Feb 2014
Josie Bungert

Watching the Olympics and feelin’ blustery

I figured it was about time I wrote about this year’s winter Olympics.

Well, I am terrified of them.

Don’t get me wrong, the Olympics are so great and fun to watch. The athleticism is amazing, the crowds are outstanding, and the world coming together for these events is always spectacular. But have you ever thought about the extremes, the scary, the heart wrenching? Well, that’s usually all that I can think about while watching these games – and can’t really look past it, especially when it comes to the winter games.

Ice, snow, and extreme temperatures. That’s what I worry about. I try to not be a baby in the winter myself, but us living in the winters in Nebraska (and me in Minnesota) is not anywhere near the dangers athletes are putting themselves in the winter.

As impressive as the summer Olympics are, the fact that these athletes can participate in the winter games and put their bodies through the stress of winter simultaneously always impresses me. I think it boils down to these three winter aspects that freak me out the most.

Ice – So, many of the sports of the games are based on ice. They need to be, obviously, because otherwise they wouldn’t exist, but what could be more terrifying than falling on ice, flying off ice, or having ice come at you. Couple that with falling on sharp equipment (ice skates, skis and ski poles, etc.), Landing on the ground, for any athlete, could be threatening for concussions, broken bones, and general pain. But falling on ice? There is nothing to cushion your fall. There’s no grass or dirt. It’s ice. And ice, is scary.

Snow – For all of the athletes having to compete outside, not only are they doing sports in snow, but they are threatened with impending snowfall as well. It could start snowing before, during, or after their event, potentially altering both their performance and the environment in which they are performing. Snow can get in their face, in their eyes, causing distractions and affecting focus. Snow, as much as it may not be quite as scary as ice, is also a threat.

Temperatures – As much as Sochi has been sitting right around 50 degrees so far in the games, it is located in an area of the world wear it can get pretty cold. These athletes practice all year round in cold environments, but when faced with temperatures that they can’t control, there is always a variable in what can happen when they actually begin their event. Not knowing how the temperatures will change or be different when the starting buzzer sounds presents one more thing that the athletes have to think about and focus on.

Even though the winter games are known for so much more than all of the dangers, I give the athletes many, many kudos for being so adaptable to the unknowns of winter, and hold my breath a little longer for these games than the summer games. Now you know, in addition to feelings of excitement, what I will be thinking of while I tune in to the Sochi 2014 winter games.