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  Friday, October 31, 2014
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xtra xtra!
Settling For Silver Lining
By Paul Noonan

     The expectations were fairly high for the Americans going into Torino.  Many of the American participants had a good amount of hype going into Italy.  Unfortunately, not all of them lived up to it.  While USA still had a strong showing, they finished second in overall medals, a few blown opportunities may have hindered a chance at winning the medal count. 

             

     The biggest disappointment of the Olympics most likely will be attributed to Bode Miller.  Miller drew plenty of attention coming into the Olympics both for his skiing talents as well as his comments in the media.  However, by the end of the Olympics Miller left without a single medal even though he had five chances.  In his last race he didn’t even finish, putting the icing on a sour cake.  Obviously you can’t blame one person for losing the medal count because Miller’s woes were just one of many.  Legendary figure skater Michelle Kwan bowed out of the Olympics before competing in a single event, a move that may have ended her Olympic career and on a bad note.  Luckily, up- and- comer Sasha Cohen filled the void, but one wonders whether Kwan’s presence may have brought another medal.  The hockey teams were a let down as well.  While few expected big things from the men’s team, they’re one win and one tie were not expected either, especially with the tie coming at the hands of Latvia, a relative light weight.  The women’s team still came home with a medal, but for the first time in history it was neither a gold nor a silver.  Speed skating phenom Apolo Anton Ohno came home with a gold and a bronze, but his hype would have seen him bringing home more.  A disqualification in the first race may have thrown his game off a little bit.  In curling, the women’s team was expected to vie for a medal, but they never even made it to the medal rounds after a disappointing tournament.  Again, the blame can’t be placed on just these teams and individuals, and you certainly can’t downgrade the achievement of other countries, but the defending medal count champs seemed poised to outdo their performance of four years ago, and losing the count stings a little.

             

     But we can’t focus solely on the downside of the Olympics because there was plenty of upside that went along with it.  As mentioned, Sasha Cohen lived up to her billing and looks to be the next Michelle Kwan.  Snowboarding phenom Shaun White dazzled on the half pipes winning a gold.  Even some of the female snowboarders surprised winning a few medals of their own.  On the speed skating track, Chad Hedrick stole some of Apolo Ohno’s thunder by winning a gold early in the Olympics.  In pairs ice dancing, new comers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto put on a show with some high- tempo routines good enough to win a silver.  While Miller couldn’t bring home a skiing medal, Toby Dawson was good enough for bronze in men’s moguls.  On the flip side of curling, the men’s team shocked the world by winning a bronze, the first curling medal in U.S. history.

     So, while the Olympics had its share of disappointments there is plenty to be happy about both for now and the future.  Young gems such as Cohen and White should hopefully be just as good, if not better, come Vancouver in 2010.  While age wasn’t the reason for their lack of success, both the men’s and women’s hockey teams have a lot of young talent in their systems that will hopefully lead to a better showing the next time around.  Bode Miller will hopefully benefit from this experience and fair a little better next time around.  The U.S. has plenty of hungry young talent, that has proven they deserve to be among the best in the world.  Four years from now they should be older and better, and hopefully Torino will have prepared them to fair even better in Vancouver.     

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