Olympic Sports for Everyone

Who’s paying attention to Rio? The summer Olympics have some of my favorite events to watch: gymnastics and beach volleyball (neither of which I have any talent for actually participating in myself).

However, I can say from experience that the Finger Lakes region has multiple opportunities to get the hang of some of the other events – just ask 2012 Gold Medalist Meghan Musnicki (rowing) from Naples!

Because of the shape of the lakes themselves, we’ve got some perfect racing tracks for a variety of water sports. Canoes, kayaks, and swimmers alike can all train (or simply enjoy a nice day out on the water) alongside each other.

Watching the Women’s 8 this morning is enough to make anyone’s shoulders burn, but what experienced rowers always talk about (athletes and hobbyists alike) are the thighs-of-fire that feel like noodles after a strong tide.  And even my middle school swim team experience was enough to make me cringe in sympathy soreness as I watch Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps peel through the water.

While one of the fastest ways to get healthy, my favorite kind of water sport involves the wind doing most of the work. Sailing is certainly hard on the muscles, with or without a winch. But only the best at judging waves and knots are able to succeed at this particular event. From watching kids learn to sail on the little Sunfish boats to helping my grandfather on his 44-foot Morgan, I absolutely can appreciate the effort that goes in to sailing. It’s no surprise to me that it’s an official Olympic sport.

For those who might not be interested in getting wet, we’re also lucky enough to have some exposure to another Olympic category: Equestrian! I always tell people that the Finger Lakes are essentially “horse and wine country.” While I can’t say that I comfortably recommend mixing the two, I can say that this sport is near and dear to my heart.

With so many parallels between sports away and sports at home, watching the Olympic hopefuls duke it out in Brazil is strangely familiar and exotic at the same time.


Halie Solea 2013by Halie Solea

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