Winter games are downhill for me

February 21, 2014 

By Bill Filer

Not that I needed a reminder after the weather we have experienced this winter, but every four years when the Winter Olympics come on, it occurs to me that you have to be a particular kind of crazy to voluntarily live in a region where annual snow fall is measured in feet instead of inches. That is not something you could pay me to do.

While we’re on the topic of things you couldn’t pay me to do, Olympic downhill skiing comes to mind. Skiing should be rosy cheeked, smiling faces shooshing down a gentle grade in fluffy white powder, ending the day in a crowded lodge sipping a drink by a roaring fire. Those are the images in my head when I picture skiing anyway. See, I’ll only picture them because I’m certainly not ever going to try it. My older brother went skiing once. He broke his ankle on his first trip down the slopes, and spent the rest of the trip enjoying Rocky Mountain emergent medical care. If I want to spend my health insurance’s entire out of pocket maximum after 60 seconds of terror, I’ll try to turn left out of the McDonald’s in Harrisonville on a Friday night.

Have you seen these modern day kamikazes in the downhill? Skiers can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, no seat belts or air bags, riding atop waxed strips of composite material with sharpened edges barely as wide as your foot. Good rule of thumb for me, If you have to line the course slopes with a catch fence in order to keep people from hurtling to their doom should they fall, it’s no longer a sport. It’s the polar Hunger Games. No thanks, I choose life.

Another skiing event that I find peculiar is the biathlon. You cross country ski, shoot a rifle, ski some more, then shoot some more. I get the feeling that I’m watching Scandinavia’s version of a drive-by.

You have Winter Olympic events in which the names aren’t quite synched up with the level of difficulty. Bobsled, for example, sounds harmless when, in fact, it’s a white knuckle terror ride down an impossibly steep, manmade ice shoot nearly a mile long. On the other hand, there are events that clearly inform the participant regarding the long term chances of survival, as in ski jumping, and my personal favorite, the skeleton.

If there’s one thing I hate worse than snow, and fear more than death by roving bands of gangster Norwegians, it’s figure skating. I can’t even try to pretend anymore. For the sake of my marriage, I try every Winter Olympics to at least make an effort to watch some skating. Invariably, I fail spectacularly when, after a routine ends that took longer than some Leonardo DiCaprio movies, the commentators all agree, "that’s the best short program we’ve seen in a long time!" I blurt out, “oh my God, there’s a longer one,” and then I try to gouge out my eyes with my thumbs.

Simply stated, I’m not much for winter, or the Winter Olympics. After retirement, which, I’m afraid, is a couple decades away, or three short programs away, if you will, you would have a better chance of catching me in a Russian figure skater’s costume, than me putting up with another February like we are currently enjoying. Someday, I hope the winter games will mean choosing between fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or playing golf in Phoenix.

That sounds Olympic to me.

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