Snow, frigid temperatures, wind chill. Had enough of another Cleveland winter yet? Depending on your frame of mind, the wide world of sports offers a lot of climate options to suit your mood.
Looking for sunshine, blue skies, green grass, and warmer temperatures than we have? Try the PGA Tour. For the next five weeks the players will be in California and Arizona. This week's tournament is being played at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Next weekend is the Waste Management Phoenix Open - this is the tournament with the crazy par three 16th, one of the few holes in golf where fans are expected to be rowdy and really loud. The classic AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am follows that from February 3-9.
Another hot spot is the Australian Open in Melbourne, where blistering heat has been a major story of the tournament so far. The finals will be played this weekend, Just completed, in the women's singles final, China's Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia for her second grand-slam title. The men's singles final will feature the number one player, Rafael Nadal of Spain, against Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, the 8th ranked player.
How about Daytona Beach? The classic NASCAR race, the Daytona 500, will be run on Sunday, February 23.
Finally, can spring be far behind when the Indians report to Goodyear, Arizona for Spring Training? Pitchers and catchers report on February 11, with the full squad do in camp on the 15th. Our home opener is Friday, April 4th against the Minnesota Twins. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then!
For those of you who don't mind the winter weather, there are major events coming up that will be contested outside. We've already seen one, the NHL Winter Classic, which was a huge success. Played outdoors at Michaigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, a record 105,491 tickets for sold for the game featuring the winning Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Detroit Red Wings. Temperatures in the teens and swirling snow did little to dampen the spirits of the huge crowd.
Coming up on Sunday, February 2 is the NFL's Super Bowl. This year's game between Denver and Seattle will be played outdoors in East Rutherford, New Jersey, not in a warm climate venue or a dome. Many fans think it's about time the game is played in real football weather. The long-range forecast is predicitng high temperatures in the 20s and lows in the teens. Since the game starts at 6:30 pm, the high temperatures won't factor in at all. It's going to be cold, for sure.
And what showcases and literally depends on winter weather more than any other sport? The Winter Olympics, of course, which will be held in Sochi, Russia from February 7-23. This year, unfortunately there is a lot more to focus on besides the athletic competitions. Terrorist threats have everyone on edge and warnings are being issued to athletes and spectators, especially those from the U.S.
No sports were eliminated from this year's Olympics, but several new ones have been added. Perhaps the most anticipated is Women's Ski Jumping. There has been Men's Ski Jumping since 1924. The U.S. is sending a 3-women team of jumpers to Sochi. Other new sports include team events in figure skating, biathlon, and the luge. In the luge, for example, the teams will consist of a men's singles sled, a doubles sled, and a women's singles sled. They will go down the track, one after the other, with the clock stopping when the third sled crosses the finish line. Finally there are a number of snowboarding and skiing competitions featuring big air and other tricks. A lot of talk and interest has been generated by these new entries in the Winter Olympics lineup.
You can watch virtually every event either on TV or online. NBC and its affiliates will be doing the broadcasting from the games. With the difference in time and the multi-media coverage, it's becoming really hard not to hear the results of the competitions before they are shown on TV.
Looking back, the 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver and the sport that it seemed everyone was watching and talking about was Curling. The sport made its Olympic debut in 1924, but didn't become a medal sport until the 1998 Nagano games. Originally played outdoors, the sport now is contested indoors with temperature-controlled ice, rocks or stones quarried in Scotland, special shoes, and brooms/brushes. The men's team from Canada is looking to take its third straight Gold medal. The women's team from Sweden will be defending its gold medal from 2010.
Looking ahead, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, while the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeonChang, South Korea.
No matter what your weather preferences are, there is always a sporting event, indoors or out, to provide some entertainment to get us through another Cleveland winter.