This year I’m watching the winter Olympics much more than I usually do. Working a 9 to 5 job means that I look forward to coming home and watching t.v. in the evening. Consequently, I’m watching it in a much more routinized way than I have in the past.

In addition to relaxing, watching the Olympics has been particularly fun this year for a few reasons. First, I’m watching different sports than I usually do. In the past, I pretty much only watched figure skating. The women’s and men’s competitions have always been fun to watch, since I would be fairly familiar with the major competitors, since figure skating is on television throughout the winter. I’ve especially enjoyed watching the men skate, since many of them seem so gay (whether they really are or not).

But this year I didn’t watch the men’s competition, except for a few minutes of one or two skaters who had no chance to medal. In many ways, this year’s competition seems like a repeat of years past with the same skaters vying for medals. More significantly, I think, I’ve simply lost interest in the sport. So many articles have come along lately about trying to butch the men up and about the way in which Johnny Weir has been penalized for his flamboyance. For a sport that revels in gay clichés, it seems a shame that it’s so homophobic. I’ve also been reading about how the sport is dominated by anti-gay evangelicals, which, whether true or not, just seems to reinforce the image of a self-loathing sport. Are these guys actually ashamed to be figure skaters? Ashamed of artistry and performance? It just seems sad.

So, I’ve been watching other sports instead. Of course, as a gay man what gets me immediately interested in watching a new sport is seeing a hot athlete performing at his peak. So, I’ve noticed that the sports I’m watching all feature hot men. Consequently, I decided to organize the rest of this post around my five favorite men of the 2010 Olympics. Bode Miller gets all of the network attention, but these guys are the real reasons to watch the Winter games!

In choosing these male athletes, I haven’t inquired into their personal lives or their views on gays. For all I know they may all be as homophobic as figure skaters. But they’re hot, which has gotten me watching their sports. And maybe seeing these sports here will spark my interest in watching them in other venues as well.

Apollo Anton Ohno

Like most Americans, I’ve followed Ohno through his various Olympics and during his competing on Dancing with the Stars. He’s totally adorable, I think, and seems genuinely likable. I don’t have any particular opinion about the Koreans’ accusing him of cheating, but I’m on his side of the argument!

Short Track Speed Skating is an adrenaline rush to watch. All of the jockeying for position, the crashes, and, of course, the speed, makes it extremely exciting. It’s like watching race cars but without the fear of explosions and possible deaths.

Even without that fear element, however, I can’t sit still while I watch it. I find myself dodging left and right as Ohno skates around each curve in the track. The primary loser in this mimicry is our cat Paisley, who’s been trying to sit on my lap while I’m watching the race. After about the third lap around the track, however, I have to dump her and move around. It’s very exciting to watch.

And finally, as this picture of Ohno suggests (if you look closely), the men’s uniforms are very form-fitting, allowing us to see every curve of their bodies, front and back. Very nice.

Alexandre Bilodeau

The first real feel good story of these Olympics was Alexandre Bilodeau‘s gold in the moguls, which was the first gold medal won by a Canadian while Canada hosted the winter Olympics. It was moving to see him finally break this home-court curse. It was even more touching to see him interact with his disabled brother, who was watching him ski from the crowd.

I don’t remember ever watching the moguls competition for any length of time before. This year I watched both the men’s and the women’s competitions. It was amazing to watch the competitors try to keep their knees together while skiing over a bunch of bumps and then perform two aerial tricks (also while keeping their knees together). I watched long enough to be able to tell when someone was doing a great job from someone doing just ok. I saw Bilodeau’s run live and was extremely excited that he won. It’s such a great story.

Jason Smith

Curling is not a sport that I’ve ever gotten into previously. And like most people, I’m still not sure it’s really a sport (though I did read several people’s accounts of how much effort it takes to push the stones towards the house, or target).I’m also amazed by how often you can find curling on t.v. — NBC is covering it extensively. I’ve gotten kind of addicted to it!

What caught my eye initially was Jason Smith, one of the American players. He’s totally hot in a slightly geeky sort of way. (And I always think geeky is hot!) He and his friends put together a team, won the U.S. Olympic trials, and are now competing in Vancouver. They lost their first four games, but they seem to be making a come back. I hope they continue to do well, because I enjoy watching them play.

Curling originated in Scotland and dates back to Medieval times, but it has only been an Olympic sport since 1998 (there were two demonstration events in 1924 and 1932). Fundamentally, the game seems to be about velocity and aim, and teams score by getting stones closer to the middle of the target than the other team.

I think curling is so appealing because it looks like a sport we could all participate in. As you watch, you can’t help but think, “I could so that!” There ought to be more curling clubs in the United States!

Mark Tuitert

Dutchman Mark Tuitert defeated Lani Davis for the good medal in the 1500 meter sprint in speed skating this weekend. (He’s the one on the right in this picture.) This picture isn’t from the Olympics, and it’s obvious why I chose it — their uniforms can be a little revealing. But the reason I liked Tuitert is that he looks a bit like a rock star.

I recently read on Huffington Post that the Olympic Village was stocked some 100,000 condoms, because the athletes are young, hot, and randy. Seeing him take off the hood of his uniform and shake his hair out a bit after skating his race was enough for me — if I were a hot, young female athlete in the Village who met up with him, I’d definitely be interested! Too bad he’s married.

I’m not quite sure that it’s in the athlete’s best interest to show so much of himself, but I choose to believe that he’s just cold from the ice!

Simon Ammann

Last, but not least, in my list of five reasons I’m watching the Winter Olympics is Simon Ammann, the double gold winner in the ski jump. I have occasionally watched ski jumping in the past — it’s an exciting sport to watch. It’s as if the skiers are becoming flying squirrels or something.

I remember watching this event in 2002, when Ammann also won gold in both the long hill and the normal hill events. So, when I turned on the t.v. and the finals were on, I sat down to enjoy the event. I was then delighted to see Ammann compete again and do so well. I remember liking him then; he’s grown into a good liking man! (I love the pictures of him on the Internet wearing glasses — again, geek chic!)

The other thing that I found interesting about this year’s ski jumping competition was the commentators’ discussion of the men’s weight. One explained that the ideal body size for ski jumpers is medium to tall and lean, very lean. Ammann, for example, is 5′ 8″ and only about 127 lbs. For comparison’s sake, I’m about an inch shorter and more than 30 lbs. heavier. When I was still working out regularly and losing weight a couple of years ago, the smallest I got down to was 148 lbs, at which point my trainer thought I was losing too much weight. So to lose another 20 lbs. means that these guys are tiny! As the commentators stated, they have a lot in common with jockeys.

There’s still a week left of the games. I doubt that I watch the women’s figure skating competition this year. It just doesn’t interest me anymore. But I’ll definitely be keeping any eye on curling, the rest of the speed skating, and whatever’s left of the skiing events!