Latinos are not big winter sports people. Skiing, snow boarding, ice dancing, and luge racing are as foreign to most of us as insider trading or cloning household pets. The truth is, we don?t know how to do them and besides, they look really dangerous.
Those "Latinos" who joined the Ski Club in High School now consider themselves "Hispanics" and cite the former figure skating champion Rudy Galindo as a glaring exception to my theory. I choose the word flaming rather than glaring.
My earliest experience with anything close to snow was being beaned behind the head with a snow cone, expertly thrown like a SCUD missile from the balcony at the New Mission Theater at least 40 something years ago. It was cold, wet, wild, embarrassing and ultimately a bad experience.
It is with this visceral sentimentality I view the Olympiad 2002.
We are not sure if our parents ever experienced enough snow to be big fans of the three-dimensional weather white stuff. We never went on trips to the mountains to see the snow, and snow was somehow an invention of Gringos to make their winter holidays more clean and festive.
I can just imagine trying to explain to my Dad why I needed a couple of hundred bucks so I could slide down the side of a eleven-story icy mountain on two sticks. He would probably retort that there are plenty of hills at Dolores Park, exhort me to pull the wheels off some skateboards, and practice on the grass until I was good enough to pay for my own trip to the snow. And take my brother, while I was at it.
Alternatively, asking Mom if she would mind if instead of me skiing all the way down that Trans-America building looking mountain, If I could see how far I could jump? She would no doubt comment that I was like my Dad?s family.
It is amazing to me the time, skill and dedication it takes to race downhill in and out of gates at breakneck speed. I am a motorcyclist and have no fear of going ridiculously fast. It is the falling off, or the real threat of a Sonny Bono/George of the Jungle exit which concerns me.
It seems impossible for these people to have regular jobs. It's not the downhill trip that takes the time, it's the walking back up with a sprained posterior that can kill a whole afternoon.
My wife and I, though, do like the couples ice dancing. It seem romantic and I venture to guess that throughout the years there have been earnest and dedicated Latino couples who started out as elegant ice dancers only to get their lovely partner pregnant before the finals.
Latinos traditionally cannot get too sensually involved on whatever artistic level without procreating. It is hard to do a triple axle after giving birth to a 14-pound chamaco. It is even harder to find another ice dancing partner after a history of turning dance mates into baby mamas.
I enjoy the ice racing, but have a problem with the hooded body glove costume that makes the muscular thunder-thigh racers look like 'pelon' florists from outer space. One can only imagine if young Chuy came home from practice dressed from head to toe in shiny blue spandex, only to meet up with Papa and his compadres watching a pay-per-view WWF match.
The only sport I would like to try is the luge. It is very close to the barrio sport of cardboard box sliding down the side of a hill. Although rare, logistically you usually need to find at least a refrigerator-sized box to get four of your homies together for a run.
The single man luge is the easiest to reproduce. All you have to do is lay on the back of your skateboard and roll yourself down the hill. With any luck you will not have to cross any parking lots and if you do, hope that the lot is for a country western bar so you can easily slip underneath the high four wheelers with no problem.
Big problem if it?s a lowrider hang out.
Kids do not try this at home: such activity is only to be done in the snow by un-employed professionals who hope to win shiny medals and lucrative athletic company endorsements.
It is comforting to know that there are corrupt judges even in the cutest of sports. It does not make boxing or voting look so bad.
Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos Hernandez is a screenwriter and columnist living in northern California, but comes to LA quite often to visit his career.