Monday, February 13, 2006

After Three Days in Torino, Jim Souhan still sucks

The dateline on Jim Souhan’s articles say Turin, Italy. Based on his insight, it is questionable if he is really at the Olympics. Based on his opinions it is doubtful he has ever followed a previous Olympiad.

In his first paragraph he says snowboarding “looks more like a video game than a staid Olympic competition.”

There are nearly as many snowboarders in the world as there are skiers. This is the 3rd Olympics for snowboarding and it is not going away. What is Jim trying to say with staid competition? Should only traditional and less popular sports can be in the Olympics? Next he voices his displeasure with the US team.

He[Snowboarder Shaun White] is called the Flying Tomato, fitting for an American team that, had it been performing on a vaudeville stage, would have been ducking projectile vegetables all afternoon.
Several US athletes didn’t win events as expected. Upsets and surprises happen every Olympics; it is part of the excitement and how the Games are structured. The margin of error is much smaller than a seven game series in baseball or basketball.

America's two most famous skiers, Bad Bode Miller and Dependable Daron Rahlves, schussed out of the money in the men's downhill, losing to an obscure Frenchman in a race lacking even a spectacular Miller flameout.
After the race, Miller said that Antione Deneriaz, er the obscure Frenchman, skied better than everyone else. For his part Miller missed the bronze by .11 seconds and silver by .31 seconds. Which is also how long it would take Souhan to look up Deneriaz’ name.

No longer does the United States hope to win a figure skating medal and maybe surprise the Europeans on the slopes.
Wait a minute, was the US the favorites or underdogs in skiing? The answer is favorites, but Souhan attempts to play both angles.

The U.S. ski and snowboard association calls itself the "Best in the World," and the U.S. Olympic Committee has spent a big-league payroll in the pursuit of road results that will legitimize its outstanding performance in Salt Lake City four years ago. Wishing, however, does not make it so, especially not in quadrennial events that determine champions by the margin of milliseconds.
Geez Louise! I keep hearing Sean Connery saying “you’re playing both sides.” Now Souhan concedes it is not easy to win a medal. Souhan’s article is so murky it's amazing. Does anyone read this before printing? Further, the US ski team is one of the best in the World. Miller won the World Cup title last year and Rahlves has also won events. There are four more events for the US to win medals. Losing the downhill doesn’t make the US ski team a failure.

Minnesotan Tony Benshoof finished fourth in the luge, one spot away from the first American gold medal in the event. Benshoof matched the best finish ever by an American in the luge and said he was pleased to lose to only three other Olympians, but that sentiment might not withstand reflection.
Congratulations to Benshoof for the best American finish ever. He should be pleased. I have no idea what Souhan means by “that sentiment might not withstand reflection.” Mainly because he never elaborates on this. Neither Jim Souhan or myself understand what it is like to train for and compete in the Olympics. It’s not like Benshoof was a lock to win. Benshoof would be a disgrace if he skipped the luge to go party in Torino or made an obscene gesture after the race. He did neither and getting fourth is fantastic.

So far, the United States has won two golds in two days.
2 gold medals, which places us first in gold medals. What an argument for disgrace. Which brings up another question: Is there really this expectation that the US must haul in a ton of medals? Personally, it was exciting to see the downhill won by the very last skier. Had Miller complained or said he should have won, that would be disgraceful.

One was delivered by a guy who wasn't on the USOC radar four years ago. The other was produced by a sport that once made skiing purists wince.
Evidently Jim Souhan is a skiing purist.

If Chad Hedrick hadn't traded in his in-line skates for blades, and snowboarding hadn't become all the rage among a certain demographic of American teens, the United States would be right up there with Lichtenstein in the gold count.
Hedrick is a good story: From obscurity to the best speed-skater in the world. Snowboarding is more legitimate than a lot of events, and it’s popular everywhere, or it wouldn’t be in the World Games. What if Nordic Skiing wasn’t popular in Norway? They probably wouldn’t be very good at it.

Souhan continues on the American’s disappointment mentioning Apollo Anton Ohno and Michelle Kwan.

It was a lousy day for the Americans, yet Miller, like his compatriots, sounded strangely content. "Maybe I didn't race at 100 percent of my best today, but I wasn't far off at all," he said. "I raced hard, and I'm super happy with that.
Surely the ambitious people at the USOC are super happy with that.
Dear Jim, the cold war is over and has been since 1991. Every country wants to see their athletes do well, but it’s acceptable to do your best and still lose. It is also acceptable (this might hurt you Jim) to cheer for other countries. Every other country has formidable teams, all who train as hard and want to win as badly. Instead of bashing the US team, an article with some insight is a nice alternative. Try it sometime.