The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are officially over...and so now we wait four looong years before we get to enjoy the excitement of certain sports that we only watch and enjoy every four years...unfortunately. As we saw in the closing ceremonies last night, the next games will be in Sochi, Russia, which prompted the question (for me) -- where in the world is Sochi, Russia? I have to confess that I am having to struggle with a place name that sounds like something I eat at a Chinese Buffet. Nonetheless, I had to map it and find out that it is on the NE edge of the Black Sea...just north of Georgia (the country, that is :-).
This allows for a sad segue. I believe that these Olympic Games will forever be shadowed and remembered, in large part, for the death of the Georgian luger before the games even began...which was tragic. Yet, that sobering moment may also have some ultimate good in a sense, as it gave the world a moment to consider the bigger picture as it relates to athletics. Perhaps, it gave pause to consider how we are all humans, and that we're all in this "life and death struggle" together...not just as Americans, Canadians, Russians, Chinese, etc.
Some other moments that were memorable for me. Though I turned to the Big-Hockey-Game-for-All-of-North-American-Bragging-Rights just in time to see the medal ceremony, it obviously had a lot of build up...especially since the U.S. pulled off such a huge upset of the Canadians in preliminary play. I did see the highlights, and it certainly lived up to its billing, even if the Canadians did win it in overtime.
What can I say...curling rocks (pun intended :-). The only other sport where the Canadians really defeated the Americans in an event (national pride, you know). The American curling team, which won bronze in 2006, was a woeful 2-7. Curling is a game of inches...and, even though you have to respect these ordinary Joes who seem like genuinely good guys...they didn't get it done in the clutch. Oh well...hopefully, they will have a better showing in Sushi (Sochi).
Bode Miller made a dramatic return to form after partying out of the 2006 games. I am thankful that he had the will and the skill to come back and redeem himself, so to speak. I like these kind of stories. I am not really a big Bode Miller fan, but I am proud of him, nonetheless. I was glad that Lindsey Vonn won the gold and the bronze in two of her premier events, but she was something of a disappointment in failing to complete her other three events. She was really the poster child of these games, which was not her doing...but, she was NBC and the media's darling. She did show some courage to race while wounded, but, to be honest, she just wasn't as classy or real as Julia Mancuso, who won two skiing silver medals in these games to go with her gold in 2006.
As I have said in a previous post, I love all of the speed events...bobsled, luge, speed skating, and the aforementioned skiing. A shout out to the U.S. men's four man bobsled team...and to Geoffrey Bodine, former NASCAR driver for building a sled...that could win the gold medal. The Americans hadn't done anything in this event in 60 plus years, which makes me wonder what those bobsleds looked like. The ladies also won a bronze in the two man (woman) bobsled, which was great. I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to say congratulations to Emily's fave, Apolo Ohno, who finished his career with an American record eight total Olympic medals. Apolo got robbed in one race, but got a gift in another, so I guess everything evened out. And not just because he is from my home state of Washington, I think Apolo is a genuine guy who has been a good ambassador for our U.S. Olympic team for three Olympic Games now. Way to go.
Even though I, generally, haven't been into figure skating...the best story of these Olympic games was the bronze medal performance of Joannie Rochette of Canada. Sadly, she had lost her mother to an unexpected heart attack two days before she was going to perform. She did an amazing job in both her short program and long program. It took a lot of fortitude and will to do as wonderfully as she did...and there were few dry eyes that watched her perform her short program. She was able to cap off her Olympics by carrying her Canadian flag in the closing ceremonies.
But, I really am going to save what was the best for last for me...and you're going to go -- really? I absolutely loved watching the men's nordic combined team do something that had never been done by anyone on an American Olympic team...and that was win team and individual medals in the nordic combined (ski jumping and cross country skiing). Maybe it is because the cross country aspect works, in so many ways, like cycling, (which I also love watching), but Bill DeMong and Johnny Spillane just made these games for me. Thanks and congratulations to them...as they did such a remarkable job of getting medals in events where we simply had done very little before -- very cool. Til 2014...au revior.