Winter dreams

These are the first winter Olympics that my eldest son will be old enough to understand. I hope we can have some fun watching them together. I predict that his favorite sport will be bobsled because the Germans traditionally succeed in it. He’s a big fan of Germany right now.

First time on skis

My son’s first time on skis – two years ago. He was representing the country of Spiderman that day.

Having owned a pair of cross country skis since childhood, I’ve always preferred the winter Olympics. They inspired my youth like no other sporting event. I loved baseball and basketball, but was a mediocre player. As a skier, I had no peers for comparison; for all I knew, I was pretty good.

I was 12 during the Lake Placid Olympics. They were happening just a few hours away from where I lived. Most Americans remember Lake Placid (if they remember it) for the Miracle on Ice. I remember it as the time when “skating” became a controversial new technique in Nordic skiing. (It’s called Nordic skiing because that makes it sound Norwegian, and nothing is cooler to a cross country skier than pretending to be Norwegian.)

There was a corn field behind my house. Every day I would put on my skis and my wristwatch and do laps around that field. The winter Olympics and the growing season don’t conflict, so I didn’t have to slalom through any stalks. Every day I would mark my time. The next day I would try to beat it.

Corn fields aren’t the most professional of courses, but it didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that I was routinely followed by a German Shepherd who made his own sport of stepping on the back of my skis as I went. What mattered was that I got faster. For a few minutes every day, I could dream of becoming the first American to win gold in any Nordic event.

Ski brigade

Hard as it is to believe, these guys didn’t win any gold medals either. (Image: Detroit Publishing Co.)

It was a forlorn dream. By the time I caught my breath I realized that. I had no friends who skied. My school didn’t even have a football team. The idea of a ski team would have sent the community into fits of hysteria. This corn field was the best training ground I would ever have. Being in the same state as Lake Placid was as close to the Olympics as I would ever get. I always knew that, but I still raced myself, because sometimes just having a dream is enough.

I hope my son and I can catch some of the Nordic skiing on TV this year. It’s kind of hard to do, between the non-stop figure skating and the novelty of a few hours of curling – a sport that allows us to scratch our heads and say, “Really, Canada? You thought this would be a good sequel to hockey? WTF?”

Maybe after we watch, I’ll take him outside with his skis. Maybe he’ll be inspired to dream a little dream. If not, that’s okay. I’ll dream one for him. I’ll dream I’m skiing alongside the first American ever to win Olympic gold in a cross country race.

 

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16 comments on “Winter dreams

  1. Lynn says:

    I am not sure I ever aspired to be an Olympic athlete, probably because I was never overly confident in my ability to play any sport as a child. I am much more confident in athletics as an adult, perhaps just because I don’t care what people think so much:) Trust me when I tell you, a number of us Canucks are also left scratching our heads in regards to curling. The most exciting part of that game is when the skip yells “HARD, HARD!!!!” Give us moguls, skiing down the mountain at 130km & of course, our beloved sport, hockey! Curling? I say PSHAW!!!

    • We don’t get HBO, so during Olympic curling is about the only time I hear somebody on TV screaming “Hard! Hard!” for two hours straight.
      I’m looking forward to hockey. I’m a Pens fan, so the Olympics is the only time I root against Crosby and Malkin.

  2. One of my favorite sports is the biathlon – cross country skiing and shooting. Unfortunately, I think I missed the Olympic competition for it this time. I love the Olympics, but they have so much coverage, I can’t keep track of what’s on and when it’s on. I usually end up just watching the coverage in the evenings.

    • I love biathlon. I wish I had a chance to try it. But good luck finding a course in this country. And good luck finding Olympic biathlon coverage in the evenings. Too much skating and X games stuff to fill up prime time.

  3. Never give up on your dreams! It’s ok to alter them so they’re more attainable after realizing the initial dream was actually a pipe dream, but don’t give up.

  4. pieterk515 says:

    Memories, ambition, dreams. The things that boys do… I used to run around in a red towel across my back wishing I could fly like that other guy…

  5. pieterk515 says:

    Oh and thanks for adding the link to “Miracle on Ice” as me sitting at the bottom half of the world didn’t know what it was. I see it’s a biggie for the US and not just another ice-skating show as presented annually by Disney.

  6. Traci says:

    I only remember Lake Placid because of that juvenile movie about the overgrown crocodile. During the 3 minutes each week that I’m not grading, I really should get out more 🙂

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