Slice of Life Tuesday: Enjoying Olympics past and present

orange sol

So, we are heading to the last days of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  I neither skate, ski, nor bobsled, but I love watching the Winter Olympics…even the curling, although I have a five-minute threshold for that particular sport.

When my kids were young, part of the joy in paying attention to the Olympics was in watching my three reenact the sports in various rooms in whatever house we were living in at the time – some dining rooms were better for the speed skating, some family rooms were better for the ski jumps, and some basements just rocked it for the ice hockey games. Furniture, toys and household items would be reinvented as “winter sports equipment”, and these reenactments would be hilarious to watch – although more than a few “events” concluded with big ouchies and sometimes even blood.  But they all lived to tell stories, as they say, and were back for more four years later.  These were my favorite Olympics – the ones when the kids were home.

But, one pre-children Olympics stands out in my memory, and is still my reference point for all Olympics to come: the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York.    We lived in upstate New York at the time, and saw the torch as it passed on its way to the Games.  That was thrilling.  And so was watching the games  live – and seeing the likes of Eric Heiden win gold not once but five times.  But, best of all was the high stakes ice hockey game between the Soviet Union and the U.S.A.  It was more than a game, and that victory was more than just a gold medal.  It was, as my sixth graders would say, epic.

It’s funny how I will always measure the Olympics  by that long ago experience – everything is faster, bigger, more technologically advanced  each passing year, but the Games don’t quite measure up.  It’s still thrilling to watch clips of Heiden skating in the outdoor rink, his suit and skates looking so old-fashioned and geeky.  It’s still thrilling to watch those final minutes of the ice hockey game – when it seemed that that which was about to become true could not possibly be true.

So, even as I enjoy watching these 2014 games, every once in a while I have to confess to needing to time travel back to 1980, and watching things like this (by the way, this is some kid’s history project, and is an incredible time-in-a-bottle kind of experience – those were interesting times!) :

and this:

Those are moments worth reliving,  even as I root for the 2014 teams and athletes.


19 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Enjoying Olympics past and present

  1. Tara,
    I loved hearing about the adventures of your children. How exciting to be at the famous hockey game in 1980. I remember where I was when I watched it on TV. At my brother’s house in Edmonton, Alberta. It was a defining moment.
    Thank you for sharing your memories.

  2. The Olympics always sneak up on me. I don’t think I will care and then it begins and I DO.. Just yesterday I was watching the American Ice Dancers win Gold as I gobbled down a salad before I was on to gum surgery.

  3. The closest I’ve ever gotten to the Olympics was when the torch passed through Columbus, Ohio several years ago. My kids were little then, but it was so thrilling to see. Sharing your stories of your kids brings back my own memories of my kids doing the same thing…but a history project of the 1980s? That’s a little sobering. Wasn’t that just yesterday? 🙂

  4. I had that same experience in 1984 when the Summer Olympics came to Los Angeles! Muhammad Ali lighting the torch, Joanie Benoit winning the first women’s Olympic marathon. Ahh.. thanks for bringing back the amazing 1980 games and my memories of the ’84 Summer games.

  5. How cool that you saw the torch! That’s on my bucket list!

    In another four years, I have a feeling it’ll be Isabelle acting out the Olympics in our house. (We haven’t even turned it on for her this year.) I, on the other hand, am a world class figure skater in my dreams. Funny how I can always land quadruple jumps when I’m sleeping!

  6. So wonderful you got to see the torch, Tara. I remember that Olympics well. We got our first color tv for it, and loved watching Eric Heiden especially. I remember the game less-but do remember the celebration here in Denver afterwards. Thanks for the memories!

  7. I love the dual slices here. Your kids’ games are vivid, and your nostalgia for the 1980 games is familiar to non-Olympic memories, too.

  8. I can just see the various rooms in your house appropriated for Olympic competitions! Our kids were sad when we bought living room furniture, and the living room was no longer their playroom. I keep reminding myself that my students are enjoying the Olympics, not intentionally neglecting their homework.

    • I know what you mean, Elsie – in some ways, the world was a simpler place then, The Games were a BIG DEAL – no acble TV and social media to distract us from paying attention…and really caring. Plus, I had a huge crush on Eric Heiden. 🙂

  9. Tara, I love this Slice so much. I love how you incorporated different experiences with the Olympics into one great piece – present day, 1980, your kids. This is all weaved together so seamlessly. I’m not a big Olympic-watcher, but your words created in me some yearning to become one! Honestly!

  10. It was fun reading about the Olympics at your house. Usually when Estonians have any hope to a decent place, I have watched the competitions. Not this year. The experienced skiers have quit and young ones need to grow a bit more. It is amazing that we have had some gold medal winners in the past, considering how small our nation is.

  11. Just reading through some of the comments, I think many people can make connections with an important Olympic game. I also remember the 1980 hockey game – it was high school for me!

  12. The Olympics have always been special for my family too! We traveled to attend the ’96 and ’02 Olympics, so I know what a special place you hold in your heart for the year you experienced more personally. I also loved your description of your kids pretending to participate as they watched — sounds like your family is just as much fun as mine! 🙂

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