The black and white set at my parent's house on Wakefield road in Rosemont was in a spare upstairs bedroom that acted as a "den" or as it was known: "The TV room." On Winter Saturdays my brothers and I would eagerly await the famous introduction to the Wide World of Sports. We watched these broadcasts to see the downhill and the ski jumping. Blurry images of ski racers from venues with exotic names like Kitzpuhl, Austria or the Hannenkam, Cortina or Lillehammer. These grainy grey TV images were essentially moving cave paintings when compared to today's 50 inch HD plasma cable sets.
Still. we loved watching the skiing that Jim McKay narrated for us. We jostled for position on the couch as the program began. "Ouch, move over....your feet smell....stop jiggling your leg you're shaking the couch...gimme another Oreo before you finish 'em...shut up its starting...I said shut up....Ohhhh!!!" We always grimaced and yelled in unison when poor Vinko Bogataj was shown getting creamed at the bottom of the Ski Jump.
I did not start skiing until I was 12, but even in the early 70's we loved to watch the sport on TV. Jean Claude Killy was cool as Hell and we wanted to be him...actually the first and only time any of us wanted to be a Frenchman. Redford was just as cool in "Downhill Racer" and this film likely fed our interest in watching the Saturday afternoon Downhill competition. McKay described it all to us like a worldly uncle. When the races were on...we quieted down until the commercials when I, being the youngest, would inevitably take a brotherly beating for some trumped up infraction that had allegedly taken place when one of the skiers was whizzing across the convex 19 inch screen. The tiny white digits in the corner...timing by Longines...were a primitive precursor to the "screen in screen" split time millionth of a second results we get today.
These days, despite my 46 inch HD Samsung with 1080 P and 1,000,000 :1 KHZ and a picture that looks more defined than real life, I cannot watch the World Cup Downhill. The coverage is sparse at best and unless you have a dish network you are not getting to see Ted Ligety compete at Wengen this weekend or the beautiful Lindsey Vonn or the equally fetching Julia Mancuso tackle slopes that would make most of us call for a ride from the Ski Patrol vehicle. You can see some coverage on-line. But it is not the same.
It seems we have to wait every 4 years to see the Olympic coverage. Where the Hell is Sochi, Russia anyway?