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Winter Olympic Hopes, Dreams and Disappointments

I love the Olympics, and I love Team USA, but damn, if there hasn’t been some royal lame-assatry going on in Torino.

Long before I married into the most obsessed and involved Olympic family in the world, I was a huge fan of the Olympics. It’s just a one-of-a-kind event, where for a brief period of time we come together as a world unit to celebrate something we can all appreciate: competitive athleticism at the very highest level.

It’s spirit, joy, failure, drama, excitement, courage and pure adrenaline fun. I don’t have to know who all the athletes are, as long as there are Americans (or insert your country of choice) I can just root for them in an altruistic and patriotic way without feeling guilty about it. Really, there is something special about it. Unless of course you go and fuck it up.

Some Highlights

Snowboarding is an American-made sport, where the old world glory of winter sports is tricked up and made extreme by youngsters seeking a thrill. It’s fun to watch and the athletes have a lot of character. The lingo is totally rad and the showboating is gnarly, dude.

19 year-old Shaun White, the Flying Tomato, truly embodies the spirit of this event. In his qualifying rounds he made a rookie mistake and clipped his board on the top of the halfpipe and shook faith in the hype surrounding his paramountcy in the event. Then he sucked it up, did what he had to do to qualify for the finals, kicked ass and won the gold. He came back to the thrill of victory after the agony of defeat. White’s crazy red hair, infectious smile and tenacity to see it to the end made his story compelling. He’s a good role model for snowboarding.

Chad Hedrick, the former in-line skater from Texas stepped up to the plate and delivered a gold medal in true U.S. style: balls-out speed in a long grueling race. With a smile, he got the gold in the 5000m speedskating race, while crying about the loss of his grandmother 13 years ago on that same calendar date.

The guy loves his grandma, he’s cute and he’s got a gold. That’s a triple threat!

Ted Ligety, not the U.S. favorite, not the Olympic favorite, just a guy who showed up to compete and managed to do what the over-hyped dickhead Bode Miller has yet to do: win a gold medal. Even he admits that he’s “not very good at downhill,” but that didn’t stop him from digging in, focusing on the prize and winning the combined. Good for you Ted!!!

Then there’s Lindsey Jacobellis, the American favored to win the Snowboard Cross gold. Yes it’s true, Lindsey tweaked AND torqued her board within in sight of the gold, with a commanding lead that would have guaranteed her a win; but in true U.S. snowboarding fashion, she wanted to add some flair to her final Olympic run, and unfortunately it cost her the gold.

She’s 20, she DID win the silver for the U.S., and she, in my assessment, won the hardest part of the race, which was fighting tooth and nail for the front position in the early going, which is NOT an easy task in the finals of a race that includes some serious contact and crowding from fellow riders. But to read and see the media, you would think she raped small children, beat the elderly with bats, and blew up a cafe full of civilians.

The real shame in this story is the way NBC handled the aftermath. Jimmy Roberts went after this athlete with such rabid bloodlust and fervor that you would have thought only seeing her swinging by a rope would have satisfied him. Bob “the only thing I ever qualified for was head munchkin of the lollipop guild” Costas should be swiftly and decisively kicked in the nads, and then bitchslapped for his pathetic, cruel and belittling interview with Jacobellis.

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christmas, the girl torqued her board doing a “backside method grab” (whatever that means). She hardly squatted and shat on the flag or shot a lawyer in the face with birdshot. Let’s have some g*ddamn perspective people. Instead of feeling ashamed of her, as the media would seem to prefer, it makes me like her more for being a bold little showoff in true American flashy style.

Congrats on the silver, Lindsey, and don’t do that in Vancouver, ‘kay?

Which reminds me, congrats Seth Wescott, you hunky mountain man, for your gold in the men’s snowboard cross. Oh, and stop dating foreign women competing against our athletes, you ass.

Okay, Now to the Lowlights

Bode Miller. Please stop with the shoving Bode “I like to smoke dope and hang with sluts” Miller down my throat. Truly, it’s offensive that this guy is the new face of the Olympics and can’t even bother to focus enough to win a bronze, let alone a flipping gold. Dude, you are at the Olympics, not on some Italian vacation. People act like when he lets his proverbial ass hang out it’s cool, but some chick gets a little giddy at the finish line and she should be lined up for the firing squad. It stinks of sexism and they can just blow it out their behinds.

Bode, stop screwing around and pay attention to your skiing, I don’t shop at Home Depot so you can score an ounce while sipping champagne. Get thee to the gold already.

Shani Davis bugs me. I don’t know if it’s his attitude or his bailing on poor Chad in the Men’s Two-Day pursuit so he could “concentrate” on his upcoming “individual” races, but whatever it is, he sure seems selfish. You represent Team USA, you big jerk and even if you win the gold you are still a loser to me. Jerk.

Apolo Anton Ohno, no stranger to controversy and the big story of the 2002 Salt Lake Games, was disqualified in his first race in Torino and it was more than disappointing. Everyone was hoping for a match-up against his rivals, Ahn Hyun-Soo and Lee Ho-Suk of South Korea, but it was not meant to be. Those two took the gold and silver respectively in the 1500m short track race, the same race for which Ohno received the gold in 2002 after the judges disqualified the initial winner, South Korean Kim Dong-sung for blocking. A highly contested and controversial ruling.

But today’s race, the 1000m, is the same race that Ohno barely got the silver for, due to a last lap crash, in 2002. This is going to be an attempt at redemption for Ohno, who has yet to win a medal without controversy.

Last but not least is the flamboyant men’s figure skater, Johnny Weir. Flamboyancy and effeminate behavior is hardly new in the world of men’s figure skating, but this guy has more diva moves than Diana Ross. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but if you are going to act like a diva, you better live up to the hype, otherwise you just come across as, well, kind of annoying.

His short program was very nice, not remarkable, but very nice. He is smooth and graceful and he genuinely transcends his off-the-ice weirdness. Unfortunately for Weir, he couldn’t live up to his “princessyness” in his long program and just floundered about seeming disengaged and moody – must have been all that “roughing it” in the Olympic Village that sucked the pouf out of him.

So there’s my midway round-up of what has made or broken my spirit at the 2006 Olympics. We still have women’s figure skating — without Michele Kwan — more watching Bode slack off, the silly ice dancing, ski jumping and ice hockey to go.

Go Team USA!

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