Wednesday, 19 February 2014

How to watch the winter Olympics

I absolutely adore the winter Olympics as they invariably mean I get to watch hours and hours of guilt free daytime television. And all of that in the dreariest time of year. A week of diligent practice sees my watching skills honed and my pick of companions perfected.


Downhill, Giant slalom, Slalom, Super G, super Combined
Love, love, love to watch this in the company of my husband and father in law. Especially my father in law can tell you without hesitating once who won in 1958, '62 ,'68, '72 etc. The man is a living sport encyclopaedia and Mr S is not far behind. Flanked on either side by one of them ensures that I know what is happening metre to metre, or bend to bend. Marvellous!

Speed skating
No matter the weather, you need to find an old, wood clad Dutch pub with at least one big flat screen TV. Since the sun is finally out for the first time in days (weeks!) you better find a really dark pub, the kind that isn't famous for its view. Regardless of the time of day you order a beer and 'bitterballen' to wash it down. Feel the tension building as the first orange and black skate suits enter the ice rink. This is what we Dutch are famous for. So famous in fact that by now we have discouraged the rest of the world population to ever want to pick up speed skating. Tough.

You must be completely out of your mind to want to go face forward, nose tip ten centimetres from the ice, down an icy track at break neck speed. But since the English have Lizzy Yarnold who said she was going to win gold (and did) it has been great fun to watch. But I still can't imagine what training for such an event must be like...

Ice dancing
Who knew that you could do a quickstep, foxtrot or charleston on skates? The athletes competing in this event for sure, but I had no idea. How perfectly enchanting to watch. Especially when you really need to get back to work, but you allow yourself to let 'just a few minutes' in front of the telly, turn into a long afternoon filled with musical hits, sparkly outfits and synchronised skating. Absolute bliss.

First of all get your ironing pile out. Install your ironing board in front of the TV. Curling is so mind-numbingly dull that watching it provides a great opportunity to do equally boring jobs. Curling is best watched in solitude. At least in my case, because I really, really do not want anyone to explain the rules to me, as it would loose its meagre appeal altogether if I knew what they were doing with the silly brooms. It's definitely the guesswork that keeps me entertained. Oh and the Russian calendar girls of course.

The best sport to watch whilst you're munching your way trough a TV dinner. Nothing makes me more hungry than watching the exertion of the athletes involved. Biathlon is  a brutal sport where you have to hoist yourself around an endless track on two knitting needles, whilst every other 5 kilometres or so you have to try and hit a couple of milk caps with an air riffle. Dessert anyone?

Snowboard Cross
The drama and spectacle of this event is almost unsurpassed. When six snowboarders are let loose at an immensely difficult track full of jumps, twists and turns, everyone watching - including me! - is holding their breath. And boy do they fall and take each other out. 'It's as frantic as during a half price meat sale at Lidl', according to one of the commentators. I couldn't have put it any better.

Ice Hockey
I must admit that I really struggle to sit through an ice hockey game. If I have to watch it from my own sofa at least. Because when my wonderful Canadian friends H. and R. kindly invited me to a hockey game when we visited them in Toronto last Christmas, I thought the sport was absolutely wonderful. So with the right atmosphere and the knowledgeable commentary of my friends, I can be a great spectator sport. During the winter Olympics however hockey games are a great time to read the newspaper cover to cover.

Slope Style Snowboarding or Skiing 
 I love the grinding and jumping and the recklessness of the competitors, bust most of all I love the comments of my 12yo when he is joining me in front of the telly. Only one or two days into the competition and he was fluent in the lingo. Nowadays he spots a 'melon grab', 'truck driver', or 'Indy' a mile off. He is also very accurate when it comes to telling the difference between a flip, spin or cork and completely understands the abracadabra of the 180, 360, or 540 degree rotations the athletes display. Now all I have to to is thoroughly discourage him from trying any of those tricks himself when we next go skiing...

Which in fact we are, tomorrow! This Saturday it'll be the first time on ski's since we left Switzerland. Finally we'll be in the mountains again. The mountains where my 11yo daughter 'belongs' (her words) and my 12yo will have Mr S and me sit in endless snow parks, camera at the ready to capture his jumps (but hopefully not his 'spins', 'flips' or 'corks'. I for one am look forward to wall to wall sunshine (hopefully), long leisurely lunches (definitely) and trying to keep up with the rest of the clan. So hasta la vista everyone! I am off.