I've been watching a good bit of the Winter Olympics 2010, and I haven't been alone in the house. My older son already likes hockey, but he became a fan of curling(!) from watching it.
Compared to the Summer Olympics, the Winter games seem more thematically coherent -- everything involves ice or snow. Also, I can't remember the Summer games having any events that come across as incredibly insane as half-pipe snowboarding or aerial skiing; I can't even imagine what training for those events is like!
Anyway, I also like short track skating, the domain of "Dancing With the Stars" champ Apolo Anton Ohno. This is the race where skaters go around a tight oval, usually bunched up together, until someone makes a move near the end to cut ahead of others. There's a lot of jostling and a fair number of slip/falls. It's a sport where South Korea is the dominant powerhouse, and in one of the early events, the men's 1500m race, it looked like South Korean skaters were going to sweep the medals. Seriously, they were finishing the last turn and just had to skate straight to the finish line to claim gold, silver, and bronze, leaving Ohno and his U.S. teammate J.R. Celski in 4th and 5th. However, the guy who was going to take 3d decided to try to cut in front of his teammate and clipped him, and both South Koreans crashed into the side wall. As a result, Ohno took the silver and Celski took the bronze.
Wow! I wonder what the South Korean newspapers were saying about that guy? (I've tried looking but my Google-fu isn't up to the job.) NBC did show a clip a few days later where he offered his hand to his teammate (the one he took out), but the teammate refused to shake hands.
If that's not bad enough for South Korea, it got worse. In the women's short track relay, the final four teams in the medal round were South Korea, China, Canada, and the U.S. And that was the order they were headed into finishing. South Korea and China were racing for the gold, Canada was solidly ensconced in third place, and the U.S. was about half a track behind Canada. Near the end of the race, the South Korean skater cut in front of the Chinese skater and seemed to rocket off, which was the result of some pushing off. South Korea finished first, then China, then Canada, and finally the U.S.
As the South Korean skaters took victory laps with their national flag, no final results were posted. Instead, the referee -- who 8 years ago had disqualified a South Korean male skater in Nagano, Japan, during the 2002 Winter Olympics, giving the gold to second-place finisher Ohno -- DQ'd the South Korean team.
China got the gold, Canada the silver, and the U.S. the bronze.
I guess it's the rules, but there's no way we deserved the bronze medal. I mean, even without the illegal move, South Korea would have beaten the U.S. by something like 10 seconds, and Canada by 5 seconds. I suppose there's no better system without getting the referee embroiled into determining what would have happened without the illegal contact (though in the earlier rounds, refs have the discretion to advance skaters who get taken out by illegal contact if they were in "qualifying position"), but it just doesn't seem right that our team, which was almost lapped by the top teams, would back into a bronze medal. To be clear, I don't mean to take anything away from our women, who were better than the short track relay teams of all countries, save three. And I like seeing the U.S. atop the medal standings. I just feel funny about this one.