The Most Forgettable Winter Olympics?

Perhaps some of you noticed that I didn’t blog during the 2014 Winter Olympics.  No, my computer wasn’t broken.  Nor was I tucked away somewhere without

Even I wasn't the only one yawning. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Even I wasn’t the only one yawning. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

electricity.  I just didn’t have anything to say.  And that’s not a common occurrence when it comes to the Olympics.  I love the Olympics.  It’s the most exciting thing that happens in my life every two years.  Some might wonder if this is because I have an uneventful life.  No!  It’s because I love the Olympic Games that much.  That much.

One can imagine, then, how disappointed I am over these Winter Olympics.  Okay, I’ll admit I was never particularly excited about Sochi as the host city.  But I put my feelings aside and tried to throw myself into these Olympics as I normally do.  I took vacation days to stay at home and watch.  I even woke at 2:00 AM (or earlier) to watch events live.  But for the most part, the competition was dull.  The venues were architecturally sound, but not worthy of awe.  And when it’s February but the average temperature at a Winter Olympics is 57 degrees Farenheit, something is off.

Throughout the two weeks I kept trying to find that excitement.  Aside from the pairs competition, ladies ski jumping, and the cross-country skiing, there was no sparkle.  No athletes with whom I really fell in love.  No captivating stories.

The only consistency in Sochi was NBC’s continued terrible coverage.  It’s something the network has mastered.   While it offered more live streaming online, it plastered results all over its website.  And rather than forcing me to watch on my laptop, it could have made more use of the other channels it owns.  Quite often as I watched live Olympic coverage online, USA Network was showing re-runs of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and CNBC was airing infomercials.

The one bright spot in these games was NBC Sports’ choice of analysts for figure skating.  While Tara Lipinski  showed poise and articulated

Screenshots from my TV of Lipinski and Weir.  Oh, Johnny!

Screenshots from my TV of Lipinski and Weir. Oh, Johnny!

herself, her colleague Johnny Weir brought much-needed fun and sparkle.  I predicted Lipinski would be in Sochi, and I’m glad NBC decided to also bring Weir to Sochi.  I felt bad for those who weren’t able to watch skating during the day.  They were stuck with Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic for evening analysis.

Yes, it breaks my heart that these Olympics weren’t memorable.  But like any Olympian, I’m going to persevere and set my sights on the future.  I hope that Rio brings its A-game to the table in 2016.  And to Pyeongchang, let me say this:   I can’t handle another dud of a Winter Olympics.  I expect the next Winter Olympics to be phenomenal.  If you need any advice, e-mail me.  I’ve got some great ideas.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

 

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The Most Important Event at Sochi’s Games

Gorki“The stars seemed near enough to touch and never before have I seen so many. I always believed the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, but I was sure of it that night.” – Amelia Earhart

When someone asks me which event(s) I recommend watching during an Olympic Games, my typical response is, “Watch all  of  it!”  Yes, I still stand by this.  As a fanatic I believe that all of the Olympics are worth watching.  However,  if one isn’t going to tune in for all of the competition, I can say without doubt that there is one event in Sochi worthy of everyone’s attention:  Women’s ski jumping.

Back in 2010 I wrote a lengthy commentary on gender bias in Olympic sports, focusing on the ridiculous and inexcusable exclusion of women’s ski jumping from the Olympics.  The fact that in the 21st Century women’s

Pioneer and Olympian Lindsey Van (Photo:  WSJ-USA)

Pioneer and Olympian Lindsey Van (Photo: WSJ-USA)

ski jumping still wasn’t a part of the Olympic Games….Well, I still can’t wrap my head around it.  Yet thankfully with all the tireless efforts of athletes, coaches, and various sponsors, women are finally getting their opportunity to compete in Olympic ski jumping.  The historical event will begin tomorrow (Tuesday), February 11 with the normal hill  competition.  Pioneers like Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome who fought tirelessly for equality and inclusion in the Olympics are finally seeing the fruits of their labor.  And compared to what they’ve endured over the years to earn their place in the Olympics, launching off a 70-meter hill might be less daunting.

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Women ski jumpers will finally have an Olympic podium. (Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images Europe)

As a child I was inspired by the story of Amelia Earhart.  The tales of her courageous adventurous spirit and her belief in gender equality helped make me who I am today.  How many young girls out there have been–and will be–inspired by Lindsey Van Jessica Jerome, or Sara Takanashi?  How many of them watching this week will be encouraged by these athletes’ bold determination, mesmerized as they watch them soar through the air under a Sochi evening sky? Regardless of who will be standing on the podium tomorrow night, all of Sochi’s female jumpers deserve role model status.  Their dogged determination, conviction, and bravery is to be celebrated. Their gallantry deserves the gratitude of all women, old and young.

There will be other memorable stirring moments in these Olympics.  But tomorrow night when the first and last jumpers speed down the hill and launch themselves into the frosty air, history will be made.  And to all of them, I say: Thanks.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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From Russia With Love: Opening Ceremony & Day One Recap

“Yes, love, ….I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbours; to love one’s enemies. To love everything….” ― Leo TolstoyWar and Peace

Friday night’s theme was love: romantic love, the love of sport, patriotism, and tradition.  With the first portion of the 2014 opening ceremony centered around a girl named Lubov (which is Russian for love), the program then continued with a  brief and very selective history of Russia depicted through animation and theatrical performances.  It was new IOC president Thomas Bach who stole the show.  His first speech at an Olympic Games was the first one of its kind that I can remember.  Never do I recall an IOC President speaking from the heart and making such bold statements.  It gives me hope for the IOC.  Perhaps I am naive.

It was a safe program; and while it wasn’t as visually appealing as Vancouver’s, it edges out Danny Boyle’s disaster of London two years ago.  But I was puzzled by the persons chose to carry the cauldron into the stadium.  Were the Protopopovs slighted because they defected from the former Soviet Union?  Where was Ekaterina Gordeeva?  I was, however, very pleased to see that Irina Rodnina was chosen to light the cauldron with hockey star Vladislav Tretiak.

Day one of the Olympics is usually jam-packed with events.  But after rising at 5:00 AM to watch live competition, I was done by the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t remember the first day’s schedule of events being so sparse.  So what was yesterday’s highlight for me?  Sven Kramer and team Netherlands sweeping the men’s 5,000 meters in speed skating.  I love watching the Dutch speed skaters.  They are a joy to watch.

Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day of Olympics to watch.  I’m staying in my PJ’s and ordering take-out.  Sochi is my Sunday sanctuary!

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Shop for the Olympic Look!

Below is a list of countries with links to the designer or retailer websites of 2014 Olympic clothing:

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Russia’s (Fashion) Runway

Russia2 (Bosco)

Love it or hate it, this is your host country’s uniform.

Interested in where to pick up some of these looks?  Click here for a link to where you can inquire about or purchase these Olympic uniforms!

For some, Paris Fashion Week is the most coveted event in fashion.  For me, it’s the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.  Few are wearing labels like Armani and Ralph Lauren.  And absent are the other fashion powerhouses such as Prada, Dior, and Valentino.  But what’s present is patriotic pride bursting forth in all types of colors, patterns, and lines.  It’s that time again.  Time for the opening ceremony fashion preview!

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2014 Medals – Sochi Scores!

A few months ago I shared the design for the 2014 Sochi Olympic medals and promised more information.  Better late than never, I suppose.

While I’ve deemed Sochi as a potential “hot  mess,” I’ve decided that its  Olympic medals are quite nice.   Sochi’s medals are a bit reminiscent of the ones awarded 10 years ago in Lillehammer, Norway.  According to the Sochi Olympic Committee, the medals include a “mosaic of  designs” from cultures within the Russian Federation. The metal-polycarbonate design also represents the Caucasus Mountains in Sochi and its coast along the Black Sea.   This winning design is from advertising agency Leo Burnett.  The American company and its team of four Russian designers crafted the winning look which will hang around the necks of medalists at both the 2014 Olympics and the 2014 Paralympic Games.

Double toilets, corruption, and unfinished construction aside, Sochi got it right with its medal design.  While I loved Vancouver’s games and the symbolism in its medal design, Sochi’s medals are a definite improvement, returning to a more traditional aesthetic which I appreciate.   Enjoy the slide show below! – Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Competition Couture

First, it was the Spiderman-inspired suits of the 90′s worn by American skiers.  Then in 2010 it was the pants of the Norwegian curling team.  Guess what, folks?  Both skiing and Norway’s men of curling are making new fashion statements in Sochi!

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