Saturday, February 27, 2010

Medal Times part II: awards for the best amnd worst of week two of the Vancouver Games

Posted By on Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 4:31 PM

As a dedicated Nordic nerd, the best story of the entire games for me was the success of the U.S. men's combined team. What's so notable about their impressive showing is how long and hard they worked towards a goal of winning Olympic medals.

The team got an early, and historic, boost with Johnny Spillane's silver the "small hill" event. Teammate Todd Lodwick's fourth place (a mere 1.5 seconds out of first) and Bill Demong's sixth place finish made for a impressive overall showing.

Then Spillane, Lodwick, Demong were joined by teammate Brett Camerota for a silver medal in the combined team event. Bad skis did Demong during the ski leg of the two-part event.

And just when Nordic ski fans didn't think it could get any better, Demong bounced back and he and Spillane went 1-2 in the "large hill" combined event.

When all was said and done, it was a spectacular overall showing for a group of well-deserving, athletes in a very demanding sport.

And to make sure that there's Bend twist to the story- Demong rode in the 2009 Cascade Cycling Classic.

Moving on to the alpine side, how about double platinum for Bode Miller? What a showing for a guy whose career was on the rocks (allegedly) after the 2006 Torino Games.

A former Olympian e-mailed from Vermont after Miller's combined gold: "Bravo Bode. Now maybe the U.S. Ski team will let him use his bus again."

The bus reference is to Miller's pre-Torino Games World Cup season where he traveled race-to-race in his own camper van defying U.S. Ski Team rules and regulations.

Bode's showing at Whistler eased golden girl Lindsey Vonn off the front pages and enshrined him as America's all-time best male alpine skier.

Now to lead and double lead medals to NBC-TV for yet again completely misjudging the American viewing public and not moving with the times. And easily the worst moment of any Games of late was the Bob Costas on a seaplane/Al Michaels on the shore lead in to last Monday's prime time broadcast. Silly, stupid stuff at best.

For an interesting take on NBC and their failure at the Vancouver Games, go to

http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2010/02/nbcs_olympic_coverage_manages.html

Back to platinum, this one going to the Canadian cross-country team for their overall excellent finishes and performance. No, they didn't win any medals but they proved competitive.

But what, you might ask, happened to the U.S. Cross-Country Team despite the happy face being put on their performance by those in the ski blogosphere?

America's best performance in cross-country came 34 years ago when Bill Koch won a silver medal in the men's 30km at the 1976 Innsbruck Games.

A couple of years later Koch and current MBSEF cross-country coach Dan Simoneau went 1-2 at the Swedish National Championships and it looked like America's cross-country program had arrived.

Perhaps it was too much too soon and it'll be years before another podium finish.

Platinum to two rookie Olympians, twenty year olds Alex Harvey and Tommy Ford.

Canadian cross-country skier Harvey placed 9th in the 30km Pursuit and was on the fourth place finishing relay team. He is the son of two-time summer (cycling) and two-time winter (x-c skiing) Olympian Pierre Harvey, who also happens to be of the nicest people you can imagine. According to athletes at the Games, Alex Harvey inherited not only his father's amazing athletic ability but also his fine character.

Tommy Ford's platinum is well deserved as he showed that he has a very promising future.

Expect to see Ford and Harvey on or near the podium in 2014.

And finally, double lead to NBC-TV and it's hockey commentators calling the US-Canada opening round game, the new "miracle on ice". It was very good game but had not nearly the same impact of the fabled USA-USSR medal round game at the 1980 Lake Placid Games.

And least we forget, what about the 1960 U.S. hockey team's miraculous gold medal performance at Squaw Valley?

Now off to watch USA-Canada gold medal game. Let the pucks fall where they may.


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