Winter Stories

Ballet in the Opening Ceremony
Ballet in the Opening Ceremony

It’s Olympic season again; time for the world to come together and root for their team. This year, in Sochi, there are a few…problems; perhaps opportunities for improvement. Some Olympians have decided their personal safety was more important than the medals. Even the opening ceremonies weren’t without incident. Still, for those who love sport, for those who love competition, for those who love to see the world come together, it is exciting. I spent the early morning watching Speed Skating today, a sport that on the surface may look dull, but in reality, the power and precision required to compete, let alone succeed, is incredible. The 5,000 meter speed skate was dominated by the Dutch, with a rare medal sweep, and I got to watch it as it happened. Some of the names were familiar, although most weren’t; the level of attention needed for that is beyond my ability, and frankly, my desire. The only names that were familiar, I knew from Vancouver in 2010, four years ago.

One of those names hasn’t competed, yet – Shani Davis.

His Olympic career began in 2002, for the Salt Lake City games.† There was a bit of controversy, involving how he got on the team in the first place. Hungry for more, he left early to compete in two other competitions, where he won the 1,500 meter in each, the first American to do so.

Shani Davis in Nagano, World Sprint Championships
Shani Davis in Nagano, World Sprint Championships 2014

That’s wonderful, possibly even exciting, but so what? Well, you know, it is still Black History Month. Shani Davis, aside from being in his fourth Olympics, is also the first black speed skater on the US Olympic team. Maybe it doesn’t seem like so much, but as history will show, in the past several decades, the summer Olympics tend to be dominated by one group, and the winter by another. All require intense dedication and concentration to be any good. There are several reasons why skiers tend to be white; cost is one of them. While there are plenty of poor white people, the higher up the economic ladder you go, the fewer people of other races you see. Unless you happen to live in an area with relatively-easy access to skiing – regardless of your race –  gotta have a couple bucks to do it. Ski resorts aren’t exactly known for their diversity, either. There’s the casual racism evident in that society – it’s not necessarily malicious, but it really is quite thoughtless – as in any, but it’s a bit different when dealing with people who’s only interaction is usually as an employer to a menial, rather than an equal. Dealt a bit with that when I got to college. Those kids weren’t loaded, but they were used to living in an area that there parents moved to, because ‘those people’ were taking over the other neighborhoods. Ohio isn’t the most integrated state.

But I digress; Shani Davis, first black speed skater on the US Olympic team. He won gold in 2006 in Turin, and again in 2010 in Vancouver for the 1,000 meter race, and silver at both Olympics in the 1,500. It was kind of a big deal, really, and that’s sad. It’s cool, too, since it’s not such a big deal now – we’re used to him. Kinda the point, really. Doors need to be opened, so more people realize they have options. Again, why we need a Black History Month, among others.

Switching gears –

There was more snow - it's a little worse.
There was more snow – it’s a little worse.

This past week hasn’t been pleasant for me. It’s been extremely stressful, as a matter of fact. Has been for a while, really, and a lot of it – not all by any stretch – is related to work. It’s exhausting waking up in the morning, knowing your day is going to be a nightmare, then coming home with barely enough energy to make something to eat. There’s also the fact that it’s cold and snowy outside, and the street to my street has not been plowed, and poorly treated. Last night coming home from work, I had a little extra fun when I turned onto that street – after coming to a complete stop – pushing it a bit so that I could get a running start and not get stuck, only to see a car coming the other way, slowing down. That side of the street had been flattened out a bit, either from traffic, or one of the private plows trying to make life a little easier.

I’m very tired of this winter. I haven’t had to deal with one like this in over a decade. My closet confirms that – I have nothing really suitable for winter. Not a real winter. I’ve worn no less than two layers for most of the past several weeks. It’s reminding me of why I always hated winter. The fact that tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, well, that doesn’t help. Four weeks from now will be the anniversary of her passing. That’s always fun. So, like I said, it’s not all work-related.

There was quite a bit more I wanted to get into, something inspired by my watching of Moulin Rouge earlier today, but I lost it. I should have written it down. Matters not, it’s gone. I’m watching The Fisher King right now, preceded by A Knight’s Tale. Probably go back to the Olympics after this is over.

† In 2002, I was living in Colorado Springs. One evening, I was driving home from work, when I noticed a large traffic jam – no one was moving. Then I heard the cheering. I realized why we were stopped. I opened the sun roof of my convertible and stood on the driver’s seat, watching the Olympic torch pass by.


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