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Filed under Opinion

The Olympics aren’t interesting? I think not

Depending on the season (winter vs. summer), every two years a given broadcast television station is inundated with footage of an event involving people from all over the world. The athletes participate in sports that are different from what we are accustomed to. Sports such as skeleton, ice dancing and biathlon make many people scratch their heads and begin to wonder what happened to baseball, football and soccer.

Currently, the world is competing in the 21st annual Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. The games are in full swing and many of the popular American athletes have already finished their competitions. There are still many sports to come, such as the hockey finals, women’s figure skating and the curling finals. My question is – why are many people so disinterested with the Olympics?

Throughout most of my life, my family has watched the Olympics. When I was about four-years-old, my gymnastics trainer told my Mom that she should move and take me to a better gym because of my Olympic potential. My Mom laughed, and I haven’t tumbled or swung on uneven-bars since then. Nevertheless, I find the Olympics to be fascinating. The sports are incredibly interesting, and not only because of the unique qualities, but because it is interesting to see the different styles and mannerisms of athletes from around the world.

But more often that not, when I talk to people about the Olympics, very rarely do they have any interest in the matter. I find this very odd because of where we live. The summer Olympics can involve anyone from anywhere, but the Winter Olympics often need a colder climate for athletes to compete in. Most UW-Eau Claire students are from either Wisconsin or Minnesota, which, as can be seen right now, is cold and snow-covered.

Many people ski, snowboard and play hockey. I’ve never participated in any of these sports, but I imagine that most people know that there are other people out there that ski or snowboard professionally. Snowboarders know who Shaun White is, and I would assume that skiers know who Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn are.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, this is has been a drama-filled Olympics so far. Before the games even started, 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed after a training run went wrong. The opening ceremonies were dedicated to him, and the first luge events took place the next day. Although these athletes are professionals, it must have been frightening to know that someone died luging on the very track that they were about to sled down next. The proper adjustments were made to the track before the luge events, but the effects of Kumaritashvili’s death have lingered throughout the games.

Another dramatic event just took place during the Men’s Figure Skating Free Skate program. After the Short Program Russia’s golden-boy of figure skating, Evgeni Plushenko, was ahead of American Evan Lysacek by a mere five-tenths of a point. While most people favored Plushenko, Lysacek amazingly conquered Plushenko in the Free Skate and grabbed the gold by beating the Russian by less than one point in total.

Lysacek is the first American to win Olympic gold in Men’s Figure Skating in eight years. It was a bitter loss for Plushenko who is now quoted for saying to the Associated Foreign Press that quadruple spins in jumps are not valued anymore, and that this may be his last Olympics. He also said that he probably would have won with the old judging system, a similar problem facing gymnastics. The drama over Lysacek’s win even prompted criticism from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

So, I am left to wonder why people aren’t more interested in the Olympics? Between the drama, the intense competition, and even some of the falls, it’s very interesting. So, even if you’re not a fan of the Olympics, check it out for some of the drama and excitement. For those of you who are fair-weather fans, the Americans are on top for the medals count with more than 20 medals, the most for America in the Winter Olympics.

My recommendations for what to watch would be Women’s Figure Skating, the Ice Hockey finals and the final snowboarding and skiing events. As for the future, the next Summer Olympic Games will be held in 2012 in London, England and the next Winter Olympic Games will be held in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

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