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It's Going To Be A Long Two Weeks

The Olympics are on, and we are one of those families that watch a lot of it. For the first time, the girls are old enough to remember the last Olympics and have been looking forward to this for a few months now.

We pre-record everything so we can a) watch it back at our leisure; and b) skip over all the commercials and filler stuff. So we’re about a day behind, which is fine by me.

Don’t get me wrong –we don’t watch just the last two minutes of a race: we watched the qualifiers for the men’s snowboarding slopestyle before the opening ceremony had even happened, and we watched every bit of the finals as well. Poor Maddie had trouble sleeping one night, worrying about Sage and how he’d hold up, and if McMorris’ rib injury would keep him off the podium.

When a tense part of a race comes up, Maddie simply cannot sit down and is up on her feet, running in place and yelling “Go! Go! GO!” until it’s over. Cora practically holds her breath during figure skating as she tries to keep the skaters from falling through sheer force of will. We’re the family who watched a good half hour of Sunday’s skiathlon, a 26-mile race. On two types of skis. It’s a several-hour race, and even in the middle of it, as the athletes rounded a corner of the track for the twentieth time, Maddie was on her feet shrieking “Northug is making a move! Do you see him! Do you see him! Look over your shoulder!”

I love watching the competitions with the girls, and having them see how happy McMorris was for the snowboarders who won ahead of him, or how strong Hannah Kearney was when she took a disappointing bronze. Seeing athletes be gracious under pressure and play the game with good sportsmanship is a great lesson, I think.

But sometimes it takes us forEVER to get through something because both girls are full of ENDLESS questions. “Where is the cameraman? How can he run so fast next to the skiers? If it’s an overhead camera why can’t I see it? Why does one skater get to start in front of the other? How is that fair? Why do their clothes look like patchwork quilts?” I have to pause the action and point out the track the automatic camera runs on, or explain the concept of staggering a starting lineup on a circular track, or admit that I just plain don’t know why they picked such ugly opening ceremony outfits. And sometimes I just want to watch the action, you know?

I think the opening ceremony was the worst, as we had to pause over and OVER to explain that it wasn’t a real ship moving across the ground, even though the men were moving, and WHERE exactly did the men go if it wasn’t into a real ship? And how could they be real cars, then? And if it’s all done with projection, why don’t the projectors cast shadows from the people?

Sometimes having highly intelligent children is less fun than others.

There is one upside to the Olypmics, though: we now get to play endless rounds of Olympic Athletes. I make up a game, and get to sit and judge it while the girls test themselves. Yesterday we played a fun one that involved running around the whole house five times, executing three big jumps on the mini trampoline, and repeating the whole thing. FIVE TIMES. I kept up a running narration as I sat on the stairs and watched Cora go by, laughing and frolicking at first, but by the last heat her arms were in close and her head was down and she was just trying to get through it and I could hear the soundtrack in her head:

“Dan, this is the point at which Cora’s just going to have to dig in deep and tap into some hidden strength. All the athletes are tired at this point of the race, but Cora really wants this – it’s what she’s been training for these past four years – and she’s refusing to lose here.”

When Cora crossed that line she fell to the ground and refused to do interviews.

And when we went back to watch the real Olympics and saw an interview with Hannah Kearney where she discussed making a major flub early in her last run, then pulling back together enough to get the bronze, Bob asked Hannah if she had a split-second of thinking she might as well quit there. “Never,” Hannah said. “I’m an Olympian and I was going to finish, and finish strong.”

And there was Cora, nodding her head in world-weary agreement.

Pace yourselves, girls – it’s going to be a long Olympics for you.


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