If you grew up in the 80's and loved skating and gymnastics then you might know what I'm talking about. If you rooted for Ecaterina Szabo instead of Mary Lou in '84, then you definitely know what I'm talking about. And if you're intensely familiar with the town of Olomouc, then this may make you drool a bit. Grab a washcloth, you've been warned.
It appears that by this time tomorrow night, I may be the proud owner of an authentic, true, swear to god, honest Team Russia jacket. My partner in crime, Jess, arrived today and I just got an email from her saying that SHE GOT THE TEAM RUSSIA JACKET!
Apparently, it's right down the street from the hotel. So tomorrow afternoon, I arrive to Vancouver around 2pm. By 3pm, I fully expect to be standing in front of a mirror, deciding which jacket I will be making my very, very special, most-treasured souvenir from the 2010 Olympics.
When I was young, I was completely obsessed with all things Soviet Union. I still have vivid memories of sitting on my mom's bed during the 1988 Olympics, watching Katia and Sergei win the Olympic gold medal in their baby blue costumes. I would sit for hours at the library reading the book on the Bolshoi Ballet school. And I would watch my gymnastics tapes over and over again, totally transfixed by all the athletes from the soviet union.
There was something mysterious and magical about all those girls. They were so calm, so confident, so... it wasn't arrogance, but there was a royal quality about them that made them appear so self-assured. I was fascinated.
I wanted to be them.
And I would guess that just about every girl who watched gymnastics and skating in the 80's felt the same way.
The absolute worst thing to happen to skating and gymnastics was the fall of communism. The level of excellence disappeared. The facilities disappeared and the talent pool just wasn't there anymore. But worse, the intrigue and mystery was gone. Sigh.... dam peace makers.
Ok, well, it wasn't all that bad. The former greats from the soviet union started defecting to America and Europe (right after their vodka haze cleared up and allowed them focus on packing.) And then the whole world benefited from the training. Tons of skaters including America's 2 top ice dance teams are trained by Russians. And America's last 2 olympic champions in gymnastics were both the product of russian coaching (and russian blood in Nastia Liukin's case)
So I guess there's just more Russia to go around now.
And darnit, I want a piece of it!
I WANT A TEAM RUSSIA JACKET!!!!!
stay tuned.... tomorrow could be epic.
(btw - Olomouc is the town where the 1984 Friendship Games were held - the Soviet Bloc alternative to the Olympic games. True gymnastic fans know that the REAL olympic champion that summer was Olga Mostepanova.... ok, all right, enough gymnastics nerdiness... it's the winter olympics after all!)