Why I like the winter Olympics: They have an appeal that transcends age or experience. Even people who have never been near a ski hill or a luge run or a halfpipe can get excited. My parents, 70-something retirees who live in a small town in northwest Iowa (certainly not a mecca for winter sports), have gotten caught up in the snowboarding events at this year's games. "Did you see the halfpipe competition?" my mother asked me on the phone the other night. "Those snowboarders are unbelieveable." Now, to understand how amazing that conversation was, you have to know that my mother has never seen a snowboard in person and has never even visited a ski resort. She was a pretty good ice skater in her day, and one time, about a decade ago, I taught her to cross-country ski. But she's watching boarders complete 1080s and appreciating the effort. "If you liked the halfpipe, you can't miss the boardercross," I told her. She'll be watching.