Already looking forward to Sochi

As hard as it is to believe, we’re just about a year away from the opening ceremonies of the 22nd Winter Olympics, which will be held Feb. 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Granted, preparations have been going on for a long time over in Sochi since it was awarded the Games back in 2007.
But for the general public, the hype will begin to snowball in the coming months in anticipation for what’s going to take place there next February.
Obviously, the main attention in this country will be with the men’s hockey team, which will look to win its third gold medal in the last four Olympics.
At this point, it’s yet to be officially confirmed that those currently lacing it up in the NHL again will participate in the Games, but I would suspect that you will see the best hockey players in the world suiting up in Sochi.
While there are those who would rather see amateur players, or the return of a true Canadian national team, compete for a spot at the top of the podium, the Olympics are big business when it comes to the marquee events.
For instance, the Summer Olympics have the top NBA players competing for a gold medal, the best in the world of tennis slugging it out in between a pair of their grand slam events to make the podium, and eventually will see the top golfers in the world competing in Rio de Janeiro in three years’ time.
Plus, since I don’t think that either the Canada Cup or the World Cup of Hockey will be coming back anytime soon, the Olympics are the closest thing hockey fans are going to have to a true international tournament.
Regardless, I’m sure that no matter what the decision ends up being when it comes to the participation of NHL players, the process of making up mock rosters for Canada’s squad will begin within seconds.
When it comes to the other sports at the Olympics which the casual sports fan only keeps an eye every four years or so, those athletes already are hard at work in preparation of chasing their dreams around the world.
Whether it’s a bobsledder, a short track speedskater, or a freestyle moguls skier, the men and women who compete in those sports have been working day after day over the last couple of years just to get ready for the chance to compete on the biggest stage of their career.
However, that does come with its inherit dangers.
Just ask star American skier Lindsey Vonn, who suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee, along with a lateral tibia plateau fracture, in an awful crash during a Super-G run in Austria yesterday.
Personal speaking, I couldn’t imagine having to work through injuries like that in order to try and compete in something a year later, let along the Olympics.
But Vonn, like many others who have suffered major injuries before the Games, will be hard at work as soon as she’s healthy in order to be on the starting line to race down the hill in Sochi.
Those who compete in the lesser-light events don’t get the recognition throughout the year that the athletes in the professional realm do, but they really should.
For the most part, unless you’re someone like snowboarding mega-star Shawn White, you’re not going to make a massive amount of money in the sport that you are competing in and you are just doing it for the love of the game.
And in a landscape where the top leagues in North American seemingly are bickering over money year after year, it’s quite a breath of fresh air.