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The 22nd Winter Olympics are upon us
An even-numbered year indicates at least one of two things:
• It’s potentially a Leap Year
• It’s definitely an Olympic year
We’re two years away from the next 29-day February, so we’re left with the latter option. But that’s a great thing for those of us who enjoy the Olympics and all of the gala, pride, thrills and emotion that comes with each installment of the games.
This year, we’re celebrating the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia—a city that has achieved notoriety as of late, thanks to the dire condition of its hotel accomodations, and the abominable quality of its water (really, it looks like apple juice). Believe it or not, Sochi is the largest resort city in Russia, and it actually boasts a subtropical climate (difficult to come by in a country world-renowned for its unbearably frigid weather conditions). It’s also a fairly impressive destination compared to some prior Winter Olympics (Sarajevo in 1984 immediately comes to mind).
With the beginning of the 22nd winter games late last week, it appears the Olympic host city has finally taken a back seat to something more relevant: the actual Olympics. And the United States has plenty to be excited about in terms of events at this year’s games, including snowboarding, alpine and freestyle skiing, speed and figure skating, luge, women’s ice hockey, and arguably the most compelling Winter Olympic sport for the United States: men’s ice hockey.
As some of you might remember, four years ago the United States men’s ice hockey team was on the doorstep of winning gold when it lost to Canada in overtime of the Gold Medal Game. Not satisfied to take the silver medal at those games in Vancouver, the United States team could find redemption in Sochi, but it’ll have to overcome international ice dimensions to do so (rinks outside North America are 15 feet wider than a traditional NHL set-up—doesn’t sound like much, but that increased ice size equates to an extra 3,000 square feet).
Of course, outside of world-class competition on grandest of stages, the Olympics provide us with a glimpse into the cultures and scenery of its host city. Twenty years ago, we were captivated by the sights and sounds of Lillehammer, Norway, during the 1994 games. Four years later, we experienced the chillingly majestic scenery of Nagano, Japan, while the next host, Salt Lake City, impressed the world with an incredible opening ceremony. Granted, Sochi didn’t make a great first impression with its accomodations and amenities, but we must not forget that this is a European city doing its best to play host to the rest of the world. If anything, it should make us appreciate even more what the United States has to offer. We’ll certainly never look at a four- or five-star hotel the same way after witnessing Sochi’s accomodations. Still, we appreciate the city’s attempt to take on the Herculean task of hosting the Winter Olympics.
Good luck to all United State athletes competing in the 22nd Winter Olympics. And for those of you watching from home, enjoy the games, especially the events with which you’re not overly familiar. Soon, the 22nd installment of the winter games will conclude, and then we’ll have to wait another four years for the games to renew, this time in Pyeongchang, South Korea.