THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT IN ACTION

IN FOUR DECADES as a sports fan and journalist, the most fun event I've attended was the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. I was just 13 years old and mesmerized by the variety of events and the peculiar and nuanced athletic skills, all set against the beautiful winter scenery. I can still picture ski jumpers soaring through the sky, cross-country skiers gliding through the woods with biathlon rifles across their backs, and curlers delicately pushing steel bowls full of concrete (aka "stones").

The most memorable part of my Olympic experience went far beyond taking in the sights. It was the spiritual joie de vivre that permeated Lake Placid. It seemed like everybody spoke a different language, but the camaraderie was palpable, even to a youngster like I was. With the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, taking place February 12-28, I was inspired to take a look at what exactly marks the Olympic spirit.

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