Saturday, February 18, 2006
(Insert blank space here...................).
That's right, so far the Olympics have not been the overwhelming American triumph that it should be. Hockey is a good example :
So far, Games are a nightmare for U.S.
Only, in their dreams, it was Sweden's women's hockey team playing the role of the underdog United States and the U.S. playing that of the indomitable, overconfident Soviet Union.
"Legs feed the wolf," said Peter Elander, the Swedish coach, repeating the line Herb Brooks said in the movie. "When they had the tie to Norway, Herb Brooks kept them on the ice (and they) skated lines. We have done that in our practices [the] last three months."
This is what the Turin Olympics have disintegrated into for the United States. Another upset. Another disappointment. Another country's coach, another country's athlete, talking about the motivation of beating the U.S., of taking our old work ethic, our old emotions and rising to glory.
Friday, it was that Swedish women's hockey team that did it to the U.S., 3-2 in overtime. They derailed an American group that has boldly called out the Canadians in the press, but couldn't even reach the gold medal game, falling to an upstart that simply wanted it more.
Even though the US has 10 medals Team USA has been disappointing here, rarely winning in any sport that we didn't just recently invent and push into the games.
Six of our ten medals, including three of our six golds have come in snowboarding. It's a great sport, but there isn't exactly heavy international competition. We have two golds in speedskating, one in Alpine skiing and that's about it. (Besides, I hate snowboarders they are the guys who are always cutting me off when skiing......).
The S.O. made me sit through a US-Japan curling match. ( Brought me desert and a glass of wine. While eating, the US lost........).
And as for men's hockey, a sport the US should be crushing all comers in, well the less said the better. I find myself in agreement with those who say its time to pull the plug on the overpaid babies of the NHL :
TURIN, Italy - After Latvia and the United States tied in men's hockey Wednesday, after the passionate Latvian fans waved flags and danced in the aisles, after the vast majority of remote controls in the U.S. tuned into American Idol, Arturs Irbe summed up the entire thing. "You can say that this probably means more to us than to the American team," the former NHL and current Latvian goalie said.
Don't stop there, Arturs. It isn't just the American team that may not
care all that much about its performance here at the Winter Olympics. It's all
of America itself. Every day, it seems tougher to be a hockey fan. Every day
brings another reminder of how far the sport has slipped, how unlikely it is to
ever capture imaginations again.
This isn't simply about a weak effort against the Latvians. This is about how another of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's marketing experiments is failing, how another winter seems lost, how not even the Olympic Games can excite anyone.
They did come back yesterday and beat Kazakhstan 4-1 at Torino Esposizioni. So maybe someone threatened their paychecks. Even so it still bothers me that the American team is made up exclusively of NHL players, and the league didn't begin its Olympic break until after Sunday's games. Because of a weekend snowstorm that socked the East Coast, only two players made it to Turin by Monday. The remaining 21 players came in on Tuesday. The team had one practice before the opener. This is what the members of a NATIONAL team do?
At this rate, I'll just start drinking and watching gay men skating, what have we come to?