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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Sports, New Hosts, new Countries:

Sochi 2014 is hands down the best Winter Olympic Games ever.  With the addition of 12 new events, they're the biggest Winter Olympics ever.  They also have the most athletes ever, from the most countries ever.  And for the first time ever, the entirety of the Winter Olympic Games are viewable live online.  Every sport, as much as you want, as long as you want, right when you want it, all in high definition.  Quantity has a quality all its own.

But the quality of the new events are yet more exciting:  Slopestyle, whether Ski or Snowboarding, is amazingly fun to watch.  Women's Ski Jumping is a long time coming considering the men were doing it since 1924.  And Team Figure Skating is the greatest idea ever.  Everyone wants to watch more figure skating, and with this unique twist the overall strength of your nation's skaters comes to the fore.  If your individuals trail behind, just go out and perform a great ice dance.  If you can't win at pairs, it's okay if you work hard to get 6th, because your teammates will take care of the rest and still get you the gold.  What an exciting thing to be part of, as a team representing a country instead of just themselves, and for the fans who can cheer on even the weaker members of their weaker events with everything still being on the line.

Not only that, the quality of the old events keeps on rising.  Short Track is really exciting, as is Speed Skating, in part because countries that normally don't get to participate in the Winter Games, like South Korea, can suddenly win medals even without having any snow-capped mountains to train on.  The Netherlands isn't known for its ski slopes, but speed skating can be done indoors, next to a massive cheering crowd, and so they've created a huge presence in these games by just doing the one thing they can do right.  Crazy old Olympians are competing in record numbers of Olympics and getting record numbers of medals, while figure skaters are getting record scores, lugers are setting track records, and speed skaters are setting Olympic records.  Everything about Sochi 2014 is record-breaking.

The biathalon is extremely exciting when around eight different girls are all pulled in to the last shooting range simultaneously wishing to both race each other through the targets and back onto their skis while also not daring to miss a single target for fear of being overtaken.  Talk about high drama!

Russia is hosting a Winter Olympics for the first time ever, which is crazy considering its geopolitical significance in the world.  It's about time the fun was shared around.  Vancouver was Canada's second time as hosts.  Salt Lake City was USA's fourth time.  Russia is an introduction to an entire new world, an almost unexplored corner of culture and natural beauty.  Part of the fun of the Olympics is journeying to distinct places.  Beijing was fun in 2008 precisely because it was so new.  The same for Russia 2014, and for that matter Brazil 2016, South Korea 2018 and Japan 2020.  We're out of the rut and traveling all over the world, experiencing everything there is to see, everywhere there is to see it.

So far, no country from the Southern Hemisphere has won an Olympic winter medal, aside from British colonies Australia and New Zealand.  How exciting would it be to make Argentina or Chile the hosts of the next Winter Games and let them get in on some of this fun?

In the past, Germany and Austria so dominated the Winter Games no one else could medal in anything.  However, with Germany slipping a bit, we're seeing golds from all sorts of folks.  Nations that never existed in the past don't have any Olympic history to brag about, so some of these athletes are winning the first golds in their entire country's history.  The joy those nations must feel back home when their flag and anthem is first flown in this century long historic event!  Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, all these newbies are finally being given a chance to put their country on the map.  For them this Olympics is more than just a 4 year event, it's a first time for everything.  If they ever win a medal in 'sport x,' that'll be their first medal in that sport ever, and so on.  They have something to celebrate continuously.  And when the little guy underdog wins, everyone wins, because we can all afford to spare them a medal or two now that we've all got hundreds under our belts.  During the Olympics, you end up cheering for everybody, they all look so happy and fun loving and innocent.  You want to reward all of them for the hard work they've put in to get here.

Anyone not watching these Olympics is crazy.  Anyone who dislikes the Olympics must simply dislike everything and everyone on Earth.  There's nothing better than the Olympics.  It is the world's biggest party, biggest event, biggest sport, biggest monument, and biggest artistic ceremonial performance all rolled up into one.  Russia spent fifty billion dollars so we could enjoy these Olympics, so let's make every minute count.

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