For today's edition of O.S.I.E. we are featuring the sports of curling, luge, and bobsled. Not your highest profile events, but whenever there are people involved there will be stories to be told.
During the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver the Norwegian curling team created quite a stir with their original and colorful in-game attire. Images and videos of the team went viral and sales of their pants were off the charts during the two week event.
Thomas Ulsrud, Torgor Nergard, Christoffer Svae and Havard Vad Petersson have qualified for the 2014 Games in Sochi and have revealed one of the outfits they will wear during February's event.
American luger Tucker West is featured in a great piece for ESPN The Magazine discussing his road to the Olympics. The main bulk of the story is about Tucker and his dad Brett who constructed a 750-foot-long wooden luge track on their property at their home in Ridgefield, Connecticut. After watching the luge event in Salt Lake City in 2002 the pair became inspired by what they saw on TV:
"We just thought, Boy, doesn't that look like fun?" Brett remembers today. Almost immediately, he disappeared into the backyard and started building a run out of snow and ice. There are pictures of Tucker, smiling brightly, making his first slides on plastic toboggans. "I was just super stoked that we had this awesome sledding hill," the 18-year-old says today.
The problem with snow, of course, is that it melts, and most dads might have let their passion evaporate with it. "I came up with the dumb idea of building a wooden luge track," Brett says. Nearly every word of that sentence is an understatement. Brett is not a carpenter; he owns a media company. Without any of the requisite experience, he spent the next spring, summer and fall designing and building a run, complete with banks and drops and chicanes. Every Friday night, he would head to Home Depot and bring home another load of pressure-treated lumber and plywood, and every weekend, he and Tucker would measure and cut and bolt another section of track that, at its peak, extended 780 feet.
"It was a bit like Noah's Ark," Brett says. "The neighbors would come over and say, Whatcha building?'" The following winter, an expectant Brett iced down the chute with a garden hose and prepared to launch its first test subject: a bowling ball. The ball clattered and caromed down the track -- until it reached what the Wests were already calling Devil's Curve. That's where the ball went airborne, rocketing over the side and crashing into the trees. Father and son shared an uneasy moment of silence.
Brett broke down the curve and rebuilt it, and after sleds loaded with sand had found their way safely to the bottom, the West Mountain Luge Run was ready for human trials. Tucker insisted on the honor. Brett took a position in the middle of the run, "ready to perform CPR if needed," he says, mostly joking. (He had also stacked hay bales, just in case.) But the track, and Tucker, performed beautifully. "It was quite the experience," he says. "I went straight down, and I'm still alive to this day."
In 1988 the Jamaican Bobsled Team took the world by storm at the Calgary Olympics. Their story was immortalized by the Disney movie 'Cool Runnings' and became a legendary tale of what can be achieved through positive thought and teamwork.
Well, the Jamaican Bobsled Team is going to be back at the Olympics in Sochi (their first Olympics since 2002). Their two-man team qualified for the world games last week. There was a problem, however. The team had poured their entire budget into simply qualifying for Sochi and had nothing left to actually attend the games. This seems ridiculous to us here in the US and Canada...but keep in mind that this is Jamaica and I don't think they have much of a budget for the Winter Olympics.
In a true sign of the times their story went viral and, in only two days, the people of the world had raised the required $120,000 to send the two-man team to the Olympic Games.
This is not the heart-warming story of the original Jamaican Bobsled Team. The Jamaicans are regulars on the Bobsled World Cup circuit...but simply seeing the black, yellow, and green sled barreling down the run will, most certainly, induce smiles world-wide.