As the Summer Olympics quickly approach, I’m reminded of how much I wanted to be an Olympian. Honestly, didn’t we all dream of Olympic glory as kids? I remember watching figure skating during the 1984 Olympics. I went to my bedroom and put on a pair of PJ’s that most resembled a figure skating uniform (one with ruffles of course). I ran out to the family room where Katarina Witt was on the television skating and I started twirling and jumping around. The fact that I couldn’t stick any landings barefoot on carpet led me to the realization that I likely wouldn’t stick any landings while gliding on ice.
Following the Olympic Games in Calgary in 1988, my quest to be an Olympian was renewed. While I had no problem dreaming big, I also recognized my limitations. I had no talents. I was not particularly athletic. Well, this seemed like only a minor obstacle to me as I remembered seeing some pudgy looking athletes during the parade of nations. I thought about every single Olympic event and started making a list of sports I felt required the least talent. Gymnastics was out as I had only mastered the front and backward roll. I wasn’t a fast enough swimmer and certainly wasn’t graceful enough for synchronized swimming (I really didn’t like the look of the nose plugs anyway). I started to lose hope and then one day, I remembered watching the luge competition. These folks merely laid on a sled and went around an ice track. That was it. They weren’t running, jumping or holding their breath. I was pretty good at laying out and taking naps and didn’t think this would be all that different. Yes, luge would be my sport. I was meant to become a luger.
I wrote to the United States Luge Association and made them aware of my interest in the sport and asked for a packet of information so I could begin my training. I would be the Mary Lou Retton of luge. A few weeks later, my information packet arrived and I devoured it (not literally of course). Yes, this was perfect. I read about training camp, the type of equipment needed and a plethora of other useful information. I filled out my questionnaire form quickly as I needed to get it in the mail ASAP. I got to the end of the form and noticed I would need sign-off by one of the parental units as I was only 14 at the time. No problem. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have an Olympian for a daughter? I took the packet to my mom and let her know she needed to sign it so we could get it in the mail and start preparing for my 16 days of glory.
A few days later, my mom notified me she would not be signing my permission form. Umm, why? Being the intelligent woman that she is, she pointed out that we lived in California where we did not have snow.
Where would I do my training? I was prepared for this question as I had recently seen a special on TV. While I would someday get to the point in my luge career where I would need to live & train with other lugers, I had some time. I could train on a sled mounted to wheels and practice my skills going down mountain sides or hills (paved roads were preferred). Of course, I would need a helmet so we would need to go to K-Mart to get one I pointed out. I was relieved that I handled her question with such poise. Much to my dismay, mom had another concern….the chance of injury. I somehow missed the section about dismemberment, decapitation or death. Of course she would find the one negative thing in the whole application! While I tried to assure her I would be fine given my natural aptitude for the sport, she wasn’t buying what I was selling and threw my application away. With that one crumple, my Olympic aspirations were crushed. If I did not start my training immediately, I would not be ready for the next Olympics. And by that time, I felt I would be too old to be successful as another generation of talent-less hopefuls was behind me. No, this was my last chance.
I sometimes wonder what might have been had my mother not worried about possible decapitation and would’ve signed off on my dream. Would I have gone on to medal? Probably not in my 1st Olympics, but definitely in my 2nd! :)