The Pulse: Olympic Thoughts

Updated: February 27, 2006, 4:30 PM ET
Friday, Feb. 24

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: Winter Olympics
 Bode Miller
Bode Miller stumbled amid the hype in Torino.
Team USA has had a wildly inconsistent showing at the Winter Olympics in Torino and it's safe to say that American fans are disappointed.

A full 58 percent of SportsNation voters consider the U.S. performance mediocre and nearly 17 percent went as far as saying it was embarrassing. Much-hyped but medal-less skier Bode Miller is by far the biggest culprit in the eyes of the 'Nation, getting better than 78 percent of the vote for the most disappointing performance.

The men's and women's ice hockey teams finished second behind Miller in that poll, and perhaps SportsNation explained the men's lack of energy very succinctly when 85 percent of voters said the Stanley Cup is more meaningful than an Olympic gold medal.

Snowboarding turned into a surprising success for the Americans and 42 percent of respondents said he had the best gold-medal performance for the U.S, but other athletes who fared well didn't get much love. Despite Sasha Cohen leading the ladies figure skating competition heading into the free skate, more than 75 percent of respondents said they did not watch the finals.

In the end, only 37 percent of SportsNation had an insatiable hunger for the Winter Olympics and Team USA's struggles had a lot to do with that. But fear not, Nation citizens, because the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing are right around the corner!

Top American Storylines
It's been and up-and-down Winter Olympics for Team USA with the unexpected struggles in hockey and alpine skiing and surprising success in snowboarding and curling. American athletes have withdrawn from the Games and been suspended, taken part in a war of words with teammates and quite literally fallen out of gold-medal contention.

Below is a sampling of SportsNation's top U.S. storylines to come out of Torino.

  • Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto win ice dancing silver
  • Bronze for women's hockey, no medal for men
  • Falls cost Cohen and Lindsey Jacobellis gold
  • Michelle Kwan pulls out due to injury
  • Seven athletes, seven snowboarding medals
  • Speed skating feud between Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick

    There are plenty more to consider, though, so take a look at the entire list and rank what you consider the biggest American stories from the Winter Games.

  • How would you describe Team USA's overall performance at the Winter Olympics? (74,505 votes)
    58.0% Mediocre
    22.9% Impressive
    16.7% Embarrassing
    2.2% Exceptional

    Who or what has been the biggest disappointment for Team USA? (5,593 votes)
    78.7% Bode Miller
    14.5% The ice hockey teams
    2.8% Apolo Anton-Ohno
    2.0% Sasha Cohen
    1.7% Other

    Did you watch the ladies' Olympic figure skating finals Thursday night? (93,225 votes)
    75.2% No
    24.7% Yes

    Which American had the best gold-medal performance in Torino? (64,153 votes)
    42.4% Shaun White (Men's snowboard halfpipe)
    29.8% Ted Ligety (Alpine skiing/Men's combined)
    13.3% Shani Davis (1,000m speed skating)
    11.1% Joey Cheek (500m speed skating)
    3.2% Hannah Teter (Women's snowboard halfpipe)

    Which do you believe is more meaningful to a hockey player? (9,637 votes)
    85.0% Winning the Stanley Cup
    14.9% Winning Olympic gold

    How do you feel about the Winter Olympics? (11,323 votes)
    36.7% I love them and watch as much as I can.
    29.0% I don't like many of the events, no matter how good the U.S. is.
    28.4% I would probably be more interested if the U.S. was better.
    5.8% I don't understand many of the events, so I'm not interested.


    Voice of the Fan: Olympic Thoughts
    Belbin's a Winner
    Tanith Belbin and her ice dancing partner Ben Agosto won a bronze medal in Torino, the first American medal in that event in 30 years. Now, Belbin is in line for another big prize: being crowned Page 2's Hottest Female Athlete

    Belbin quickly became one of the most recognizable faces of the 2006 Winter Olympics and she is distancing herself from the field in our contest. More than 300,000 have already voted and they put Tanith well ahead of last year's 'It" girl, Maria Sharapova, and the rest of the stellar field. Don't agree? Then check out the candidates and cast your vote.

    Who is the hottest? (312,869 votes)
    35.3% Tanith Belbin
    26.0% Maria Sharapova
    13.2% Kristi Leskinen
    10.2% Natalie Gulbis
    4.7% Danica Patrick
    3.8% Sophie Sandolo
    2.7% Gretchen Blieler
    1.7% Lindsey Jacobellis
    1.3% Swin Cash
    0.5% Vonetta Flowers

    Should Sasha's silver get her on the Wheaties box?
    Bill (Ferndale, MI)

    I would go with the tri-athlete box of Tanith, Sasha and Jacobellis. That'd be something nice to look at while eating my cereal.
    Jon (Malvern)

    The cute Sasha Cohen pic needs to be removed from the site if I'm going to get any work done today. So don't remove it, I guess.
    John (WI)

    Anyone else find it really funny when the NBC announcer said of Sasha Cohen, "Others skate to Romeo and Juliet, she is Juliet," while thinking all the time that Juliet screws up in the end and dies?
    Todd (Boston)

    Does it say something about me that I could name most of the composers of the skating music last night?
    Clinton (Indianapolis)

    I can't wait for the gold medal game in hockey. Should be good stuff. Europeans treat the gold medal higher than the Stanley Cup most of the time.
    Jonathan (Buffalo)

    My goodness, everybody is so negative. I am proud of all of the Olympic athletes who got medals, especially men's curling, who came from nowhere. A silver or a bronze medal is nothing to be ashamed of, simply making the Olympics is ridiculous (in a good way).
    Andrew (RI)

    Studs: Aerial skiers. I can imagine myself at least trying most Olympic sports. When I imagine myself even going off one of those aerial ramps, intense pain and permanent disfigurement generally factor in prominently. Honestly, I think they should all get perfect scores just for landing alive.
    JT (Cleveland)

  • Click here for transcript of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie


    SportsNation's Show
    Proto(NJ): Would the U.S. hockey team have done any better with Ryan Miller in net?

    Barry Melrose: I don't think you can say they would have definitely won a medal with Miller. The goaltending wasn't the big problem. He deserved to be there but I don't think he was going to win them a medal all by himself.

    John (Syracuse): How embarrassed should the Canadian squad be coming home without a medal?

    Barry Melrose: They should be devastated. This is the most embarrassing showing ever for a Canadian team in international hockey. This is just a disaster. There is no sugarcoating it. Getting shutout three times with that lineup? A joke.

    John (Syracuse): Why do you think the Finns and the Swedes were more prepared for the Olympics than the Americans and Canadians?

    Barry Melrose: First of all, I don't think there's a talent disparity there. Those teams have great players and good goaltending, they just executed and played better as a team. The Americans and Canadians just never made the plays when they had to. Star players didn't step up and make plays when they were needed, particularly on special teams, but the Russians, Swedes and Finns did. That's the difference.

  • Click here for Melrose's chat transcript



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