Monday, 15 February 2010

The white stuff

Watching the Winter Olympics in America is a little different from in the UK. For one thing, you're suddenly in a country which is likely to win medals, and lots of them - and to a Brit, that makes quite a change. You can even get excited about your adopted country winning - I was definitely rooting for Apollo Ohno in the skating, and even half-cheered, I am ashamed to say, when the two Koreans in front of him crashed out just before the finish line, nettting him the silver medal.

The TV coverage is relentlessly Team USA-biased; they'll show all the American contenders, but cut to an ad break when a non-American athlete is doing that impressive ski-jump or waiting breathlessly for their figure-skating scores. While I'm sure we'd probably be the same in Britain if we had lots of athletes who were going to 'medal' or even 'podium', it is rather amusing when you're a foreigner.

We also had a giggle at the NBC studio where the pundits sit and discuss the Games - a sort of mocked-up ski lodge, complete with roaring fireplace and comfy armchairs. I couldn't swear to it, but I think there may even be antlers on the wall. A bit different from the usual rather sterile BBC studio....

The Games have coincided with a sudden burst of winter sports activity in the Nappy Valley household. Having decided to forego a skiing holiday this year, until Littleboy 2 is old enough for a lesson or two, our ski clothes have nevertheless been put to good use by the huge blizzard which dumped over a foot of snow on Long Island last week.

Yesterday was spent sledging with friends on a local golf course. Littleboy 1, in his usual fearless fashion, put his sled at the top of a steep hill and simply set off. Unlike the more cautious Littleboy 2, who bails out at the first sign of speed, wiping out does not seem to faze him in the slightest and there seems to be nothing he likes better than to end up flat on his face in the snow. He has already announced that he wants to try ski-jumping 'when I'm big like you, Mummy'. (I think I might have to try to steer him towards a safer sport. Like golf...)

Today - a bank holiday - we braved the local outdoor ice-rink for the first time. At first it did not bode well; I felt exhausted and tetchy before we even reached the ice, by the time we had got everyone's boots off, ice skates on and laced, and gloves and mittens attached. Of course neither boy could even walk in the skates, let alone skate; meanwhile I had only skated twice before, as a teenager in Hong Kong, in a tiny rink in the middle of the swanky City Plaza shopping mall (which seemed completely normal then, but vaguely bizarre now).

The first circuit was pretty comedic and stressful, with flailing boys and lots of shouting. But the sun was shining, the air was crisp and - perhaps inspired by last night's magical figure-skating - I was soon enjoying the sensation of gliding slowly over the ice. The Littleboys even improved with a few turns, holding onto our arms and throwing wistful glances at the tiny American tots who were already bombing about (why are THEY going so fast, Mummy?).

So, just when we were beginning to seriously tire of the winter here, the snow and the Olympics have conspired to make it fun again. As I write The Doctor is dragging the boys around the garden on their sled, while I am enjoying a cup of coffee and some Nordic skiing (on TV, that is. I am not that energetic.). I don't even particularly mind that more snow is forecast for tonight. And, although I'm sure that in a few weeks I'll be dreaming once again of living in a warm, Mediterranean climate, last night's conversation even had me agreeing with The Doctor that Vancouver would be a nice place to move to next.....

14 comments:

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Glad you are enjoying the snow. Got to admit, I've had enough of it, but am LOVING the winter Olympics. Now we are into waching the snowboarding. They are bonkers. Raving mad. My boys are not ever going to be allowed to do it, although they obviously will pay not a blind bit of attention to their mother!

Michelloui said...

We were in the States for the last summer Olympics and my English hubby (and former athlete) was going crazy with wanting to watch the Olympics but completely hating the American coverage. The attitude by American commentators was very much 'what? that little country sent one person? Why BOTHER??!!' It was really embarrassing.

Expat mum said...

I was just going to say - wait till you watch the Summer Olympics overe here. It's as if no one else is competing. I think the Brits do better in the summer but I can't remember seeing much coverage at all.
But yes, I did cheer when the two Koreans wiped out and the US took silver and bronze, although I resisted the urge to chant U-S-A, U-S-A, which I always think is somewhat rude.

Potty Mummy said...

Be careful what you agree to; I find that long-forgotten conversations often get remembered and dragged up as justification for decisions like, say, moving to Moscow...

Iota said...

I enjoyed the opening ceremony, I have to say. Haven't watched much of the sporting activity yet, but I do like figure skating, so have videoed that.

nappy valley girl said...

Brit in Bosnia - yup, those snowboarders are total nutters. Fun to watch, though.

Michelloui - the main thing I am starting to object to is the adbreaks every five seconds, and switching from one sport to another without an explanation. I might have to DVR the whole thing....

Expat Mum - I seem to remember the commentators were virtually doing that....

PM - Yes, I can see how that might happen.....

Iota - I missed most of the opening ceremony, although did see that strange bit with a boy dangling on a wire over a mocked up prairie! Quite surreal....

angelsandurchinsblog said...

Golf isn't safe! Those clubs can do untold damage. And imagine the clothes. We're really enjoying the Olympics too, but it's hard to get excited about stuff Brits are actually good at, like curling. Mind you, apparently we stand a chance in one of those hurtle down a scary track on a tea tray races. All makes me feel terrified, I am such a wimp when it comes to adrenaline.

A Modern Mother said...

I love coming here and learning more about my home country. I could never articulate what watching the olympics HERE (UK) was like (as an expat), but now I think I can.

You can't come over in July can you? (cybermummy)

nappy valley girl said...

angels&urchins - No, I guess golf isn't safe - wouldn't want him turning out like Tiger, would I?

Susanna - No, very sadly won't be able to make cybermummy. I'll be back in late August, and can't really justify another trip over. But will be there in spirit!

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

My husband thinks Vancouver wd be THE dream city to live in with mounatins AND sea, so he cd ski & windsurf/sail all in one day!
By the way I live in a warm Mediterranean climate & it's freezing. 7 hrs north of Greece. we have snow on the mountains & the winters are wet,wet, wet! BUT at least winter is only 4 mths. The trouble i s the houses are geared up for a predominantly warm climate so houses are freezing, there's no central heating, just heaters or air cons wch blow warm air but never make u feel properly warm.
I pine for the idea of a proper winter with winter sports etc. But th egrass is always greener isn't it? And I wd get fed up with months of snow I think (unless I was living in a ski resort)

Nota Bene said...

I'm jealous. I love snow. And kids and snow is an unbeatable combination.

Vinogirl said...

I really don't like American Olympic coverage...here on the west coast, for one they pretend that everything is live (a big pet peeve of mine also at New Year and the dropping of the ball).
I have been to Vancouver, it is fantastic, quite British...including net curtains on windows!!!

nappy valley girl said...

NB - it's fab. And it has kept them entertained for the whole of half term. Playing outside just isn't the same when it's cold but not snowy....

Vinogirl - what really annoys me is that NBC won't show really exciting events like the downhill ski races live, but keeps them for primetime. It just seems unbelievably backward in an age of online broadcast media.

Heather said...

Okay this is quite funny! I am a native New Yorker now based in the UK. I was until 6 yrs in SW London. Off Northcote Rd by any chance? The reason whis this has made me laugh is I ALWAYS complain to my very English hubby how much coverage they give to the Brit sports in the Summer Olympics. And as you can imagine there is very little coverage of the Winter Olympics here. So I guess every country is guilty of the same thing - plugging the sports they are going to excel in. I found your blog on British Mummy Bloggers and shall definitely be stopping by again. Hope you are surviving the snow.