Vonn, Zambonis and a little Pledge
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Warning: This is a Tiger-Free Zone. There will be no mention of Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods' "indiscretions" or Tiger Woods' news conference apologizing for his "indiscretions." Instead, this sports story will restrict itself solely to the Olympics and Olympic athletes. Because they have worked too long and sacrificed too much to have their athletic achievements overshadowed by a golfer's "indiscretions."
So, Johnny Weir, what do you think about Tiger Woods?
"He's not that special in this respect," Weir said after Thursday's free skate. "He's an amazing golfer, but the fact he cheated on his wife doesn't make him any different than anyone else who made that slip."
Well put. And now, if we can turn our attention from Tiger -- Did you hear he had a news conference Friday? -- here is the medal ceremony for the first week of the 2010 Winter Olympics, which probably are better described as the 2010 Spring Olympics.
The Al Roker Bronze Weather SatelliteWinner: The International Olympic Committee. As much as it likes to consider itself the Ultimate Power in the Universe, the IOC still does not have power over the weather. People who live in this region know weather is rarely winterlike here in February, and this year is warmer than usual -- cherry trees are in full bloom downtown, and people are running around in shorts and T-shirts. So it was no surprise to anyone other than Jacques Rogge that the first week was dominated by warm rain and warm sunny skies that melted snow, delayed races, washed away general admission areas for fans and generally made you wonder whether the IOC should have added golf for these Olympics, not 2016.
The Commemorative Faulty Zippo LighterThe weather did not affect the opening ceremonies because they were held inside for the first time, which was good because (surprise!) it rained that night. The ceremonies were splendidly done and relatively understated by Olympic standards, filled with moments somber (the Georgian team marching in with black armbands), inspiring (k.d. lang's rendition of "Hallelujah") and ridiculous (the fiddlers and German uniforms). In fact, the ceremonies were top-rate right up to the only moment that mattered: the lighting of the torch. Because of some sort of malfunction, one leg failed to rise, causing an embarrassing delay that left Steve Nash and Wayne Gretzky looking around uncomfortably for Superman's father, Jor-El.
The Curt Schilling Signature Bloody SockWinner: Lindsey Vonn. Two days before the Olympics opened, Vonn dropped the bombshell that she had severely bruised her shin in training and wasn't sure she would be able to ski. A couple of days later, she skied a slalom practice and said everything went fine. The next day, she skied a downhill training run and said the shin was much worse and throbbing with pain. Two days later, she won the downhill. Was Lindsey's performance on par with Walt Frazier and Schilling, or was she just a bit of a drama queen? Probably a whole lot of the former with just a little of the latter. Either way, she has lived up to her billing as the must-see Olympian.
The Golden Cheese KnifeTo the Austrian cheese Vonn applied to her shin to help speed the healing process. Who knows whether it really helped; the question is whether someone in Congress will suggest using the cheese to solve the nation's health care problem.
The Officially Approved Limited Edition 2010 Souvenir Olympic Rings (also Available at the Olympic SuperStore)Winner: Bode Miller. After playing it so cool and detached in 2006 that he practically skied with a glass of wine while wearing a smoking jacket, Bode has talked up the Olympic cause so thoroughly at these Games that the IOC might charge him a rights fee. He won the bronze in the men's downhill Monday before taking the silver in the super-G on Friday.
"It's the Olympics. You feel it all the time. You can feel it walking into the ceremonies, you feel it the whole time," he said. "Normally as the veteran of 400 World Cup races, you try to repress that because it doesn't help you ski better. You tend to get overamped and make mistakes and do dumb stuff because you're too fired up. That's part of the reason I wanted to come back. I wanted that feeling."
The Al Gore Inconvenient ZamboniWinner: Vancouver 2010 organizers. They were so determined for a green Games that rinks are using Olympia ice resurfacing machines. These machines are very good for the environment because they run on clean electricity -- and they rarely run at all. After numerous embarrassing breakdowns, Vancouver trucked in a more reliable 3-ton Zamboni from 600 miles away in Calgary, Alberta (that must have gotten good mileage). "I'm a firm believer in fossil fuels," Stephen Colbert said during Wednesday's men's 1,000-meter race. "I'm glad they killed this whole green thing. I wonder if it affected the skaters. If it did, Al Gore owes someone an apology."
The Ernest and Julio and Evgeni Sour GrapesWinner: Evgeni Plushenko. He spent the entire post-competition at the men's figure skating final complaining he should have won the gold medal instead of American Evan Lysacek because he landed a quad and Lysacek never even attempted one. "I was positive I had won," the 2006 Olympic champ said. "But I suppose Evan needs a gold medal more than I do because I already have one." He then bet reporters he is such an accomplished jumper he could leap over his own ego.
The Golden Dust RagWinner: Johnny Weir. Weir said this about how he prepared for the men's short program Tuesday: "Last night, I was very nervous, so I Pledged everything. Some people eat, some people drink, some people smoke -- I Pledge." By the way, the fine people at Pledge sent Johnny a basket of their products Friday to help him prepare for future competitions. Who says male figure skaters aren't marketable?
The TSA Airport Security E-ZPassWinner: Team USA America is winning so many medals (20 overall through Friday) you would think Michael Phelps had switched sports. In addition to the aforementioned athletes, Shaun White, Julia Mancuso, Shani Davis, Apolo Ohno, Johnny Spillane and others have helped the U.S. to lead in golds (six) and overall medals with many more opportunities to come, beginning with -- who else? -- Vonn in Saturday's super-G.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached here. His Web site is at jimcaple.net.
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