This is apparently the worst Winter Olympic Games in the history of the world if you ask the British press. But they’re a fickle bunch so I pay them little to no attention. I think these are a pretty Olympic Games. Of course, I’m watching them through maple leaf shaped glasses. That doesn’t mean that these games are perfect. There are some issues and people overshadowing what should be the greatest games ever. And, no, I don’t mean the broken cauldron. That was fairly embarrassing, though. Let’s blame that on the Newfies.
Is there anything that they touch that doesn’t turn to shit? First, they completely fuck up late night programming by fucking up their prime time programming. Then they announce that they’re going to lose millions of dollars on the Olympics. So we know how well they handled the late night situation so we could expect them to do something good to fix the Olympics to maybe make a profit… Not likely, I know. Fortunately, they’ve proven us right. Either the extremely vocal minority or the slightly vocal majority has ripped NBC for all the tape delayed coverage they’re broadcasting. At Beijing it was a bit more understandable because EST prime time is Chinese morning. Vancouver is just 3 hours behind the east coast and basically set their schedule up to accommodate NBC and CTV. However, CTV is making the effort to show events live. NBC is throwing events around and not really telling you of things are live or not. Except if you’re on the west coast. Then you know that everything is on a three-hour delay from when the east coast broadcast. That’s the sort of thing that makes you ask what NBC has been smoking for the last couple of years. Can you think of a good NBC programming decision that didn’t involve a half-hour comedy on Thursday nights? Nope, neither can I.
Team Canada Hockey
While they’re a collection of some of the best players in the world (with Russia being the only team that can really challenge on individual talent), they’re still a team thrown together right before they started playing together. So it really shouldn’t be a huge surprise that they’ve been playing with some jitters. After all, they have all the pressure in the world on them. If they don’t win gold, they may as well permanently leave the country. The women may be well on their way to winning a medal and possibly even winning a gold but they’re hardly a blip on the radar compared to the men. Maybe it’s the lack of pressure that’s letting the women perform. They’re still playing to packed houses but the only things they have to worry about are staving off boredom and people complaining about them scoring too much. The men can’t focus on any game unless the end of that game sees medals being handed out. I know they’re professionals but the only time they would face pressure this great is heading into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. And then they have to deal with that for two whole weeks, not just two whole days. That would help explain the close call against the Swiss.
Team Russia Hockey
For all the grief that the Canadian men are getting while still winning games, you have to wonder how things are going over in Russia. I don’t speak or read Russian so I wouldn’t know where a place to start looking for opinions would be after last night’s 2-1 shootout loss. That’s right, the team that was my favourite to win gold was bitten by the Steve Murray Jinx. If I tip you as a favourite, you may as well pack up and go home because you’re hosed. Like Canada, most of Russia’s problems were goaltender-related. Jonas Hiller and Jaro Halak aren’t guys that you would call elite NHL goaltenders but all you need is a guy that gets hot at the right time and all of a sudden, you’re a gold medal contender. Remember guys names Giguere, Ward, and Roloson who got hot at the right time and mowed the competition in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The same thing happened to the Russians. Hot goalies aren’t anything more than an excuse though. At the end of the day, if you can’t put the biscuit in the basket, all the Ruskies will hear is “In Soviet Russia, puck slaps you.”
It’s this guy’s world, we just live in it. You see, while The Flying Tomato boards, we mere mortals just bored. And “we mere mortals” includes everyone in the Olympic halfpipe field not named Shaun White. He’s just on that much higher a plane than the rest of us. He won the Olympic gold in halfpipe with a run that was conservative when you compare it to his X-Games gold winning run. Mind you, his second run was as good as his X-Games winning run and he had already locked up his Olympic gold. His air was bigger, his tricks were better, and his language was snowboarder-esque. (Though I didn’t catch it. NBC apologized for it so I’ll take their word that it happened. Given their track record, relying on them is a questionable tactic.) But now that White has wowed the world on the grandest stage in sports (though not necessarily the grandest stage in snowboarding), what happens to him and snowboarding from here? Like so many other athletes and sports, they get their 15 minutes every four years but without a regular event series to capture the public’s attention, they quickly fall off the radar. The best case for White and snowboarding is that the attention and hype that he brought to the Olympic halfpipe carries back to the X-Games. They’re still annual so at least once a year, people can tune in to see what crazy trick their Olympic hero has up his sleeve. An even better case scenario would be moving some 2011 X-Games events off ESPN or ESPN2 to ABC for a big network party.
One of the funnier things I read when we all found out that Vonn’s shin was banged up was that it was part of an NBC plot to drum up interest in the Olympics. Well, now that Vonn won the gold medal in the women’s downhill, you have to wonder if that cynical speculation was something that steps on Miss Cleo’s territory. Until Wednesday, nobody was really sure if she could go 100% down the hill at Whistler or if she could run 100% of the course. Apparently, some old Belgian folk remedies (including wrapping her shin in cheese cloth) helped her get to and through her run to gold. The other interesting thing is that she managed to shake the dreaded SI Cover Curse. She was on an Olympic preview edition of SI where she was showing her… form… Personally, I thought she was showing her form better there than in the SI Swimsuit Issue. Mind you, if she hadn’t won gold, the SI cover wouldn’t be taking the heat. Posing for an SI cover and the Swimsuit Issue would have led to questions about her dedication to training and her desire to win. Like taking two days off from training to do a photo shoot would make a difference. After all, Danica Patrick’s done two SI shoots and an FHM shoot and won… one race. Maybe it’s a long-term jinx. See combined, super.
Even when the judges can’t be bribed, they apparently fucked up. I didn’t watch the men’s long program but Canadian figure skating legend Elvis Stojko did and was generally appalled that the American guy (whose name escapes me but it didn’t sound too American) beat the Russian guy (Plushenko). It wasn’t a nationality thing (he thought American Johnny Weir should have been ahead of Canadian Pat Chan) or a friendship/comradery thing (he considers the Yank a friend) but a matter of judging. Stojko’s belief is that the American performed more footwork and attempted less difficult jumps than Plushenko who tried to push the bounds of his technical skills. He did that at the expense of the artistic elements of his long program. The American’s lower technical aspect of his program was made up for with a better artistic program. Figure skating is a melding of both the technical/sporting and artistic but that’s something that the current scoring system neglects it seems. To the untrained observer, it’s execute a trick, get points. At least under the old system, which was often accused of being corrupt thanks to bribed judges, there was a separation between the technical and artistic aspects that put more emphasis on the jumps rather than the routine. That begs another question: How can a triple axle be in anyway artistic. In ice dance, that’s easy to understand. How can there be any artistic merit to a spinning jump? Another mystery and flaw in figure skating. Maybe Stojko is right. Maybe there is too much focus on the “art” of it all.
Did you hear that Tiger’s holding a press conference today? Did you also hear that Tiger impregnated one of his harem twice? Did you hear that his gaggle of women is at least 18? Did you hear he went to sex rehab? If you haven’t heard all this, I envy you. Seriously, I wish I could have avoided all the Tiger-ness over the last several months. Granted, we’ve gotten a few page views thanks to Tiger but that doesn’t mean that I’m not sick of everyone saying that Tiger is the root of all evil. He’s a guy and he thought with his little head… Repeatedly. Tiger is holding a sham of a press conference at the PGA’s headquarters where he will make a statement that I can only assume will fall along the lines of “I made some mistakes that I deeply regret. And I apologize to my sponsors, my fans, and most of all, my family.” The only thing is that he won’t be taking any questions from the media even though the only members of the media in attendance will be the ones that Tiger hand-picked for the assignment. His cadre is there to make him look good with a bunch of stories about how Tiger will be a new man and all that. The only thing is that I would be insulted if I was a journalist that was invited to that thing and asked to not be a journalist. But in the end, does anyone actually think that Tiger owes them an apology? If you do, you’re insane or at the very least delusional.
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