DY: In Just a Few Words (#68)
A guy can dream, right?
I love the Winter Olympics.
There was a time way, way back when this blogger thought he had what it takes to be a Winter Olympics athlete. I never had a dream about sugar plums, but I did start dreaming at the age of 12 about how I might look carrying the American flag in the Opening Ceremony, all while wearing the snazzy Official Olympic Outfit. Which brings me to Ralph Lauren - the iconic American designer whose company has been designing said Official Olympic Outfit for the past several games. Ralph was born in 1939 in New York City. I was born that same year in a New York suburb called New Jersey. We have never met, but I do know we are kindred souls connected all these years by our Olympic bond. Ralph is a real Olympic legend and I am an Olympic legend in my own mind.
I actually trained for the Winter Olympics. In several sports.
Originally, I thought my best shot might be speed skating. My parents gave me ice skates for Christmas in 1950. We had a neighbor with a nice outdoor pool. For reasons I never understood, they kept the pool full of water all winter. And so that Christmas Day, I laced up my skates and took to their ice. I loved the experience, even though I was later informed my speed skates were actually hockey skates. I got a bit unnerved when I heard a loud sound that had a lot of energy. Turns out, the ice was cracking. I’m lucky I’m here to tell the story. So, on Christmas Day 1950 I officially both started and retired from my speed skating career.
Next came hockey. I think with a little work I probably could have made the Miracle on Ice 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team that stunned the world. But 1953 was a long time from that magical day in 1980 when the USA Olympic Hockey team would win Gold over the Soviet Union in one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Much as I look back now with nostalgia at a missed opportunity, making that team would have required another 27 years of training and I just wasn't mature enough to do that. I became a victim of hockey burnout. Not to mention that I quickly came to grips with the fact I don’t have a mean streak. I had no interest in maiming other kids. I tried it, but I found beating another kid with a hockey stick was not fun. Also, hockey kids hit back. I gave my hockey stick to some tough girl who was anything but a young lady and promptly retired from hockey.
The same neighbor who owned the speed skating pool of 1950 glory also had a working dairy farm set on a lot of property. On that property was a huge hill that rose to an intimidating height of 11 or possibly even 12 feet. It had a very gentle incline and was an excellent place to learn a new sport. I borrowed some antique wooden skis from another kid, climbed the mountain like a pro and laced on the ski boots I had also borrowed. I studied other skiers for a few minutes until I understood what it takes to be a great skier. Alive with confidence and not worried at all that the ski boots were four sizes too big, I took off as a future Olympian. I wiped out within just a few feet of the starting gate, landing in melted snow (aka slushy mud) and got my first taste (literally) of the joys of skiing. I retired from skiing at that very moment. Many athletes who miss the fans and perhaps the endorsements that come with greatness come out of retirement after only a short time. I was never tempted to do that.
I could go on and on about sledding and snowboarding, but those didn’t work out for me either. I’ve changed directions now and this spring will begin training for the 2024 Olympic Golf Team. There’s talk they will be adding a new competition for golfers over 80. To make a bad pun, I think I have a good shot at being par-t of that.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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