Winter Olympic Memories

Winter Olympic Memories

The 2022 Winter Olympics are in Beijing starting February 4 and ending February 20. I have always enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics from the comfort of my warm house and cozy couch. I find it amazing how these athletes—most with ordinary lives and jobs—have the wherewithal to do what they do and leave etched in our minds feats of absolute wonder, extreme danger and extraordinarily beautiful moments.

One of the most extraordinarily beautiful moments—and maybe my favorite—was by the ice dancing pair of Torvill and Dean. Their 1984 Sarajevo performance to Boléro left everyone wanting to see more. It was different! It was unique! It was perfection! Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won the Gold Medal for home team Great Britain. I can still hear the music and remember being in absolute awe of their performance. Even if ice dancing is not your favorite, this is one for the books and will go down as a best performance ever.

I would say one of the first ‘etched in my mind’ memories is of Dorothy Hamill. Besides her being like a graceful swan on ice with considerable talent and a beautiful personality inside and out, I was amazed by her hair. Yes, her hair. While doing spins, her hair was like a thing of beauty and absolute perfection lifted up by the air as if ready to take flight. In 1976, I was a 16-year-old girl enthralled while watching her perform.

Another skating performance was USA’s Nancy Kerrigan in 1994 Lillehammer. What a crazy time that was. It was unimaginable what occurred just like a poorly written novel. How could something like this happen in figure skating of all things and at the Olympics? Nancy overcame the injury to her leg (inflicted upon her by those known to fellow ice skater Tonya Harding) to win the Silver Medal. She was able to persevere against all odds of such a bizarre thing happening to her.

And, yes, Lake Placid 1980. Who did not marvel at this? A huge upset and claimed to be a Miracle on Ice. A lot of plucky very young U.S. hockey players that came together not just to beat the odds but to beat the heavily favored Soviet Union.

I have a lot of memories of speed skating. How do they make it look so effortless?! Among those I remember is Bonnie Blair and the entourage of family and friends that followed her. Dan Jansen and the heartbreaking death of his sister Jane while performing at the Olympics and later naming his daughter in memory of his sister. Eric Heiden (1980 Lake Placid) is another star speed skater etched in my memory.

And what about the performances of short track speed skater Apolo Ohno? I loved watching him glide around the track with such finesse. He is USA’s most decorated winter Olympian. It was so scary (to me) but I loved to watch Lindsey Vonn on the slopes. And luge and bobsledding—one person, two-person, four-person—doesn’t matter. The hairsbreadth precision of not hitting that wall is crazy to say the least. I definitely hold my breath watching them speed their way to the finish.

I don’t know if there are any specific awesome moments in curling but I have found it almost mesmerizing since it became an Olympic sport. It’s reminds me of bowling in that the game takes its time. Growing up I watched bowling on TV with my grandfather. Watching the pros and/or Olympic athletes propel either the bowling ball or the stone to its destination with such precision is a marvel to watch. However, with curling, the stone is moving with almost cat-like precision—nothing dangerous or even dare I say too exciting for an Olympic sport—but with expert calculation and strategy to its target place.

I enjoy watching all the snowboarding events. Shaun White is returning in 2022 for his fifth and final Winter Olympics, and again is a favorite so it should be very exciting to see what medals he may add to his stash. I am also looking forward to ski jumping along with all the downhill skiing events. 

So, putting aside there will be no international spectators in Beijing, teams are beginning to withdraw due to the uptick in COVID and this upcoming Olympics is not without controversy. If you enjoy watching the Winter Olympics here’s hoping 2022 will be fun and exciting and provide amazing performances to add to our favorite Olympic memories.

    The 2022 Winter Olympic Games begin next month! Susan Wilson shares some of her favorite memories from previous winter games.