olympic “supine” position — feet down and head back — except for all the screaming. In retrospect, a skin-tight polymer body suit would’ve helped. Especially when you consider it would’ve prevented me from being allowed near the slope in the first place.
Luge, as many of you know, requires athletes to ride a tiny sled feet-first down a winding ice track while exceeding speeds of 130 km per hour (U.S. conversion: really, really fast) with almost no ability to steer. Keeping that in mind, the sport of Skeleton, which is the same as Luge except that athletes are positioned on their stomachs, is often referred to as “mysterious” and “bizarre,” primarily because no one understands why any person who isn’t intoxicated would want to compete in Luge while going headfirst.
This brings us to the thrilling event of Ski Jumping, where athletes utilize a combination of strength, speed, precision, equilibrium and concentration to soar high above the field of play before landing gracefully, after more than 100 yards of flight, on Bob Costas.
Okay. That actually only happened once, in 1990, when Jim McKay told Costas about a “short cut” between the biathlon and ice hockey events. This footage was later edited into the now famous clip: “The agony of defeat.”
Next, we have Snowboard, which made its Olympic debut 17 years ago, thanks to the persistence of Jack Burchett, an American surfer, who said he conceived the idea while — and this is a direct quote — “Looking for some action during the long winter break.” In addition to snowboarding, Burchett is also credited with two other conceptions, which his lawyers flatly deny he was involved in.
Our next event combines balance, speed, endurance and inner thigh muscles the size of Mini Coopers to produce the fastest human-powered sport held on a flat surface: Speed Skating.
In this event, athletes skate around an icy track at speeds of 40 mph while simultaneously running the risk of bursting into flames due to the amount of friction generated between their enormous thigh muscles, some of which are so large they occasionally hold their own press conference.
This brings us to what is arguably the most popular Winter Olympic sport, Ice Hockey. We say “arguably” because — Hey, we’re talking about HOCKEY here! You wanna make something of it?! That’s right. Hockey is by far the most physically aggressive Winter Olympic sport, as long as you don’t count women’s figure skating. In ice hockey, competitors with sticks chase a small puck around the rink and try to score points by slapping it past a goaltender.
Whereas in women’s figure skating, competitors chase and slap each other for making passes at, and attempting to score with, their favorite bartender.
Join me again this Thursday for the final installment of this seemingly unending series! That’s when we’ll take a look at the six events making their Winter Olympics debut, including the Biathlon Mixed Relay — which only sounds just as boring as the regular biathlon, but isn’t because…
I’ll have to get back to you on that one.