Baker’s Man

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Are you excited about the upcoming Winter Olympics? I admit it; I am. I grew up in Alabama, where winters were cool, damp and decidedly ice-free. To me, the Winter Olympics might as well have been the Martian Olympics. The mundane endeavors of running and jumping, showcased in the Summer Olympics, could not, in my mind, rival the spectacle of skiers flying down mountains, both figuratively and literally. And all that snow and ice, 24/7, although nobody said “24/7” back then. Apparently, I wasn’t the only American glob smacked by all those cold-weather heroics. In that age of innocence, before the Olympics was a grinding industry anywhere except East Germany (We were assured!), the Winter Olympics was not our event. The United States could go an entire Olympiad and consider itself lucky to bring home a couple of bronze medals. That just made winning more special, and for a few brief weeks in dreary winter, my heroes would be speed skaters from places like Wisconsin or Michigan, and I would marvel that places like Innsbruck actually existed.