Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sochi Here We Come! (U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A)

The winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are almost here and I can’t wait! Sure I could do without The Blacklist interruption, but in spite of that, I'm still excited. When it comes to the Olympics (and food), I’m not picky; I enjoy the winter and summer Olympics equally; give me figure skating or the 100 meter dash and I’m good. Every four years the world comes together as we gather around our television sets rooting for our team. For those umpteenth days, we are reminded that we are one nation under God, indivisible; we are not New Yorkers or Californians, we are not Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans. The national anthem sounds a little sweeter as we hear its chords and the sight of our stars and stripes raised overhead in triumphant victory can readily evoke a knot in our throats.

Every part and parcel of the Olympics inspires pride; pride as our athletes march into the stadium during the opening ceremony waving our flag, pride when they win their events and get to stand atop the medal stand, and pride even if they lose, because they undoubtedly fought a good battle and did it with grace and dignity. I find it moving to know that these young people have travelled so far and given so much, through hard work and sacrifice to get there. As I watch them compete, I think of all the movies, dates and fun they might have missed; the early morning wake-up calls and late night practices, all in an effort to reach their dreams. I think not only of the athletes but their moms, dads and family members that spent countless hours driving to and from practices, the hours spent no matter the weather (cold, rain, snow) standing on the sidelines during each game, and the financial sacrifices some made in order to make ends meet. Every dream has come with a price and that thought makes me cheer just a little louder.

I love it all; the opening ceremony with the parade of nations is a must; the roar of the crowd as each spectator hears their country announced and sees their flag and athletes marching in just gives me goose-bumps, the events themselves are great of course, but I’m an even bigger sap for the human interest pieces they do on athletes, especially those unlikeliest of Cinderella stories that leave me rooting for an athlete from some obscure never before heard nation that I couldn’t even place on the map. Love those! Figure skating (from the men, women, pairs, to ice dancing) is definitely my thing and therefore appointment television, while skiing and hockey are strictly based on availability. I’m not as familiar with the names and stories this go around, but I know that when all is said and done, we’ll have a new household name indelibly etched in our memory, having discovered the new Michelle Kwan or Michael Phelps.

NBC and the NBCUniversal family of networks (CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports, and USA) will once again be the sole source for all Olympic coverage which begins Thursday, February 6, the first time NBC will have primetime Olympic programming before the Opening Ceremony (Friday, February 7), and ends with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, February 23.

There are so many Olympic moments ingrained in our collective memory; Mary Lou Retton’s perfect 10; Kerri Strug’s hopping one-legged vault landing; Phelps bazillionth medal. I breathlessly await the new round of heroes and memories to come out of Sochi.