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The Olympic Ramble: Sasha Cohen, Julia Mancuso and Apolo Anton Ohno

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Amazing performances and terrific chokes are at opposite ends of the “performance spectrum,” but generate equal amounts of interest among the masses. The past few days at the Olympics prove this as axiomatic.

Sasha Cohen. Winning a silver medal shouldn’t be viewed as a disappointment unless you win it in the manner that Sasha did. This isn’t a knock against her, but if she doesn’t fall twice during her long program routine she wins the gold. However, the way she’s handled herself in defeat will go a long way towards insuring that she will make a ton of money from endorsement deals. The two American speed skaters should take a page from Sasha’s book.

Bode The Bust. Arguably Miller’s performance – or actually lack of one – can be viewed as the biggest bust in the history of the winter games. In the mix is Bonehead Bode turning his ankle by playing hoops this week and then skiing off the course after about 15 seconds into his final race. He tells us he’s not in it just for winning gold medals. He said, “Other people want him to win medals.” That’s nothing but garbage. Nike’s slogan is “Just Do It” not “Just Do It … Kind Of.” Nike is paying him money to win medals, not because they want to hear his thoughts about specific issues. They let him be heard because they thought that he’d actually perform well. Nike used to have a slogan that went something like “You don’t win the silver, you lose the gold.” I’d love to hear some of the potential slogans that Nike could apply to Bode’s situation. How about “Don’t just lose, don’t even finish.” Better yet, “Don’t just lose, don’t even try.” Or, “Just Do It, and by ‘Do It’ we mean ‘choke and choke big.’ ” Buh-bye, Bode.

Julia Mancuso. She performed when it mattered most. Led the Giant Slalom after the first run and came through in tough weather conditions and under the pressure to perform during her second run. Gold medal. Olympic hero. Olympic champ. No hype. No yapping. She finished first.

Apolo Anton Ohno. This much-hyped athlete won a gold in the 500-meter short track speed skating event and is a great example of never giving up as he beat out archrival Ahn Hyun Soo of Korea. Despite his golden boy status Ohno has not let it go to his head, and has done and said all of the right things in his quest for gold at these games. Despite amassing great riches as a result of his past success, Ohno decided to live among his fellow athletes at the Olympic Training Center rather than live above them in some high-class digs. Even though I don’t care much for the sport, Ohno is a great example of all the positive things that an Olympian can be. Are you listening, you other U.S. speed skaters?

Olympic Ice Hockey. As far as busts go – right up there with Bode – how about the American and Canadian teams? The highest priced hockey players in the world have bupkus – or is it bupkis? – to show for their efforts. A teary-eyed Wayne Gretzky took the blame for the Canadian debacle while angry NHL player Mike Modano said that the American program must shake things up in order to avoid a repeat of this embarrassing result. The great thing about the Olympic Hockey Tournament is that the overall quality of play is so high – as is the familiarity with the international players – that the games are easy to watch regardless of the countries involved. I’ve also read that despite low overall ratings – in America – the ratings for Olympic hockey are higher than they are for the games broadcasted by the Outdoors Life Network.

Steve Nyman. Who is he? He’s the genius on the Olympic ski team who said “Medals? Screw medals.” Do you think the Austrians feel this way? Obviously Steve missed the memo that discussed the significance of the whole “winning medals-national anthem-standing on the podium-thing.” Maybe he thought he was at the Special Olympics where “being there” is the important thing. With Nyman’s attitude it’s no wonder the team – overall – was a huge disappointment. Perhaps it’s time to get guys like this – with this attitude – out of the program. Just “being there” is the attitude for the little guy, the “one-person-on-the-team” country. Not for the U.S. Not for Canada. Not for Germany. Not for Austria or Italy or France or Russia. I wish these athletes would knock it off … they aren’t getting all this money to just show up and be happy for “being there.”

The sadness that the Olympics are ending is mitigated greatly by the excitement generated by all the great sports things that are going on and that are about to go on. The Olympics – and the Olympic Ramble – may be ending, but the Ramble will go on forever.

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About Sal Marinello

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Totally with you on Cohen there. She doesn’t fall, she does one better. But she handled it great, as opposed to Bode straddling the gate then doing a little dance reminiscient of the Ashlee Simpson hoedown.

  • Elizabeth Bremner

    this article is hilarious!! and so right on. I am with you on Cohen there, but she was called on at the last minute to fly in and compete, and still got the Silver (which is as good a medal as Michelle Kwan ever earned at the big O). They should have just allowed Cohen to be on the team and NOT given Kwan the bye, only to have her drop out at the last minute.

    As for the US Speed skaters, Ohno is the only one to watch, not to mention listen to. Hedrick is an Ass, with no graciousness about him.

    And Bode Miller NOT wanting medals? What An idiot. Any one of us could go to the Olympics and expect to NOT win–and they wouldn’t have to fund or feed us so well. I say, if i want a medal more than he does, at least let me go in his place. At least then I could say I did my best–this poor schlep can’t even admit that he choked, pure and simple.

  • Greg N.

    In case you did not watch the Sweden-Finland Gold Medal match for hockey, the line for Sweden that ultimately won it for them was comprised of 4 NHL’ers. Those 4 NHL’ers happen to be on the same team, the Red Wings. It was a great game, and the whole tournament showed that most anything can happen.

  • Apolofan

    Good article! Just want to say that it was Hughes who was the last minute skater not Cohen. Also,Kwan did not just drop out she had an injury that prevemted her from competing at her best. She is a true Olympian, just like Apolo.

  • ed


    It’s one thing for a crowd mentality to sink to the lowest common denominator (blame athletes personally for not winning), but another for an individual to be so fair-weathered as you in your appraisal of some of the contenders in these games. Sometimes you lose no matter what you do or did to prepare: doesn’t mean you have to be someone’s mommie in order to have respect for their process and potential. Miller did not comer in last, for heavens sake! As far as his attitude, I don’t blame him if he has to deal with people like you with on public podiums.

  • sal m


    miller, by not finishing two races, certainly did finish last. he didn’t even last 15 seconds in his last race. that’s embarassing.

    fair or unfair, miller allowed himself to be portrayed in a certain way. the upside of this was tremendous, but this upside depended on his doing well. not only didn’t he do well, he failed miserably.

    that’s the nature of sports. at the pro and international level athletes don’t get a pass when they choke. this isn’t high school sports or some exercise to pump up people’s self-esteem…this is high-stakes competition. when the favorite chokes he doesn’t get a public pat on the ass and a “that’s ok buddy.”

    if we can’t blame bode miller for his all-time bust of a performance, who do we blame? nike, the snow, the hill, the italians, his teammates, his coaches? your position that we can’t blame the athlete indicates that you just don’t get it. of course we can blame him, he’s the guy who skiied off the course twice, missed a gate and sprained his ankle playing hoops before his last race.