There is no joy like a child’s joy.
Except for maybe an Olympian’s joy.
I’m a big fan of the Olympics. The Sochi games have gotten me through a rough couple of winter weeks here in Northeast Ohio—not only as a diversion, but as a kind of (dare I say it?) inspiration for day-to-day living. I don’t have skis or skates, but trying to find a semi-clear path through mounds of ice-crusted sidewalk/curbside snow on my daily rounds through the neighborhood is certainly training for Something.
So as I watched (and read—thanks to the NYT early morning update and the uniquely snarky coverage provided by Slate) I collected. Because that’s what I do. What follows are my favorite snippets from athletes and coaches, but mostly commentators—my favorite combo being the dynamic crew of Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir, and Terry Gannon (for a funny review go to BuzzFeed). Also check out Slate’s rendition of Scott Hamilton calling every sport.
And yes, more than one commercial made me cry. Sometimes the same commercial made me cry several times. I mean, why they gotta throw moms in there like that? Their way of accessing the emotional spigot, no doubt. That said, it’s still nice (in a self-serving sort of way) to see moms getting little kids dressed for the snow and then comforting the very same while cleaning the snow out of their suits afterward, a warm bath steaming in the background…
“Ooooh, those arms are going down, winding down the windows!” –BBC commentator during the snowboarding slopestyle competition
“‘Solid! Solid!’ hooted Aimee. ‘Solid! Solid!’ roared Tim. ‘Solid! Solid!’ howled Ed.” –BBC commentators during the snowboarding slope style, irishtimes.com (Rather makes me want to write a children’s book.)
“Switch right-side gap 270 on, pretzel 270 out on the down-flat-down; switch on, 450 out of the up rail, to left side 270 on, pretzel 270 off on the down; to a butter, switch slide to corked 450 off on the cannon feature. Then, left side double corked 1260 double Japan on the first booter, to switch right side dub 1080 tail grab, and a switch right side triple corked 1260 Japan on the big booter.”
—Simon Tjernstroem, a judge in the men’s ski slopestyle competition, explaining why Joss Christensen of the United States deserved gold
“There I was, I’m like, ‘Grrreat. I’m just going to go win my first medal.’ And then in the middle of the run, I’m like, ‘Guess not.” So like, ‘No. Don’t do that. Do not give up. You see this through.’ My whole goal was to just keep my skis moving.” –Mikaela Shiffrin on her nearly disastrous second run in the alpine slalom
(an interaction between a reporter and the Russian coach, via The Wall Street Journal):
Q: What future, if any, do you see for your own work and for your coaching staff? Because, you know, your predecessor was eaten alive after the Olympics—
A: Well then, eat me alive right now—
Q: No, I mean—
A: Eat me, and I won’t be here anymore.
Q: But we have the world championship coming up!
A: Well then, there will be a different coach because I won’t exist any more, since you will have eaten me.
Q: But you’re staying, aren’t you?
A: Yes, I will remain living.
“There’s the lutz, and it’s a cracker!”
“You can see a sigh of relief after the dreaded twizzle sequence.”
“It was a performance. It was paint-by-number.” –Johnny Weir
“He really reminds me of a hockey player that’s also a really good dancer.”
–Weir on Czech skater Thomas Verner
“That’s kind of a situation like throwing a cat into a bathtub where they just splay their legs out, and you can’t control it.” –Weir describing the feeling of popping out of a jump
“I applaud her use of short shorts, reminiscent of our own Terry Gannon in the 1983 college basketball championship.” –Weir on an Austrian skater’s unorthodox costume
“It’s not easy to grab someone your own size by the hips and place them down gently after they’ve fallen from heaven.” –Weir pointing out that two skaters of similar height can make a bad match
“The man has to be the frame and the woman has to be the pretty picture.” –Tara Lipinski
“Tara and I take our work seriously. She’s my work wife. And she’s a slave driver, so we sit up and study until she’s satisfied. We not only plan how we look, but we’re up until three in the morning looking at all the skaters’ backgrounds and biographies.” –Weir on working with Tara Lipinski
“We want to be 80 and still commentating on figure skating with each other.” –Lipinski
“Bulls–t!” –Ashley Wagner after seeing her scores
“I tell them they have to run in the rainbow.” –Ice dance coach Marina Zoueva’s advice to Canadian darlings Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue