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Olympics offer students needed break from class

Megan Doyle | Tuesday, February 23, 2010

While students face academic challenges on Notre Dame’s campus in South Bend, their minds are easily distracted by the athletic challenges of the Winter Olympics taking place now in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Freshman Peter Kerrian paired engineering work with online recaps of curling matches during his study breaks.
“I have learned a lot about curling because I’ve been watching it on my computer for the past few days,” Kerrian said. “I think I could go out to play it and understand the rules.”
Student favorites tended to include sports less obscure and more intense than curling. Junior Aryelle Emison watched the United States hockey team upset the Canadians in a surprise victory Sunday.
“The game was so intense,” she said. “Everyone was really excited.” 
The intensity of the competition in the Winter Games draws fans to high-profile events such as speed skating and downhill skiing.
“The Winter Olympics are more exciting because so many of the sports have a chance of death,” sophomore Steph Lowe said. “You really get a sense of the passion and the competition because these athletes put their life on the line for their sport.”
Freshman Ally Scalo mainly follows pairs ice skating and downhill skiing. She mentioned gold-medal-winning American skier Lindsey Vonn as one of the athletes that she is following in particular.
“The Winter Olympics are fun to watch but they are a lot of random events just thrown together,” Scalo said. “I’m mostly a fan of the Summer Olympics.”
Preferences between the Summer and Winter Games tended to vary between students’ home environments.
“I prefer the Summer Olympics because I’m from Australia,” senior Xavier Burton said. “And we always have more representatives in those events.”
It’s not just the competition that draws students to watch the Olympics.
“The whole Opening Ceremonies is there as a spectacle,” Burton said. “I like the way that it can communicate a country’s culture.”
Burton has never participated in any of the winter sports featured in Vancouver but if given the chance to be an Olympic athlete in the Winter Games he would want to compete in skeleton events.
Sophomore Hal Melia felt a stronger connection with the winter sports going on in Vancouver because of his home in Ohio.
“I like the Winter Games because they create a connection with areas that have a lot of snow and not much else,” Melia said.
Not all students, however, have had the time to avidly follow the Games. Freshman Alison Collins admitted that she has not watched much of the coverage outside of the Opening Ceremonies.
“I wish I was watching the events,” Collins said. “I do not really want to watch people run or row a boat in the Summer Olympics, but I like pretty much everything from the Winter Games.”