Rio Rancho Observer reporter Matt Hollinshead

It’s been wonderful to turn on my television every morning — and at least once or twice in the evening — for the better part of this month to watch the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Aside from seeing the world’s best vying for medals, I can tune into something other than the anger porn plastered across the internet, television screens and social media.

From redistricting, crime, COVID-19 mandates and other touchy topics here in New Mexico, to national talking heads and politicians running their mouths and provoking people, to tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border, there’s always something that feeds into this contentious political environment.

It’s so visceral, it consumes us into misery and unrelenting rage.

It’s sad that the Olympics are reaching their end, because it’s been that occasion where we can hope, aspire and be genuinely happy about something bigger than ourselves — even if the person or team of interest hails from another country.

And the 2022 Winter Olympics have generated their share of stories that have nothing to do with politics and bitterness, and everything to do with making history, resuming triumph and making you smile ear to ear.

China, the host nation, made its debut in men’s ice hockey against the United States on Feb. 10 — an 8-0 U.S. victory — then found the back of the net for the first time in its history two days later, scoring twice against Germany.

China even had several minutes’ worth of solid opportunities to notch its first goal in the final moments against the Americans, thanks to a couple U.S. penalties that eventually turned into a 5-on-3 advantage.

I admit, I wanted to see China score a goal against those blasted, bloody Americans and bear witness to history.

And there are those who showed the Winter Olympics aren’t just for the youngsters.

Claudia Pechstein, speedskater from Germany, became the oldest woman to compete at the Winter Olympics — just a couple weeks shy of turning 50. Johan Clarey of France won a silver medal in the men’s downhill alpine skiing competition — becoming the oldest medalist in alpine skiing at age 41.

Oh, and let’s not forget the likes of Nathan Chen (men’s figure skating), Chloe Kim (women’s halfpipe snowboarding) and other Americans bringing home additional gold medals in their events.

That’s what the Olympics have done in these turbulent times recently: giving you a much-needed breather from the drama of politics, conflict, you name it.

More importantly, it reminds us all that we can envision something bigger and better for ourselves and our futures.

It reminds us that we as human beings can aspire, and then inspire.

For this short period of time, that’s why the Winter Olympics prove to be a necessary distraction.