Let the Games Begin!

torchHoly Oly! The Winter Olympics have just begun and I’ve already got barnacles on my behind due to my permanent parked status on the couch watching all the excitement.

With the historic announcement of twelve new events added to the roster, I was hoping “Indoor Stationary Winter Sport Observation” would be one of them because that is an event I could definitely medal in. It’s only slightly less involved than curling, so why not?

I suppose the other sport that most closely resembles my winter activity level is bobsledding. For that sport you just have to put on a helmet, curl up in a ball and be a load of leaning weight in a speeding metal box trying to avoid crashing down an ice track. That’s basically what I’ve been doing all winter anyway trying to help my teenage daughter prepare to get her drivers license.

Where’s the medal I deserve for that, huh?

Growing up, I fantasized about being an Olympic figure skater. Okay, I still fantasize about that, but my costume and music choices have matured greatly over the years. I did rock the Dorothy Hamill haircut for almost a decade, which is proof of true dedication to the sport, or proof that my mother did not care how her four little girls looked in public.

While I have mostly followed the more glitzy winter sports like figure skating, downhill skiing, and snowboarding, my interests are branching out. My interest is piqued this Winter Olympics with the biathlon, which is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship.

Hmmm, I wonder how an odd combination of skills like that evolves into an official sport?

Well, I researched and found out that it has its origins in the ancient hunting practices of northern Europe. That makes sense. That part of the world is covered in snow much of the year and before drive-thru McDonalds was invented, people had to strap on their skis and grab a gun to go get a meat patty for dinner. I like the idea of a sport that has its roots in survival skills. It’s not like knowing how to do a triple axel is going to save an ice princess when Armageddon hits.

The trick of the biathlon is being speedy enough on skis to make good time doing laps, then being calm and steady enough upon stopping to shoot accurately. I’ve cross-country skied a few times and when I stopped, usually to get back up off the ground, I doubt I’d be steady enough to hit the broad side of a barn with a rifle. Of course, it would be especially hard to shoot accurately with my head between my knees.

The biathlon has been part of the Winter Olympics since 1960 and the women’s event was added in 1992. The Sochi Olympics are historic for the biathlon because a mixed relay has been added where a team of women and men compete together. The first time I cross-country skied was a coed event with my husband giving me a lesson on how to do it. When we stopped for a minute to rest, I remember thinking I wish I had a rifle.

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