Olympic Fever…Catch It!

12 Feb

It’s time for the Olympics!  I know that there are major problems with the Olympics.  Countries spend millions of dollars to lobby to host the games, and then millions more to actually host them.  All of this at the expense of the actual people living in the country, mostly the poor people.  However, I have loved the Olympics since I was a little Briggsy.  The drama, the spectacle, the shared moments, the personalities, the sports I’d never seen before.   Summer, winter, no matter where they were…I loved them all throughout my childhood.  Less so in my adulthood, but I’m reinvigorated for this winter’s games.  Maybe it’s the promise of the big screen teevee.

Tonight is the Opening Ceremonies, from just a few hours north of here, in Vancouver.  We’re having an Olympics party tonight (think Canadian and Olympiad inspired food and drink!), and the Olympic hoopla has gotten me traveling on a trip down memory lane (I love that street! ), thinking about the ghosts of Olympics past.

I think my great love for the Olympics started with the ’84 summer games in Los Angeles.  Probably with this:

How great are the mustaches and the satin running suits?  OK, enough with the detached hipster irony.  Mary Lou’s vault and perfect ten is still goose bump inducing!  She sticks the landing!

Everybody told me I had her haircut that summer. I mean, she was great at gymnastics and everything, but no.  I wasn’t into gymnastics.  I was more wanting to be like this California dude.  Karch Kiraly!  I lived in the midwest and never been to the beach, much less played volleyball.  But in the summer of ’84, I was punching an old soccer ball over our backyard power lines.  Karch was the man that summer.  Look at this guy!

Handsome, and medal winning!

He looks like that dude who played the villain in every 80s movie.


Then there were the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.  That winter was all about the speed skating.  I remember Bonnie Blair.  Bonnie was a badass.  Or maybe it’s just the ninja spiderman outfits that speed skaters get to wear.  And their starting poses.  Love ’em!

I loved her sport mullet!

Bonnie is still the most medal winning U.S. athlete in Winter Olympics history.

Those 1988 winter games also had the genuinely moving story of Dan Jansen.  Heavily favored to win two golds, the guy’s sister died of leukemia literally hours before his first race.

He fell.  Twice.

You can’t write this stuff.  It’s surprising his story hasn’t been turned into a movie yet.  Matt Damon?

Dan finally wins!

I think Damon could play Dan.

Dan Jansen finally won a gold medal  in 1994.

But probably the most lasting memory from the ’88 winter games for me is from the Closing Ceremonies.  It was the first time 13 year old me saw k.d. lang.  k.d. now is different than k.d then.   Check out her performance in Calgary from that year.  This video won’t imbed, but I highly recommend clicking on the link and watching it on youtube.

The boots, the hair, the Elvis-like swagger.  The dress?  13 year old me was pretty intrigued with this ambiguously gendered (for the time) person singing kitschy country music in front of the world.  This memory would be told over in over in the future by me, filed under, here’s when I first thought I might be a burgeoning lil’ queer.

And I just found out today, 22 years later, k.d. is going to be back celebrating Canadian Olympic pride (curling!  luge!), tonight at the Opening Ceremonies.

She’s going to be singing Hallelujah.

It won’t be able to top 1988 to me.  I was 13 after all.


5 Responses to “Olympic Fever…Catch It!”

  1. sonja February 12, 2010 at 12:39 PM #

    Many people of Vancouver, in part, welcomed the Olympics in 2010 to their city because along with building new places for athletes and visitors to stay and compete during the games, promises of new affordable housing for low income people were made. East Vancouver was promised all kinds of economic development to strengthen social services and address the rampant poverty of the area. Like so many cities clamoring for an Olympic bid, Vancouver hasn’t followed through with its promises and monies spent don’t end up benefiting the people living there. Homeless people are round up and taken out of sight while high end luxury condos and new stadiums are built. The Olympics, as an institution, have to find a way to spur actual economic development that supports the grassroots and ALL the people in the host city, especially those underrepresented and impoverished.

    That said, watching your ’88 clip of k.d. lang in Calgary makes me wish I was in Vancouver for tonights opening ceremony so bad! How fun would it be to square dance with so many enthusiastic people?!

    Memory Lane just might be your favorite street ever. I think you loved the ’84 games so much cuz there were so many gender expressions of your hair!!

    • ohbriggsy February 13, 2010 at 2:05 PM #

      great comment, i agree. and i wish now that we would have splurged and gone up for some of the games. odds are we’ll never live this close to an olympics again!

  2. cookie monster February 12, 2010 at 5:10 PM #

    i too love the olympics! i was especially drawn in by the whole Cold War spectacle of the Miracle on Ice and the 1980 men’s (there were only men’s teams then) hockey team victory over the Soviet Union. I was only 10….no critical thinking as of yet….just loved the underdog story of our nonprofessional athletes, all those husky college guys, beating the “evil” soviet empire.

    also….LOVED the summer 1984 games. I was 14 and watched a good portion of them in North Carolina with my grandparents after our annual trip to Ocean Isle Beach.

    Dan Jansen…totally remember that guy! Great post. And, Karch completely looks like the villain from Karate Kid.

    I always thought I might end up playing in the olympics one day…but the closest I came were the Olympic Sports Festivals and the Gay Games…where I saw k.d. lang sing live in bare feet on a Sydney, Australia Aussie Rules Football field. OH….the memories! Way to go Briggsy for sharing all of this!!!

    • ohbriggsy February 13, 2010 at 2:07 PM #

      thanks, friend! the miracle on ice in 1980 was awesome–probably my first memory of the olympics. my dad was psyched! we still need to watch (and ogle the hair, mustaches and sweaters) Miracle! the summer of 84 games will always be my favorite. that must have been awesome to see kd in sydney. i thought she did well last night. were you able to see it? we have it on dvr so you can check it out when you come over for some figure skating!


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    […] you may remember, I really like the Olympics. When I was a kid, I LOVED the Olympics.  The 1988 games especially […]

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