US Chokes At Olympics; Bode Miller Leads Charge

The Olympics are in full stride, and the good old US of A is off to an interesting, if not disastrous, start. Bode Miller, the swashbuckling, beer-guzzling Great American Hope, is quickly becoming the next Great American Flop, failing to medal in both the downhill and the slalom. Figure Skating Idol Michelle Kwan showed up to Torino, and decided that she would rather sit and enjoy fine Italian cuisine than skate; she pulled out of her events. Overall, the U.S. is currently in third place with a measly nine medals, behind the hated Russians and usually irrelevant Norwegians. The U.S. doesn’t normally rely on vegetables to save the day, but in Italy “The Flying Tomato” has been one of the best stories so far. Californian Shaun White stunned crowds on his way to winning snowboarding’s Halfpipe Gold Medal. Although he gained his moniker from his long, flowing red hair, there were plenty of reasons to mock White, most notably the American Flag bandanna he wore around his face, and his matching pinstriped jacket and snowpants outfit; he looked like a cross between Evil Kneival, a 1950’s detective, and Carrot Top. However, what he did on the field/snow/pipe was nothing short of stunning. In the preliminary round, he pulled off a twisting backflip in a run that was described as conservative. If completely turning over at 20 feet above ground, while spinning and grabbing the board that is attached to both of your feet is conservative, then I really don’t want to know what is considered reckless. While White is quickly becoming his sport’s Michael Jordan, Bode Miller appears destined to be known as skiing’s Dennis Rodman. The brilliant but ever eccentric Miller attracted attention before the games for his references to skiing drunk. While many were outraged that the face of American skiing would so callously share his drinking habits, what’s more disturbing is the fact that he is willing to ski at 70 miles per hour on quadruple black diamonds around gates. Imagine driving a car on an icy, curvy highway with only pointy sticks and tight spandex to protect you. Clearly, Bode is insane. Miller’s strangest trait is his brutal honesty, which is simultaneously refreshing and nauseating. While it is quite nice to hear a star athlete admit that he plays professionally for a “pile of dough,” it was a little disconcerting that he didn’t really care when he was disqualified from an event that he was leading. As Miller was busy making lots of money (and not any medals), Michelle Kwan left her own special footprint on Torino, by not actually leaving any footprints. She re-injured her groin in her first practice in Italy, and was forced to abandon her last legitimate shot at Olympic Gold. The breaking point occurred on a triple flip, which makes one wonder how she only hurt her groin. Emily Hughes, the sister of 2002 Gold Medalist/Sleep Maestro Sarah Hughes, was chosen as her replacement. The U.S. Men’s Hockey team is looking a lot like the U.S. Basketball team at Athens two years ago, tying Latvia 3-3 in its Olympic opener. The men gave up a two-goal lead to a country no one in America can find on a map. In brighter news, the U.S. Women’s Hockey team enjoys an undefeated record so far in this Olympics with the help of 18-year-old Sara Parsons. One year removed from her Nobles and Greenough career, Parsons has scored four and assisted on four goals, including one three-point game in the team’s 5-0 victory over Germany. She will attend Dartmouth College next year. So, a week has passed, and the Olympics have not exactly gone as planned for the US. However, whether or not the Stars and Stripes can upend those pesky Norwegians, sports fans everywhere will still be able to enjoy a second week of Biathlon frenzy. I look forward to seeing you at the 12.5 km Men’s Pursuit.