The Flatlander's View

Are the Winter Olympics different … or am I the one who changed?

By Steve Moseley
Posted 2/17/22

I hope you are able to go deep on the Winter Olympics in China, enjoying every dazzling moment. Me? Not so much.

The Summer Games have never been a big deal with us, but time was our household …

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The Flatlander's View

Are the Winter Olympics different … or am I the one who changed?

Posted

I hope you are able to go deep on the Winter Olympics in China, enjoying every dazzling moment. Me? Not so much.

The Summer Games have never been a big deal with us, but time was our household embraced the winter version with full gusto.

I still smile when I think of Eddie the Eagle. Do you recall the wonderfully bespectacled British ski jumper who captivated the world during the 1988 Games? Full of enthusiasm, but looking a little confused and acting a bit odd, Eddie was the first ski jumper in British Olympic history. He was not a star of the sport. Still, we watched our lovable Eagle finish last in both ski jumping events and loved every minute of it.

There was the “shock the world” hockey victory by Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione and their youthful squad over the unsmiling, robotic, Russian pros in the semifinals.  Nearly as impressive as the incredible upset, to me, is how they kept their skates firmly on the ice, their heads screwed to their shoulders and won the next game with gold on the line.

The stylish Nancy Kerrigan, Katarina Witt and their like were balanced in the figure skating world against the utterly clueless, no class Tonya Harding. This was the stuff of the Olympics when I was a fan.

Our three kids are all deep in their 40s now, but way back when as children, we were a Winter Olympics family. I recall many cold nights huddled in front of the TV soaking up all the bobsleds, downhill skiing, biathlon and a slew of other events. 

Park County fortunates like you live very near the alpine and Nordic and snowshoe world. Count yourselves lucky in comparison to pitiable Flatlanders. These sports are as fascinating as they are foreign to those of us who spend our days (and nights, sadly) adrift on an ocean of corn stubble in New-Brass-Key.

During my time doing sports for the Powell Tribune, I had the opportunity to photograph high school downhill skiing on Red Lodge Mountain. This was thanks entirely to Lindsay Linton, Powell’s favorite daughter on the slopes. Had we not had a Panther competing, I would not have been able to go myself. I suspect precious few among those who know the Lindsay of today fully comprehend how lightning fast and fearless she was back in the day.

Ski-joring in Cody. Ice climbing (from a long way back) up South Fork. Skinny skiing and racing on snowshoes at Pahaska Tepee (looking at you now, Ray Gimmeson). Powerful sleds high-marking on snowy slopes on the Bighorns. Hockey in the amazing facility at Cody. These activities and northwest Wyoming in general were delightful and mysterious to a “man of the corn” born and bred.

Then circumstances intervened and we had to return to Buffalo Commons. Here, winter used to mean frequent sessions with the snow blower, but it’s been snow-free for so many years I actually miss bundling up and making the fluffy stuff fly. There is ice fishing, but nothing here has a chance to match the success my buddy Mark Davis’ story described in words and pictures from the annual Meeteetse Ice Fishing Tournament. What a hog that fish was. Oh my.

In this state, by contrast, ice fishermen mostly catch panfish, often so small they would grumble and toss ‘em back any other time of year.

We have established the environment in Nebraska bears no resemblance to Winter Olympics venues. Factor in how old age has curbed enthusiasm for everything except grandkids and perhaps we arrive at the answer for why the games have lost their sparkle.

It was me all along.

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