Soundtracking: The Winter Olympics

Monday, March 5, 2018 - 6:18pm

.

Illustration by Betsy Stubbs

I’m back, facade up and ready to soundtrack once again.

The Winter Olympics — the only time America is actually invested in sports like ski slalom and shuffleboard on ice. In an effort to declare our country the global champions of snow, millions of Americans gather around the TV for the month of February in their homes, libraries or respective newsrooms to witness heartbreaks and triumphs. We laugh, we cry, we stare in awe but most importantly, we recognize our own athletic limitations, because I don’t know about you but I could never perform remotely close to the athletes who complete triple axel double-sided backflips while juggling chainsaws in the Winter Olympics.

My career with sports has not been the most decorated. In third grade, my baseball team won our league championship. With my trophy in hand, I ran home and celebrated the victorious season. Eventually, I memorialized that season by making my first email address username, “baseballchamp7.” At our final team party, my coach posted our batting averages and I ran to see how much I had accomplished. Babe Ruth’s record, here I come.

.000

I didn’t hit a single ball. I was walked a few times but my championship victory had clouded my actual stats, convincing me I was the true baseball champ. From there, everything went downhill for sports, as I favored the summer musical over joining a soccer team with my friends.

What I don’t understand about the Winter Olympics is how I, a 20-year-old child, am missing my Kobe free throws into trash cans while THESE 14-YEAR-OLDS ARE WINNING GOLD???

Fountain of Youth — Local Natives

At the age of some of these Olympic stars, I couldn’t hammer a nail into a set piece without taking a breather. I couldn’t run a mile if my life depended on it, yet these athletic icons can complete front flips and side twists and whatever else they do while strapped to a literal piece of wood going a million miles an hour down a halfpipe. Some of these Olympians are just now going through puberty. Can you imagine being broadcast on global TV after winning a gold medal, only to voice crack during the interview?

Sometimes I like to imagine what the Olympics would be like if — instead of this whole “training for your entire life and qualifying for a spot on the national team” thing — we randomly selected representatives from each country to participate in the winter events like the “Hunger Games” lottery. Possibly no athletic experience, but you just have to try your best and hope the judges respect your valiant effort.

I’m 99 percent sure if my name was called to represent the United States in some wild event like the ski jump, once everyone saw my build and lack of athletic potential practically written on my face, everyone in the country would throw in the towel and accept defeat.

Represent — Nas

Think about the ski jump for a minute — participants are strapped into long poles that make them look like scuba divers walking with flippers, positioned at the top of a steep hill, pushed down, launched into the sky at 60 miles per hour and expected to land on the skis and be perfectly fine.

How people survive this jump, I have no clue. I’ve tried standing up on a sled and have eaten the ground on every attempt after .5 seconds of motion. Just looking at me, everyone would know I was going to fail. I would be shaking in my boots just looking at the jump. If I can’t watch the event on TV without flipping out and staring slack-jawed, what makes you think I would be a solid representative for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics?

This is why I like the random lottery idea for the Olympics — everyone is an underdog.

Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog) — Brett Dennen

I love rooting for the underdog: Cool Runnings, The Karate Kid, Erin Brockovich. All of ‘em.

In this imaginary Winter Olympics, I would be the ultimate underdog — Air Bud.

No one expects Air Bud to be good at every sport known to man (or dog), yet he always comes out on top. Against all odds, a dog can beat a human in basketball, soccer, volleyball and all of the other franchise installments. I’m pretty sure the Olympics viewers would have more faith in a golden retriever on skis than they would have for me. Even I would trust Air Bud to come home with the gold.

With my skis, helmet and lack of confidence, I’d somehow maneuver my way to the top of the ramp despite only having skied twice in my life. Skiing lessons at Pine Knob when I was 10 would not have prepared me for this event. Despite there being no way to confuse the initial starting point, I know I would look like a cartoon and eventually find myself facing backward away from the ramp.

Movin Backwards — A Tribe Called Quest

My Olympic debut would look like a Charlie Chaplin routine but there would be absolutely nothing funny about it to me. I would be terrified. Cameras would flash as announcers and spectators would question my decision to launch off backward. Some would say, “He’s gotta be insane,” but others would be more optimistic with thoughts like, “Let’s hope his tactic works out.”

Just then, I’d hear the countdown but we all know I’d accidentally start heading down the hill too early, waving my arms frantically, calling for them to stop the ride so I can get off. However, this ride has no red button to stop.

I’d gain speed despite constant shifts of balance. My knees would be absolutely locked out of straight fear. As I hit the final lip, with everyone expecting me to break my legs, I’d see the crowd shield their eyes.

Never a good sign.

Closing my eyes, I’d feel nothing below my skis anymore. My only savior — the ground — would be far gone.

Off The Ground — Anderson Paak

In the wise words of Vanessa Hudgens and Drew Seeley (this is the hill I want to die on): “We’re soarin, flyin.”

I think me and everyone else watching at home would just be surprised I made it this far. Maybe I was the true ski jump champion we all needed. I’d set records, innovate the sport and retire early to make more time for Sports Illustrated interviews and writing my memoirs.

But this isn’t how this daydream is destined to end. I think too lowly of myself to have it end triumphantly even though it’s my own dream and I can do whatever I want.

The moment one of my skis touched the ground, and I mean one and not both, the pressure would be too much. The weight of high-profile celebrity status coupled with my inadequate physical condition would cause my legs to buckle and my body to hit the tightly-packed landing, not making for a soft descent into a blanket of snow.

Shake, Rattle and Roll — Sam Cooke

Have you ever seen an actual person start rolling down a mountain so quickly they form into a large snowball, constantly picking up more and more mass as gravity does the rest? Well, I like to think I’d be the first to accomplish this during such a widely-broadcasted event.

It says a lot about my upbringing that I dream in cartoon tropes but this is what I would suspect would happen. Any dreams of me being Air Bud would immediately be crushed and I would become a gigantic ball of disappointment barreling toward the finish line. A safety hazard, yes, but also a beautiful sight to see. I’d be the best bottom third of a snowman the world had ever seen. Forget ski jump, that’s my new Olympic event.

Dazed and Confused — Led Zeppelin

Hitting the bottom, birds would travel around my head like planets in orbit and I would probably forget my own name. The interview after would hopefully make it on the Daily Mail Snapchat story.

I guess I’m just going to stick with staring in awe at the next Olympics and heading to the Intramural Building when I can’t think of literally anything else to do with my time.