Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada celebrate during the venue ceremony after winning the ice dance, free dance figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Column: Olympics dominate the Citizen water cooler

I have the red mittens with the maple leaf on them from Vancouver 2010.

I love the Olympics.

I am an unapologetic Olympics fan (though not quite enough to get up in the wee hours of the morning to watch events live — I’m happy to see the replays during daylight hours). I have the red mittens with the maple leaf on them from Vancouver 2010. It’s one of the few times when I will turn on the television and leave it on all day.

But it’s not just a solitary sitting in front of a screen.

The Olympics brings us all together in a way that few other things do. It makes us fans of sports we wouldn’t ordinarily watch. We had a newsroom discussion of snowboard halfpipe on Wednesday — picture it, a group of 40-plusers jawing about a staple of the X Games (as if we knew what we were talking about — thank you TV commentators for making us all experts every four years). My sister told me she’s really enjoying the curling. It’s the only time I can ever get one friend to watch figure skating. My mom loves old-school ski jumping where they hang in the air like kites. Luge, bobsled, cross-country skiing — they’re all on my watch list.

We cheer, of course, for our guys (non-gender specific), but also for the downhill skier who is astonishingly here after a life-threatening crash. He or she becomes our guy, too. The next morning in the newsroom we gush over the performance of the legendary long-track speed skaters from Denmark as if he is a beloved relative in whom we take tremendous pride.

We love that our team’s uniforms are considered cool, our ice dancers sexy and trending on Twitter, and we’re outraged that our short-track speed skater has been abused by online trolls after winning bronze.

Because the Olympics make them all one of us, whatever us of which we normally count ourselves a part.

Some have become incredibly (and understandably) cynical about the whole affair, what with the Russian doping scandal, and the increasingly prohibitive budget countries have to fork over to build the infrastructure to host the event. These are sour notes, to be sure. I’m one who thinks not nearly enough has been done to punish the Russian dopers (and more importantly the whole apparatus that produced them) who stole glory from deserving athletes in Sochi.

But for two weeks I can put that aside and just enjoy the feeling of being a part of something bigger, vicariously attaining heights I will never achieve for myself. That’s worth a lot. And not just to me, judging by the chatter around the proverbial water cooler.

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