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Essay

Winter Olympic memories

By Deborah Davidson

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This month the Japanese media is full of news related to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It feels good to have an Asian country hosting the games again. But the Olympics that will forever be No. 1 in my memory are the 11th Winter Olympics, held in Sapporo in 1972.

To be honest, I am not that interested in sporting events. But the Winter Olympics are an exception. This is because they feature more sports and athletes that are familiar to us in Hokkaido. The Sapporo Olympics were the first Winter Games to take place outside of Europe and the United States. They were also the first Winter Olympics in which Japan won a gold medal, thanks to ski jumper Yukio Kasaya. It was also during the Sapporo Olympics that Japan fell in love with American figure skater Janet Lynn for her spunk and grace.

I vividly remember how dusty and noisy Sapporo was during the years it prepared to host the Winter Games. When the dust cleared, Sapporo was a shiny, new, futuristic city ready to receive visitors from all over the world. Life for Sapporo's citizens had improved too, with a unique new subway system and underground shopping malls that eased life in one of the world's snowiest major cities.

When my high school announced a special Winter Olympics holiday, I didn't expect to be able to attend any actual Olympic events. Thanks to a generous donation of tickets to Hokkaido International School, I was able to attend my first ice hockey match. I've been an ice hockey fan ever since.

However, I am a little embarrassed to tell you about the most memorable thing that happened to me during the Sapporo Olympics. Foreigners were still rare in Sapporo before 1972, and the local residents imagined that every foreigner they saw must be an Olympic athlete. Schoolchildren swarmed around anyone who looked like a foreigner and begged for an autograph — including me! I tried to explain to them that I was no one special, but they would not listen.

At first, I reluctantly signed the notebooks they thrust at me, hoping to make them go away. But more and more people demanded my autograph and I couldn't escape. So I decided to do something mischievous. I began signing my name "Lynn." It so happens that Lynn is my middle name, so I told myself that I was not lying. But I was blond, and I was close to Janet Lynn in age, so some people probably thought I was the famous American figure skater. Now I regret playing that joke. If any ST readers have my autograph from 1972, please forgive me and throw the autograph away!

冬季五輪の思い出

1972年、札幌で開催された冬季オリンピックを現地で経験した筆者。開催準備で変わっていく街並みや、競技を観戦したこと以上に思い出に残っている出来事とは…?

The Japan Times ST: February 9, 2018

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2018年4月27日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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