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Opinion

Winter Olympics provide chance to take pride in nation, athletes

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February 18, 2010

The 21st Winter Olympics has begun in Vancouver, Canada. Although the Olympics started off tragically with the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Olympics will continue to bring about excitement, history and honor.

During the opening ceremonies, Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky helped to light the torch, and, as Michael Jackson’s ‘We Are the World’ was played, athletes and spectators alike were reminded of how while we may all come from different countries, we are all united by the Olympic Spirit. 

The winter Olympics offers many different sports that test and challenge the athletes, such as the luge, a dangerous and competitive event wherein athletes speed through the course lying on their backs on a sled. Mogul ski racing is a competition in which finesse, speed and technique have the spectators holding their breath. 

Other events show that athletes are only one steps away from history or defeat. Every second counts, as witnessed in the men’s short-track speed skating. History has already taken place as American Apolo Ohno tied the record for most medals won by a U.S. Winter Olympian by taking silver in the 1500, tying him with Bonnie Blair at 6.

The Olympics are filled with awe-inspiring stories, such as J.R. Celski from team USA, who was merely inches away from cutting open a major artery in speed skating, and sixty stitches later, returned to the ice to capture the bronze medal at age 19.

The first gold medal for the United States belongs to Hannah Kearney in the women’s moguls, after she upset the heavy favorite, Jen Heil from Canada.

Even this area has its Olympic connections in Maria Lamb, a St. Paul native from River Falls competing in the speed-skating long track. And Minnesota lays claim to the most athletes of any state with 20, followed by New York with 18. 

The more anticipated events, such as figure skating and the hockey finals, will occur later this week and into next.

The hockey preliminaries started out in a lopsided affair, with the Canadian women defeating Slovakia 18-0. Nothing would mean more to the Canadians than the gold in hockey, but look for a strong U.S. team to dash their dreams. 

Be sure to look for other American favorites: Shaun White in snowboarding; Burnsville, Minnesota native Lindsay Vonn in various skiing events; and Johnny Weir in figure skating. 

The Olympic Games have something for everyone, and give spectators the chance to witness the hopes and dreams of those who represent their country and themselves, putting in countless hours for their moment to shine. They may even hve the ability to restore a little American national pride.

There are some moments in which we will never forget, like the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. What will this year’s Olympics mean for us and for future generations?  Even if you are not interested in the competition, I encourage you to watch the games, even for an hour, to see the vast array of national pride and Olympic spirit.

Go team USA!

Ashley Goettl is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the Student Voice from fall semester 2011 to spring semester 2013.