I should preface this by saying that the Winter Olympics bore me to tears and that my understanding of its strange customs are, charitably put, limited. What is the difference between ice dancing and figure skating? How does one judge a snowboarding competition with points? How do the knees of downhill skiers not just, like, spontaneously combust?
Regardless, this is that time of the year when we put everything aside and agree that full-throated nationalism is a cool and fun thing that we have always enjoyed. And, lucky for us American Jews, we get another plucky little country to root for!
Israel has sent ten members to the Winter Olympics this year, the largest delegation in the history of the country. For perspective, the U.S. will send 242 athletes, 13 of whom, as of this writing, have already won a medal/contributed to a medal-winning team. Also keep in mind that two of Israel’s competitors are American Jews.
Why do warm weather countries even compete in the Winter Olympics? The first country below the equator to medal in any winter sport was Australia, and that was in 2002. What a colossal waste of time and resources.
The Israeli figure skating team finished eighth out of ten in the short program, finishing last in both the ice dance duet and women’s solo. They needed to be in the top five in order to reach the finals. Aimee Buchanan, whose mother is Israeli, scored her personal best during her solo skate, which is awesome; she was nearly 40 points behind the leader, but hey, it’s the Olympics, so that’s still pretty damn good.
Unfortunately, the figure skaters now bid us all shalom, but Israel still has competitors in skeleton, alpine skiing, and short track speed skating ready to go for gold!
So you see, it’s not all doom and gloom. For your viewing pleasure, check out Kiev-born men’s skater Alexei Bychenko twirling about to “Hava Negila” in a performance for which he finished second in his category, the highest finish for an Israeli.