The Olympics' Real Winners and Losers
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Great city, great people, great Olympics. Well done, my Canadian friends.
In the opening ceremonies, the flame apparatus failed to rise, launching a thousand Viagra jokes. But the real joke was the speed skating oval, where the Canadians failed to manufacture decent ice. That’s like Jamaicans failing to manufacture decent sand. What’s up with that?
WINNER: Olympic Hockey
With the best players in the world, and six nations with an equal chance of grabbing the gold, the Olympics gave us hockey at its very best. The US-Canada overtime final, with NO TV time-outs, made for an unforgettable finish – some say the best ever.
LOSER: NHL Hockey
Only the NHL can take this singular moment and blow it. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL might skip the next Olympics. Now you know why he’s considered the dumbest commissioner in all of sports. He did it the old-fashioned way. He earned it.
WINNER: The Medal Count
The U.S. set a record for most Winter Olympic medals ever, with 37, and the Canadians set a record for most golds, with 14 -- redeeming themselves for being the only host nation to win no golds, twice, in Montreal and Calgary. Kudos, North America.
LOSER: The Medal Count
It took 20 Canadian men seven games of skating, passing and shooting to earn a single gold medal in hockey. Meanwhile, Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjorgen had only to repeat the same basic motion in the sprint, the 10K, the 15K, the 30K, and the relay, to get five medals. Is cross-country skiing really five times harder than ice hockey? What’s up with that? I say all distance sports should be reduced to a short run, a long run, and a relay—that’s it. And hockey should count 20. There. That’d do it.
Watching curling proved oddly compelling, like gazing at a lava lamp. And it gives all of us hope that – yeah, sure, I could be a world class athlete. Look at that slob! He’s on the Olympic team?! Oh, yeah. I could do that.
I’m sorry, it’s still just shuffle board on ice. And spare me your emails. My grandfather was a proud member of his New Brunswick curling team, but he didn’t expect to get a medal for it. He preferred beer, anyway.
WINNER: Ryan Miller
The former Michigan State star let in the overtime goal against Canada, but he was still the best player – by far – in the tournament, and rightly won the Most Valuable Player trophy.
LOSER: Mikka Kiprusoff
The Finnish goalie said he’d only join his national team if they named him the starter. He got what he asked for – then went out and let in four goals on seven shots against the U.S. He sucked at 400 pounds-per-square inch. Then he didn’t even wait for his coach to pull him, before skulking back to the bench. I have just two words for you, sir: Loo Zer.
WINNER: Ann Arbor
With seven players from the US National Development Team on the Olympic hockey roster, and two pairs of ice dancers all training at Ann Arbor’s Ice Cube, A-Squared was downright Olympian.
LOSER: The Biathlon
Making someone ski several miles, then stop to shoot at targets for no apparent reason, makes as much sense as making swimmers finish four laps, then get out and bowl three frames.
So I say, let’s spice it up a little. Each time the biathletes miss their marks, they should have to ski behind the targets before they’re allowed to shoot again. That would increase the stakes, and focus the mind.
Too much for you? Okay, how about giving them all paint ball pellets to fire at their fellow competitors as they traipse through the woods? That way, no lead would be safe, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and the leader would be forced to ski in a zig-zag pattern down the stretch while the trailers try to pick him off from behind.
Or we could just kill this silly sport altogether.
NBC gave us fewer taped fillers, and more live action.
Still too much fireplace, and not enough first place. Oh, give me the CBC!
Yes, the Olympics are over-hyped and over-packaged, but they’re still the best thing on TV. We see it all – the bratty skiers, the bodacious boarders and the inspiring skaters, like Joannie Rochette, who took to the ice just two days after her mother died of a heart attack – and delivered the single best short program of her life.
That is reality TV. And that’s why I can’t wait for 2012.
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