The Bobsled Log Ride

After the Vancouver Winter Olympics, they ought to convert the luge track at Whistler into a log ride or a water slide.   It’d be a good way to attract new talent to the field.  They could even fashion those logs as bobsleds.   Pick your country and hop in for a thrilling ride.  Fun for the whole family.

Highs And Lows At The Winter Olympics

Certainly the weather has presented some challenges to the athletes and the organizers. Too foggy, too hot, too snowy, too slushy. Some events have been postponed. For American alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who is recovering from a shin injury, this has been a blessing. The question is will her timing be there when she finally competes?

The luge competition may prove to be the low point of the Vancouver games. The death of the young Georgian slider raised doubts about the safety of the course, prompting organizers to shorten it and build a safety wall at the site of the fatal crash to provide an extra layer of protection for the luge competitors. As a result, the track is slower and some of sliders are not happy with the adjustments.  An Austrian luger called the new male start the “old lady’s position” and a German female slider called the women’s a “kinder” start, meaning appropriate for children.

And there have been lots of medal costing spills. In the Individual Men’s Nordic Combined 10 km Cross Country, Finland’s Janne Ryynaenen leading with only a few kilometers left, fell going into a slushy turn. The Finn finished 26th. In Short Track speed racing, the Koreans were a second away from sweeping the medals when on the last turn, one turned sharply into the other and they both went down, allowing American skaters Ohno and Celski to sneak in for medals. In the Men’s Moguls Finals, American Nathan Roberts over-rotated on his last jump, and nearly landed outside the course taking down a flag marker as he tumbled down the mountain. And there were 6 falls in all during the Pairs Short Program for Figure Skating on Sunday night.

Maybe the biggest highlight so far has been Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal run in Men’s Moguls.  And like Hannah Kearney’s gold medal dash the day before, his run was fast, furious and flawless and his country’s first ever gold in a Canadian hosted games.   Every gold medal won is a highlight though not all are highlighted.

Which brings me to another point.  Why hasn’t NBC interviewed more international athletes?  Wouldn’t you like to hear from the gold medal German Luge champion?  Couldn’t somebody have interviewed Frenchman Jason Lamy-Chappuis  the Men’s Nordic Combined victor?  Surely someone on the NBC staff speaks French and most of the athletes are multilingual, except perhaps the Americans, and I don’t mean that disparagingly, but I thinks it’s a fair statement.  I wanted to know what Martina Sablikova from the Czech Republic thought about her gold medal performance in the Women’s 3000 m.   Didn’t the Olympic committee plan for interpreters to be available to the press?

I’d also like to see more feature reporting on Vancouver.  I still don’t have a sense of the place.  But all in all, NBC is doing a good job with the games.  Bob Costas and Al Michaels are solid anchors and know how to put an athlete at ease in an interview.  Bob’s interview with Hannah Kearney was a highlight as was her voice over of her own run down Cypress Mountain.   Al is more a football guy and I keep hearing the Monday Night Football theme song every time I see him, but he’s smooth enough to be credible no matter the sport.

Falls, spills, slips, crashes, injuries, and bad weather are all part of the Games, but so is the thrill of victory – and not just the victory of winning a gold medal but the triumph of making it to and competing in an Olympics game; for most Olympic athletes, a dream come true.