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Ash & Fern: Mid-Olympic Lessons

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We are halfway through the Olympics.  Seems like they’ve been on TV forever, doesn’t it? As expected, I have already learned many things during this year’s games, all of which will be completely useless for the next four years. Still I have decided to share this newfound wisdom with those of you who are not able to dedicate endless hours to watching people frolic in snow. You’re welcome.


1) Olympic-induced sleep deprivation is a real thing and the side effects can be dire. Just ask anyone who has come into contact with me over the last week. Cranky doesn’t begin to describe it. I knew it was going to be bad when on day 4 I snapped at someone for using the wrong Post-Its at work. You can imagine how delightful I will be by day 16.

2) Biathalon is amazing. I discovered this sport years ago (you may recall I mentioned it in my pre-Olympic post), but I didn’t truly appreciate it until now. These people are awesome. How you can calm yourself down enough to hit a teeny tiny target after skiing as fast as you can is beyond me. I’m also impressed by their ability to not throw their gun down and yell obscenities after the occasional miss of said teeny tiny target. I also think it’s fun how they all fall over immediately after crossing the finish line. When one didn’t fall over I just assumed they weren’t trying hard enough.

(AP Photo/Felice Calabro’)

3) King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands seems like a pretty cool dude. You see the occasional monarch at the Olympics, clapping politely and looking slightly bored. Not this guy. He is spending the games energetically cheering on Dutch speed skaters and wearing a bright orange jacket. If I was going to hang out with a king, I would probably want it to be him. Also I like a country that encourages the wearing of orange. You don’t see enough here.

4) Windshield scraping and cold-weather car starting should totally be an Olympic sport. It definitely involves more physical exertion than curling. I’d medal. Especially if there was an event for emailing your boss from inside your car when your scraper snapped in half and you have to wait for the defroster to work. I was only 15 minutes late to work that morning, that’s at least worthy of a bronze. (I think the overall message is here winter SUCKS. Props to these people for inventing awesome sports to make it a little less miserable.)

There’s a gold medal in the making here!

5) Everyone is an expert on Olympic sports. And no one has any idea what they are talking about. Every time I find myself wanting to interrupt someone’s impassioned rant about how the “graininess” of the snow impacted the medals in moguls, I suddenly snap out of it and remember that I also have no idea what I’m talking about. What do I know about snow? It’s cold. And something about no two snowflakes being alike. Also it makes it hard to drive sometimes.

6) Falling down isn’t embarrassing. It is actually sign that you were trying to do something really awesome. So next time I wipe out down a flight of stairs, I’m going to get up, wave to let the crowd know I’m ok, and wait for the cheers.

7) Being an Olympic bobsledder apparently grants you the Hulk-like strength needed to break through a locked bathroom door. I assume it is the legendary spirit of an Olympian that gives you the mental fortitude to do that. I would have just waited. This did teach me that perhaps I need to keep some snacks and a book in my bathroom, just in case. In good news for a post-Olympics career, I feel like that guy has a future in being the most awesome locksmith ever.

No mere door can hold Johnny Quinn!

8) There are two different styles of cross country skiing. They like to call one of them skating. I have no idea why. One competitor said in an interview that she was a better skater. I was very confused for a few minutes about why she was competing as a skier if she is a better skater. Researching this led me down a Wikipedia hole in which I discovered a sport called ski-orienteering which involves both skiing and navigating. So now I know that there is a sport out there at which I might legitimately be the worst in the world. Yay! Side note, ski-orienteering has applied to be included in the 2018 Olympics. Where is the petition I can sign to make that happen!?

9) Apparently some ski jumpers like to jump with their mouths open. Others like to keep them closed. I spent a fair amount of time one night considering what I would do. On one hand, my vague memory of high school physics tells me that an open mouth would catch a little bit more air and help keep you in the air just a bit longer. However, can you imagine a bug flying into your mouth when you’re going that fast? No thanks. I also couldn’t decide if the amount of flailing I’d be doing off the jump would earn me more style points or not. The judges would probably enjoy something a little different, right?

Hey, whatever works, right?

10) Finally, it’s a little discouraging to realize that the athletes my age have entered the veteran category. And I don’t mean the second time Olympian veteran. More like the third (or even fourth) time Olympian who is going to retire after the games and needs a double hip replacement. I’ve started realizing this about most professional athletes, but it’s magnified when you only see them every four years.

Despite that last frightening realization, I’m having a blast. I hope you guys are having as much fun as I am. (Though I also hope you are getting a little more sleep!)