Heartwarming winter games

February 13, 2018

It is fantastic to be able to watch the terrific Winter Olympic Games action on or television screens. Picture: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

I’ve always loved watching the Olympic Games.

I can still remember the moment I found out about the Games ahead of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

As we discovered the long-running history behind the Games, I became more and more excited to watch them unfold.

However, what I did not know, and did not discover for some time, was the fact that there are also Winter Olympics, also every four years.

In fact, I cannot remember the moment when I found out there was a winter version of the huge international competition.

But this year as television advertisements began to roll out for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, I got equally as excited (if not more) to bunker down and watch the action.

I am not sure whether it is due to Australia’s promising team competing this year, but I have never witnessed so much hype or coverage surrounding the Winter Olympics before.

For the first time, I am beginning to learn the names of our country’s most outstanding skiers and snowboarders and settling in to watch them every night since the games began on Thursday last week.

I have been finding myself getting tired of the constant coverage of figure skating, pleading at my television for them to put something more exciting and thrill-seeking on.

Watching Australia’s only luge competitor Alex Ferlazzo make history, securing our country’s best Olympic men’s luge result with a 28th-place finish has been incredibly exciting.

Meanwhile, barracking for Aussie mogul skier Britt Cox, who comes from Wodonga — an area close to my home town — has filled me with pride.

To see her finish fifth behind compatriot and fellow Victorian Jakara Anthony in fourth place was not only a great result for the women, but also affirmation that Australians can stand up to our European counterparts when it comes to alpine sports.

I felt sympathetic and disappointed to find out Melbourne schoolgirl Tess Coady had ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament while preparing for her Olympic snowboarding debut.

I found myself chatting to my mother about how riveting and well put together the opening ceremony was. She and I were blown away with the discipline of the performers as well as the amazing use of leadlighting.

It has been encouraging to see the overall support of Australia’s team at this year’s Winter Olympics.

Traditionally, much more emphasis had been put on the summer games, given Australia’s outstanding athletes in the field, but this year there has been a definite increase of the focus on our winter athletes as well.

Australia has some phenomenal ski-fields and alpine areas — and I, for one, have spent every winter tackling the slopes at Mt Selwyn or Thredbo with my family.

My parents taught me how to ski and it is one of the skills I am incredibly grateful for.

For those who have not been lucky enough to experience a day on the slopes, it is perhaps one of the most freeing feelings, and as a child it was something that continued to build my confidence as a person as well.

It is fantastic to see these sports highlighted every night on our television screens and I hope it encourages more young people to take up sport.

Tara Whitsed is a journalist at The News.

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