Hurray, the Olympics are over!
Yep, they finally are finito, but why did we travel over 6,000 miles and spend more money than a year’s tuition at VMS to watch the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy?One simple reason: I made a poor decision four years ago about Salt Lake City and let that donkey’s behind known as Osama win the battle, not willing to risk my family for a sporting event. Of course my regrets are now in hindsight, knowing at this point that no further attacks have yet occurred on U.S. soil. But the fact that we missed the Olympics in our own backyard has always bothered me more than discovering a hangnail while wearing tight wool gloves.I was not about to let it happen again.So there we were and here we are with a lifetime of memories that none of us will ever forget, even if we make it to Vancouver in 2010. Having already mentioned a few of the highlights and lowlights over the last few weeks, here are a few more:n The U.S. men’s hockey team showed poise and grace in their single win, but should be embarrassed by their four loses and one tie, leaving them out of the semifinals for the first time in decades. When Finland first scored during the quarterfinal game, the vast majority of occupied seats in the arena erupted with applause and shouting. Quickly discovering how many Scandinavians were surrounding us, I thrust my beer into the air and began shouting U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! That was immediately followed by the sounds of a one-legged cricket chirping.n Women’s figure skating was much more entertaining than anticipated, but perhaps not for the right reasons.We fly coach everywhere we travel (stay with me here). Affordability is irrelevant, as it is the principle of the matter that I cannot rationalize paying double or even triple simply to get from the same A to the same B. But it has always bothered me when the stewardess marches up the dividing line between coach and first class, grabs the cheesy little curtains with a death grip in each hand, and SNAPS! them closed, as if what’s going on “over there” is no business of us little people down in steerage.Figure skating has a similar premise for the masculine pigs who hang out in the beer lobby a few seconds longer than they should. If you don’t make it back inside before the next batch of skaters are ready to perform, not only are you not allowed to go to your seat, you are not even allowed to watch from the portals. And to make it more insulting, they put up these cheesy little curtains and SNAP! them closed to prevent you from peeking.Oink.I laughed the first time it happened, and then tried to sneak a peek, only to have Herr CurtainMeister put a death grip on both inside folds of the drapery and hold it tightly closed for the next 20 minutes or so, which was long enough for me to finish another beer and a sausage.However, all selfishness aside, the skaters I was allowed to view were mesmerizing. Nothing beat watching Sasha Cohen slide out onto the ice as the very last performer of the evening, and kick some Olympic tail all the way into first place for the event.n Except for Legity and Mancuso, the U.S. alpine team disappointed millions with their dismal performance, especially Bode shooting the American one-finger salute to photographers at a nightclub in Sestriere. n If not for the U.S. men and women’s snowboard team, our medal account would be somewhere around the level of Liechtenstein’s. n Apolo Ohno backs up his talk, and does so with a kind of style that should make all Americans proud.n Half the fun of traveling in Europe is sitting around watching foreign TV commercials, whether they are in French, Italian, German, etc., and attempting to guess what type of product they are trying to sell.n My family is easily entertained.n Alfa Romeos are really cool looking cars, while Le’ Smart Cars are for le’ nerds.n It’s not that the Alps are tall but that their valleys are really short.n Italian trains do not run nearly as efficiently as Swiss watches.n Italian maps show so much yet provide so little.n Italian volunteers were so enthralled with wearing their “Torino 2006” jackets that they sometimes forgot why they were wearing them.n I am sick of cheese and chocolate.Yet the overall feeling of being a representative for my country, an American outside her borders, and having my family witness with their own eyes the world coming together for the joint good of humanity on a global scale – even if it was only for sports – was worth every penny, every Franc, every Euro and every stressful moment of travel.We’d do it all again in an Italian heartbeat. Ciao. Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Vail, Colorado