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Olympics bring out fan in all of us

United+colors--The+Olympic+flag+has+a+white+background%2C+with+five+rings+blue%2C+yellow%2C+black%2C+green+and+red.+This+design+represents+the+five+continents+of+the+world%2C+and+the+six+colours+are+those+that+appear+on+all+the+national+flags+of+the+world.%0AArtwork+by+Anna+Teichroeb
United colors--The Olympic flag has a white background, with five rings blue, yellow, black, green and red. This design represents the five continents of the world, and the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world.
Artwork by Anna Teichroeb

United colors--The Olympic flag has a white background, with five rings blue, yellow, black, green and red. This design represents the five continents of the world, and the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world. Artwork by Anna Teichroeb

United colors--The Olympic flag has a white background, with five rings blue, yellow, black, green and red. This design represents the five continents of the world, and the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world. Artwork by Anna Teichroeb

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Feb. 8 marks the beginning of 17 days when sports fans all become amateur commentators on sports they previously knew nothing about. The Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea from Feb. 9-25. This marks the 23rd (XXIII) Winter Olympic Games, which are now held every four years, alternating with the summer games in two-year stagger.

Technology specialist Abi Adam is a self-professed Olympic fanatic.

“I collect memorabilia from every Olympics,“ Adam said. “I already have a Pyeongchang shirt.“

The thrill of competition between nations draws viewers in around the world with a concept originally dubbed by Marshall McLuhan as “The Global Village” where all nations can simultaneously experience the same event.

“People love the Olympics because the athletes are interesting to watch,” freshman Bradley Everett said, “and true competition is interesting.”

With 15 events and over 90 countries participating, the 17-day schedule gives a variety of viewing. “Figure skating is my favorite Olympic sport,” freshman Jordan Long said. “The people who do it look so graceful.”

Freshman Samantha Balderas also likes skating. “It’s my favorite because I used to watch it with my mom,” Balderas said. “I watch the Olympics with my family. They get excited and very aggressive.”

Individuals carry memories with them influenced by the Olympics.

“When I was in the seventh grade, everyone had to get the same haircut as Dorothy Hamill (gold medal in women’s figure skating 1976 Austria),” librarian Elizabeth Jackson said. “If I was ever in the Olympics, the sport I would like to do is speed skating, but I do love to watch figure skating the most. Speed skating just looks like so much fun. When I used to rollerblade, I would imagine that’s what I’m doing.”

Adam also liked to immitate Olympians and broke her wrist in an attempt.

“When I was eight, I tried to do a double back flip off the roof of my grandmother’s house,” Adam said. “I was pretending to be Mary Lou Retton (gold medal women’s all-around gymnastics 1984 Los Angeles), and my sister was Bela Karolyi, the best gymnastics coach ever. I didn’t have any formal training, so I broke my wrist in the process.”

Adam has been addicted to the Olympics most of her life.

“We used to ski a lot during President’s Day weekend, which is when the Olympics are usually going on,” Adam said. “After skiing, everyone would go out to eat, but I’d stay in the hotel watching the Olympics alone while they were out.”

Mentioning the Winter Olympics and USA brings back images of “The Miracle On Ice” in men’s hockey at the 1980 Lake Placid games. The United States beat defending five-time gold medalist Soviet Union in the first medal round game, even though the American team consisted of all amateurs making up the youngest team in the tournament.

“I always root for the athletes from the USA,” Assistant Principal Randy Hicks said. “The most memorable thing for me was when our hockey team beat Russia.”

Seasoned veterans and intriguing newcomers entice viewers. “I’m excited for skiing, specifically the ski jump,” senior Peighton Andrews said. “I look forward to the Olympics if I know of someone who is going to compete. If it’s someone like Phelps, then I get really into it, and if it’s someone from the U.S., I really want them to win. I love the competition.”

Coach Ronny Miller likes the Winter Olympics, but he looks forward to the summer games. “I prefer summer because track and field are my favorite events,” Miller said. “I used to coach track and field.”

The summer and winter games were not always on a staggered schedule.

“I’m old enough to remember when they held the Summer and Winter Olympics at the same time,” Adam said. “At first, I thought it was bad that they split them up, but now it’s a good thing. Four years is too long. I’d have to say that I like the Summer Olympics more, but that’s because it has more events, and the more the better. However, winter still has some of my favorite events.”

Adam can name drop Olympians with the best of them.

“I’m a huge ice dancers Torvill and Dean (gold medal for Britain ice dancing 1984 Sarajevo) fan,” Adam said. “Alberto Tomba (gold medals in Alpine skiing 1988 Calgary and 1992 Albertville) is a downhill skier from the late 80’s, he was fantastic. Mary Lou Retton was one of the best gymnasts. She was the first ever to get a perfect 10 in gymnastics outside of Eastern Europe. Of course, I’m a Michael Phelps fan; you can’t really not be one. You see how much work and effort he put into it. He deserves every bit of his success, and everyone’s a fan, really.”

Professional snowboarder Shaun White will be going into his fourth Olympics this year with two Olympic gold medals, holding the record for most X-Games gold medals and 10 ESPY Awards. “Shaun White is undoubtedly a pioneer in snowboarding,” Adam said. “He’s not a punk kid, he’s a serious athlete.”

This year, North Korea and South Korea have decided to march into the Olympics as a joint team. Pyeongchang, the site of the games, is only 50 miles from the North Korean border.

“I’m very glad that North Korea is willing to participate peacefully,” Jackson said. “There needs to be some way to get along, politics aside.” Adam said that the opportunity for peace should be readily taken. “There’s scepticism about North Korea, but at this point, what can you really do?” Adam said. “The history between these two countries’ borders is tragic, and anything to help heal that border is a good thing.”

The Olympics are an opportunity for countries to set aside differences and join together in unity. “I have cheered on athletes from Norwegians to Russians,” Adam said. “I think that’s what is great about the Olympics. You care less about where a person is from and instead what they’re doing.”

Anyone can watch and end up enjoying the games. “After watching an event, you feel like an expert,” Adam said. “You learn how the event is judged, how they’re scored and the politics between the commentators.”

Adam said the games are loved because Olympians are real people.

“They have real lives, real jobs, and then they go compete on a world stage and are labelled the best,” Adam said. “I think people identify with that because we can see ourselves in that kind of situation.”

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