A Guide to Watching the 2014 Sochi Olympics (That Hopefully Won’t Keep You Up Until 5 A.M.)
The Sochi Olympics kick off tonight with the opening rounds of the team figure skating, women’s freestyle skiing, and women’s snowboard slopestyle events. If you’re like me, this day couldn’t have come any sooner.
I love the Olympics. I love the quality of the competition. I love the national pride that the athletes have, especially from smaller countries. I love seeing sports that I never see on the main channels in the U.S. that other countries love so much. It’s just a lot of fun for me.
So I make it a point to watch as much Olympic coverage as I can while still being a productive member of society. Four years ago, that took the form of watching curling with my roommates from 2-5 a.m. Two years ago, I was lucky enough to be out of school and thus not have homework, so I watched more than usual.
But in the last two Olympic games, I had a strategy. And I recommend it for anyone who may find themselves slightly… overwhelmed by all of the events over the course of the next two weeks.
1) Pick a sport and learn about it. Learn the rules and who the favorites are in men’s and women’s. I usually go with a lesser-known event so I can learn something new.
2) Pick a team/competitor within the sport. Maybe look at some of the favorites, so your horse isn’t eliminated on Day 1. Pull for them for the entire event, from early qualifying to the medal round.
Four years ago, my roommates and I chose curling, as evidenced by our late-night curling binge. We learned the rules, and rode the USA team throughout the competition. Two years ago, I learned the ins and outs of team handball. I had played the game in gym class in middle school, and had always enjoyed it, but was disappointed that it was never really much of a thing in the U.S.
The team I chose was Montenegro–not sure why, but that’s the team I pulled for. I learned a bit about the country and its history, as well as their success in handball. The men’s team didn’t medal, but the women’s team finished with a silver–the country’s first Olympic medal as an independent nation. I rooted for a good team.
This year in Sochi, I’m going with biathlon–the sport that for whatever reason mixes cross-country skiing and archery. Competition exists in team and individual formats (as well as different distances), and most of the favorites are from Team Norway. I’ll be pulling for Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who, at 40 years old, can become the most decorated athlete in Winter Olympic history. As a dark horse, I’ll pull for some of the athletes from smaller countries like Kazakhstan, Estonia, Belarus, etc.
So I suggest you do the same if you want to get into the 2014 Games–pick a sport, and a team/individual, and pay attention. It’s a fun way to break up the Olympics a little bit, and learn something that others may not know. I’ve got some biathlon research to do.