The 2010 Vancouver Olympics have surprised me in more ways than one. The action has been entertaining despite NBC’s tedious coverage (do we really need commercial breaks after every two ski runs?), the fact that I don’t understand the scoring systems for half the sports and the interminable alpine delays due to weather.
The biggest surprise to me has been the amount of stars that have emerged. Not just great performances but people who sports fans will remember years from now. When looking back at the 2006 Torino games I really can’t remember much other than Bode Miller’s failure to perform. During the 2014 Sochi games I’m sure I’ll be able to recall something about all the following athletes.
The bitter disappointment four years ago has been erased by the best performance for an American skier in Olympic history. In the course of three short events, Miller snagged a bronze in the downhill, silver in the Super G and a gold in the Super Combined. The Super combined win gave Miller the Olympic gold medal that had eluded him during his storied career, and capped off an improbable turn-around. Miller was considering retirement a few months ago, now he’s an American Olympic hero. In less than a week he’s gone from one of the biggest disappointments in Olympic history to the greatest male skier in American history.
His haul so far in Vancouver has given him five career Olympic medals, one gold, three silver and one bronze. Pretty unforgettable 10 days for that guy.
Switzerland’s own Harry Potter lookalike took gold in both the Normal and Large hill competitions as a 20-year old at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. He was just the second competitor in Olympic history to do so and immediately became a superstar in his native country. Much like Bode Miller, at the 2006 Torino games, Ammann was a gigantic flop. He finished 38th on the Normal hill and 15th on the Large hill.
In Vancouver, the excited Swiss flier dominated both hills, out-jumping the entire field in every round. His youthful exuberance made him a star after the Salt Lake games – and earned him an appearance on the David Letterman Show – and he was just as thrilled this time. It’s impossible not to like the guy and the fact that he’s far and away the best in the world at what he does makes him a star anyway. The four gold medals don’t hurt either.
So far I’ve watched about 13 minutes of the nearly 85 hours of figure skating coverage NBC has shown thus far. In those few minutes I ended up catching both of Lysacek’s performances. I have to say, I was impressed. The guy (apparently) had the two best performances of his life, on the biggest possible stage, against a gigantic favorite and ended up beating that favorite, who happens to be a bit of a dick.
Lysacek on the other hand has been nothing but gracious in the aftermath of his victory. It has also been revealed that he’s dating 2008 Olympic gymnastics all-around champion Nastia Liukin after formerly shacking up with ice dancer Tanith Belbin. Not bad my friend, not bad at all.
The Luge isn’t the most popular sport at the Winter Olympics but it is really fun to watch…as long as everyone actually survives. Of the nine medals handed out to lugers at the 2010 Olympics, five of them were won by Germans. Tatjana Huefner took the women’s singles gold, while Natalie Geisenberger took the bronze. Felix Loch and David Moeller took gold and silver respectively in the men’s singles competition, while Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch teamed up to grab a bronze in the men’s doubles competition.
The Germans also brought home a silver and bronze in Skeleton and finished first and second in the two-man Bobsled event. So the Germans are dominating the “sliding sports” to the tune of nine medals in six events so far. Yeah, I’d say they’re doing something right in pre-Olympic training. You know Germans and their training programs.
These were supposed to be Vonn’s games to dominate. While she scored a gold in the downhill and a silver in the Super G, she also missed a great chance at another gold in the Super Combined. That said, we’ve had nothing but constant reports about the 25-year old, her shin and when she skis next. There has been a near 24-hour stream of news out of the Vonn camp. We’ve gotten to know everything about her, the fact that she uses men’s skis , her husband and her training routine.
Regardless of whether or not she takes another medal away from these games, Vonn has made a distinct impression on the viewing public. She’s attractive, owns a great smile and hasn’t allowed her injured shin to be used as an excuse. All those things have only helped boost her profile.
Probably the most impressive single performance of these games came in between the pipes during the United States’ epic 5-3 hockey win over Canada this past Sunday night. Entering the Olympics, most experts claimed that Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller had to be the best player in the tournament for the United States hockey team to have a chance at a medal. Well, he’s been that and then some. Miller faced 45 shots Sunday night from possibly the greatest collection of talent in the history of the game. He stopped the puck 42 times, many times spectacularly.
Miller has given up just five goals in the tournament’s three games and his ability in net has given the young Team USA the confidence they need to play hard, fast and freely. If the United States happens to win the gold at the 2010 Olympics, Miller could become the single biggest star of these games.