Not all Olympians are apoplectic about the Beijing Games

Sports

    Aaron Blunck throws himself into the men's freestyle skiing halfpipe final.

Aaron Blunck throws himself into the men’s freestyle skiing halfpipe final.
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I tried. I tried to focus on the competitions and athletes in the Olympics instead of wallowing in the politics, the circumstances and the covid virus. No longer. I can not handle it any longer. The men’s skiing half-pipe final was more scary to watch than fun, as gale-force winds (probably exaggerated) weakened the tricks and knocked skiers down.

Ten of the 12 participants crashed during one of their three trips down the halfpipe that commentators dubbed the “tube of terror.” New Zealand’s Nico Porteuos’ gold medal celebration was muted after Aaron Blunck, the last skier of the day, smashed into the wall of the pipe during the final run of the competition. The crash looked so grim that American teammate David Wise sprinted down the pipe in ski boots to see if he was okay. (Blunck could only ski down.)

“I think the game should be suspended now, but the problem is that we are in two runs,” Eurosport commentator Ian Findlay commented during the broadcast:† “It’s not ideal. I don’t think these are the right conditions for an Olympic final.”

“If FIS cared, they would suspend and postpone the men’s halfpipe under these terms,” he added.

Although Wise and compatriot Alex Ferreira completed medal-winning first runs, finishing silver and bronze respectively, neither of them were able to get going as the winds picked up during the day. The judging also sounded scattered. Ferreira’s second run was tougher than his first, even with the minor hitches, but the judges disagreed.

Despite all that, both Americans were quite jovial afterward.

“So impressed with the heart people showed today. I wish we could have had better conditions,” Wise tweeted† “But that’s the nature of competitive sports. Thanks for all the support everyone.”

Ferreira, back from injury, gave reporters a response with a similar vibe

“Everyone in the field was planning much more difficult runs, but when we have this kind of wind and this kind of condition, you just have to do your best and I came out and I did my best.”

Gus Kenworthy, a free-skiing fixture, competed for Great Britain, fell incredibly hard and gave a fairly uneducated rating after his last Olympics.

“The wind was the deciding factor for everyone,” he said. “Even the guys at the top put in some incredible runs – it was great to watch – but they’ve all scaled back from what I think they were hoping to do.”

I keep wondering why there hasn’t been an even bigger bout of negativity from athletes about this clown shoe operation, the Beijing Winter Olympics. The snowboarders got angry about the judgingthe Russian figure skaters have melted downand multiple athletes and coaches have complained about food and COVID goalposts shifting, but I’m surprised more of them haven’t responded to the circumstances in which the media has given them that opportunity time and again.

we wrote about the† There’s a built-in excuse, and we all say, if we don’t encourage them to say, this isn’t fun, and China is to blame. And as true as it may be in some cases, it’s not true across the board.

Wise was looking for three consecutive Olympic gold medals. Ferreira won silver in Pyeongchang and has been rising ever since. They weren’t even able to fully steer. They should be on tilt.

If you put yourself in their ski boots and skates, at first you would think it’s rude and unfair that these Games have been such a damn shame. They worked for this opportunity for four years; how can they not whine and whine. I sure would.

Then you think about it: they worked incredibly hard to get there. This happens one to four times in a lifetime. How would you feel if you waited, worked and toiled for so long to get somewhere, only to show up and everyone’s miserable and everything sucks? This is supposed to be the culmination of years of sweating and working out and all that stuff, and just because everyone is mad, should they be too?

New. I don’t blame them if their state of mind is, I’m going to enjoy my damn achievement even if I had to ski into a tornado to get it.

Part of me is happy that NBC is laughing through the pain. (The other part of me is furious, and that part you can find complain about such annoying reporting on this site.) The people who love the Games and these weird sports are trying to make the best of a deplorable situation. It’s the Olympics and we get to watch it every four years, but most athletes only have a few fleeting weeks a few times a decade to revel in their relative glory — if their careers last that long.

If you want to be mad at them and tweet about how crappy the Games are, that’s fine. I’m just saying that it’s also fine if people try to enjoy it, regardless of the background of the nuclear power plant.

I know this is a 180 from the outraged beginning of this piece. “Angry blogger finds compassion in the middle of post.” I tried. I tried to write a devastating ending. That would have been easy. It would also have been unfair to the competitors who aren’t bullshitting to tell you they’re “fired up.”

The natural state of many extreme athletes is stoked. They are happy to ski or ride horses, they are happy to be outdoors, they are happy to do what they love, they are happy to see their peers progress in the sport, even if it means losing , they are just generally happy.

How they feel is more important than how we feel, and I’m glad they haven’t all been crushed to tears of frustration and bitterness.

“Being an Olympic champion… is unbelievable,” Porteuos said after the game.

I’m sure of it. Bravo.

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