For two weeks this year I was obsessed with the Winter Olympics. I love the competition, the occasionally cheesy commentary, the scandal, and, of course, the inspiring personal stories. I spend most commercial breaks Googling the Olympians to learn about the struggles they’ve had through various competitions and personal tragedies. The fact of them competing at the Olympics is already impressive but once you dive into what they’ve had to overcome, it becomes a spectacular feat. Sports have always struck me as the most obvious thing to write about, as the stakes are always based upon that one final competition. Now that there is an Olympic-sized hole in my life, I’ve been trying to fill it with fiction stories based around winter sports. Here are a few I’ve found!
The Hopeful by Tracy O’Neill
A figure skating prodigy, sixteen-year old Alivopro Doyle is one of a few “hopefuls” racing against nature’s clock to try and jump and spin their way into the Olympics. But when a disastrous fall fractures two vertebrae, leaving Ali addicted to painkillers and ultimately institutionalized, it’s not just her dreams of glory that get torn asunder, but the very fabric that holds her fragile family together.
Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley
Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire: a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But most of what glitters in her life is fool’s gold. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend’s girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is only after her for her father’s name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains—the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has—can Syrah rehab both her busted-up knee, “and” her broken heart?
The Winter War by William Durbin
When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers to help the war effort. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front line, skiing in white camouflage through the forests at night.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
The Ski Dream by James P. Warner
In the excesses of the ’60s and ’70s, a boy from a small town in New Jersey finds inspiration, friendship and love in the exciting, decadent world of skiing. Sunny Warner dreams of becoming the fastest, the best skier on the mountain. Follow Sunny from growing up in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, to Stowe, Vermont, on to one of the greatest ski areas of the west, Sun Valley.
Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War by Jeff Foltz
Two years after her son Hakon’s birth, Inga is with her husband, King Hakon, in the besieged fortress of Lillehammer. The enemy, the Crozier army, is certain to overrun Lillehammer. Once the Croziers breach the walls, they will kill Inga’s child, heir to the Norwegian throne and the prince who may unite the country. To save little Hakon, King Hakon asks his two best warriors to flee with his son for the safety of Nidaros (present-day Trondheim). It s a long and dangerous journey on skis through two treacherous winter valleys and over a 7,000-foot snow-blown mountain. Willing to risk everything for her son, Inga insists on going with them. For eight harrowing, exhausting days, they’re pursued by a cadre of enemy soldiers bent on killing her child.
Dream Big, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi and illustrated by Tim Bowers
I couldn’t not include a piece of fiction written by an Olympian! Poppy is a waddling, toddling pig with big dreams. She wants to be a star! But she soon discovers that’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s only when Poppy feels the magic of gliding and sliding, swirling and twirling on ice that our most persistent pig truly believes in herself: Poppy, star of the rink!