Lighting the Torch for Another Great Olympics

Jessica Gunther, Writer

It’s just about that time again. Today’s Opening Ceremony kicks off of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The iconic Olympic Torch has journeyed from Athens, to space, to the ocean floor, to the highest mountain in Russia, and will complete its latest leg while the world watches. It has been a long four years since Vancouver 2010, where the United States won the most medals (37 total, including nine gold). And now the world’s most elite and cold-blooded athletes are congregating once again on the brink of some of the most important performances of their lives, all while a projected three billion people (of the seven billion in existence) around the globe gear up to watch.

The 2014 Olympics are big for Russia, since it’s the first time the nation will host the event since before the breakup of the USSR in 1991, and Russia is determined to make the Olympics fun, exciting, and innovative. This year’s games will feature 12 new events, including men and women’s ski half pipe, women’s ski jumping, and a figure skating team event. Altogether, between now and the closing ceremonies, 98 events will take place in the elaborately planned Sochi Olympic Park. The best part is that you can watch it all live. I don’t know about you, but I know I will be parked in front of the TV for the next two weeks.

Personally, I am most looking forward to men’s ice hockey and men and women’s cross-country skiing. The fight for the gold in men’s hockey should be intense. With Canada as the defending champ and Russia desperately wanting the gold, the United States is going to have to pull together some serious team spirit in order to take down both. I can hardly wait for the United States’ first game against Slovakia on Feb. 13. Cross-country skiing fascinates me because of the grueling nature of the sport; watch one race and you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Cross-country skiers don’t get to enjoy the effortlessness of gravity like their downhill cousins. Instead, they must utilize every last ounce of muscle to climb long, gradual, and seemingly never-ending hills that make up the varying distance and sprint events. As the competitors cross the finish line, each collapses into a heap of exhaustion, happy to let the ground hold their body after a complete mental and physical workout. Look for the first cross-country skiing event, taking place tomorrow.

Even if the Olympics just isn’t your thing, you have to recognize the sheer magnitude of it. Where else will you find 6,000 of the world’s greatest athletes competing on the behalf of 85 different countries? The answer is nowhere. The Winter Olympics are a frozen treat (like ice cream), but we only get to have it once every four years. You better get pumped because Sochi 2014 is going to be like 17 straight days of ice cream, and I don’t want to miss a single scoop!

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