Every morning while I’m brushing my teeth I hear the Winter Sochi Olympic theme “Ima, saki hokoru hana-tachi yo” blaring from NHK News, reminding me that the Olympic season will soon be upon us. Watching the daily countdown gets me more and more excited.


I remember the 2012 Summer Olympics in London well – I was also in Japan at the time, watching the judo games from the flat-screen TV of a small Jamaican restaurant in Harajuku with some Russian, Korean, Bulgarian, and Japanese friends while we cheered on various countries. I surveyed the scene above the rim of my exotic rum drink and thought to myself, “Could it get any more international than this?”


Indeed, there’s nothing better than watching the Olympics abroad. And I think this year will be even more interesting because coming to Sapporo has meant coming face to face with winter sports for the first time.


Snow is so rare back home that schools shut down with just two centimeters of snowfall. It doesn’t get all that cold, either. So it goes without saying that my experience with winter sports was mostly limited to televised events. Sapporo, known for the Snow Festival and runny noses, held the 1972 Winter Olympics for which many sports facilities were built and are still in use today. Visiting these facilities inspires a strong yearning to try out winter sports. I’m not sure whether that yearning is a contagious bug caught off of other athletes, or simply the result of desperately searching for ways to battle the glum of a long and harsh winter, but since coming to Sapporo I’ve already had the chance to try out both ice hockey and curling for the first time. While I played street hockey back in the US, I instantly realized you need a whole different skill set on ice while clumsily slipping to-and-fro at Tsukisamu Gymnasium.




But what most surprised me was the sport I least understood the point of until recently: curling. “When you see it on TV you think to yourself, ‘What’s the big deal, I could join the Olympic team after 10 minutes of practice,’” my curling instructor at the Hokkaido Bank Curling Stadium in Tsukisamu pointed out what I was secretly thinking to myself. But upon my first step onto the ice in the specialty curling-use shoe, I immediately slid out of control. It was a strange sensation sliding around in a slippery shoe, completely different from ice skating. After mustering up some balance and giving the stone my best throw I watched it slide a mere three meters in front of me – nowhere close the fifty or so meter target. I thought to myself, “It’s harder than it looks!” Plus, curling is beyond a physical game –one needs the mental strategy of a chess player to play the game well. From my curling experience I’ve gained a lot of respect for curling athletes and their sport.




How about giving it a go? While trying out some sports like ski jumping on a whim are likely to leave you hospitalized, you can conveniently try curling at the Hokkaido Bank Curling Stadium where all of the equipment is cheaply available for rent. In my experience what you see on television is completely different from the actual thing, so why not give it a try before watching the Sochi Olympics this upcoming February?



カーリング 簡単と思えば体験しましょう!













いかがでしょうか、皆さん? 確かにスキージャンプのような危険スポーツをふと体験したら、病院に運ばれる可能性が高いけど、カーリングならどうぎんカーリングスタジアムで全部の道具が提供されていて、都合がよいときに体験できる。私の体験により、テレビと実際のものは全く別物なので、ソチの前に体験をしに行ってはどうでしょうか?