Long-overdue Winter Olympics wrapup

Hi again, everybody. I didn’t want to bother registering for the temporary board, which is why I’ve been away for so long. And I know it’s unusual that I’m writing about an event that ended weeks ago, but hey…crap happens, whaddya gonna do? (And it’s not like the big pairs figure skating flap is anywhere close to over…in particular, Marie Le Gougne’s endless reversals and loops and twists are making her look like Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton put together.)

And besides, I gotta weigh in on all this controversy that’s been flying around, so…

Anyone who rips Apolo Ohno or that Korean speed skater (can’t even remember the dang name) is a dope. This isn’t golf, fer chrissake. There’s contact. There are collisions. There are a bunch of rules you won’t see in other sports. Football is exactly the same. The Korean’s move in the 1000M wasn’t illegal; it was just unfortunate that everyone except Steve Bradbury got taken out. His cross-tracking move in the other race (see, it was a specific penalty) was illegal, and he was rightfully disqualified. I am so tired of casual fans who don’t know a damn thing about the rules rag on the athletes or officials for correct decisions.

And any idiot who calls Ohno’s one gold and one silver a “disappointment” gets one in the kisser. (Okay, maybe not from me, but someday…) It’s irritating seeing fine athletes do their absolute best and bring home impressive hardware and have it somehow called a letdown. I mean, get a life already.

Had I known the pairs figure skating long program would blow up into such a huge brouhaha…well, I would’ve watched it :slight_smile: . As it is, I can only comment on what I’ve found out elsewhere. Okay, the one thing we can agree on for certain is that there was NO “Russian bloc” favoritism from the judges who put Anton Sikharulidze and Irina Berezhnaya on top. That may have been true when there actually was a Soviet Union, but those days are long past. It is possible, that the eastern european judges were predestined to favor the style of skating exhibited by the Russians, but there really isn’t anything wrong with that.

When I found out that the Canadians, Jamie Sale and David Pelltier, didn’t win despite a flawless program, I thought that they may have been robbed (although this certainly isn’t anything unusual in figure skating). However, I then learned from a salon.com message board that B&S had a more difficult, technical program, and in fact chose it in direct response to finishing behind S&P in the 2001 Worlds. Someone one PTI claimed that B&S made “at least four errors”, but the only one NBC bothered to show (why they didn’t replay the whole program, I don’t know) was Sikharulidze’s step-out, which leads me to believe that their program wasn’t badly flawed at all. If they only had one mistake, that would’ve given S&P a chance to win, but even if they did, it would’ve been very tight, hardly the blowout victory the NBC commentators made it out to be.

Again, I’m not sure exactly what happened, and I probably wouldn’t be able to judge even if I did…but from all I’ve learned, while an argument could definitely be made that S&P deserved the gold, it’s not as cut-and-dried as the American media would lead us to believe.

All of which, of course, became moot when that French judge (who is, in my estimation, not fit to judge a freaking wet T-shirt contest) confessed to bias. Whatever the reason, whatever her true intentions were, all irrelevant; the result couldn’t stand. With time of the essence, the IOC had basically 3 options 1. Simply discount her scores, whereupon B&S would keep the gold medals because they won the short program. But that would throw the legitimacy of that program’s scoring into question, making the whole controversy even worse. 2. Replace her scores with those of the backup judge (from the Czech Republic, IIRC); this would, in all likelihood, reverse the gold and silver medal winners. Unfortunately, the rules in place apparently didn’t permit using the alternate judge in this situation. 3. Simply write off the scores and declare the medallists, which is what they ended up doing. In the end, they just couldn’t take the gold away from the Russians…too many cans of worms there…and simply bumped up S&P’s silver to a gold.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I think they did as best as they could. Some dopes have claimed that this represented a “victory for whiners”, but I didn’t hear a lot of whining from anyone involved. Sure, Sale was upset, but can you really blame her? Remember, what sparked all this was the cofession from Le Gougne. Once she admitted to corruption (whatever it was), leaving things as they were was simply not acceptable. I don’t buy the claims of various Russians about how there “could only be one gold medallist”, as there are many, many instances where this was not the case. Because the long program was so close, I think one could make an argument for a tie in any case.

Re. Michelle Kwan. I don’t think it’s fair at all to ridicule her for never winning a gold medal (neither has Pete Sampras, and I don’t hear anyone giving HIM a hard time for it). Sometimes, despite your very best efforts, despite wanting it more than anything else in the world, despite being in the best shape of your life, sometimes it just isn’t there. Personally, I prefer someone who’s won everything but the big one (gosh, do they Olympics even count as “the big one” anymore?) to someone who won the big one once and then vanished off the face of the earth (hello, Tara Lipinski!).

Re. Vanetta Flowers. Kudos for her historic gold medal. It’s a tremendous accomplishment no matter how you slice it. But given that it’s become so friggin’ difficult to simply describe what her race, or ethnicity, or whatever is, should we really be celebrating the fact that she’s the first “African-American American” or whatever to win a gold medal?

And finally, I think we can all agree that the idea that the Olympics are about amateur athletics is an ancient idea which is DEAD DEAD DEAD. Leaving aside the fact that the purpose for the “amateur ideal” was to arrogantly leave the event in the hands of the wealthy, the simple fact is that it’s just not feasible to have only amateur athletes in ANY spectacle of this magnitude in today’s world. I hope that clears things up.

Most of the Winter sports have nothing more than novelty entertainment value to me - well, I’m an Australian who has never even seen snow before - so I haven’t got much to add. Guess I just wanted to add a reply to your excellent OP, DPW; it was looking a lil’ lonely. :slight_smile:

A couple random reminiscences:

I near cacked my pants laughing when Steven Bradbury won. Our very own accidental hero… although the media crowing about being more successful than Austria (at that stage of the Games) got a little hard to stomach.

What did you think of the closing ceremony? I thought it started okay, but I was compelled to mute the television when Kiss were (appropriately enough) wheeled out onto the ice. However, not even my mighty mute button could save me from Bon Jovi (shudder) and Christina Aguilera. I foolishly thought I could stomach a silent performance - the athletes cavorting on the ice were worth seeing - but when Bon Jovi wrapped himself in an American flag I instinctively changed channel.

Mate, it’s your national flag, a potent symbol of our sovereignty; it is not a sweat-towel or Superman cape. Cape does not enable wearer to sing, indeed. :slight_smile:

The OPer’s name is, of course, DKW.

Thanks. Those are my initials, BTW. (My first name is “Darrell”, as I’ve mentioned from time to time; pretty common name in Hawaii for some reason.)

Incredibly enough…well, not so incredibly, considering my TV schedule…I taped the entire closing ceremonies and haven’t got around to watching them yet. (Don’t get me started on the two movies…) From what I’ve seen, they weren’t especially good or bad, but I really question the inclusion of a has-been 70’s rock band whose sole claim to fame was heavy makeup and “suggestiveness”, traits which certainly aren’t shocking now. Seriously, have you actually listened to their music? As vanilla as rock gets.

Oh, DKW, you taped closing ceremonies? Can you copy it and send me a tape??! I would pay you for all costs. I was there, and it was really pretty cool. I would love to see what everyone saw on TV. It would be interesting to see how it looked and if there was anything that we saw that TV missed or vice versa.

I thought it was kind of a nice touch to include KISS, btw — they have pretty much achieved icon status, and it was fun to see them. I’m not sure why Cristina Aguilera felt the need to wear a garter belt on top of her pants, though.

Eek! I meant “your sovereignty”, not “our”. Nothing like spotting a typo 20 hours old .

FWIW, I admit to having heard a little bit of Kiss’s music. A friend and I developed a mild obsession with ‘I Was Made for Loving You’ - for pure kitsch value, I assure you - and we ended up buying a Kiss compilation. Pretty uncreative stuff. Couldn’t compare to the 70s Queen stuff we were listening to at the same time (which we concluded hadn’t aged too badly).

:: scanning anxiously for typos ::

Ok, safe to submit. :slight_smile: