10. Needing cold weather gear far more than summer clothing
I've found myself envying the sweet hats and jackets all the winter Paralympians get, especially Sweden's sweet coats and hats. It's cold where I live. I have to find a way to PyeongChang in 2018 so I can get bundled up. It's a matter of personal survival, really.
9. Seeing athletes as old as my parents still playing
8. Wondering how a Norwegian military drill became a Paralympic sport
That's right, biathlon began as a drill for Norwegian soldiers. Ski really far, really fast, and then go shoot a gun. Repeat. I'm sure it's more nuanced than that, but from a layman's perspective that seems accurate. It looks like Russia's own Nikolay Polukhin will be a dominant force in Sochi in the visually impaired class, along with his guide, Andrey Tokarev. I can't believe what I just wrote. Just go watch visually impaired skiers shoot. I'm impressed
7. Watching sledge hockey players get in fights, and getting the smallest bit jealous
6. Cold and snow negatively affecting my training, not enhancing it
5. Watching alpine skiers go faster than my car does
4. Not getting to compete outside, in natural air conditioning
I know I just complained about the cold. But that's just for everyday living. Competing in the cold? I love it. I sweat profusely in some arenas. It's to the point where instead of a blood jersey, we have a sweat jersey for me. It's made of plastic and coated non-stick cooking spray. I kid, but seriously, I would love playing rugby outside. We actually did once, and it was sweet.
3. Constantly fearing that my next rugby opponent is right around the corner
2. ‘Only’ having a world title to play for this year
I've had people ask me if I am competing in Sochi for the Paralympics. And I say no, rugby is a summer sport, but we have World Championships this summer. Some people think that is great, and I do appreciate them. But I have had a couple people, strangers mostly, say "Just Worlds? Oh. That's … nice." I've never felt so lame for saying I'm competing for a world title.
1. Attempting various Winter Paralympic sports … and failing
I'll break this down by sport. I've tried ice sledge hockey, cross-country skiing, and I have actually tried biathlon. Yes, they let me and my sausage fingers fire a rifle … a laser one that is. Don't worry I didn't blind anyone. That I know of. And if I did, and you are reading this, I have got a sport for you. So biathlon did not go well for me. Sledge hockey, I was OK at. I would say my biggest strength was moving. I was very good at that. My weaknesses? Stopping. This made sledge hockey challenging to say the least. I invented a move where I would hit the boards, fall over, get up, turn my sledge around, and go. Feel free to call it "the Aoki" when you see sledge hockey stars like Brad Bowden and Josh Pauls doing it in Sochi, as I'm sure they will be. And Nordic skiing? Let's just say I am the first person to attempt to complete the local course here in my home of Minnesota backwards. Was this unintentional? Yes. Was it terrifying? Slightly. But am I proud to say I hold this distinct honor? I sure am. No pain, no gain.
I've had some fun here, but in all seriousness, I hope you all join me in watching in the Paralympics in March on whatever network carries it in your country.