Around The Grounds

The winter Olympics. A summer thing.

The winter Olympics. A summer thing.

With the volume of controversy surrounding the summer Olympic Games , has the winter Olympics taken over that place in our hearts which still wants to believe in the purity and romance of sport?
While most of the country is baking in February and there’s a bit of a lull in the sports schedule ( the AFLW and some T20 cricket internationals notwithstanding), sports fan who are looking for a spectacle of unexpected and unscripted drama can turn their attention to the snowfields of Pyeongchang in South Korea.
Instead of Smith, Warner, Kyrgios and maybe even Tomic being the names that resonate through the summer months, the next couple of weeks Scotty James in the halfpipe, Phil Bellingham in cross country skiing, Britt Cox and Olympic debutante Jakara Anthony in the moguls and fellow debutant Emily Arthur and Holly Crawford in the female halfpipe will become the names bandied around the watercooler.
The winter Olympics are a perfect example of that one in every four year event when we all furrow our brows over the scores in the ice dancing or strap-in for the thrill of the downhill skiing race (a favourite of mine), to become instant experts. A pleasant novelty when it’s 30+ degrees outside.
It’s a little hard to reconcile that it has been 30 years since the Calgary winter games when Eddie ‘’The Eagle’’ Edwards made such an impact with his fly-like-a-lead-balloon performance in the ski jump. Calgary was also where the Jamaican bob sled made their stand. Interestingly and by no means coincidentally both stories have been adapted to feature movies.
The flipside of movies such as ‘Eddie the Eagle’ and ‘Cool Runnings’, is the newly released ‘I Tonya’. This is the complex story of American figure skater Tonya Harding and her infamous attempt to allegedly remove her rival Nancy Kerrigan from competition. This story tells us perhaps that the Olympic ideals of democratic, idealistic athletic competition might have been a bit lofty right from the start. Not everyone arrives from the same playing field.
Still if like me, you want to believe that the five Olympic rings continue to represent the very best of sport and the things we should most aspire to, perhaps a fortnight immersed in the snowfields of Pyeongchang might help you to believe once again.

Peter

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