Russian to judgement/The Red Line
My feelings on the first half-week of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games can best be summarized with a statement made by Charlestown Chiefs general manager Joe McGrath in the first intermission of their championship showdown with the Syracuse Bulldogs.
My constructive criticism of Team USA is probably about as helpful as McGrath’s was of the Chiefs on that fateful night in the playoffs, but someone’s got to pound some sense into them. There are scouts, or at least TV viewers, out there.
As of Wednesday, the United States had three gold, one silver and five bronze medals, good for a fourth-place tie with the hosts and behind Norway, Canada and the Netherlands.
As Joe said, “All (NBC’s) years of publicity! All the fashion shows and radio plugs for nothing!”
Several of NBC’s storylines from the first week have gone belly-up quickly.
For example, Shani Davis was going for his third consecutive long-track speedskating gold in the 1,000 meters Wednesday night in a futuristic new skin suit that has dimples like a golf ball and features revolutionary angled zipper technology. Davis finished eighth, but at least the zipper didn’t chafe his neck.
Bode Miller, the boom-or-bust ski legend, dominated the training runs for Sunday’s downhill, then finished eighth, saying he didn’t use properly configured skis and shouldn’t have postponed LASIK eye surgery until after the games.
Of all the excuses for turning the favorite’s role into an eighth, I certainly didn’t see that last one coming.
On the team sports front, the American women’s curling team managed to give up seven points in a single end (think of it like an inning) to Great Britain. Considering only eight stones are available to throw in a particular end, for seven of Britain’s to be better than any of the Americans is a remarkable anti-accomplishment, one so embarrassing that Team USA conceded the match with four ends (probably at least the better part of an hour) to play.
The U.S. has even been struggling outside the competitive arena, as the most famous eye infection in recent history has forced America’s favorite Olympic sprite, Bob Costas, to the sidelines in favor of The Today Show’s Matt Lauer and his salt-and-pepper-and-about-12-other-spices proto-beard.
All three U.S. golds through Wednesday were achieved in snowboarding, a sport with a cherished Olympic history dating all the way back to the Clinton Administration (1998), though after some of the falls I’ve seen those guys take this week, anyone who survives with all their bones and faculties intact probably deserves some kind of prize.
Maybe this is all an overreaction. After all, we won a bronze in the women’s luge for the first time, and the U.S. men’s hockey team’s first game wasn’t even until this morning.
However, the Olympics don’t come around every day and where else will I derive my sense of national pride when I can’t stake it to sporting competitions about which I know or care precious little for the other 1,460 days of the upcoming quadrennium, not counting the World Cup this summer and the Summer Olympics in Rio in 2014?
Please don’t make me go back to watching the Pistons.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.