I was snubbed by the U.S. Olympic Ski Team

Winter Olympics - winners podiumDear U.S. Olympic Ski Team:

Congratulations on an outstanding Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. And hey, that 18 year-old Mikaela Shiffrin was impressive on the giant slalom. Well done. I just have one minor complaint to register: Why did you leave me off the team? I contacted you last summer, telling you I wanted to try out for the men’s freestyle aerials or half pipe or any alpine event you guys thought might attract babes. But nobody ever replied to my text message – which by the way I typed in ALL CAPS to get your attention.

I have to say, as qualified as the team members you selected may have been, your decision to leave me off the roster is confounding. I demand an explanation. When I attempted to get on the team plane for Sochi, one of your staffers refused to let me board. I must say he was very discourteous, even after I flashed him 100 rubles to let me get past.

I demand to know why you refused to let me compete with the rest of the skiers. Was it because I’m 59 years old, and the next oldest competitor was 37? News flash: I checked, and age discrimination is totally against the law. Besides, I may be almost 60, but sometimes I use Grecian Formula (dark brown), making me look closer to 52.

Was it because you learned I was married to a Canadian and you questioned my loyalties? Or were you worried my wife would get into a cat fight with the American women’s hockey players? Or maybe you learned about my humor blog and worried I might write a sophomoric column which would spark an international incident. I doubt I’d do that (although I confess I’ve never met a Russian figure skating judge I trusted).

Or was it the minor technicality that I failed to show up on the date of the U.S. Olympic trials last December in Park City? That’s extremely unfair…and, besides, it was totally my wife’s fault. That was the weekend she insisted I cut down a dead tree in our backyard. Took forever. Or perhaps that was the weekend I overslept. Either way, both are highly plausible excuses for why I was not able to make the trials. I texted, asking about a make-up trial date, but nobody responded to that text either. Do you guys even read your text messages?

Or perhaps you’re going to bring up the trivial fact that I’ve never actually competed in any of the alpine events. True, but I had trained rigorously for weeks in anticipation of the Olympics. As far back as last November, I implemented a rigorous workout regimen to prepare me for any number of alpine events. I don’t like to brag, but I mastered several events in the video game Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games – Sochi 2014. I totally rocked in the ski jump competition, even beating out the computer dude from Austria.

Winter Olympics - flat on snowTo get my body into shape, I began a high protein diet of unsalted peanuts. I eliminated cinnamon-sugar donuts from my diet for the past three months. Every day I drank two-liter bottles of Mountain Dew Voltage because in all of their ads they showed buff dudes performing awesomely rad stunts on mountain bikes and snowboards. And another thing: in preparation for the Winter Games, I completely overcame my fear of chair lifts (they’re so high off the ground) and made enormous strides towards overcoming my fear of snow.

I can’t believe you didn’t even give me a chance to prove myself. I was 100% mentally and 85% emotionally prepared for the intense pressure of these games. I may not have been in quite the shape of some of your younger team members, but I am completely over my injury from last June when I pulled my back out getting out of the recliner after watching a ten-hour Duck Dynasty marathon.

Sure, it’s possible I might not have been the fastest member of the squad. But whatever I may have lacked in speed, endurance, strength, flexibility, agility, sense of timing, self-discipline, work ethic, raw talent and peripheral vision, I more than made up for in heart. And isn’t heart what really matters in the end? For without a heart, all of us would be dead. There wouldn’t even be an Olympics. Besides, my cardiologist cleared me for brisk walking, and my cholesterol is down to 234.

I’m not saying I would have won the gold. I could have had an off day and slipped to silver or bronze. Heck, I might not even have medaled at all. It’s possible I might have stayed up all night playing Mario and Sonic at the Sochi Winter Games and slept right through my start time. I do that sometimes. But we’ll never know for sure because you guys didn’t even give me a chance. Thanks, USOC.

You can’t possibly imagine the heartbreak I’ve suffered as a result of your unfair decision to shut me out. Does your child have hopes and dreams? If they ever want to try out for a girls’ rec soccer team, they’d better hope I’m not the coach. I would hate if their application accidentally got shredded – just like my Olympic dreams.

Winter Olympics - in air and landedBut I partly blame myself. Perhaps I was kidding myself with my dreams of Olympic glory as a freestyle aerial skier. The more I think about it, I was always more of a luge man anyway.

Still, I’m no quitter. That’s why I’ll soon be hard at work preparing for the U.S. trials for the next Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. I can’t decide which event to try out for – pole vault or synchronized swimming. I really excel at both video game events.

I’d better wolf down that sleeve of Double Stuf Oreos right now because starting tomorrow, they’ll be almost totally off my diet plan. I want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure I won’t be left off the plane again as it flies to Rio for the Summer Games in 2017.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook. And wish me luck as I prepare for the next Olympic Games. I feel that it just might be my year – especially if they make Angry Birds an Olympic event. I’ve already made it to level 17.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014

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  • Published On Feb. 26, 2014 by TEJ
  • 4 Comments


    1. Holly
      2/28/14

      Tim, maybe the U.S. Olympic Ski Team snubbed you because they found this video of one of your practice runs. http://www.jibjab.com/view/w9pRxYa9QOeO9J51U8wC-w

      Would you REALLY have been able to compete after a fall like that?

      Love your blog!!


    2. Drew Fisher
      2/28/14

      I share your outrage, Tim. What we need to do is get a time machine and roll back to 1988, when the U.S. Olympic team won a grand total of six medals (2 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze) in Calgary, which, when I was there covering the games for NBC Radio, was located in Canada. This year, of course, the U.S. medal count was — what, 593? And that’s just gold medals. See, in 1988, the Olympic team was so bad, it would have welcomed you with open arms, even though that’s bad form for skiing. 1988 was the last year of the storied rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the last year there was an East Germany (meaning it was also the last year that there were East German judges). East Germany’s Katarina Witt naturally won the women’s singles figure skating, stealing the gold from American medical student Debi Thomas, who fell twice, providing herself with a golden — uh, bronze — opportunity to use her medical training. For the people of Calgary, the happiest moment was when a Canadian skater named Liz Manley won the silver. Can you imagine that? People rejoicing over something less than gold? That was also the year the Jamaican bobsleigh team (that’s what they called themselves) made its first appearance, and the year of Britain’s Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, whose dreadful ski jumps actually endeared him to the world. Oh, those sad old days before greed and professionalism took over the Olympics…Tim, you would have been a natural. Of course, you would have had to change your name to Tim Gold — oh, wait, that didn’t work in Sochi, did it?


    3. Seth
      3/3/14

      Tim, upon reading your story, I have become motivated. I am starting to train for the next Winter Olympics, in four years. I have always liked the ski jump, but the half-pipe looks really exciting, as well. Now, given your experience, they will probably complain about my not having ever done either of those two events. Now that I think of it, I’ve never done anything on skis except ski down mountains. How hard can it be to learn? I mean, I did get my Ph.D. Oh, and I even learned to change the time on the VCR! The selection committee will probably dredge up the fact that I can’t walk and I don’t have very good balance.

      Despite all of that, your story makes me feel as if I can do anything, no matter how inappropriate or delusional…

    4. Remember Wizard of Oz where Dorothy wishes ” … to dare to dream the dreams that really do come true…. ” Well her dreams turned out be delusional too, so not even Hollywood fiction can make their wildest fantasies come true.

      But maybe instead of the skiing competitions, you can invent new Olympic Sports. How about the winter snow shovel – back-throw-out- twist … or the car- won’t -starter-jump.

      Thanks for your blog. Keep it up.

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