So my prediction of an epic faceoff in the men’s hockey gold medal game turned out to be prophetic, with Canada winning 3-2 on a Sidney Crosby game winner in overtime. For me, sudden death playoff hockey, whether it’s in the NHL or the Olympics, is one of the most thrilling formats in all of sport. So to see Canada’s poster boy athlete slot home the championship winning goal was incredible on its own merit, but I can imagine for Canadians it was one of the greatest moments in their Olympic history. As much as I was rooting for the modern day Cinderella USA team to win it all, I was thoroughly satisfied with the final result. Echoing my previous comments, Canada preserved its national pride with the win, as a loss to USA would have been much more damaging to their somewhat fragile confidence than the loss was for us. It’s still our continent and it’s still their sport, for now.
As if things couldn’t get any better for Canada, their men’s curling team also took home gold in the final on Saturday night. A part of what makes curling so entertaining is watching the intense focus the competitors exude as they’re about to throw the stone down the ice. I am confused, however, by all the yelling that goes on as the stone is sliding down the ice, it sounds like a bunch of jabber, but I assume it all means something specific and has a purpose. My friend Cleve brilliantly suggested that if drinking was made mandatory during a match, we could have some entertainment gold on our hands. Could you imagine a curler trying to throw a stone during the tenth end and just keeling over while sliding down the ice? This is why I need to be a sports commissioner, my primary focus would be to put out an entertaining product for the fans. Another unique aspect about curling is the absolute lack of athleticism required to play, besides being able to slide on ice and sweep, and this lack of emphasis on athletic ability is what makes the women’s game as equally enjoyable to watch as the men’s side. Before you accuse of me being a male chauvinist, which I’m not, what I mean by that is exactly what I wrote: the lack of emphasis on size, strength, or speed means the women can play the game just as well as the men, which is really the point I’m trying to make(And if you honestly believe that other women’s sports, like basketball, hockey or numerous others, are as entertaining or anywhere near the same level as their male equivalents, then we’ll just have to agree to disagree). But that doesn’t necessarily mean the women of the Olympics aren’t exceptional talents; They are all elite athletes in their respective sports, and many of the womens’ events, in particular the alpine skiing ones, provided drama, thrills, and spills to boot. And need I mention again Queen Yu Na?
In the past, for some odd reason I would feel a momentary sense of sadness and separation whenever a sporting event like the Olympics or the World Cup came to their conclusion. I think part of it was knowing that it would be another four years before they returned, which is a significant amount of time. Part of it could also be attributed to my enthusiasm, and perhaps borderline fanaticism, for sport. But times have changed, and now you can find tv coverage on many of the Olympic sports year round practically, with channels like Universal Sports dedicating their programming to showcasing Olympic sports in non Olympic years. And four years just doesn’t seem quite as long as it used to, maybe it’s because I’m getting older and a year in my life seems less significant. My law school peeps can attest that the past three years seemed to fly by, at least that’s how it felt for me. BTW, the Green Day song “Time of Your Life” is stuck in my head right now, sorry if the same happens to you after reading this. “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right…”
Another observation that came to me as I was watching all the Olympic programming was the giant leap forward in the viewing experience because of the now widespread use of HD cameras and modern rigging equipment. HD has been around for awhile now, but some of the new visuals NBC concocted, like watching a replay of two skiers’ runs superimposed on the screen at the same time, created a uniquely insightful dimension for the viewer. Instant replay is so yesterday. Although HD slow motion replay is pretty sick. Here’s a slideshow of some of the memorable moments from these Games…
All in all, I give the Vancouver Games a solid 9.0 for the events and storylines, but a 6.5 for NBC’s television coverage and production. Keep Bob Costas, but ditch the football broadcasting duo of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, who for the most part failed to accentuate the high and low moments of the Games with any verve. Personally, I would love to see Marv Albert return to NBC, his signature “YES!” and high energy commentary would be be a welcome addition to the tepid collection of announcers and analysts NBC trotted out.
Not to end on a somber note, but I feel compelled to briefly mention the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died from a crash during a practice run that flung him off the course and into a steel beam. His death is a sobering reminder of the fragility of life, and highlights the inherent risks many of the athletes take to compete at the highest level. Unfortunately his death will be remembered as a dark cloud of sorrow that will be permanently associated with the Vancouver Games. But even in the face of death, the important thing in life is to take something ugly and create something beautiful. The Olympics is about more than just sport; It is a universal link that brings the world together, it reminds us that we are all human, and that even in our finest hour we are capable of faltering, and that athletes will come and go like waves in the sea, but the Olympic spirit will endure forever. I’ll remember Shaun White’s victory lap, Lindsay Vonn’s downhill run, Bode Miller’s comeback and redemption, Apolo Ohno’s lack of dominance(HAHA, sweet sweet validation!), the men’s hockey final, Queen Yu Na’s virtuoso performances, all of my favorite female curling beauties, and many more. What will you remember from these Games?
See you again hopefully in four years for the next Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Babushka!