February 8, 1998
I care about the luge.
I realize what a travesty the "clap skate" has made of speed skating. Johann Olav Koss could step out of the stands, throw on a pair of these gimmicky skates, and reclaim all his Olympic records. He probably wants to.
I know about "ordinals," and why they are the most misunderstood element of the often arcane figure skating scoring system. See, the "5.8" stuff you see on the screen doesnít really mean anything. Itís all about placement. There are whole books written on the subject. I consider reading them.
I appreciate the remarkable accomplishment of luger Georg Hackel. Gold medal, same event, three consecutive Olympics. Only five other people have ever done that. I donít want to be like Mike, I want to be like Georg. Heís called "The Sliding Sausage" in his native Germany. I want to go to Germany.
I have Olympic fever, and although itís only day three of the games, it shows no signs of going away.
I yearn for a "triple-cast." I settle for five hours during the day on TNT, three on CBS prime-time, and a CBS late night wrap up show that kicks. Speaking of the Olympic Late Night show, Al Trautwig and Michelle Tafoya drop a funky bomb as hosts of this loose, wacky, and fun Olympic review. Catch it if you can. "Dropping a funky bomb" in this context is a good thing. (It almost always is.)
I wonder if there is the luge equivalent of the "bunny slopes." How do you learn to luge? Do they just shove you down one of the world class runs, your body and sled hurtling downward the equivalent of 40 stories, at speeds near 80 miles and hour, and if you survive, congratulations, youíre on the team?
I wish for the skills so casually displayed by a thousand people from nearly a hundred countries.
I see the smiles and joy of the people watching these incredible athletes go through the most grueling contests of their lives. I see a celebration of the human spirit, of human achievement, of human potential.
I wonder what it takes to be so totally devoted to something that you let it overwhelm you. You give in to it, doing its bidding. For four years, your every thought is looking forward to a snowy February day in Japan. Then, finally, it arrives. There comes the time when you have to put forward your best effort Ė your Olympic effort. A split second Ė thatís all. Youíve got your chance, youíve got your shot. Youíre in the Olympics, and the work of four years has all led up to this moment. If you succeed, it was all worth it. If you falter, you slowly trudge off the ice, or the snow, or the track, and mentally circle the 2002 calendar, and plan to be in Salt Lake City. If youíre really, really lucky, or really, really good, youíll get one more chance. One more chance Ö in another four years.
I can do that. I can be that. I can make an Olympian effort in my life.
You can too.