Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Four medals in a day, another certain, mourning ensues

Don't believe me? Ask the press:
Four medals; one big loss
No, Canada!

The day started off well for Canada at the Torino Games - Chandra Crawford wins the cross-country sprint, the least favoured of the three Canadian entrants. Hiccups later on the morning - "Jasey Jay" Anderson disappoints again (should get himself a good Irish name, J.J.) and the womens curling team is beaten the semi-final but retains a shot at bronze. Then the mens curlers win their semi, guaranteeing silver. Cindy Klassen gets 2006 medal no. 4 (first time for a Canadian) in speed skating (gold), Kristina Groves following her for silver and the womens short track relay take silver too. Canada has surpassed their Salt Lake City 2002 medal total and the games aren't over yet.

Pretty good for a day's work? Not when disaster was around the corner. CBC and NBC tv executives are probably jumping off bridges - the US and Canadian hockey teams were eliminated in the quarters, by Finland and Russia respectively, killing any hope of a decent audience for the later stages. Naturally, news spread fast. Any talk of how more diversity in the medal round is good for the game, as when the US women's hockey team were beaten by Sweden in their semi, has disappeared. Wayne takes the blame and cries, although the only thing he can arguably be blamed for is not getting Pat Quinn to put his name on the teamsheet instead of any of the non-goalies.

The fact is for many Canadians, and it looks pretty bad when you say it aloud, the rest of the Olympics matters not one whit if the (male) hockey team doesn't bring home a medal. Many people watch the Olympics who don't watch general sport, granted, but the sporting devotees see the Olympics as nothing more than a pause in the NHL schedule filled with more hockey.

That Ovechkin scored the winner will resuscitate the Crosby boosters, as many bloggers have already noted. I would have not have selected Crosby, he may be an outstanding player but he has yet to engender team spirit in Pittsburgh (as the recent targeting of him without repercussion showed) in contrast with Ovechkin who has fired up a poor Washington side as much as one guy can.

Pat Quinn's dubious season with the Leafs, Janet Jones, no lucky loonie in the ice and Steve Moore's vendetta against Bertuzzi (who was in the penalty box when Ovechkin scored) will all play prominent roles in the bar stool and pundit post-mortems. As for Sundin - he seems to be finding his goal touch for Sweden. He better not lose it with his luggage on the flight back to Toronto.
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