With the PyeongChang Winter Olympics just around the corner, it’s time for the debate that hangs over every Olympic season: which is the most enjoyable, Winter or Summer? Staff Writers Rachel Schaefer and Josh Buser argue for their favorite.
Rachel Schaefer: What is the most significant moment in U.S. Olympic history? From my perspective, it’s the 1980 Miracle on Ice. In a time before ‘dream teams,’ amateur U.S. players were sent to face-off against career Russian players in the heart of the Cold War. The Winter Olympics are by far more enjoyable than the Summer Olympics. Hockey aside, they have figure skating and speed skating (remember Apolo Ohno? Of course you do). They’ve got downhill skiing, moguls (low-key the best skiing out there), ski jump and don’t forget snowboarding (remember Shaun White? He’s going to PyeongChang with a new haircut). And they have luge, skeleton and bobsled (The Jamaican bobsled team, guys). Plus, everybody’s favorite event, curling. I have my own favorite event, but I’ll wait until part II to mention that one. Suspense is everything in journalism.
Josh Buser: The Summer Olympics is so much better than the Winter Olympics. There’s really no argument to be had here. Track and field and swimming are by far the best Olympic events of either season and both carry the summer every four years. If the Miracle on Ice is the most significant Olympic moment in U.S. history (which I won’t argue), former summer stars Jesse Owens and Michael Phelps are not far behind in second and third place with their memorable performances. And that doesn’t even include all the iconic U.S. gymnastics moments in the history of the Games. Running around a track is far more relatable than skating around a rink, and watching somebody slide down a hill by themselves while only competing against a clock isn’t nearly as exciting as the head-to-head competition you get in swimming. Let me know when luge or bobsled pits multiple competitors against each other at the same time, and then maybe they’ll be entertaining enough to watch for more than three runs.
Schaefer: I disagree that events performed individually aren’t as exciting. There are plenty of sports in the Winter Games that are exciting and performed individually. I’ve already mentioned some, but now is definitely the time to introduce my favorite event in either season: cross-country skiing. I take a lot of heat for this, but it’s all unsubstantiated. If you have never taken the time to watch a cross-country skiing race, you are severely missing out. Truthfully, I have never screamed at my TV louder than during an Olympic cross-country skiing race. In addition to the excitement of this sport, there’s the incredible variation that is the Biathlon. It’s cross-country skiing but with guns. You have to be a good shot, and if you’re not, you get penalized by taking an extra lap around the shooting range and taking your shots again. It combines skill, speed and accuracy. The very real fact of the matter is that being a cross-country skier requires a level of athleticism that few other sports can live up to. It’s one of the most physically demanding sports at the Games. The only exception in my mind (and this is where I give the Summer Olympics just a tiny bit of credit) is water polo. Biathlon races are long and grueling, but they are beyond enjoyable to watch and I hope everyone takes the time during these games to check them out because I don’t think you will be disappointed. This sport alone makes the Winter Olympics superior for me.
Buser: Admittedly, I’ve never even heard of Biathlon, but it sounds intriguing so I’ll tune in to give it a chance. However, one event that piques my interest doesn’t come close to the number of summer sports that provide incredible entertainment. Outside of the Big Three of track and field, swimming and gymnastics, team sports like soccer and basketball both shine bright under the sun (despite the fact that basketball is generally a winter sport…). As you said, water polo is severely underrated when it comes to Olympic sports, as well as the great events of diving and handball. But my personal favorite event might be men’s and women’s beach volleyball. The amazing athleticism it takes to run around in sand while jumping and diving all over the court is extremely fun to watch, and the dynamic duo of Misty May and Kerri Walsh had one of the most dominant runs in Olympic history with their three consecutive gold medals while dropping just one set. The Winter Olympics are fine, but while I’m watching these next few weeks, I’ll undoubtedly be wishing it could be 2020.