vancouver games

Wrapping Up the 21st Winter Olympics

Aileen Gallagher wraps up her fortnight of columns about the Winter Olympics today. These were fun.

Canada’s gold medal for ice hockey is a fitting thank-you note from the rest of the world for these spectacular Olympic Games. Like all medals, except maybe Shaun White’s, Canada’s hockey gold was hard won. The victory came at the expense of the United States, of course, but Team USA won a total of 37 medals, the most of any nation in these games. We’ll call it a draw.

Compared to other Olympics, these games were high on sport and low on drama. The manufactured fights — Plushenko versus Lysacek, Mancuso versus Vonn — failed to gain traction; we were too busy watching to care. As fans, we got over the “spoilers” and watched NBC’s prime-time coverage in droves, savoring the performance over the end result.

“As much as I’ve been around ice dancing my entire career, I don’t always understand it,” Scott Hamilton admitted during Saturday’s skating exhibition. There are lots of events we don’t understand, but comprehension has little to do with one’s enjoyment of the Olympics. Our verbal highlight reel is below; share your picks in the comments.

Favorite Moment, Real: Evan Lysacek’s gold-medal long program.

Favorite Moment, Unscripted: Shaun White’s parlay with his coaches before his second run in the half-pipe.

Worst Official Uniform: The skintight bodysuits of the huge men’s bobsled team. But if it helps you win gold, what the hell.

Most Questionable Outfit: The strappy S&M number on the Russian ice-dancing team.

Worst Adornment: The Russian ice dancer’s aboriginal blankets. We hope the natives considered rubbing them in smallpox first, for old time’s sake.

Dumbest Manufactured Rivalry: Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso. They’re not supposed to be friends — they’re competitors.

Poorest Use of a Great Broadcaster: The talented Mary Carillo, who filed “On the Road”–inspired reports with polar bears and log rollers.

Best/Worst NBC Programming Decision: Portraying Yevgeny Plushenko as a Cold War villain.

Favorite Athlete: Speed skater Shani Davis. He trains alone, skates unadorned, other athletes love him, and he’s got fantastic legs.

See you in Sochi, if not London.

Wrapping Up the 21st Winter Olympics