When it comes to the debate between the summer and winter Olympics, I've always been firmly on Team Summer. Maybe it's because the long, drawn-out nights of winter in the Pacific Northwest have sapped my yearning to witness inspiring feats of athleticism, but until now I haven't given the Winter Games much of a chance.
Watching the games this year, however, it's clear I was missing out. There's something exhilarating in watching skiers and snowboarders risking their lives with every jump, with lugers hurtling down a slippery slope and figure skaters spinning in the air.
As I finally catch up to the wonder of the Winter Olympics, here are six things I've learned so far:
1. American figure skaters really enjoy Coldplay. Listen, I'm a bit of a Coldplay apologist. And I seem to have some company with the U.S. Olympic figure skating team. At least three routines from Americans that I've seen, including one from America's sweetheart Adam Rippon, have featured music from Coldplay. "Chris Martin has this voice that resonates through a whole arena," says Rippon. Sure!
2. Winnie the Pooh is cool again? Yuzuru Hanyu, of Japan, after winning his second straight free skate Olympic gold medal, was showered with Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals. I didn't hear anyone fully explain this phenomenon and I think we should leave it that way.
3. Few people are as brave as the aerial skiers. There's a sport called "aerials" where men and women skiers fly off a jump to unfathomable heights, spin around and do a couple flips while they're up there, then try to land without breaking every bone in their body. And they usually don't!
4. Curlers are buff now. Curling, the sport where people use brooms to direct a rock down ice, may have been one of those sports where you might look at the athletes and yell, "Hey, I could do that!" in the past. But in this year's games, many curlers are ripped, as the sport has become more competitive.
5. Shaun White is a maniac. There are certain athletes that you can tell are on another level in their sport, even if you don't know anything about that sport. Snowboarder Shaun White is that dude.
6. The Olympics soon might become The Hunger Games. NBC figure skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, both former skaters themselves, have embraced these dystopian times and decided to present themselves as actual characters from The Hunger Games. ♦