The Olympics are quickly coming to a close. Before we enter the stretch leg, let’s recap the most noteworthy events of the past few days. Most importantly, did Apolo Anton Ohno get robbed? I smell Canadian bacon, I mean bias.
Apolo Anton Ohno is a class act (and a victim). He’s always smiling, always embracing the moment, and always the coolest guy on the ice. Ohno even managed to gracefully bash the head judge of the Men’s 500m Final on Friday night. I’m not one for griping athletes, but Ohno was completely right. The call to disqualify him was totally bogus. Was there contact? Absolutely. Was there a push? Clearly not. I love speedskating. It’s one of the main reasons I look forward to the winter games. However, there needs to be less subjectivity in how they rule contact during a race. Lucky for them, football has already done the ground work. Speedskating simply needs to embrace the same rule and tweak it to fit their sport. The rule: If a cornerback’s hand makes contact with a receiver, the cornerback is rarely called for pass interference. However, if the cornerback extends his arm in any fashion while his hand remains on the receiver, pass interference is called. Ohno didn’t extend his arm to push off or force a crash. As he said following the race, his hand was there as a “cushion” so that he wouldn’t make contact and be disqualified. Ohno’s arm never extended, there should have been no disqualification.
Also, with the crash coming as Ohno was making his move to medal, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the Canadian bailed on purpose. (There’s a .0000429 percent chance this was the case. As a United States citizen, that’s enough for me.) It’s a win-win for the Canadian. If he knew Ohno would pass him, the Canadian would, worst case scenario, be a martyr. At best, he would get his medal and DQ Ohno. Let’s not forget that Ohno was also nudged/grabbed by one of the Koreans in the 1000m final. The slight grab cost Ohno the gold medal as he was in the process of making his move to the front of the pack. No disqualifications were made. Ohno was relegated to bronze. I’m just saying.
That’s beside the point though. I’m more interested in figuring out who thought it would be a good idea for a CANADIAN to be the head judge for Friday night’s events. Let’s see, were Canadians in contention for medals? Yes, two of them nonetheless. Was the event held on Canadian soil, where disappointment over the lack of medals has been well known? Umm, yes, yes it was. So why was the head judge Canadian? Please, someone tell me. Was Brett Favre the referee for the Super Bowl? Did Curt Shilling umpire the 2009 World Series? Will Jennifer Aniston be a bridesmaid when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get married? No, no, and nothing in Hollywood would surprise me. If disqualifying Ohno was really the right call, then I can accept that. However, I can’t accept a Canadian judge as the final authority in a race with Canadian skaters in a Canadian arena.
John Shuster is off the hook, well sort of. After a miserable Olympic performance, Shuster was the goat of the Curling tournament. Shuster will remain the goat, but Canada’s Skip, Cheryl Bernard also let victory slip away on a final shot. Bernard whiffed in the tenth end with a gold medal in her grasp. It was a simple shot, especially for Bernard, who had come through in the clutch many times throughout these Olympics. Up 6-4 in the tenth end, Canada was poised for victory. Sweden had just one rock “in the house” and only one rock remaining. Bernard simply needed to knock Sweden’s rock out, and gold would be hers. Bernard missed wide right. Sweden responded by tying the match on their final shot and went on to win in the eleventh end. First Peyton Manning, now Cheryl Bernard. Is no one clutch anymore? (Editor’s Note: Switzerland’s Skip fell apart in the last end of the women’s bronze medal match and Sweden’s Skip also whiffed on his final shot in the tenth of the men’s bronze medal match.)
I love Canadians. Really, I do. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed these Olympics so much is the passion in the crowds, especially the curling fans. My favorite moment was when the Canadian crowd spontaneously belted out their national anthem in unison as the Canadian Men’s curling team headed into the final end of a close match with Great Britain. The Canadian curlers even waited to resume their match until the anthem ended, then responded by scoring two points to defeat the Brits 7-6. It’s fun to see fans have a real impact on a sporting event. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen in professional sports anymore because teams have priced out the truly passionate fans.
Narcissism is an international disease. When I first learned of the unfortunate coaching mistake that cost Netherlands’ speedskater, Sven Kramer a gold medal, I felt sorry for him. For all the time these athletes devote to their sport, a lost medal due to a coaching mistake is devastating. Kramer had every right to be sad, disappointed and even angry. Little did I know that Kramer was a self-absorbed superstar (at least in the Netherlands). After winning gold earlier in the week, an American TV reporter asked Kramer to identify himself and the medal he won. Kramer responded, “Are you stupid?” What a sweetheart. On Friday night, after the Netherlands team pursuit fell to the young and surprising American team led by Chad Hedrick, Kramer went after his coach and teammates. Apparently, Kramer is a distant cousin of Terrell Owens. If he’s not winning, he’s whining, and always looking for someone else to blame. Find a mirror pal.
UPDATE 3:43 PM ET: Germany just defeated the United States in the women’s team pursuit semifinals. Germany led the entire race. After the final turn of the final lap, one of the German women either became injured or completely exhausted and fell. She slid the final 20 meters and finished just ahead of the Americans. Very funny moment. NBC’s commentator: “Sliding the last 15-20 meters is not the way it is planned.”