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The Olympic Ramble: Bode Miller, Chad Hedrick, and Lampley’s Hair

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We’re somewhere in the middle of the first week of the Winter Olympics and I’ve lost track of space and time, but I do remember to catch the curling broadcast around dinner time on the east coast, on CNBC. Here’s the ramble.

The Medals. Man they are ugly. My first thought – seriously – was to wonder why the athlete was wearing a CD around his neck. I’ve seen some of the medals from past years on display in the trophy room at the New York Athletic Club. Classic art, I say. I didn’t think they’d mess with tradition to this extent…oh well, time goes by.

Bode Miller. There’s nothing worse than the brash, cocky favorite who doesn’t bring it when the spotlight is at it’s brightest. He is the kind of American that makes some people hate Americans. Whatever happened to shutting up and doing your job? Oh wait, that’s what OTHER people did who won the medals, from all over. He can now go back to the relative obscurity of the World Skiing League, or whatever it is skiers do when the Olympics aren’t in town.

Curling. Ok, I really love this curling business. Thanks to a great article on curling written by a columnist in New Jersey’s biggest newspaper, I’ve discovered that there is a curling club in New Jersey that has a whole official facility, and it’s located only 8 miles from my house! They’re having an open house Friday March 17 from 7-10 p.m. And they serve Labatt’s Blue. I am SO there. I’ll get on my best flannel shirt and I’ll be ready to go. Oh and Wednesday night I watched the U.S. men’s team lose to Italy in a game – or is it match? – that it appeared that they should have won. I think. The US Women’s team won their first game of the Olympics.

Chad Hedrick. This guy’s story is about as amazing of a story as you’ll ever hear. Hedrick was a champion in-line skater … won over 50 titles. Never was on ice skates until about 2 years ago. Now he’s one of the best speed skaters in the world, has already won a gold medal and will have the chance to win at least a few more. And so far he seems like a humble kind of guy who says he likes to go out and celebrate every once in a while. We’d be way better off with a bunch more like him.

Freestyle Skiing. Phenomenal athletes. The pounding that their knees take and they way that they maintain control at speed – and do aerial tricks along the way – makes for a sport that’s worth watching.

Joey Cheek. Another U.S. speed skater. Won a gold medal in the 500-meter race on Monday. Announced that he was donating his $25,000 bonus check from the U.S. Olympic Committee to help children in war-torn Sudan. I don’t know if anyone keeps track of such things, but this is one of the most generous things an athlete has ever done. Twenty-five large to a speed skater is a hell of a lot of cabbage. Good for him. Here’s another guy we should be cloning.

Over-hyping Athletes. I guess with all the commercialism that surrounds the Olympics this is inevitable. I got a great laugh this morning when I read a press release about a Bode Miller game that is being released that people can play on their cell phones. Just what we need. He won nothing and looks foolish as a result. Maybe if he lost heroically it wouldn’t be so bad. Jeremy Bloom is another example of the hype machine jumping on a guy only to have him lose. At least he seems like a nice kid. Remember the names of the American decathletes featured in those Rebook ads years ago? The guys who were both supposed to win it all but didn’t? Not many people do.

NBC’s Coverage. People love to crush the coverage of the games, both Summer and Winter, but it’s basically a thankless job. There’s no way that everybody will be happy with what any network does in their coverage of the Olympics. Logistically it must be a nightmare to plan, and when you add in the time difference and how everybody knows most of the results by the time “prime time” rolls around, NBC really can’t win. NBC has done some awesome things with cameras. The “chase cam” they used in the ski jumping event was one of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen. And Wednesday night during the men’s mogul event they provided a “skier’s eye view “ of the course by having one of those mini cams attached to the back of someone skiing down the slope. Great stuff. Most of the commentators assigned to the various events have done a great job. Costas is a great “desk man” and Lampley, well everyone knows about Lampley … his hair is perfect.

Doping. So far we’ve had two failed tests and some other suspicious high hemoglobin counts. What does this mean? Are these Olympics “clean?” Are the testers catching up to the cheaters? Have the cheaters gotten better at cheating? It’s too early to tell.

Ok … that’s good enough for now. I can’t wait until 5pm … curling baby!

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About Sal Marinello

  • Spencer

    I can see why personal attacks are not allowed….

  • Jack

    Fans who fold after two events with three to go are exactly what Bode is talking about when he says “fame is poison.” Build’m up, knock’m down, aint this fun…

    Bode’s gotten worse press than Jack Abramoff. C’mon, it’s not like he got drunk and shot somebody in the face…

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    No, Bode Miller got drunk and then competed – and then was stupid enough to talk about it. I refuse to hop on the jingoism bandwagon, preferring to focus on individual athletes and teams I actually have reason to like in an effort to spread the love globally. But I do hope Miller grabs at least one of those godawfully ugly gold medals. He’s a rebel… just because he doesn’t do what everybody else does, that’s no reason why I can’t give him all my love. Apolo Ohno, OTOH… I feel bad for my fervent wish that he skate away emptyhanded. Speedily.

    I am loving the Chinese team (particularly tough-as-nails pairs skaters Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao), the UK women’s curling team, the Italian skiers (and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic; that woman has guts), the Flying Tomato (that red hair!), Yevgeni Plushenko and Johnny Weir (they’ll probably end up one-two in the men’s skate, but both are just wonderful to watch), Irina Slutskaya (gotta support the oldies but goodies rather than the terribly tiresome teenyboppers) the Canadian women’s hockey team, all of the Irish athletes and any and all lugers and snowboarders. (I *love* luge and the half-pipe competitions.) There is a lot of pressure around these parts to support Maryland teen Kimmie Meissner, but I am not feeling that love; neither do I have any interest in Sasha Cohen or Emily Hughes.

    And agreed: Bob Costas rules. Re: Lampley, when he first appeared behind the NBC desk on opening night of the Torino Games, I said to the spouse, “Damn, he looks so old! But his hair, as usual, is perfect.” Small world.

  • http://olympics larry

    the reason i am enjoying these olympics i that they are not political this year. years past the u.s. teams had to beat the russians no matter what. now the best performannce is applauded.

  • sal m

    with regards to bode…perhaps he got a little caught up in his own hype…now that things haven’t gone his way he may have regrets about how he’s handled things…too bad…nobody asked him to say silly things or forced him to be a rebel….that was his call…

    and spencer, if you had a pair and really had something to get off of your chest you would have said “it” rather than give us your limp-wristed non-comment.

  • Bliffle

    Often the best olympic events are the least publicized. A few years ago in France I watched the summer olympics Womens Fencing competition. Tho I knew nothing about the sport I was enthralled by the athleticism and the genuine exhuberance of the athletes. Uninterrupted by up-close anything and Bud Lite boosting. The French TV just showed the competition! What a radical idea! They didn’t even gut the competition and just show the highlights. They hadn’t even searched widely thru the land to find the most idiotic color-characters. I’m not sure that an announcer even announced the winners. But it was great.

  • sal m

    for the real sports fans the “alternative” coverage available on USA network, MSNBC and CNBC is great because there’s less fluff and more competition…that’s why curling has grabbled so much attention…unfiltered, people can really get into a match and get a feel for the game….if they tried to show snippets during the primetime coverage the game would be subject to further ridicule.

  • snowman

    Despite Bode’s recent dumb statements, at heart, he is a good man, and unquestionably the best racer on the planet. It has been discouraging to see his demons – drink, late nights, apathy toward the Games, etc. – so exploited simply because he hasn’t medaled. Sure, Olympics fans resent that Bode uses the Games for profit, and traffics in media outbursts when his skiing does not sell; all of which puts off those who, despite Olympic imperfections, believe in the Olympic spirit.

    I used to defend Bode. I admire his indepedence and skill, but I admit I have come full circle on whether he is a champion. He is not. Perhaps he was once was, but as he’s said, fame can be poison, and it has been in his case. Note new reports and now internet photos of him drinking and giving the finger to paparazzi while dancing with Hugh Heffner’s old girlfriend after his combined DQ. I am seeing a new “Bode”. Sadly, it appears he will go the way of Joe Nameth and Mickey Mantle. Tragic.

  • ONSA

    Another cheap shot on Bode…

    1) He never claimed he was going to win a bunch of medals, and has in fact been wary of the spotlight.

    2) Even the best ski racers rarely win. The odds are less than getting a hit in baseball. That’s just the way the sport is. Note that Bennie Raich (the current overall leader) has not made the podium either.

    3) He said he as “wasted,” and specifically he meant that he was hung-over from partying the night before after clinching the first overall World Cup championship by an American in 22 years. That’s his right.

    4) Your pot-shots simply expose your extreme ignorance on this subject. How are you qualified again to be saying anything at all?

  • sal m

    how is it a cheap shot to point out that bode miller came off as brash and cocky and didn’t come through when the spotlight was at it’s brightest? he was on the airwaves and took the opportunity to portray himself to the vast majority of the public in a way that now makes him look silly…

    have you visited his “join bode” sight?
    http://www.nike.com/joinbode/index.jsp?promoID=USJB_AD_011606_ESPN

    or how about today’s results? how about if he could just stay on the course, never mind win a medal, but just stay on the course and finish the race?
    http://www.nbcolympics.com/alpine_m_superg/5115743/detail.html?qs=pt=espn

    forget a winning a “bunch of medals,” how about staying on the course and finishing? and so eager to talk when things were going his way, miller didn’t talk to reporters after today’s performance.

  • BodeBunnee

    Hi there,

    The games are over. Bode Miller did not live up to the “USA Media” but he did live up to being a true American. Anyone in this world who will put down an American can go back to their own country & beg all over again to be one of us. Bode tried hard. I did notice is this amazing, beautiful man’s eyes..the last race at the start gate….he was not going to go through w/ it. I was certain that I think he threw the final race. I think Bode wants to win or would rather walk away on he’s own terms. Good for him. I will tell you again, Look at Bode’s eyes..He was sure he was not going down that hill. He is super strong & so talented that a gate mistake in that final run was pre-meditated. He planned the failure. It is all or nothing for Bode Miller & I love him for that. 2010 shall welcome this wonderful rugged (not scuffy) young man w/ open arms. Bode Miller will win Gold in 2010. He will show what he is all about then. He has brought the media to their knee’s & now they will leave him alone so he can do what he does best..SKI FAST! SKI GOLD!

    BodeBunnee (An American who supports Bode no matter what)

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