Olympics disappoint with drama, antics

Am I the only one who actually followed the Winter Olympics this year?

It just seems as though there was less excitement this year than there was for Salt Lake City in 2002 or Nagano in 1998. NBC spent millions of dollars to publicize America’s so-called “best team ever,” but the Americans had numerous embarrassments and disappointments.

Take skier Bode Miller, for example. Here’s a guy that won two silver medals in Salt Lake City, and last year won Alpine’s overall world cup title. Given his past, he was considered a safe bet to win at least a couple medals. However, when it came down to the competition, Miller placed fifth in the downhill, crashed in the Alpine combined event, was disqualified in the Super-G, came in sixth in the giant slalom and did not finish in the slalom. Miller is perhaps the biggest Olympic disappointment since Dan Jansen.

Then we had the whole Michelle Kwan episode. Figure skater Kwan pulled out of the 2006 National Championships due to injury, so she petitioned the Olympic committee for a spot on the team. Kwan put on a good enough performance for the committee and was awarded a spot on the team. After all, she had won five world titles and nine U.S. championships in her historic career, though never Olympic gold. Once she arrived in Turin, she fell apart and chose to withdraw from the competition.

Then we had the Shani Davis-Chad Hedrick soap opera. The whole feud started when Davis did not compete in the team pursuit with Hedrick because he wanted to concentrate on his individual events. Hedrick won gold in the 5000-meter and Davis won gold in the 1000-meter. The feud came to center stage after the race, when Hedrick did not give Davis the traditional congratulations. The final showdown between the two occurred in the 1500-meter race, where Italy’s Enrico Fabris upstaged both Davis and Hedrick. Davis took second and Hedrick took third. Following the race, Hedrick acted in a visibly unsportsmanlike manner. These two athletes, especially Hedrick, ought to be ashamed of their conduct.

If that wasn’t bad enough, let me remind you of Lindsey Jacobellis, who competed in the snowboard cross. She was a champion at the 2005 X-games, and was a favorite to win. After speeding out to a commanding lead in the finals, Jacobellis came to the second to last jump with no one in sight. In a showboating manner, Jacobellis performed a method grab in the air. She was unable to stick the landing and crashed into the snow, allowing Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden to pass her. Jacobellis settled for silver. Performing a trick in a snowboard cross race is inexcusable. You don’t see track athletes running backwards down the homestretch of the marathon, do you? Jacobellis got what she deserved.

Athletes nowadays need to stop being so cocky. Look at the 2004 U.S. baseball team, which didn’t even qualify for the Olympics, or the 2004 men’s basketball team, which suffered an embarrassing three losses, earning a bronze medal.

As a result of these disappointments, the Americans came up short in the medal count, falling to Germany by four medals. One can only hope they will have a better showing in Vancouver in 2010.

Information from – nbcolympics.com