(Not) The Only Olympics Person You Know

February 20th, 1998. I was one day away from being seven years old.

It was some odd hour of the night – late, at least for an almost-seven-year-old. I was sitting on my parents’ bed, watching Tara Lipinski react to winning the ladies’ figure skating gold medal over Michelle Kwan in Nagano. And I. Was. MAD.

And so begin my Olympics memories.

I have a grand total of ZERO from Syndey. Like I’ve said before, the Winter Olympics are my thing, and always have been. I was one of those little girls who ate, slept, and breathed ice skating. Way back when, skating in America was far and away the best in the world, and I was at the perfect age to appreciate all the elaborate professional tours. Those names stick with me, even 13 years later – Kristi Yamaguchi, Kurt Browning, Scott Hamilton, Katerina Witt, Katerina Gorieva, Nicole Bobek, Rudy Galindo, Brian Boitano… catch my drift? Ice skating back then was AMAZING. (My parents taped a gazillion of those shows for me. I wonder if we still have them…)

Anyway, the point of that: I had a much more localized interest in the Olympics when I was younger. Apparently Sydney was a non-entity. I shake my head sadly at my nine-year-old self.

I credit Salt Lake City and my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Mueller, for adding fuel to the fire that became my growing addiction. Those Olympics were a big deal! I’m sure that’s because they were on our turf, and I’m so thankful that they were; I have some great memories from that class. There was a huge map of the country outside our classroom, in the hallway. Every morning, a different person got to go online to see where the Olympic torch was that day, and then go stick a pin in the map to mark its position. When the Games finally started, we each got to choose from a list of athletes and sports to “cover”; we had to watch our athlete compete and report to the class on how well they had done, and fill out a worksheet on the results of the sport we chose. I had Kirsten Clark (a downhill skier), and ice dancing. My best friend Jen had Kelly Clark, the snowboarder, who I’m pretty sure won gold. Snowboarding happened before skiing, and on the day of Kirsten’s event I remember Jen telling me, “she’ll do well, she’s a Clark!” – yeah, I’m pretty sure she did NOT do well. :P

I don’t know if this was unique to my class or if the other classes did stuff like this as well, but Olympic fever was in full swing that year. For our yearbook, we had to write what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be an author & Olympic athlete.

I’d say my career goals are fairly consistent with what they were in fifth grade, no? Funny how things work out. :)

2002 was also the year of Sarah Hughes! Michelle Kwan lost the gold medal again in Salt Lake City, but this time I was ecstatic! Long Island had a gold medal figure skater! And she won on my birthday, no less! Molly slept over that night, and we spent the night on the den floor, wrapped in sleeping bags, grumbling about how much we hated Irina Slutskaya. When Sarah won, we jumped around the room and were borderline screaming with glee (at midnight – whoops! Sorry to my sleeping family members!). Newsday ran a poster of her within the next few days, and it hung on my bedroom wall for years.

My grandparents visited Salt Lake City not long after the Olympics ended, and came back bearing gifts – a t-shirt, keychain, and pins galore. I’m still rather obsessed with the shirt. It’s huge, and I sleep in it all the time.

That year, EVERYONE was an Olympics person.

I don’t remember what I did during the summer of 2004, other than that I watched the Athens Olympics ad nauseum. That was back in the days when HD TV was a novelty, and on DirecTV, those channels didn’t air commercials. So the Olympics were commercial free, and instead featured copious amounts of Greek scenery.

Let’s suffice it to say that I’m looking into studying abroad in Greece next year. And this is seven years later, folks. Gorgeous would be an understatement.

My memories of Athens are extremely vague, and there aren’t that many. I remember swimming consumed everyone’s lives because of Michael Phelps (and this is when Gary Hall, Jr. swam! Woo!) But for some reason, the thing that sticks out in my mind is when the cauldron was extinguished. It was modeled after the torch, absolutely giant, and the flame was at the top of the stadium. To close the ceremony, there was a little girl brought into the stadium, who blew out the torch like she was blowing out a candle.

Because it was summer, these Games weren’t as big a deal as Salt Lake. I have no recollection of whether or not I knew if anyone else was watching them. I think I just assumed that everyone else was as into it as I was.

But in 2006, that illusion was ruined forever.

The day after Torino’s opening ceremony, I bounded into school, bursting with excitement to talk to my friends about it. Imagine my disappointment when I was met with blank stares, casual shrugs, and “nah, I didn’t watch it. I don’t really care.”

I was aghast. They didn’t care?! About THE OLYMPICS?! How is that even possible?!

This was the beginning of my metamorphosis into “the only Olympics person I know.”

Man, if I had a nickel for the number of times I’ve heard someone say that. “Oh, of course it made me think of you, Darci! You’re the only Olympics person I know!”


For instance, let’s go back to that day in ninth grade. I sat down at the lunch table and asked if anyone else had watched the Olympics, simply as a last ditch effort, no longer expecting a yes. But Chandini gave me that yes! It turns out she was (and is) just as obsessed with it as I was (and am), and equally as confused as to why nobody else was. For the next few weeks, every lunch period consisted of a lengthy discussion of the previous night’s events, including some serious swooning over Apolo, figuring out how to spell Il Pomodoro Volante, and wondering why the curling match had suddenly gone all Technicolor for a second there.

I may be the only Olympics person YOU know, but thank god I’m not the only Olympics person I know! I have someone that understands my lack of a social life for three weeks every two years, and who freaked out with me when I got the chance to interview a guy who competed when our parents were barely teenagers, and who counted down to Vancouver 2010 with me when there were still over 1000 days remaining (and celebrated when it hit triple digits!), and who I’ll be sitting next to when I attend my first Opening Ceremony. Love you, girl!

Beijing 2008 passed in a haze of Italy. I was in the land of leaning towers, gondola rides, and gelato for almost exactly the entire duration of the Games. I saw the Opening Ceremony – which is definitely one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, bar none – several days of scattered competitions as I was home packing, scattered competitions when I had a free minute or two in whichever hotel we were in that day, and the Closing Ceremony. That’s it :(. Somehow I managed to see Usain Bolt become the fastest person in the history of ever (though I might’ve blinked and missed him, now that I think about it). I saw some sailing, some race walking (true story), and some weightlifting. I had to read about Michael Phelps winning his zillionth gold medal in an Italian newspaper I found in a little café we stopped in to go to the bathroom. The Closing Ceremony was on the night I got home. It was late in New York, and even later in Italy (hooray jet lag!), but I didn’t stagger into bed until the cauldron had been extinguished and the flag had been passed to Vancouver’s organizing committee.

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ve already heard my Vancouver saga, so I won’t go into too much detail. But during Vancouver I found myself another Olympics person! Ali, who I hadn’t spoken to in ages (and hadn’t seen since the summer of 2007, which was when we met), bonded over a shared love of Apolo and Shaun White. We started texting daily, and still keep in touch very regularly over a year later :).

Since Vancouver, I’ve also discovered a fellow Olympics enthusiast in Lindsay, a fellow member of The Hurricane’s editorial staff. We’ve spent many a walk from practicum to the newsroom chatting about all things Olympics, ultimately culminating in her demonstration of Sarah Hughes’ weird toe loop takeoff technique in the middle of the UC breezeway. Who says tabling isn’t fun?

Hm, writing this at 1:30 in the morning might not’ve been the best idea… I think I got a little off-topic and ramble-y.

But the point is, Olympics fans? You are not alone! You just think you are because you’re not being vocal about it, and nobody else is being vocal about it because everyone just assumes that they’re alone in their interest.

Being vocal leads to great things, though. When I tell people what I want to do with my life, their eyes get big, and they exclaim “that’s awesome!/that’s so cool!/oh wow!” To which I respond “trust me, I know!” ;). And being the only Olympics person my mom’s best friend knows has certainly come in handy… but I don’t want to jinx that (still), so I’ll save that topic for later. Being vocal also lead to Gary Hall, and my being assigned the story on Coach Deem.

And being vocal about my passion will one day lead to blog entries written from inside one of the Olympic training centers as I eagerly await the start of my internship.

One day, I'll make that little fifth grader's dreams come true.


  1. We might still have some of those tapes...I'd love to see Kristi Yamaguchi and Kurt Browning in Aladdin on Ice one more time!

  2. You have a plan that enhances your chances of making your dreams come true. Continue to aim for the moon.