It isn’t because you don’t know anything about luge, either.
During the Olympics, winners get gold medals, home country adoration, and probably the most euphoric high any athlete can feel. Years of hard work, training and sacrifice (and sometimes a bit of luck) turn into a Olympic glory. It is usually a singular moment for the athlete (or athletes) to enjoy, as the number of Olympic gold medal winners might be small, but repeat gold medalists are infintisimal.
So when you see that snowboarder fly down the mountain, knowing they’ve hit a great run, they are happy. Hell, they are even dancing to the tunes playing on the mountain venue. When their score goes up, jubilation and jumping and screaming and yelling. It’s pretty fantastic.
When alpine skiers hit the finish line, they know immediately what their time is … and if it is good enough to take the lead and a medal. If so, they jump and scream and pump their arms in the air.
But at the Olympic Sliding Center, it is a different story.
Sliding consists of Bobsled, Skeleton, and Luge. And when those athletes finish their run (combined times of four runs, usually), jubilation and joy can course through their bodies … but they have to be careful.
They are standing on a sheet of ice meant for high speed sliding, not jumping.
Bobsledders have it better than lugers. Their boots have spikes on them to help in the push start. There are usually sprinters and such digging their toes into ice as they shove the sled out of the starting gate.
Those bobsled boots give them the advantage over lugers.
The luger slides down a sled feet first, and his or her start is done by sitting on the sled and paddling with spiked gloves on their hands.
Their boots are slick and aerodynamic.
They may have to place a foot down on the ice to correct a mistake … while sliding at 80 miles per hour.
The boot has no grip. No spikes. Just heavily pointed toes.
So imagine you’ve just made the run of your life on a luge. And now imagine it was at the Olympics. On your fourth run, for a place on the podium with the best in the world. And you’ve never (not once) finished that high on the world circuit.
You’d be excited, right?
Hell yes, you would be. But remember, you have slippery boots on your feet; the ice below them is treated for speed; and if you manage to get your balance, please don’t give anyone a high five — you have spikes on your gloves!
What do you do?
You scream! You pump your fist (one handed, as your sled is in the other). And you try and get off the ice chute to firmer ground.
Only then can you celebrate with your coaches and teammates.
And then you may have to climb over more ice (in those booties) to reach family and friends who’ve traveled across the the ocean to support you, wave your country’s flag and scream your name.
Really, it’s pretty fantastic. Just watch your step.