Hack In The USSR
Olympic Dreams & Disappointments
One of the easiest things anyone can do once every four years is to sit on the couch, watching TV coverage of the Winter Olympics and carp, complain and generally criticize the genetically blessed, gorgeously fit athletes who don’t live up to media-generated expectations.
So here I go.
With the mountains of hope and hype heaped on the U.S. Olympians, there was bound to be some disappointments. But I can’t remember another Winter Olympics during which so many “destined for the podium” athletes not only didn’t turn in medal-worthy performances, they didn’t come close; Shaun White, Shani Davis, Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety and many other names unfortunately come to mind.
For the past almost two weeks it has gotten so that as soon as I hear the label, “strong gold medal favorite” or “favored to win it all here in Sochi” attached to any U.S. Olympian, I fully expect to see them finish several positions lower and slower than even the winner of the bronze. Many of the Chosen Ones haven’t even finished in the top 10.
To be fair, there have been several well-earned, come-from-behind surprises for Team USA, like Andrew Weibrecht taking the silver in the Men’s Super G ski race ahead of his own “destined for gold” teammate Bode Miller. Wait, Andrew who?
As frustrating as it has been to see so many disappointing results, the most disgusting moment of the games by far was last Sunday night’s badgering of the above-mentioned Bode Miller by NBC hack reporter Christin Cooper. Ms. Cooper was relentless in asking the bronze medal winner questions about the loss of his younger brother Chelone, who died from a seizure last year. Miller, in full emotional breakdown mode after being asked numerous different ways about how it felt not to have his brother there to see him race, finally took a knee behind a partition where the incessantly insensitive woman couldn’t get to him. Luckily for NBC, however, there was yet another camera at snow level that was able to stay with the visibly shaken Miller as he sobbed. A Tweet later that night with the hashtag #NBCFAIL said it all: “Christin Cooper wins gold for worst human on the planet.”
A few other Olympic observations before I run out the clock:
You know the games are in trouble when one of the more riveting stories has been whether or not NBC’s über-anchor Bob Costas would turn in a DNF due to a world-class case of pink eye.
It was a kick watching the foothills’ own Kate Hansen boogying to Beyoncé before her luge heats. While the 21-year-old La Cañada native ultimately didn’t make it higher than 10th place overall, her teammate Erin Hamlin went on to win the first ever medal for a U.S. luger. You go, girls!
Speaking of luge: Who in the wide world of weirdness came up with the idea of doubles luge, an event featuring two grown men lying on their backs, one under the other, sliding down an ice chute at 80-plus mph on less than a trash can lid? Awkward doesn’t begin to describe the spectacle.
The motto of these games is “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Well, hot they got. But they could have used a lot more cool. Might as well have held the games in Los Angeles for all of the winter conditions provided by the tropic-like Sochi region.
And so, with the closing ceremonies of these 2014 Winter Olympics only a couple of days away, couch critics like yours truly will have to wait another four years until the “destined for gold” athletes and others gather again in PyeongChang, South Korea on Feb. 9, 2018. I’m already setting my DVR.
And if anyone thought security was an issue in Russia this time around, just wait until game organizers have to deal with whatever trouble that nut-job-northern-neighbor-with-nukes Kim Jong Un dreams up. Let the games begin, indeed.
I’ll see you ’round town.