Friday, February 29, 2008
Olympic Ski Jumping
Well the shine of this assignment has definitely worn off. I have also been fighting a chest cold for the past week and that has depleted my energy and enthusiasm. Still being here at the bureau's infancy has had its moments.
Ever since I saw the opening clip of ABC's Wide World of Sports (back in the 70's) of the "Agony of Defeat" video, where some poor schlep wipes out jumping off a ski jump, the sport has fascinated me. I recall watching Olympic Ski Jumping on TV as a youngster and marveling how these men with strange names ( they were all European and mostly Scandinavian names) would sore through the air and land without injuring themselves. It was an exotic sport to be sure and not something you see everyday.
The first Ski jump Venue I had ever seen was in Salt Lake City during 2002. I did not see the competition, but my accommodations while at the games to see hockey, were right across the interstate from the venue outside of Park City.
Now this week I finally had the good fortune to finally get to an actual event with real live competitors flying off a newly constructed Ski Jump. Man these young lads have stones. You have no idea how steep and then how far these guys "fly". It's not until you get at up to the point of launch that someone like me who has until that time, only seen jumping on a TV screen, that you really get a sense of how fast a Jumper is traveling and how steep the landing area is. The sound of the launch and the jumper flying through the air is another dynamic that TV doesn't quite do justice.
Now you couple all of that with a sprinkle of controversy, and you have a great recipe for a newsy reason to be at such a venue. The controversy involves the IOC and Women's Ski Jumping. You see Ski Jumping at the Olympic Games has been exclusively a men's competition. The women were denied entry into the 2010 games because of "technical reasons". It has become a big story and one that our news organization has followed very closely. It has become a subject that most in Canada have heard about and has people talking about a little known and exotic fringe winter sport called Nordic Ski Jumping. Ya gotta love controversy and ya gotta love the fact that the movement behind womens ski jumping has not gone away. This story has legs and we haven't heard the end of it.