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With the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics set for Friday evening, we’re all waiting to see which U.S. athletes will bring home gold, and which events will bring home the most precious metal to America. Which of the 15 events will Americans love to watch most? Which of them will have the most intriguing storylines? How well will America perform in each event? Only time will tell for certain, but that never stops any media speculation in the least.
Here at Sports of Boston, we’re thinking the same thoughts as everyone else. For one Olympic angle, please enjoy a view of what could very will be the most exciting events to watch, at least from an American point of view. And no, figure skating isn’t one of them.
Snowboarding is an event where athletes make huge jumps on thin pieces of wood, fiber glass, carbon fiber, and what have you. They bounce off banks, moguls, and turns and reach heights where huge falls and corresponding injuries are possible. If it’s crazy enough for the X-Games, chances are Americans will be crazy enough to succeed. And true to form, snowboarding has brought home a nice selection of gold to go along with the red white and blue. 2006 gold medalists Seth Westcott (Snowboard Cross, from Sugarloaf, ME), Shaun White (Halfpipe), and Hannah Teter (Halfpipe, from Belmont, VT) and 2002 gold medalist Kelly Clark (Halfpipe, born Newport, RI) are among the highlights of the U.S. team.
With such a powerful crop of competitors, having dominated the sport from essentially its inclusion at the 1998 Nagano games, the U.S. looks to continue its ease of victory. With the first event set for Monday the 15th (men’s snowboard cross) and the final event set for Saturday the 27th (men’s parallel giant slalom), there’s plenty of action upcoming, with plenty of time to soak up the glory of potential victories. So, hopefully, enjoy.
Here’s what we’re all talking about. NHL stars from all around the country are re-coagulating into new teams, with the best representing their flags. The U.S. women start off against China on Sunday the 14th, with the gold medal game on Thursday the 25th. The U.S. men start off against Switzerland Tuesday the 16th with the gold medal game Sunday the 28th, the last event of the Olympics. All throughout the two weeks, a buffet of All-Star teams will be on display trying to do their countries proud.
Team Canada is always a favorite, and with stars such as Martin Brodeur, Patrice Bergeron, and Sidney Crosby, who’s going to argue? Team U.S.A. answers with the likes of Tim Thomas, Phil Kessel, and Dustin Brown. Thomas has not been doing well lately, as he has seemingly lost his starting job with the Bruins. How will he get along with Phil Kessel now that they’re teammates once again? And we all know his frustrations with Dustin Brown and the Kings. And remember when he lost his temper and left the net wide open during the Winter Classic? All of these need to be overcome, or another 1980-style miracle on ice is unlikely to happen.
Speed Skating will be America’s most exciting event, by far, because of all the drama and happenings that have been going on with the team. It wasn’t too long ago that the U.S. Speed Skating Team lost their sponsor, and was in danger of losing its ability to compete. But rather quickly, the team was saved, receiving its $300,000 in needed sponsorship from comedian/pundit Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Nation. Then, the Canadians barred the U.S. and other teams from practicing on its speed skating ovals, with sources essentially saying Canada was tired of being nice all the time. Seriously, that was the gist of it. But they did relent after receiving numerous flyers, resulting from Colbert launching his “Don’t be an ice-hole” mailing letter campaign. And with Sports Illustrated on his side, Colbert can not be stopped.
But Colbert was not done just yet. He even challenged favored American competitor Shani Davis to a race, and despite that not working out so well, was made the team’s assistant sports psychologist, and was also made a member of NBC’s broadcast team for the games. With the men’s 5000 meters on Saturday the 13th, men’s and women’s team pursuit finals on Saturday the 27th, and many races in between, Speed Skating will be busy, and many U.S. athletes are poised to challenge for gold.
With all its ups and downs in recent months, U.S. Speed Skating will draw a lot of attention. With a 2008 Presidential Candidate (albeit only in South Carolina) backing them, the team will definitely be able to make a big splash in a hurry.