The Olympic Winter Games End

The Winter Olympic Games have ended in Vancouver. The next time these games close  it will be in Sochi, Russia. Russia will be building from an Olympics where they did not make the semi-finals in Men’s Hockey and where they broke the streak of medals in Pairs figure skating. They won some medals but it was not a happy or lucky Olympics for them. I do feel for them — Russia has been in transition for thirty years and the Olympics can help chrystalize progress — but their performance at the closing ceremonies was compelling.
 It is obvious to me that the Olympic Games were a great success. I believe that (short of some unforeseen calamity) the next games in Russia will also be a great success. I always  look forward to the Olympics of both types. I think that this will be a very memorable Olympics for Canada because they have ended their drought of gold medals on their own soil which marred their joy in hosting the games in Calgary and Alberta. For the United States of America it has been a chance to break the record for the most medals ever won by any nation in the Winter Olympic Games. 
Julia Mancuso Skis for two siver medals to add to her gold medal in Turino.

Each story was different. Norway and Sweden battling in Cross Country. Relevant to that struggle somehow was the struggle of the US players like Hannah Teter, Shaun White, Seth Westcott, Kelly Clark and others to defend snowboarding dominance against emerging teams like China, Australia and Japan. The struggle took some casualties — especially Lindsay Jacobellis. Curling was entertaining but not glorious for US fans.    

 

Shaun White skied to gold to repeat his success at Turino.

The Opening ceremonies were less than those of Beijing.  Nonetheless, they were  fully engrossing . Yes they had flaws of mechanical and other kinds. They were wonderful however. I was really moved by the French and English which was moderately well done in the land of British Columbia. I was very impressed with the beauty of the blending of the Amerind Aborginal cutlures with those of Euro-Canadian culture which was was very beautifully done. We face a future in which these ceremonies are valuable reflections on what is possible for humanity and civilization.

 

I look forward also to see what the Brits will do with the next Summer games in London. I honor the Night Train bobsled team led by Steve Holcombe, the Nordic Combined athletes and others who carved out new realms of excellence. I honor the work of Shaun White and others who have held off ever more expert competitors in the X-Games and Gravity Games traditions which the US (including me) sometimes like to feel we own. Julia Mancuso skied for two silvers to add to her Gold from Turino’s 2006 games.  

We Americans had a lot to be happy about in Alpine Skiing in this country. Julia and Lindsay were a great story.  However, we also have seen Bode Miller go from an Olympic bust to an Olympic power player. We have seen our national team become something to be taken seriously in those events. This eases the sting of watching our hockey teams come up silver to Canada’s gold.  It was after all a worldwide games. I was happy for the Chinese  success in pairs figure skating, the success of Kim Yu Na from South Korea could not be more deserved even if it helped  break a long streak in the USA’s medals. While our girls did not join their predecessors such as Kerrigan, Lipinski, Yamaguchi, Cohen and others they acquitted themselves well anyway — really. Mao Asada won for Japan another medal and the emotional triumph of Joannie Rochette was also splendid. I felt for what we did not get but rejoiced in what was. The Brits who host the next Olympics had a gold medal in sliding from Amy Williams and they really need to remind the world they are contenders fit to host an Olympics –so I salute her. Did the Olympics rate much attention compared to the six nations Rugby tourney?

Every Olympic games ends with questions for those paying attention. But I must tear myself away and know it is over.  I just wish to say farewell to the games and leave it behind.  However, I do bring the Olympics with me through the years.

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