The view from the edge

Night view of Sochi during the Olympics  NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Night view of Sochi during the Olympics
NASA Goddard Photo and Video

We’ve had a soggy two months over here in the UK.  There’s been buckets of news, politicians looking splashy and lots of advice about staying away from windswept edges.

It’s damp, and worse than dull, unless you add some fright that’s why the Channel 4 documentary Don’t Look Down, shown in mid-January, was so good for us.  As we splodged carefully past the Thames with our waterproofs buttoned up to our chins, one of our own, James Kingston, and his Ukranian friend Mustang Wanted, were hanging, single-handedly, from metal bars 250m above the earth.  The following clip, not to be practiced on anything other than pavement cracks, gives you an idea of what they were up to.

The Don’t Look Down spike in our viewing adrenalin proved a good warm-up to the Sochi Olympics.  With the bar set high for alarm, we’ve settled down in the damp to warm up in the athletic sunshine being beamed around the world from Russia.

It all got off to a great start.  In the women’s snowboard slopestyle Jenny Jones spun into British history somehow managing to look as if she might have been any one of us.  She is, as she herself has said in interview, ‘kicking on a bit’ at 33 but that just adds to the glory of being the first Briton ever, in 90 years of the Winter Olympics, to win a medal on snow.

On St Valentine’s night, we had to brace ourselves all over again. Another British female was aiming for an Olympic medal, a gold medal, in the skeleton. We listened to the commentary in a buffeting wind on the M25. The turns; the ice; the speed; the tension; the rasping rush of victory earned at over 79 miles an hour, horizontal inches from a brutal ice face – Lizzy Yarnold delivered.  If you want some idea of why and how try this link

Then there’s the ice-hockey where Mr Putin has ordered a gold for Russia.

Two days ago, a young American T J Oshie, skated into ‘match winning goal’ history in front of a seismic Russian crowd.  The shootout, aimed at breaking a two all deadlock, remained even after each team had sent out three different champions.

The USA then chose Oshie to face down the Russians for as long as it took – they put the 27-year-old out on the edge and left him there.   The home side, to roars, hurled players towards the American net while T J Oshie quietly took his time, his pace more meander than menace.  He missed a couple but in the shootout total scored a vital four, each puck delivered in the manner of a man presenting flowers.  It was unexpected and hair-stiffeningly brilliant.

So, thanks to the Olympians and others, the wet has felt less wet.  Now, as Somerset drains and the pumps are primed a little harder, those of us lucky enough to still have power can sit back to watch more of the fearless in flight.

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