Thoughts on Vancouver

The flame has been extinguished and the curling rocks and brooms put away, the Games are over.  And so it is time for a few semi-random final thoughts.

1) The closing ceremony had a few nice moments.  I’m not a big enough fan of theater to really get into the pageantry stuff involved in opening or closing ceremonies; I would be the perhaps rare person that cares more about the mechanical stuff like bringing an Olympic flag in or declaring the Games open or inviting the athletes of the world to reconvene in 4 years time, that sort of thing.  But there were a few campy moments of the closing ceremony that I liked.  First of all it was brilliant and fun to begin the closing ceremonies by getting the fourth leg of the Olympic Torch hoisted and lit by Caroline Lemay Doan, who was to light that pillar during the opening ceremony.  Very nice touch.  Also being a classic rock fan I liked the simple soberness of having Neil Young come out to sing Long May You Run and then have the Torch go out during the final few chords.

2) I’m not sure if anyone in Canada noticed but there was a hockey game Sunday afternoon.  Being that I live south of the Great Lakes I was of course rooting for the US team, but I didn’t lose sleep over the overtime loss.  It was still a great tournament for the Americans; I was expecting a lack of a medal beforehand so I’ll take silver.  I thought Parise getting that goal when Canada was 24 seconds from bedlam might leave the red and white on their heels, but they were anything but.  And as a Penguins fan I can relax now.  As the author of Elvis Has Left had pointed out in a post around the start of the Games, Sidney Crosby was set up to be a reviled figure in Canada if the hosts had failed to gold.  And I don’t just mean from Don Cherry, but the media and fans in all of the NHL cities in the great north for the next season or two at least, especially given how unremarkable a tournament he was having.  Losing that game I think would have actually created a potentially debilitating level of extraneous bullshit for Sid the Kid whenever the Pens played a Canadian franchise.  I shudder to think what a playoff series against Montreal or Ottawa could have looked like.  Of course now he might have the opposite problem, needing an entourage armed with machetes to get through the throngs.  But that’s a better problem to have.

3) I suppose there could be some room for debate, but I gotta think the story of the Games is Joannie Roachette winning the bronze medal in figure skating a mere 4 days after the sudden passing of her mother.  I cannot imagine doing anything other than withdrawing from the competition spending days in mourning.  She not only competed but she skated two flawless routines and earned a medal.  No sympathy vote from the judges, no home crowd advantage, she was a medalist straight up.  All I can say is wow!

4) Why isn’t curling on TV in the United States more often than every 4 years?  Lord knows we have enough sports niche channels these days that a few domestic and international events could get some coverage somewhere.  The sport, pardon the obvious and often used pun, rocks.  The rules are simple but the strategy rich and the execution needs to be flawless.  Plus its a game you can play while drinking!  A pity the American skips had such awful fortnights, but its still tremendous fun to watch.

5) I’m not sure who the biggest American story of these Games is.  I’m tempted to say the redemptive performance of Bode Miller, coming back perhaps a bit past his prime to get 3 medals, one of each flavor, after the literal wipeout in Torino.  If you may permit me to be a cad for a moment I will suggest making Lindsey Vonn the face of these Games (if you know what I mean).  She didn’t get as many medals as hoped, but I think her leg injury on the condensed schedule after the early weather problems didn’t help.  Also she was so joyful in winning and gracious in not winning it wasn’t hard to like her.  Where did Julia Mancuso come from?  The most dominate American in his sport is certainly Shaun White; he won with a relatively safe performance and then went balls out in his 2nd run just to show off.  The dude got really big air.  Apolo Ohno got some medals, the Koreans had a disputed DQ, there were some crashes and other craziness.  In other words, a typical short track tournament was held.  He won’t come out and say it but this was his last go around and he seemed to be telling Bob Costas yesterday evening that your network will be hiring me as an analyst in Sochi.  And he’s probably right.  I’m sure Lindsey Jacobellis understands now, if she didn’t 4 years ago, why its important to carpe diem when you can and not piss it away on a dumb stunt.

6) Something could always come out after the fact, especially from someone that medaled one of the later on events, but so far no one has been stripped of a medal for doping.  Maybe Dick Pound wants the reputation of a clean Games in his home country?  Maybe it just hasn’t come out yet?  Or maybe Olympic athletes have finally figured out that the IOC isn’t joking around on this one?

7) My opinion is that NBC is getting better at covering these things.  They have finally rotated things a bit back in the favor of people that watch sporting events to watch sports.  There were very few sappy feature pieces on individual athletes, at least during the primetime coverage.  They did a lot of the marquee stuff live (the exception being Alpine events they taped for prime time).  Of course the North American location and scheduling cooperation for the IOC helped there.  My main gripe, as I voiced early on, was with some of the event analysts telling me the same thing ad nauseum.  I am not an idiot and I was listening 2 minutes ago when you told me how this thing is scored.  I got it.  But since John Tesh was nowhere in sight I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

8) Of course there was a figure skating controversy.  I don’t think we can have an Olympics figure skating comp without controversy of some kind, whether it be in the judging or a personality conflict.  Considering that it is usually the Russian/European competitor that gets ranked ahead of the North American in these things, and the fact Lysacek skated better, I was fine with this outcome even if Vladimir Putin wasn’t.

9) Except for the mild El Nino west coast winter that VANOC obviously couldn’t control it was a very solid Games.  Not sure if it was gold medal worthy or not, but we’ll go ahead and play the Canadian National Anthem anyhow:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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