Freeman of the Press: Winter Olympics offer retreat from cold, snow

by LAURA FREEMAN | REPORTER Published:

I've caught Olympic fever. Because it snowed all weekend and the temperatures were below freezing, I sought the warmth of my living room, a quilt and hot drink to watch skating, skiing, snowboarding and all the other winter sports the Olympics offer in 16 days.

I'm no Olympic expert. Without cheating and looking it up, I'd probably have a difficult time finding Sochi, Russia, on a map. It is on the coast of the Black Sea, if that helps.

But the scenery is spectacular with jagged mountains enclosing the ski slopes and an ice arena shaped like an iceberg. Now, that's a novel idea.

The Olympics began Feb. 6, a day before the opening ceremonies, but no medals were awarded until Feb. 8. The competition will continue until Feb. 23, when the closing ceremonies will wrap up things.

In the days in between, there is plenty to offer any winter sport enthusiast with 98 events and corresponding sets of medals.

This year the team skating concept was introduced to figure skating, with six team members on 10 teams competing for points from 10 to 1 depending on where they placed.

Each team had a woman, a man, a pairs team and an ice dancing team, with the option of switching two skaters for the long program after five of the teams were eliminated.

It provided an early chance to watch the skaters and determine what they're capable of doing on the ice. Because skating is one of the most popular events, it made sense to provide an early event like this one to lure in viewers. It worked for me.

I NOW KNOW 15- year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya is the Russian skater in a red coat, symbolic of the girl in Schindler's List, the music she skated to in her performance. I liked it so much, I watched it twice -- later in the evening on NBC.

I wanted to see Russia's ice dance team Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov perform to Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" a second time. Even though they placed third, it was a unique interpretation of ballet on ice.

If you're not interested in figure skating, there are plenty of other events to choose from. For those not afraid of heights, there is the downhill jump, downhill skiing and snowboarding. The top of the mountain is reported to be equal to the height of three Empire State buildings for the skiing events.

If blurring speed is your style, try is speed skating, the luge, bobsled and skeleton. I enjoy sled riding, but not sliding downhill at 80 mph in a chute of ice.

For those looking for something a little slower, try curling, cross-country skiing and some of the combination sports. I found curling a lot more interesting four years ago and look forward to watching it this year.

Hockey fans will have plenty of games to watch with both men and women teams. In fact, men and women are competing in almost all the events with some mixed gender teams. I'm rooting for the women's ice hockey team. Having played ice hockey for eight years on the Kent Twisters, I understand the game, the challenges and the excitement. Go for the gold!

So as we hope for warmer weather here in Ohio, check out the remainjing events in the XXII Winter Olympics.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4152

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