In Summer Games years, I love the Summer Games. Right now? It’s the Winter Games. It’s like all my elementary school years. In winter, it was all about football for me. During the summer? It was dinosaurs and Star Wars. All.The.Time.
I get pretty caught up in it.
I love the stories, especially.
You know I sometimes get a little, um, extreme about my patriotism. Sometimes, we Americans come off as ugly. Petulant. Like the way Ashley Wagner, the American skater, reacted after a routine she felt great about failed to wow the judges:
If you can read her lips, you know how she felt about it. But to me, it’s just competitive. And I love Ashley Wagner for it.
It’s OK to want to win.
“I love to win,” Ashley told NBC News, “ … if you love to win, you should say it. And honestly, I’m hooked on it.”
This Winter Games, I want to spread a little love, too.
Some divas have captured my heart, but maybe not the medal they sought.
I love their stories. I love their hearts. Each of these three athletes did something in their Olympic moment, or leading up to it, or immediately after it, that prompted me to create a new Winter Olympics event:
Welcome to the Alpine Freestyle Coach Daddy-athalon.
Her place in my event: She won gold in Torino (2006) and silver in Vancouver (2010). After winning that gold in ’06, she started Hannah’s Gold maple syrup, whose proceeds go to help an impoverished village in Kenya. She also has an underwear line, Sweet Cheeks, that benefits Children International, a non-profit charity focused on feeding children.
Her moment: Unhappy with her score and watching her hold on the bronze medal slip away late in the snowboarding halfpipe, Teter smiled, hugged teammate Kaitlyn Farrington, the surprise gold-medal winner, and gracefully exited in her first Olympics that didn’t end on the podium.
Her place in my event: No other woman has as many Olympic medals (4) as Mancuso, who needs one more to tie Bode Miller for most for an American in the Winter Games. Super Jules is really close with her father, who lives near her in Hawaii. She wore a plastic tiara on the podium in the 2010 Games.
Her moment: So versatile. So clutch. After a season of struggles on the slopes, Mancuso put together a remarkable run late in the super combined final to capture bronze. With the pressure at its peak and course in its worst condition, Mancuso managed to put together a gritty, medal-worthy performance.
Her place in my event: A leg shattered in a bobsled accident. A heartbreaking fourth-place finish in the Vancouver Games, just off the podium. Then, a miscarriage. Pikus-Pace fought back from all these setbacks, a strong, beautiful mom who battled back problems and concussion-like symptoms in Sochi for one last chance.
Her moment: After her final run in the skeleton – a face-first, luge-like spin down the ice at 80 mph-plus – Pikus-Pace leapt into the crowd to celebrate her run. She held the gold-medal spot for one slider, and after Brit Lizzy Yarnold beat her time, Pikus-Pace still said “good as gold!”
We love to watch the Olympics – but it seems to bring out a little hate in us, too.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day. We all want America to win. Every single time. And, like when we root for our favorite football teams or soccer teams, we develop a little healthy animosity for the other side. Or, in this case, the rest of the world.
The whole us against them mentality is contagious.
So as we root against Swedes and Russians and even Canadians (except for Dara Howell and Melissa Hollingsworth and Katelyn Osmond), inevitably, the girls have questions. Lots of them.