Happy Valentine’s Day! Also, happy 400th post!
It’s been all snow, play and Olympics here this week as the South copes with Winter Storm Pax. Monday the stores were jammed as people stocked up on essentials. Although I wish I had taken a picture of the man with a cart full of Moon Pies, I have to admit it was sobering seeing grocery shelves so empty. Our preparations included baking rupjmaize, digging out the boys’ snowpants and locating flashlights and candles in case an ice storm takes out the electricity.
Tuesday morning we awoke to snow, big heavy flakes that just wouldn’t stick. All day it came down, and although an inch or two collected along fences, tree branches and other cooler places, the grass had hardly an inch with roads remaining mostly clear. We took long walks, marveling at how the snow had stuck to everything but the ground. Although there was some traffic, it seemed as a large portion of the Upstate had settled in for a nap; although driving was supposedly slow going there were few accidents reported.
Wednesday morning it seemed like it would be back to normal… for about an hour. The snow started coming down again, this time conditions cold enough for it to immediately start sticking. The roads were covered in about 30 minutes, and the snow was deep enough for the boys to be outside playing in it immediately after breakfast. We had our fun, and then rushed indoors and shed our wet outerwear in a hurry. Huddled around the computer for the luge mens’ doubles event, we witnessing the Šics brothers Andris and Juris win a bronze medal, the first for Latvia in these Olympics. Then it was lunch with the Latvian hockey team who had a match with the Swiss. A nailbiter until the very end, the Latvian goalie had 37 saves with only seconds left in the third period when a man down at one end of the rink had them short at the other… and the Swiss scored with a little over seven seconds left in the game. Slightly disappointing, but considering Latvia has been written off as a contender, they put up a heck of a fight.
And the snow just kept coming, until late afternoon. Instead of attempting to drive to downtown to go sledding in Falls Park, we strolled down the block to a steeper section of the street. As next to no one was on the roads, we had the hill for our own winter Olympics luge event with about twenty other local kids. After the boys’ first solo run (in which they narrowly missed several obstacles and ended up almost underneath a parked car) we opted for team runs. Somehow they made another run by themselves, and this one didn’t end as well with a crash into a roadsign. Luckily the injury sustained wasn’t enough to preclude additional sledding, and soon the boys (including dad) were at it again, even attempting the jump older kids had built at the bottom of the hill. Then just as suddenly as the snow had begun it changed into sleet, with frozen pellets stinging our faces as we made our way home to hot chocolate.
Luckily our power stayed on (although some others further south weren’t as lucky). Thursday we thought for sure Greenville would be back to normal, but the warmer temperatures made for extremely slick road conditions, especially with close to three inches of snow still present. Whereas the snow the previous day was dry and powdery, today it was perfect for packing and so we spent the morning building snowmen before trying our hand at a few more downhill runs.
Coming in for lunch we put on the team luge event and watched Latvia slide their way to another bronze. The team members - Elīza Tīruma, Mārtiņš Rubenis, Andris and Juris Šics – were truly an all-star team, with Rubenis having medaled at the men's singles luge at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin (the first Latvian to win a medal at the Winter Olympics) and the Šics brothers with a doubles silver from Vancouver in 2010 in addition to their two Sochi bronze medals. Tīruma placed 12th in women’s singles this Tuesday. Also, read this article for the inspirational story on how Juris Šics survived a car crash not even three years ago after which he was told he would never walk normally again – only to double medal in these Sochi Olympics.
Friday at noon Sochi time (3am here), the Latvians faced off against the Czech Republic in their second round robin game in the tournament. With a final score of 2 to 4, they might have lost the game, but they played a good one, surprising the Czechs with their tenacity and aggressive game. Jānis Sprukts and Herberts Vasiljevs scored for Latvia, with the goalie Edgars Masaļskis having 35 saves. Then the Dukurs brothers Mārtiņš and Tomass had their first two runs in men’s skeleton, and now we have to wait until tomorrow to see if 2nd and 6th standing will translate to a gold medal. Saturday also brings the last round robin game of the hockey tournament against Sweden. Their seeding will be determined by this game, and then next Tuesday will be the playoff game for the four remaining quarterfinal spots (the top four teams advance directly). Needless to say that we’ll be glued to the television for a good part of the morning – sarauj Latvija!