Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Believe I Can Fly

I'm a sucker for the Olympic Games, Summer or Winter. I watch nearly all of the coverage throughout the two weeks, TiVo nearly every broadcast so I can at least scan through it.

Apparently the marquee event is figure skating. I like figure skating. The other biggies? Alpine skiing, Snowboarding (these days anyway), speed skating. I love all of those.

But if I could only pick one event, I would gladly skip every minute of every other event to just watch Ski Jumping.

The other sports take place on the snow or the ice. Sure, they catch a little air here and there, but they're all on the ground.

The ski jumpers fly. They fly to win. If they don't fly, they lose. They fly down the hillside at astounding heights, the distance of a football field on the small hill, much further on the big hill. The body splayed out, tiny movements of the hands to stabilize, skis spread out in the "Flying V" created accidentally by Swede Jan Bokloev and quickly adopted by jumpers in the 80's (anyone remember Matty Nykanen, the "Flying Finn?") driving the old form quickly into oblivion.

They soar with a razor-sharp grace. Sometimes it seems the best jumper will float on forever down the hill. Every now and then one of them slides perfectly into a Telemark landing, arms out, one knee down. Yeah, they earn bonus points, but it's more like frosting on the cake, the athlete saying to everyone, "I've got it all under control, every inch of the way, baby."

This morning I enjoyed the Nordic combined, which includes jumping on the small hill. I almost didn't care who won overall after the cross country. I just wanted to watch them jump. Tonight is the individual small hill competition. I can't wait.

I think at the end of my life that I won't have very many regrets. I've made my choices and life has been very good to me. However, one regret I may have is that I've never soared through the air 300 feet downhill on a couple of wooden planks.

Oh, to fly. Go ahead and watch your downhill skiing and speedskating and figure skating. It will be fun.

For me, I'll spend the next two weeks dreaming of flight, soaring vicariously through people whose names I can barely pronounce, but whose brief, thrilling journeys will give me chills like no other sport.


It's about me, dummy!!!


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