Since I was little, I have loved the Olympics—both the summer and winter games. I love the pageantry of the opening and closing ceremonies, the incredible determination, self control, beauty, and excellence of the athletes, and the inspiring spectacle, if only a façade, of the nations of the world together in peace. Of course, the games are a form of peaceful war, where nations compete for glory, but it would be wonderful if we only had such bloodless war. I even enjoy the human interest stories about the athletes and the cultural enrichment segments about the host country. Critics may complain about the costs and corporate exploitation of the modern games, but they are one of the greatest shows on earth.
I have enjoyed the Canadian games so far. The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili started the Vancounver games on a sad note. Not even a meticulously, globally planned holiday from harsh reality can shield us from the our mortal condition. Nonetheless, the games are always so ennobling; they remind me that I am happy that mankind exists.
Last night, I watched the final program of the ladies’ figure skating competition, in which the young Korean Kim Yu-Na delivered a stunning performance. She earned more points than any woman since the new system was implemented before the Turin games. The Japanese Mao Asada won the silver, and the Canadian Joannie Rochette won the best bronze of the games. Rochette skated beautifully in Tuesday’s short program after her mother died on Sunday. Though cynical about the emotional manipulation of the media, I could not help but join the crowd in cheering for her to win a medal. Though it may sound clichéd, her performance was one of the most touching Olympic moments that I have witnessed. N.P.R.‘s Linda Holmes made some fitting remarks about Rochette’s Olympic saga and the world’s response to it in “Joannie Rochette: The Fine Line Between Empathy and Voyeurism.” It was human to root for her, and I was delighted that she won the bronze last night.
Other highlights include fellow Orthodox Evan Lysacek’s winning of the gold in men’s figure skating, Norway’s Petter Northug’s amazing finish for silver in the men’s 4 x 10 kilometer cross country relay, and the overall snow whooping that the American team has been giving the world. Did I mention that I love the Olympics? I wish that they could happen more often, but then they would not be as important.
And for them, we have the Greeks to thank, who have given civilzation so much.