Olympic observations

Mike Crissman

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. The recent Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver was a tale of two cities.

It began on a tragic, somber note, following the death of a luger just hours before the opening ceremony. The host nation of Canada faced an uphill battle in trying to remedy a tragedy.

These Olympic Games enjoyed many dramatic and inspiring storylines with athletes from across the globe. Records, hearts, egos and limbs were all broken. In the end, one country came out on top. No, it was not the overall leader in the medal count, U.S.A., but rather its northern neighbor, who, against all odds, salvaged a dire situation and ended up putting on one hell of a show.

The following are some final thoughts on what turned out to be an extremely entertaining Olympics:

As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the wreck and subsequent death of Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili — at a track which saw lugers go faster than the sport has ever seen before — was an irreversible tragedy. Even worse, perhaps, was the Olympic committee placing all blame of the crash on “human error” and none on the controversially dangerous luge track. After watching video of the gruesome crash online, I found myself on the edge of my seat, wincing, whenever I watched a luge event during the games. I expected a crash to be possible at any second while seeing men and women ride a sled at 90 or more mph on the sketchiest track ever built. Vivid images of Kumaritashvili’s morbid crash have remained in the back of my mind, as I’m sure is the case for the millions of others who also saw it.

Going into the Olympics, there was only one word that could really excite me: curling. And oh baby did it not disappoint! Sure, the sport is basically bocce ball on ice, but all the broom sweeping and over-the-top yelling is funnier than any movie Adam Sandler’s been in recently. In what other sport can balding men, well into their 40s (Kevin “Old Bear” Martin of Canada), win gold in an Olympic event?

American snowboarder Shaun White, a.k.a. “The Flying Tomato,” blew my mind with his Double McTwist 1260 and earned himself his second Olympic gold medal.

Lindsey Vonn is more than a pretty face; she’s actually a pretty good skier. Vonn overcame injury and bitter American teammate/rival Julia Mancuso to take home a gold and bronze medal in the Olympic alpine competition.

Apolo Anton Ohno is my hero. With eight medals, the star short track speed skater, and “Dancing with the Stars” champion, became the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history. I thoroughly enjoyed Ohno’s heated rivalry with the South Korean skaters. I also enjoyed his soul patch, which is cooler than the other side of the pillow. Although unlikely, I hope Ohno decides to go to Sochi, Russia in 2014, at the ripe old age of 31, to compete again in what would be his fourth Olympics.

When Russian prima-donna figure skater Evgeni Plushenko came second to American Evan Lysacek in men’s singles, he publicly criticized Lysacek for not landing a quad jump in his winning performance. On his Web site, Plushenko awarded himself a made-up platinum medal for his “superior” effort in Vancouver. Now, I don’t know too much about figure skating (most of what I know comes from “Blades of Glory”); however, I do know a sore loser when I see one.

Mr. Russian blonde mullet needs to stop talking trash and show some class. The Cold War is over.

n There is no point in having cross-country skiing in the Winter Olympics when there is also the Biathlon. It is the exact same thing, only the Biathlon also has rifle shooting.

n The most exciting single event of the Games was by far the hockey gold medal finals between the U.S. and Canada. The game-tying goal by American Zach Parise with 24 seconds left in the game almost gave me my first heart attack. Nonetheless, the game-winning goal by Canadian Sidney Crosby in overtime was a perfect ending to the Olympic Games for the Canadians. Hockey in Canada is like football, basketball and baseball combined in America. They definitely deserved it more.

It’s hard to determine who the overall winner of the Olympics was. The U.S. took home the most overall medals, but Canada won the most gold. Their 14 first-place finishes was a Winter Olympics record. To help settle the debate, I quote Ricky Bobby: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Mike Crissman is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].