Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

March 23, 2014

Ed Hungness: Doing the Olympic half-pipe in a recliner

People were glued to their TV sets watching this year’s Winter Olympics around the world.

I’ve been a fan since the games were first televised from Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960. A sophomore in high school, I watched on a 17-inch, black-and-white TV as the youth of the world competed.

This winter I was addicted, tuning in nightly to watch a variety of events. I enjoyed all of them, however, neither my heart rate nor my respiration elevated during the curling competition.

No offense to curling aficionados, but as a spectator sport it could be described as a bit of a yawner. I sincerely doubt if the fans have trouble falling asleep at night. The good news is that the athletes appeared to be having a good time.

Short track speed skating has been an Olympic winter contest since 1992 in Albertville, France. It appeared to be a very challenging and competitive sport, filled with positioning, maneuvering, psychology and strategic moves. I noticed that the most contestants appeared to be very serious and sober faced. Nobody laughed and nobody smiled, even when they won.

Maybe they should try curling on their days off.

Probably the most watched events are the figure skating and skiing competitions. These athletes begin their training during childhood and more or less devote their lives to the sport. During thousands of hours of practice, physical conditioning and falls, they have no assurance of ever making the Olympic team. Few are fortunate enough to be selected from the many that try.

I found the men’s and women’s snowboarding events to be especially fascinating and exciting to watch. Now flirting with the big “7-0,” I think my opportunities to compete in the half-pipe or downhill events have passed me by.

Snowboarders are a different lot.

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