It's a big day when U.S. finishes third in sledding: Chris Mazdzer celebrates winning silver in the men's luge in South Korea. (/Getty Images)
Photo: Alexander Hassenstein
Photo: Alexander Hassenstein

A Winter Olympics guide for the indifferent


As citizens of an Olympic City – it was 1996, have your parents tell you about it – we also are citizens of the Olympic movement. And it is the duty of all such good citizens to watch at least three minutes’ worth of pairs figure skating from PyeongChang.

It’s just something you should do, like eating kale.

Admittedly, the Winter Games don’t resonate around Atlanta. In fact, when viewers here see that much snow and ice, their reflex is to rush out of their homes, stock up on bread and milk and then slide into a ditch.

Having covered a few of these things in my more adventurous past, I can tell you with some certainty that most of the events defy any sort of analytical coverage. They are niche activities that only a few people in Scandinavia and the Yukon really understand. And then some judge who is more biased than a North Korean history book tells you who gets the medals. Frankly, I’ve pretty much stuck to writing about English ski-jumpers, Jamaican bobsledders or the occasional ice skater who gets kneecapped. Otherwise I’ve pretty much just faked it the rest of the way from Calgary to Nagano.

I’m going to let you in here on one of the big secrets in sports writing, a fundamental tactic for those stick-and-ball types thrown into the foreign landscape of a Winter Olympics: When in doubt, just make fun of it.

And they have since X-Gamed the whole thing up, which takes those of us of a certain age even more out of the mix. Watching snowboarders mock gravity can be entertaining, but if you have a mortgage and are employed, you’re really not the demographic they are aiming for here.     

But, I repeat, there is the obligation to watch something, because you are citizens of the Centennial Olympic City. 

So, here are a few highlights from the upcoming week. Choose wisely.

Monday: Women’s halfpipe. Stock up on the Doritos and the Red Bull.

Tuesday: Mixed doubles curling. Gender equality finds a cold, deserted, Molson-scented corner of the sporting world. 

Wednesday: Luge doubles, because why not stack up humans like kindling on a tiny sled and send the whole thing hurtling down a frozen pipe? After winning our first luge medal ever this weekend, the U.S. is officially a luging nation now. Like it said in the actual Denver Post headline, “How silver medalist Chris Mazdzer became America’s newest sex symbol.” 

Thursday: Men’s Super G. Downhill skiing – finally a sport that makes some sense. I tried skiing once. It looked like a flour sack tumbling down an icy laundry chute.   

Friday: Women’s snowboard cross race, because I’m told there is the possibility of mayhem. God, I miss football.  

Saturday: Men’s ski jumping, large hill. On TV, it looks like nothing a person should do without a parachute. On site, it looks only a tic less insane.  

Sunday: Women’s 500-meter speed skating. At least it’s over quickly.  

Oh, by the way, the pairs free skate is Thursday, should you wish bite the bullet and pay your Winter Olympic dues in full in a single viewing.


About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.