So we’re almost a week removed from the Olympics and I’m going to try to give you a breakdown of what I felt was the good, the bad, and the completely infuriating…
Let’s start at the beginning… As we were all settling in and getting ready to watch a glorified six hour light show our old buddies Al “Do You Believe In Miricles? YES!” Michaels & Bob Costas come on to report on the unfortunate death of Georgian luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, and go on to explain that the Opening Ceremonies will be held in his honor… and then it starts… The next few minutes are spent replaying his crash / death video over and over and over. Those of you that were also playing at home on Twitter, like I was (@mikewendt), know that the over all feeling was less-then-pleased that NBC decided to show the actual crash footage. Of course I was looking for my own soap box to stand on. Not because they were actually showing this boy die over & over again. But more because of the fact that they felt this was acceptable to air, yet we as a society acted like our world was coming to an end when Janet Jackson’s nipple was exposed six years ago… or how apologies are being forced onto everyone left and right for “offensive” acts, words, gestures, etc. But showing a 21-year-old crash to his death is perfectly acceptable to air a half-dozen times in front of one of the largest national television audiences of the year.
Anyway, I’ll continue on more of this apology nonsense a bit further down…
The Ceremonies themselves had their flaws as well… and I’m not referring to the Torch Lighting malfunction that gave us the great pop culture term “Gretzky-face” but rather the need to have Bob Costas doing a running commentary that amounted to a few hours of audio Wikipedia searches. It completely took me out of any moment they were try to create. But it’s not the first time Bob’s taken me out of a great moment by over-selling how special, magical, spectacular, etc. the whole thing is. Did you know that for generations when ponds around the world freeze people have been going out on to these ponds and playing hockey on them? And that by holding a hockey game inside the majestic, hallowed halls of Fenway Park is like the players are going back to their roots and blah blah blah. Thanks for letting me know that, like the Winter Classic, this is a special event……… I think you see where I’m going here, so I’ll move on.
Once the hoopla was taken care of and the games started I was in full blown TV junkie mode. My sleep pattern is still messed up from trying to get my fix of everything that I could each night.
I can be honest here so I will… I watched the Figure Skating, Skiing, Speed Skating, and stuff like that just waiting for them to wipeout. Oh and they did not disappoint.
But to prove I’m not completely heartless, there were a number of genuinely nice moments to be seen. When Alexandre Bilodeau, with his brother and country looking on, gave Canada their first Gold medal won on Canadian soil. Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao winning the Gold for China in Figure Skating was another one of those stories you like to see get the happy ending treatment.
Women’s Curling… Do I need to say anymore? Well, if the media coverage is any indication, maybe I do. I’m not going to smash them too bad, because I understand it’s not really covered here in the States. But I did find it amusing how the reporters would try to explain the sport to the viewers… It seemed like a cross between someone teaching a child something new & finding out there’s civilization on other planets. Anyway, my introduction to this fine sport was actually by accident. I was in Montreal with a couple friends for a weekend and on a rainy morning we decided to nurse a few mean hangovers with a couple cases of Molson Ex and about four hours of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Google it if you’d like). Maybe it was the Canadian beer or maybe it was watching eight women sliding on ice while screaming “HARD!” but from then on I was hooked on Women’s Curling.
While I’m on the women’s side of things… How about the USA & Canada women’s hockey teams! They beat the bag out of everyone. I haven’t seen scores get run up like that since little league, and yes this is where I’m going to revisit the apology topic from the first part of this blog. The Team Canada women had nothing to apologize for and the false outrage over their celebration was what embarrassed me. Here are the facts… The women from Team Canada had been in the locker room celebrating their Gold medal win and doing the necessary press for over 70 minutes after the game was over, the arena had been cleared of all the spectators for a long while when a few of the team members decided to head back out on to the ice and soak in all they could of this great moment in their lives. They had some champagne, beer, and cigars that they were celebrating with. The only people left in the arena at this time were the team’s personnel, a few Olympic officials, and some press. Someone snapped a few candid shots of the teammates celebrating on the ice and posted them online. I still can’t figure out what was suppose to be so embarrassing and/or offensive, but enjoying a couple drinks and a cigar is usually par for the course when it comes to celebrating a sports victory. However the next day the team had to issue an apology. I ask you, FOR WHAT? There was actually a reporter on one of the networks the next day babbling about how they should be “tossed out of the closing ceremonies for their actions.” That got to me on so many levels it’s not even funny.
Then it was the men’s turn… USA vs. Canada for the Gold in Hockey! The game everybody wanted, but didn’t think we’d get. I’m not too proud to admit that I thought Canada would be facing Russia for the Gold. But when Canada sent Ovechkin and his boys home in a huff all eyes were on the Americans to make it happen. Six goals in 12 minutes was all it took for the US to do away with Finland and set the stage for the rematch hockey fans (and NHL PR people) had been dreaming about. It was an absolutely amazing contest. Back and forth, tight score, heavy hitting, strong intensity, and above all else… incredible goaltending by Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo. Would it have been better had USA won? Sure… But did it really take away from the great competition on display in front of me? Not even a bit.
All in all, I’d give the 2010 Olympic Winter Games from Vancouver a B+ overall. For the most part, when I wasn’t ranting and raving about the non-athletic aspects of the Olympics, I was enjoying the variety of content these Games brought to us. The best part (besides my Women’s Curling fetish that I’m seeking help for) was obviously the Men’s Hockey Gold Medal Game – USA vs. Canada. The worst part, and I’ve given this some serious thought, would have to be the awkwardly boring Fireside Chats with Bob Costas.