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On the road to Sochi

Vox shows you how to watch the Winter Games like an athlete

February 6, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST

You’ve been training four long years for this moment. There will be no repeats of the cable mishap of 2010, and let’s not even talk about the NoDoz disaster of '06. The XXII Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, start today, and this is not the time for mistakes.

Watching the Olympics for 17 days straight could be an Olympic event. This kind of intense viewing is its own kind of marathon, one that requires training, dietary restrictions and, for live event viewers, a strict sleep schedule (ahem, no sleep.)

Culminated here are the tactics training experts recommend to best prepare and endure the event that is watching the Olympics. If you keep your eyes on the prize and follow the playbook below, you’ll be a gold-medal viewer.

1. Practice all-nighters

Sochi is eight hours ahead of Columbia, which means the difference is night and day. Die-hards who want to watch live events need to get on a nocturnal grind to catch all the action before social media ruins any surprises.

To get back to a regular schedule once the magic of the games is over, recommends you “force quit” yourself.

Remove distractions by setting a time on your computer to automatically shut off. Set an alarm that tells you when to hit the sheets in order to stop lingering at the computer looking for things to do late at night. Finally, avoid naps, advises. Sleeping for four hours during the day won’t make it any easier to sleep at night.

2. Meet your athletes

Shaun White: America’s “Flying Tomato” graces Team USA for a third time with his mad snowboarding skills. He invented the tomahawk trick, a 1260-degree double-cork McTwist, during the Vancouver games. What many might not know about him is that he endured two invasive heart surgeries before the age of 1. Meanwhile, most of us suffer heart palpitations climbing a flight of stairs.

Lindsey Vonn: The statuesque alpine skiing machine, who once took online classes through Mizzou, returns to the Olympics for a fourth time, but this time she’ll be in the broadcast booth. Vonn has faced several injuries in the past year and recently suffered a sprained knee ligament, which caused her to withdraw from the Sochi games. Now recovering from a successful surgery, the ski queen will show off her reporting skills on NBC instead.

Lolo Jones: Does this name sound familiar? It should, because you saw her at the Summer Olympics in London a short two years ago as well as in Beijing in 2008. The track and field star of the summer now transitions to bobsledding to make her first Winter Games appearance.

3. Where to go in CoMo

: Start your training now. You’ll need more tricks than Shaun White on a halfpipe to watch simultaneously on its five TVs.
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri., 4–7 p.m. and Sat., 7–9 p.m.

: Cheerleader houses 20 TVs and two projectors. It’ll feel like you’re in the bobsled with Team USA.
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri., 4–6 p.m. and 9–11 p.m.

International Tap House
: The newest locale on the list is no underdog with its boast-worthy 24 TVs.
Happy hour: Mon. to Fri., 4–7 p.m. Try a beer from a country in the games.

4. Map your diet

To perform like an athlete, you need to eat like one. Sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of Doritos will do nothing to fuel your endurance, says Samantha Thierry, a MU sports nutrition graduate assistant.
“We have our ‘FASTER’ performance diet that all athletes learn when they come here,” she says. “FASTER” is an acronym for:

· Fill up with fruits and vegetables
· Always hydrate
· Start with breakfast
· Think lean protein
· Eat often
· Rest and recovery

When amping up for the main event, Thierry says carbs are your friend, then use protein to recover. Afterward, cool down with some chocolate milk. It has the best ratio of protein to carbs.
For late-night munchies, go for low-fat string cheese as well as nuts, yogurt and veggies. Making dip from Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to gorging on junk food.

5. Know the controversy

This past June, Russian president Vladimir Putin set off a firestorm of backlash when he signed a law prohibiting “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” All of this came after the International Olympic Committee selected Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games. So as the world prepared to celebrate national pride and sportsmanship, there was concern that Russians and foreigners alike could have been fined, jailed or deported if they distributed information that endorsed or sparked interest in same-sex relationships.

Americans and people around the world proposed boycotting the games, but no country did. Some athletes and organizations have chosen to take a stand. Blake Skjellerup, a gay speed skater from New Zealand, says he plans to wear a rainbow pin to the games. LGBT clothing and accessory company FCKH8 intends to mail 10,000 coloring books depicting same-sex families to Russian children during the games. Many activist organizations are putting pressure on major Olympic sponsors, among them Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa, to condemn the new law.

Russian authorities have since stated that Olympic athletes and spectators will not be subject to the new anti-gay legislation during the games.

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