February 25, 2010
It can be hard to write about something you’ve never done, eh.
So after Nordic combined training wrapped up Wednesday I wanted to head up to the top of the hill to see what I looked like soaring off large hill on a pair of skis. Anything to become a better writer. Plus, I figured I could write a few interesting graphs about my flight — and hopefully a successful landing — in this blog.
Luke was thinking he would have to write my obituary today, but he didn’t want to try to stop me. It would give him an opportunity to spread out in our less-than-spacious accommodations in Whistler, British Columbia, for the final few days of the 2010 games.
But that’s when I learned that while my credentials will let me climb up the stairs of the Olympic jump in Whistler, it doesn’t entitle me to take a jump. There were lots of nice security people to remind me I’ve got a better chance of someone inviting me to the USA house for the party after the Americans’ winning performance in today’s Nordic combined large hill event than actually sliding out on the start bar of an Olympic jump.
That’s bad news for my idea of writing a blog about the joys of ski jumping, but good news for my insurance carrier, who would have to cover all my medical bills once I came to a stop at the bottom of the jump hill here in Canada.
I guess it’s pretty cool that the experience of being an Olympic ski jumper is limited to a few hard-working athletes who excel in the sports of special jumping and Nordic combined. Those athletes have earned the right to compete with years of training and the results they need to be considered the best in their own country. Chances are they will not kill themselves with a leap from the top of the hill to the landing area at the bottom. There are also a few lucky forejumpers, who traded three weeks of sleeping past 5 a.m. to get a taste of Olympic flight. They check out the jumps before the competition or after a competitor crashes. Those guys also have trained, and unlike me, know what they are doing on jump skies. I guess there is more to it than pushing off, closing your eyes and hoping for the best at the bottom of the hill.
But the organizers back in Vancouver thought ahead and found a way for everyone who comes to the Olympic venue to look like they have what it takes to be an Olympic ski jumper. Even me. Sure it’s just a pair of jump skis stuck in the snow, with a cool backdrop that makes it appear (at least on your digital flash card) that you managed to find a way to jump at the Olympics. Thousands of people will be able to show the photos to their friends and enjoy a good laugh from the Olympics — pretty cool, eh.
For me, this photo will be my only flight off the big hill. My 43-year-old bones, and my wife who would have to nurse me during my recovery, are thankful. I have, however, had an opportunity to climb to the top of the jumps. The Olympic-sized view from under the jumps is something I’ll never forget, and it has helped me appreciate what these Olympic athletes are doing.