All right. I’m sold again. Despite all the negativity – the threats of terrorism; the hatefulness of Putin’s anti-homosexual declarations; the absurd cost of staging and securing the Games; the bad food in the athletes’ village; Shaun White dropping out of a new event and receiving mean-spirited tweets from his fellow competitors; the artificial transformation of Sochi, a summer resort on the Black Sea turned into a winter paradise; even Bob Costas’ pink eye and Meredith Vieira’s unbleached teeth – despite the cynicism, I am hooked in to the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. My DVR is all lubed up and trimmed down and ready to go.
Happened like this. Thursday night, I’m watching college hoops as Cincinnati earns the #6 national ranking defeating the visiting Huskies of UConn. The TV is locked on its customary February channel, ESPN, when somebody in the house mentions the Olympics. Tonight? Really? Doesn’t it open tomorrow? A change of channels and there’s the ice rink with the five intertwined rings and Scott Hamilton’s hushed, plucky boy/man voice – a voice that immediately evokes dramatic competition – describing how for the Russians this year, it’s all or nothing. Paired Russian skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in costumes reminiscent of waltzing nobility from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, are mesmerizing the audience with their artistry and athleticism. Maxim throws Tatiana into the air where she spins horizontally three or four times before settling back onto a single skate. What?! I rush to my trusty computer and look up which channels NBC will be employing to broadcast this spectacle over the next 18 days (and where do I find the hockey?). The website nbcolympics.com is extremely helpful. If Tatiana’s and Maxim’s grace wasn’t enough (and it was), then the first six minutes of NBC’s coverage of the overblown Opening Ceremonies closes the deal for me. Peter Dinklage narrated a gorgeous montage depicting the grandeur of Russia’s history and landscape. (Boy, I love high definition.) Sure it was melodramatic, but from the first shot of a reindeer’s frosty muzzle to the last of a snow-covered mountain pinnacle in the Caucasus, I was a sucker for it. Gotta go now and watch the USA’s women’s hockey players skate against the Finns. The match awaits on the DVR (puck dropped at 3:00 am EST), queued up just in front of the Tar Heels/Notre Dame. I’m going to be busy for a while. // Rick Boomer