My unlikely Valentine: the Winter Olympics

Photo by Blake Israel

Please note that I enjoy the Olympics; however, it should be stated there are several decisions made by the Olympic committee I disagree with. 

Whenever I refer to the Olympics, I am referring to the games and not the organization.

Honestly, I’m a fish outta water — or a better analogy would be a penguin without snow.

With temperatures hovering around 32 Fahrenheit, could you blame me for forgetting that somewhere halfway across the world the world’s best athletes are competing in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics?

I love the winter Olympics. Simply. Since Vancouver 2010, I have been addicted.

In the spirit of Valentine’s day, let’s explore my fondness for the winter Olympics discussing the most romantic sports, heartwarming stories, tumultuous relationships and best events to snuggle up and watch.

Most romantic sport? 

Obviously, it has to be pair figure skating — the elegance, the poise, the tension, the drama; it’s a reality show that writes itself.

One of the most famous examples is Tonya Harding’s and Nancy Kerrigan’s relationship, retold in “I, Tonya”.

If you don’t want to watch the movie, in short, it’s about American figure skaters, fierce competitors, how Harding’s ex assaulted Kerrigan with a crowbar to the knee, and how Kerrigan came back to win silver in the 1994 Olympics a month later.

However, would you believe me if I said there was a more romantic sport? 

Well, there is. In fact, there are two of them, one of them being a solo sport.

Number two would have to be Ice Hockey. Canada vs USA rivalries. 

The cellies. 

The physicality. 

The crowd. 

Being one of the few team games in the winter Olympics, the energy is ecstatic. 

Don’t believe me? Just search “The Golden Goal”. 

Number one, without debate, would have to be the Luge.

To an average onlooker, the luge is an insane competition with even more insane competitors. It is the fastest sliding sport, with athletes zooming at 145 kilometer per hour on what is basically a metal sled. 

Yet it is surprisingly one of the least dangerous winter sports seeing a little over 8 injuries per 100 competitors (Sochi 2014). 

Lugers may be insane for trusting their toboggans, but aren’t we all looking for that insane connection?

We all know of Olympic couples and families — they’re commonplace — however, families completing together are few and far between. 

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters compete in freestyle skiing, women’s moguls. 

During the 2014 Sochi Games, Justine and Chloe were first and second respectively while Maxime came 12th. 

This year the sisters looked to score in Bejing. Due to an unfortunate fall, Justine was out of the running. 

The fall made me sad, and Chloe approaching her sister with a talk and hug got me teary.

Cornelius Kersten and Ellia Smeding are the first Brits competing in speed skating since 1992. 

The couple funded their own dream, opening a coffee business (Brew 22) to offset the cost of competitions. 

From running a company together to training together to living together, they feel pretty lucky to be living this life together. 

The gracious competition can be seen across the events. 

Most recently for example, in the first biathlon at Bejing, the Slovenian team had assisted Roeiseland, the Norwegen biathlete, identify and fix a technical issue with the Norwegian rifle while racing. 

Roeiseland had come first place, safe to say this would have not been possible without the Slovenian physiotherapist. 

It’s so wholesome that I’m surprised the snow around the podium didn’t melt.

There are quite a few rivalries that differ between events, narratives that are always shifting, but as the Olympics continue to expand offered competitions, new characters enter the global story of friendly (for the most part) competition.

I have yet to talk about my all-time favorites, the ones that made me fall in love with the winter Olympics. 

The first event I ever recollect watching would be speed skating, this was right after I started learning to skate, and oh my, after watching the athletes, I tried my best to be a speed demon on the ice. 

Well, that was until I finally got to do what I adored. 

After watching Ashleigh McIvor win gold in the freestyle ski cross, I determined I must learn to ski which is exactly what I did. 

Curling has been the most recent addition to my list of favorites, and after working at the chalet as ski patrol, I have gotten well acquainted with curling goers. 

It is not an easy sport; don’t let the videos fool you.

The grace of the athletes is unmatched, not to mention it is magical to see how sensitive the stones are to any stimulus: the strategy behind the throw, constant error correction and even the collisions with others.

However, eight year old me understands if you switch the channel to an event that is more ‘exciting’ as long as you aren’t turning off the stream altogether.

If this is your first taste of the Olympics, to make sure you fall in love this Valentine’s day, I have created a list of all podium events occurring over the Valentine’s day weekend that are sure to get your heart racing.

On Friday, Feb. 11, I would definitely recommend that you tune into to watch Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe, Women’s Super-G. 

On Saturday, Feb. 12,  you’re going to want to make sure that you’re watching the Mixed Team Snowboard Cross, especially the Men’s Large Hill Individual. 

On Sunday, Feb. 13, you don’t want to miss the Short Track Speed Skating, specifically the Women’s 3000m Relay and the Men’s 500m.

On Monday, Feb. 14, make sure to watch Ice Dance, Women’s Arieals and Women’s Freeski Slopestyle. 

Happy watching!