Friday, February 21, 2014

The Olympics and the Whip

The Bay City Bombers. Joan Weston. The whip.  Being hurled by a teammate into and somehow past the massive blockade of skaters positioned between you and glory. Emerging ahead of all others with hands on hips, having navigated the mayhem, leaped over, around and through and coming out the other side, triumphant. A fistful of points in your pocket and a declaration that the madness is over, at least until the next whistle.

Boarder and ski cross remind me of those roller derby moments of my viewing youth. Only now the game is not scripted. This is wild, wacky and wonderful as each race brings the possibility of imminent doom to the doorstep. My heart used to ache for Lindsey Jacobellis until I realized there is someone finding similar tragedy in virtually each frantic surge towards the finish line. Bodies strewn everywhere, participants running far behind the fray only to somehow find themselves at the end of the journey with arms raised as much in disbelief as in domination. Victory and defeat appearing much more random than preordained.

And that last enormous jump where those straining to move up in the pack will their entire being, body and soul, through the air, then fall ingloriously back to earth. Nothing to show for that one final exhausting and exhilarating attempt to capture greatness but 150 feet of flailing arms and a boxful of shattered dreams.

In one heat all but one participant crashed within inches of the finish line.  Each of those on the ground almost crawling to garner a spot in the next round, the videotape announcing which limb or tip of the equipment had been thrust ahead of the others. You couldn't make this stuff up.

I suspect short track skating is intended to be the polished up embodiment of the Bay City experience, but the energy on the ice cannot match the rolling, flying insanity on the snow. With blades on it seems more calculating, sometimes moving at a snail's pace until strategy dictates action. In the "cross" competitions it is never quiet or composed.

Although there is much of significant interest in the Olympics, and some parts I just don't get (sorry curling, I know you take far too much abuse) there is only one sport that has captured my full attention.

Maybe in 2018 we can do this as a team endeavor. I can't wait to see the whip.

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