Some Olympiads don’t live up to the hype, but the events in Vancouver have provided the very best of international competition.
Perhaps this rosy view comes from the success of the U.S. athletes. The Americans have captured an impressive haul of medals.
Speedskater Apolo Ohno became the most decorated American Winter Olympian of all time. Skier Bode Miller made up for his disappointing 2006 Olympic showing.
The U.S. squad also performed well in events that are not this nation’s strong points. The men’s cross-country skiing relay team won a silver medal. Skier Johnny Spillane won a silver medal in the Nordic combined event. Prior to these Games, Americans had won only two medals in Nordic sports in the history of the Winter Olympics.
The U.S. athletes have also competed with humility and sportsmanship. They’ve been brimming with enthusiasm and confidence, but displays of cockiness are few.
NBC’s coverage — despite all the commercials and studio chatter — has captured the action: the thrilling, four-person ski cross races; the horrifying, 90-m.p.h. wipeouts on slick downhill courses; the agonizing blunder of a Dutch speedskater who was disqualified after following his coach’s erroneous order to switch lanes; and skier Lindsey Vonn’s tears of joy after capturing a gold medal.
The Vancouver Games began with tragedy, when luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Republic of Georgia was killed during a practice run. It could have been a harbinger of a disastrous Olympiad. But the athletes at Vancouver paid their fallen peer the highest tribute, by going on to compete in a spirit that embodies the Olympics at its best.