Feb 23, 2010

Be Careful

The fact that most Winter Olympics events are conducted on ice and snow makes them significantly more dangerous than the summer Olympics. Anybody who has ever put on a pair of ice skates or plummeted down the side of a mountain on skis knows that. The unfortunate death of the young Georgian luger just as the games started was grim proof that one wrong move can end in tragedy.

Hearing about his death was sad. Even worse, seeing it after NBC made the bonehead decision to air the crash footage. You have to hope they were just incredibly stupid and insensitive and not motivated by greed. Who didn’t immediately think about his poor family and friends being subjected to seeing that?

This year I have watched each event with a newfound respect for the danger these athletes put themselves in to pursue their dreams. On the night that Lindsey Vonn won her first gold I watched as one after another of the competitors fell and crashed down the hill. Their training must include lessons on how to fall in order to avoid serious injury. They seemed like rag dolls with flailing arms and legs, banging their helmeted heads against the mountain. Yet each time, at the end of their seemingly endless falls, they got up and limped off the mountain with what appeared to be minor injuries.

Speed skating. There's another scary sport. Racing around a track of sheer ice with sharp blades attached to your feet. The short track is even worse with competitors vying for position by nudging, tapping and sometimes just plain pushing each other out of the way.  You may believe that figure skating is not a serious endeavor, but every jump can potentially end with a broken bone or a concussion. Not to mention those breathtaking lifts. Those girls could so easily slip and come crashing down on the ice.  I could go on and on.... ski jumping, snowboarding, bobsled (when did they start calling it bobsleigh?).

Every now and then we get a break from the tension with some of the less dangerous sports. Hockey, which IS dangerous but these guys make it look like child's play. They are used to getting stitched up between periods and then going back out there for more punishment. Curling isn't very dangerous, unless you happen to drop one of the stones on your foot. Cross country skiing is also a relatively safe choice. Except for the event where they strap rifles to their backs and head off to shoot at targets.

I wish all the competitors luck. But most of all I hope the remainder of the games are safe and nobody else gets hurt.


  1. Yes, this is why I don't do winter sports--besides from the fact I hate being cold. (Why oh why do I live in Chicago, again? :) )

    And skiing + rifles? I don't know, that doesn't seem too smart to me. :)

  2. It all looks so beautiful - flying through the air and gliding and twirling on the ice. I think that I would like to be so graceful and beautiful, but then i figure I would just fall down and break some important part of me and I would be cold, so I just watch and admire.

  3. I just wonder what it is about someone that they strap flat things on their feet go up in the air and twist and flip oh, maybe 6 or 7 times and then land somewhere they can't quite see.....same thing with a snowboard, skates and those luge contraptions. Have to wonder how many feet are broken going down that tube with their feet dangling and flopping around.

  4. Wow, no kidding. That luge accident was sad and so unnecessary if only they'd slowed the course down. Shame on them. I think even the dancey skating's scary, but that's just because it's scary, not because it's dangerous.

  5. I thought it was a poor choice to show that luger's fatal crash as well..Still,I watched.
    Winter sports can be exceedingly dangerous for sure,but it's that evil balance beam the women do in the Summer games that I have trouble even watching.
    One slip could turn a guy into a soprano in an instant

  6. MHP - Yeah - the biathalon comes from Scandavian military exercises. I guess it's no stranger than curling though ;)

    Mom - The older I get the more the prospect of falling scares me. I'm not as bouncy as I used to be, despite all that added layers.

    Rosemary - I don't think we realize how really fast the lugers are going as we watch it. 90 miles an hour on a tiny little sled. Just crazy.

    Booda - aww.... don't hate on the figure skaters. Try to see past all the sequins and silly dance moves to see the athleticism. The women's free program was really something to see.

    Sling - You're right about the balance beam being dangerous. Gymanstics in general are pretty dangerous, other than the ribbon dance thing.

  7. Don't know or hear much about the Winter olympics - sorry - I guess that could be because I have only experienced snow once in my 56 years...and then only for an hour or so and it melted...
    sorry about that young man being killed - you would never think that they would air that - that is just sick