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!