Do the Olympics get any better than what we saw on Wednesday night? There was drama. There was dominance. There was good old hard work paying off. It was not just about America's three gold medals, how about Julia Mancuso's return to the form that won her a gold medal in the Giant Slalom at the 2006 Torino Games?
Since Torino, Julia has been less than spectacular on the alpine skiing circuit. To see her back on the podium (flash update: she took sliver in the Super Combined on Thursday) was great. We all have to learn to never give up. Take a lesson from Julia.
Let's start the Wednesday with Lindsay Vonn's dramatic win in the Downhill. That course had more bumps than the stock market. Add in the immense pressure Lindsey put on herself with the Sports Illustrated cover and the bathing suit photos and I am guessing that her shin injury was as much psychological as physical. In her defense, we all know the Olympics are a pressure cooker and it was clear after Lindsey's run that she was definitely over the boiling point emotionally.
With one gold medal around her neck hopefully she can relax a bit and take some of that pressure off her shoulders. (flash Update: Lindsay fell in the slalom of the Super Combined, but that's OK. Her next big race is the Super G).
How about Shani Davis in the men's 1000m speed skating? The ice in Vancouver looks to be pretty slow, but Shani put all doubts aside and skated his race to win gold. Just like ski racing, speed skating, especially the shorter events, are won by hundredths of a second so any little mistake can cost an athlete dearly. That is why there are so few repeat winners in the Olympics in the skiing events and the shorter distances (500m, 1000m) in speed skating.
Last but not least, how about Shaun White? Snowboard Halfpipe is a judged event which means there can be controversy at any moment. But, the Fying Tomato was so much superior to his competitors that there was absolutely no question who was the best boarder on that pipe. Shaun is only 23 which means you probably won't get more than even odds for the winner of this event in Sochi in 2014.
One last thing. More props to NBC for showing almost all of the men's and women's cross country sprint races on their afternoon show. The afternoon show is turning out to be a great place to watch some of the non-mainsream sports like cross country skiing and biathlon. Keep it up NBC!
Is anybody out there watching the Olympics? I have to give kudos to NBC. They seem to be showing a lot more actual sporting action during their coverage. And it is not just events where America is expected to do well. On President's Day NBC had pretty good coverage of the Men's 15k and Women's 10K cross country ski races where the best Americans were way outside of the medals.
How about the Nordic Combined? The Americans came with high hopes and they produced the goods. Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick and Bill Demong were right there in the thick of things all they way to the finish. It is so fulfilling when a group of hard working athletes on the same team make things happen. It was nothing short of great. The US Nordic Combined team is one of the favorites for the team gold medal. Here's hoping that they make that happen as well.
I was glad to see Bodie Miller get a medal in the downhill. When an athlete doesn't fit the mold the public and press are trying to force them into, lots of bad energy can come their way. I don't think people really get where Miller is coming from. He suffers from being totally misunderstood. I don't think his medal haul is over. I am hoping for the elusive gold medal for him in the combined.
Special mention goes to Seth Westcott who won his second gold medal in snowboard cross. My Olympic moment at the 2006 Torino Games was when, after he won gold there, he was asked why he switched from the half-pipe to snowboard cross. Westcott simple said, "no judges."
Which of course brings me to one of my other rants. It is still early in the Games, but does anyone want to place a wager on the sport where the first judging fiasco will occur? You won't get very long odds if you pick figure skating so put on your thinking caps and try to be creative.
You might have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much as I used to. The good (and they really are good) folks at Active.com wanted me to turn my efforts to producing some more substantial content for their cycling clientele so I have been writing more stuff for their cycling newsletter and blogging a little less. When the articles come up on the site, I will put up a blog posting with a link to the article.
My latest article is about my trip, a couple of weeks ago, to the BMC Racing Team camp in southern California. A great bunch of riders and staff. It was a lot of fun. You can view the article and photos at:
Trying to share the road with car drivers is a subject I have written about in the past. It always seems that in any confrontation there is nothing positive to be gained. Tensions are usually on high and a busy street isn't the most conducive to having a constructive conversation.
Yesterday, while I was riding on Skyline Boulevard(AKA Highway 35) in the Santa Cruz mountains above Silicon Valley I was passed very closely by a tow truck, so closely in fact, that it was all I could do to keep from being run off the road. It was a familiar scenario. A wide truck on a narrow mountain road and just as the truck came upon me, a car was coming in the opposite direction.
The truck driver could have braked and waited to pass until after the car had passed, but he chose to crowd our lane of the road almost forcing me off into the dirt. I got most of the license plate number, looked at my cyclocomputer and gave very serious thought to calling the country sheriffs and reporting the incident when I got home.
About a mile up the road, I came upon the tow truck pulled to the side of the road; the driver was checking to make sure his load, a recently crashed single engine airplane, was secure. As I rode past I made sure to verify the license plate number (7V17572) and the name of the towing service. Armed with that information I was all but certain that I would report the incident to the county sheriffs.
But, as I passed the truck, I thought that enough time had passed since the incident and the road was quiet enough that maybe I could talk to the driver and let him know my concerns. So, I did a U-turn and went back to the truck. I approached the driver calmly and said, "I just wanted you to know that you passed me very closely back there on the road."
His response was, "Yes. I know. I came upon you on a curve and there was another car coming so I had to move over. But, I know where you are coming from. My brother rides a bike."
I wasn't completely satisfied with his response, but it was a calm exchange and hopefully he had a bit better understanding of where I was coming from. When he passed me a few minutes later, he gave me a safe buffer zone.
So, what's the moral of this story? Heck, I don't know. Maybe it is just that if the conditions are right, maybe you can make an attempt to let a car driver know how you feel about their driving.