On February 7, the 2014 Sochi Olympics will open with all the pomp that the Russian government can muster – expect fireworks, children dancing, some form of music star singing, etc.
The folks at NBC will tell us how special it all feels. There will also be the subplot of how homosexual athletes may or may not be treated by a unsympathetic Russian government.
And, for 2 weeks, Americans will suddenly (and temporarily) care about things like the slalom, luge and triple-axel.
It’s a general truth that other than ice hockey, the events of the Winter Olympiad are ignored except for those 2 weeks every 4 years.
Heck, ice hockey even had dipped pretty far from the conscience of folks around here until the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and suddenly became a powerhouse in the NHL.
The Olympics – whether it’s the summer or winter – always present a challenge for sports sections.
If the Games are held in the United States, some of the pressure is off.
However, as is the case more often than not, the Games are usually held half a world away ... meaning that there is a time difference to deal with.
Television circumvents this by putting the most high-profile events in prime-time slots. So from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., America gets what it needs from the Olympics.
But, a newspaper is faced with either running a recap of what most people just watched or running previews of events that likely will have already happened by the time the reader sits back to read the paper.
For a section like us, the Olympic news hole is often small – especially in the winter, which coincides with postseason basketball and wrestling.
The other problem is that while viewers are more than willing to tune in to watch the Games, it’s hard tell how many people care enough to read about them.
Finally, it’s the job of this sports editor to try and make everything local.
To my knowledge, the Sauk Valley won’t have anyone competing in the 2014 Games. That eliminates the most obvious way to localize the most international sports event.
Just because the Sauk Valley doesn’t have someone competing in the Olympics, that doesn’t mean we don’t have locals that participate in some form or fashion in the sports of the Winter Olympics.
So that’s the Sauk Valley Challenge for the 2014 Games.
We want to hear the stories of the folks who cross-country ski across empty fields for exercise or for the joy of the sport. Maybe they even turn it into a biathlon, and target shoot along the way.
Maybe there’s someone out there who travels to play in ice hockey leagues, or has been practicing their figure-skating jumps.
There are dozens of sports in the Games, and it’s likely somebody reading this does them in their free time.
If you do – and you can deal with talking to a reporter and taking a couple photos – let me know. My contact information is next to my mugshot. It is also in the box in the bottom right-hand corner of this page.
We’d like to make the 2014 Olympics something to remember in the Sauk Valley, even if no one around here wins a single medal.