Winter is here (if you’re in any doubt just ask most of the USA) and this year it brings the special excitement of a Winter Olympics. The 22nd Winter Olympic Games take place in the Russian city of Sochi, and from 6th February we can look forward to over two weeks worth of wintry thrills, including twelve new events.
From the start I should probably confess that I have never skied, snowboarded or luged and I doubt I ever will. I did once spend an afternoon on the ice* at my local ice rink, and that was enough to convince me that frozen water + sport + me did not equal anything good. The thought of taking part in any of these sports terrifies me. The way I look at it, if the universe had wanted me to hurl myself round a track on a tea tray or throw myself off a mountain with only two planks and a couple of sticks to aid my descent it wouldn’t have invented Ski Sunday or made my sofa so comfortable. But I love watching those professional sportsmen and women cutting their way through pristine snow or executing a perfect triple Axel on the indoor rink. Add a glass of schnapps and a few toasted crumpets and you can count me a very happy bunny.
I think the first Winter Olympics I really paid any attention to were the ones that took place at Lake Placid, NY, in 1980. In school we each did a project on the games and I remember the cover of mine featured a very large picture of Robin Cousins, Team GB’s gold-medal winning figure skater (hey, I was 7, don’t judge me). Of course all Brits remember the pairs figure skating from the games that followed, as Torvill and Dean romped to victory to the strains of Ravel’s Bolero (a tune we all soon grew heartily sick of). Astonishingly we had to wait eighteen years for another winter gold, which was finally brought to us at Salt Lake City’s games by the women’s curling team (and oh how the Scots enjoyed pointing out to us Sassenachs that the team was made up entirely of women from north of the border). During our long wait we were kept entertained by the likes of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and his good-natured but hopeless ski-jumping attempts and the most unlikely team in history, the Jamaican bobsleighers.
If you’re still sighing at the prospect of blanket news coverage of ice-hockey, skating and snowboarding remember that the Winter Olympics has also kept us enthralled off the ice, with controversies such as Tonya Harding’s attempt to scupper the figure-skating hopes of Nancy Kerrigan, her Team USA rival, with a plot to break her legs – if you saw it in a movie you’d think it was too far-fetched.
Now, while I warm up my slippers and make sure I’m well stocked with hot chocolate and teacakes, I realise there are some folks out there crazy enough to want to venture out on the mountains and actually DO some of these sports. If that’s you, you could do worse than check out Skiing and snowboarding or Win at winter sports, both of which are available as ebooks so won’t take up too much room in your luggage as you head to the slopes.
However you choose to do it, enjoy the snow!
*most of it on my arse