Why The 2010 Olympics Suck
I’m a huge fan of the Olympics. HUGE. Thankfully my day job is as a writer, because if the Games are on, I’d like to be watching. I watch everything from skeleton to curling and love it all (except ice dancing, just can’t get into that).
Do I really need to detail why these Games have been the worst in recent history? To be fair, I’m talking about the events themselves, how the athletes have been impacted, and how that relates to us as observers.
I heard the other day that the ‘96 Atlanta Games were worse, because we had public transportation issues. Really? That’s worse than an athlete dying on an unsafe track? Wow. “Sorry chief, didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers” (points to the first person who can name the reference).
The problems with these Games have been ongoing and severe. First, we lose an athlete during training. It certainly put a damper on the spirit of the Olympics, especially on the same day as the opening ceremonies.
Whistler Sliding Center
The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili was a terrible thing, to be sure, but it brought attention to something that sliders have said since the ‘07-’08 season when it opened.
The track is too fast. The turns are too tight. The ice is too high, leaving no room for error.
Before Kumaritashvili crashed Violeta Stramaturaru, a Romanian luger, was rendered unconscious after hitting several walls on the track. Megan Sweeney of the United States “went airborne while exiting the final turn and crashed.”
There were eight crashes in the first two heats of the two-man bobsled last week, and two athletes required treatment for minor injuries.
After a late night meeting with coaches, it was agreed that officials would shave down the ice in the infamous “50-50” turn; so named because half the sleds didn’t make it through for the four man bobsled competition this week.
The American silver medalist from Torino, Shauna Roddick, called the track “stupid fast”. Enough said.
Speed Skating at The Oval
Next, we’ll move on to speed skating. The athletes complained about “slow ice” and “work ice”.
That means that the ice temperature is warmer than usual, making the blades sink deeper in, and therefore causing the athletes to work harder.
With seven of the 12 events completed, there have been no records set. The biggest problem came the last Monday, when the men’s 500m event was delayed by about an hour due to ice resurfacing issues.
This wouldn’t be a big problem, normally. Bring out a Zamboni, hit the surface again, and go on with life.
However, this was a huge cluster. The first machine did a sub-par job, so they brought out a second. When the second one failed to do the job, a third was brought out of the garage. It didn’t improve conditions, so after a wait, the first came out again and get ‘er done.
This is completely annoying, yes. But what I find so bothersome is that officials were going to let the guys race with poor ice conditions. It was only after some coaches talked to the referees about the track being unsafe that something was done. Sound familiar?
Finally, we come to the outdoor events. Skiing has been especially hazardous this time around. Part of this is poor planning on the part of the Olympic selection committee.
Vancouver is the warmest city to ever host the winter Olympics. The average high is 41 degree Fahrenheit, the average low is 33. Doesn’t it seem like a problem to anyone that that’s above freezing?
Though it turned out well for Lindsey Vonn, the postponements to the skiing schedule were distracting, and made an already slim lineup TV for NBC even worse.
Then we come to the real hazard, the Super G runs. I happen to know someone who was there, and her Facebook status update said something to the effect of, “doubting that NBC would show how many women wiped out” on the course. The snow crunched like ice, and I’ve never seen so many accidents.
It makes you wonder about the course. I mean, was Vancouver too ambitious in its plans? First the sliding track is literally lethal, then we’ve got people wiping out on an average ski run.
Let’s not forget that these are the best in the world at their respective events.
All in all, this Olympics has been the worst in my memory. The coverage is terrible (but that’s another story), the courses are dangerous, and the athletes can’t compete to their potential for having to play it safe.
Doesn’t exactly scream “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (“Faster, Higher, Stronger”), now does it?
Mascots Photo from Meomi.com
Luge Photo from NYTimes.com
Speed Skating Photo from DallasNews.com
Super G Photo from Zimbio.com