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Winter Games: Hey, we can relate



Published: Sun, February 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Even though the head honchos at the national television networks will disagree with me, I'd like to suggest reasons why the Winter Olympics should be more popular than their sweaty cousins, the Summer Games.

For instance, not everyone -- heck, hardly anyone -- is capable of running 100 meters in 10 seconds or less. On the other hand, who among us, at some point in our lives, hasn't slid down a snow-covered hill? In other words, we can relate to the athletes competing in Salt Lake City.

The Winter Olympics has the biathlon, an event where the competitors ski cross country for a while, stop to take a break and then shoot something.

Who can't grasp that?

Too tiring to watch: The Summer Games, on the other hand, have the decathlon, which consists of 10 events that involve a lot of running and throwing. Way too much work.

This week, we'll watch alpine events, which sounds awfully serene. In a way, they are. Skiers will compete in the downhill, the slalom and the Super-G.

Those are pretty glamorous sports. After all, Robert Redford, a pretty glamorous guy in his day (so I'm told), starred in a movie about skiing, "Downhill Racer." His character wasn't the nicest guy in the world, and he lost the girl, but he did end up winning the gold medal.

In the summer, they run a marathon, which is a little over 26 miles. Not 26 miles exactly, but a touch over.

In case you've never watched an Olympic marathon, it goes something like this: A bunch of runners try to finish the race, then toss their cookies at the end. Except for the ones from Kenya or Ethiopia, who cross the finish line, take a deep breath, then start another marathon. Presumably, back to Kenya or Ethiopia.

The only movie I can think of that featured marathon runners was "Chariots of Fire," which won some awards, I think, but had a really, really annoying theme song.

Party on, dude: Then there's the freestylers, who have event names like "moguls" and "aerials." I'm not exactly sure how they determine who the winners are, but I have decided that the competitions aren't held for long periods of time for one reason: so the competitors (and judges, I think) can hit the bars a lot sooner.

Hey, who among us can't relate to that?

This week, we also have the luge, the bobsleigh and the luge, which are basically sports like you did when you were a kid and friends dared you to do something really stupid that you knew you'd get in trouble for if your mom caught you.

Then there's the Nordic combined. It sounds awfully difficult but it really isn't. According to the official Olympics Web site, Nordic combined is "a ski jumping competition from the normal hill and a 15-kilometer cross-country race."

In other words, the original competitors back in the day probably started on a cross country event, decided the course was way too far and when they got to a hill, jumped. Contrast that with a race in the Summer Olympics called the steeplechase, where runners chase each other around a 400-meter track, then get to a gate, which they have to jump over and into a ditch filled with water. (Then they run around the whole track and jump in again.)

What concerns me about this particular event is that people all around the world train their horses to run in a similar kind of race, also called a steeplechase. In my opinion, horses and people shouldn't have the same kinds of competitions.

After all, when was the last time you saw a horse on a snowboard?

XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write to him at todor@vindy.com.




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