FINAL MEDAL COUNT FOR THE UNITED STATES IN THE XXII WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES:
Now that the torch has been extinguished, the Olympic themes have been sung, the congratulatory speeches made, and that iconic flag with the five rings has been folded up and sent to PyeongChang, South Korea, where the XXIII Winter Olympics will be held in 2018…
By all accounts, the United States did well in these just-concluded Games as their 28 medals were second only to the host country Russia.
Or so it seemed, because with all due and well-earned respect to Sage Kotsenburg (Men’s Slope Style, Snowboarding), Meryl Davis & Charlie White (Ice Dancing), Maddie Bowman (Freestyle Skiing, Women’s Halfpipe), and the other American athletes who stood on top of the podium listening to “The Star Spangled Banner” while watching Old Glory being raised with that round piece of gold triumphantly draping from their necks…
I realize this is only my opinion, but I just can’t help feeling that these Winter Games were a disappointing one for the U.S.
And particularly for the Southern Californians who represented our country as only one earned a medal, the biggest name among that bunch, San Diego’s Shaun White, finishing fourth in the freestyle snowboarding halfpipe after winning gold in the previous two Games.
Gracie Gold, who trains near the Los Angeles International Airport in El Segundo, helped the U.S. win bronze in the new Figure Skating team competition but finished fourth in Ladies’ singles – which was about as good as she was going to do as the 18-year old wasn’t favored to end up on the medal stand.
Kate Hansen, from Burbank, finished tenth in the Women’s Luge.
Cory Butner, from Yucaipa, wasn’t even in the top ten in the two-man bobsled as he and Christopher Fogt finished 12th.
And don’t get me started on the Men’s Hockey team as the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown and the Anaheim Ducks’ Cam Fowler earned the dubious distinction of being part of a team that got shut out in the medal round after going undefeated in the preliminaries.
They lost 1-0 to gold medal winner Canada in the semis and – in a clear case of giving up – were smashed 5-0 by Finland in the bronze medal game.
Which meant that this NHL-laden squad left Sochi with nothing.
At least they weren’t completely heartbroken like their women’s counterparts, who were a little over three minutes from the gold medal in their match when the Canadians scored three goals, including the heart crusher in overtime, forcing those U.S. ladies to listen to “O Canada” on the podium with silver medals against their chests rather than gold.
Another big name who was expected to do big things in Sochi, speedskater Shani Davis, didn’t even come close to medaling as he finished 7th in the team pursuit, 8th in an event in which he was a two-time defending gold medalist, the 1000 meters, 11th in the 1500 meters, and – get this – 24th in the 500 meters.
At least Davis, White, Gold, and the other U.S. athletes made it to Sochi as perhaps the biggest name among American Winter Olympians, alpine ski racer and 2010 Olympic gold medalist in the downhill Lindsey Vonn, was forced to skip the Games due to injury.
I reckon that some fans will say that I shouldn’t be too hard on the non-medaists, that it goes against the Olympic spirit of the important thing being, as Pierre De Coubertin put it, “…not to win but to take part.”
I’m sure that everyone competed as best as they could; it’s not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings or pour salt on anyone’s wounds. However…
Anytime you are favored to win something and don’t, that is called underachieving.
Which, while I’m not trying to pick on them, perfectly describes White and Davis in particular.
That’s why these Winter Games have left a dissatisfied feeling in me.
And that’s why I’m eagerly waiting for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016.