February 26, 2014

Direct Kick: Winter Olympics bring back memories

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As a child I used to love to watch the Olympics, both summer and winter versions. I thrilled at watching these athletes perform at the highest level of international sports, and as an impressionable youngster, I would often try and imitate what I saw.

It wasn’t hard for the Summer Olympics, as many of those events were sports I had already played or was easily mimicked. If I watched the track and field portion of the games I could easily go outside and pretend I was competing in the long jump or hurdles. It was very easy to pretend I was competing for an Olympic medal during the summer games.

The winter ones was a little more difficult and took a little bit more imagination to pull off since not everybody has gone skiing or bobsledding or played ice hockey. But that never stopped me.

I would find an icy patch and wearing dress shoes, I would pretend I was on the hockey team. I had a stick and a puck, and this was easier to pull of when I lived in Maryland where the winters were a little more frigid than here in Kentucky. I had never ice skated in my life but let me tell you, I imagine dress shoes on an icy surface to be pretty close to the actual thing.

I have never skied either, so pretending I was competing in the downhill or giant slalom was a little more tricky. I tried to make my own skis but that didn’t work. I took the wheels off my skateboard and tried to slide downhill on that, but since the board was flat it mostly just dug into the snow.

So I did the next best thing, or what I thought was the next best thing. I would get a couple of tobacco sticks and stand on my sled and give that a try.

That worked, for like the first 10 feet or so, until I realized I couldn’t control which way the sled went. Most of the time my feet just came off the sled and I ended up flat on my butt.

Using the sled was good for pretending to be in a bobsled. I would just find a nice hill and try to make somewhat of a bobsled track. I would pile snow up to make the corners, but usually the sled just went through the snow and I kept on a straight line.

There was a time when I did manage to get a corner packed down with snow at the bottom of the road from our house, and the sled did fly around the corner and on down the road. Unfortunately it also made the road undriveable due to the packed down snow, so I spent the rest of the day shoveling the snow away so my dad’s car could get up and down the road.

I still get a thrill watching the Winter Olympics, I guess because of the speed and danger presented by most of the events. As a youngster I would have loved to have gone down a bobsled run. Today, I wouldn’t even think of it. Funny how time and age makes you rethink doing stupid things.