Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thought on the Olympics-Part 1

I realize that I have been remiss in airing my opinions of the skating competitions of the XX Winter Olympiad. I also realize that where I have been silent, others have stepped into the breach and more than made up for any kind of analysis that I would offer.

Some of them have been good and some of them have been bad.

I think most importantly something has been lost. Athletes gather every four years to test themselves against the cream of countries other than their own. Some countries do very well in very areas and some do not. Hopefully you did your best and you grow from it.

I truly hate that coverage in the US in regards to "Team USA" is that there is something wrong with us and that we should be living up to our hype and the gains made at Salt Lake City.

I think one of the great examples heights of this hubris that we must be so very dominant or else is the case of poor Emily Hughes. At 17, she is supposed to be one of the Holy Trinity of skaters that will retain the dominance of the US women in figure skating. I was very glad when her sister Sarah, the Ladies champion from the 2002 Olympics said that her sister should be focused on having fun and doing her best at her first Olympics-not worrying about rescuing the US' medal count.

I was glad to know at this hour that Shizuka Arakawa won the gold in the free skate.

The last time a Japanese woman won an Olympic medal was in 1992. Her name was Midori Ito and she won the silver in a heavily contested free skate against Kristi Yamaguchi, the American who did win the gold medal. I felt that either Shizuka or Fumie Suguri had a great chance of standing on the podium. I was not quite sure of the medal color.

Sasha Cohen won the silver, which I think will be good for her. She has always been a great short program skater and she has had her moments but if she has ever had a skate where she did not fall, she skated very "thank-lordy" and you would wonder what the outcome would have been had she not skated that way.

When I saw Sasha's free skate at the US nationals, I could see that her program was expertly crafted and she could have "knocked it out of the park." The fact that I credited her with talent says a bit about the fact that while I may not quite like her, I will always give her credit where it is due. Sasha is still young, as are both Kimmie Meisner and Emily Hughes. All three and Michelle Kwan can try for Vancover in 2010.

Irina...I love her and I love her "comeback" (hate the word). That she won bronze after being told more than two years ago that she should consider giving up skating is something to celebrate. That she staved off the anklebiters and held onto bronze at the age of 27 is something to celebrate as well.

I think that we should be happy that our athletes did as well as they could at competition, not bemoaning the fact that we did not win the medal count, especially the gold medal count. I find it interesting that the people with the most criticism about the winter sports-especially figure skating are people who talk a lot about nothing. They barely follow the sports and I wager would not be listed as a donor to any fund for these athletes. Once the games are over, will sports writers who spin out article after article on football, basketball, and baseball even follow Sasha and Emily and Kimmie and Shani and Chad during their regular seasons, which is where they build and hone their amazing skills?

Likely not.

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