I have loved the Olympics since I was a little girl. I dreamed of one day being Dorothy Hamill. At 5 years old I watched in awe as she glided on the ice in Austria and twirled and jumped so gracefully. I wanted to be her. I even had her bobbed haircut. One problem…. “toe pick.” Figure skating looks a lot easier on TV. I could never get past the toe pick. I have learned ice skating is much easier with hockey skates. Unfortunately they didn’t have women’s hockey in 1976 – although I loved hockey back in those days too I don’t think I would have played hockey. (I still have my Indianapolis Racer’s souvenir puck.)
I was still hopeful that my blundering “toe pick” issues would get better when the 1976 Summer Olympics started and Dorothy Hamill became a fading memory. Nadia Comaneci replaced her in a heartbeat. I wanted to become a Romanian gymnast. I didn’t really understand the Cold War and communism back then and thought you could actually just sign up somewhere to become a Romanian gymnast. If the “toe pick” was my downfall to ice skating flexibility and fear was my downfall in gymnastics. I had (have) the flexibility of a steel rod and it takes nerves of steel to stand on a piece of 4 inch wide wood 4 feet off the ground.
(Sigh…..) Sadly my dreams of ever being an olympian were dashed early in life, but my love of the Olympics remained.
I watched the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 sitting at the kitchen bar with mom and grandma. My love of ice skating and gymnastics never died and I watched all the greats: Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguci, Michelle Kwan, Tai Babalonia and Randy Gardner, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitono. Then there are the gymnasts: Nadia was replaced in 1984 with Mary Lou Retton, Tim Daggett, Bart Conner and Mitch Gaylord. And since 1984 a steady stream of Shannon Miller’s, Carly Patterson’s and Shawn Johnson’s.
As I write this I remember embarssing things like when my mom bought a new Ford Escort and to show what a killer sound system it had (contain the laughter) it came with a cassette (it was the 80’s) of various symphony music. The first song was trumpets playing the Olympic Fanfare and I used to play it and remember my Dorothy Hamill and Nadia Comaneci dreams.
And even though ice skating and gymnastics are my favorites…. I will sit and watch just about any Olympic sport there is. And I love all the back stories about how this athlete had to do this or that to even be able to train.
Oh yeah and the Jamaican Bobsled Team! I love that story!
I guess I’m a sucker for the Olympics like I’m a sucker for sappy chick flicks. I love the dedication of the athletes and their stories of how they came to be great athletes. I hate it when someone crashes or falls. It’s one of the only times that the TV announcers and media don’t completely annoy me. And I still watch and think to myself I could do that… my latest obsession is snowboarding. (I can hear the snickering!) Not really the half pipe because I truly don’t see myself throwing a Backside 720 anytime soon (or ever) or even the snowboard-cross, I just think I’d do a lot better on a snowboard going down a mountain than on two skis. I imagine I will end up settling for snow tubing – a safe and fun alternative for kids ages 3 and up.
If you see a 30 something twirling around an ice skating rink pretending to be Dorothy Hamill this winter, it’s probably me…. in my Boys size 4 1/2 hockey skates because I still can’t negotiate that damn toe pick.