Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 9:53 am
When we imagine Olympic athletes at the table before the most important competition of their lives, we might picture a huge plate of pasta, with Gatorade to wash it down and a well-deserved ice cream sundae for dessert.
Turns out, they might be preparing with a salad, a glass of beet juice and some almonds.
With the addition of team figure skating to the Olympic manifest, I wasn't surprised to hear from my grumpy old pal the Sports Curmudgeon. "Hey, Frank," the crabby kibitzer said, "when you gonna admit that anything that calls itself a sport that has music outside o' halftime ain't a real sport?"
Actually, there are other sporting defenders of the faith who are even more critical. They maintain that any sport — like figure skating, gymnastics, diving, halfpipe — that is resolved by exterior judges rather than by the participants themselves is not a true sport.
When American Sarah Hendrickson launched herself down the 90-meter jumping hill in Sochi, she flew into history, becoming the first woman to ski jump in Olympic competition. She ultimately finished in 21st place.
Carina Vogt from Germany brought home the gold. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria took silver, and France's Coline Mattel, 18, won bronze.
Heading into the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, there were many predictions of trouble — possible terrorism, incomplete construction, unsold tickets and not enough snow. Well, you can take that last item off the list.
Skiers zip by on a practice run at the Rosa Khutor alpine ski course in Russia with not a cloud in the sky above them. You can't hear the skis, though, because there's a snow-making machine blasting water into the cool, dry air. It mists down onto the ground below in fine ice particles: man-made snow.