As an American, I (along with millions of others across the country) will be cheering for the athletes sporting red, white & blue. As a fan of the Olympics, cinema and the power of the human spirit, there’s a special place in my heart (along with millions of others across the country and the world) for Jamaicans in a particular winter sport…
Go USA! (and a certain women’s bobsled team from a small island nation)
P.S. I’ll never forget visiting and seeing the track where the first-ever Jamaican bobsled team made history in Calgary.
The U.S. Men’s Hockey Team will play against their neighbors from the north in Canada later today (noon, ET) in the semifinals of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The United States has already defeated Russia in the group stage that ended in a thrilling shootout victory. Especially since Finland knocked Russia out cold with a 3-1 win the other day (some may want to place a GPS tracker on those players…), this match-up between the Americans and the Canadians will be elevated to another level.
The stakes are high with a spot against Sweden in the championship game, plus bragging rights between these two great nations, as well as between players on various NHL teams, are on the line (technically, the blue line).
Canada is traditionally considered the better hockey nation. So, how can the United States rally together to shock the world again this Winter Olympics?
I’m glad you asked (different opponent, but still the underdog).
Go Team USA!
A relentless eye infection for NBC anchor Bob Costas, a jammed door and elevator door for one very unlucky American bobsledder Johnny Quinn (accident?) and a snowboarding halfpipe that was half-a*@#$!
These are just a few of the behind-the-scenes issues (and one showcased front and center on network television for millions to witness and cringe at) that continue to weigh down some of the natural mysticism of the Winter Olympics. Sochi, the host city, was virtually unknown to much of the world before its grand opening ceremony last Friday that lit up the arena and night sky with unifying excitement and promise in the form of the Olympic flame.
Now, the world knows.
Aside from the thrilling competition thus far in skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and speed skating, problems persist.
An appropriate slogan for these games at this point could be, “From Russia with SOS.”
American snowboarder Hannah Teter, who currently has an Olympic gold medal hanging in her trophy case, has a strong suggestion and an equally strong feeling of the course she is scheduled to compete on in the coming days.
“They should push it back is what they should do, and fix it, and showcase snowboarding the way it needs to be showcased. Not as a junk show, which is what it is looking like right now.”
Fortunately, the Olympic spirit and its inspiring nature will counter some of the poor accommodations and conditions. There are several intriguing and heartwarming stories, like the Dutch sweep in the 500-meter men’s speed skating, American’s Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson each claiming gold in the inaugural slopestyle snowboarding competition and Canada’s Alex Bilodeau winning gold in mogul skiing. But that was not the real golden moment. Bilodeau, whose brother has cerebral palsy, has said he is constantly inspired by his brother. This kind of love and source of strength is something every fan of every country should celebrate.
This warm, celebratory embrace captured by a USA Today photographer is just one of the countless moments that makes everyone smile and is living proof as to why people love watching the Olympics.
Sadly though, this Winter Olympics has lacked a palpable energy and adrenaline that endures throughout the build-up and the non-stop competitions of past Olympics. Sochi was not fully prepared (facilities/courses, infrastructure) as problems have given the host city and host nation a black eye (actually, a really, really red eye).
However, today is another day and hopefully amazing performances and inspiring moments will trump some substandard and even terrible conditions and accommodations. But between rewarding Russia the Winter Olympics and World Cup, Brazil the World Cup and Qatar the World Cup in the next several years, perhaps the ruling committees have taken notice that not every country is equipped and/or should host a major, global competition with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for world-class athletes.
History, current leadership and conditions cannot be ignored. However, that appears to be worthy of only a suggestion made too late as the decisions have already been made. Sochi, though, will likely serve as a general template for what the immediate future will hold for soccer’s biggest stage and the Olympics in some form.
The silver lining, at least for the competitions, will be the competitions. Let’s cheer on our respective athletes and countries!
Still, an impression has been made. Speaking of impressions, after seeing Russian President Putin in the stands for ice skating, perhaps the world should just be happy he was wearing a shirt.
One thing’s for sure: The Cold War seems to have taken on a new (though slightly less intense) meaning in Sochi.