February 26, 2006

The Olympic cauldron, seen in the distance past the athlete village,
burns for the last day.


So what will we remember?  How very little of it turned out the way any of us expected?  What did happen?  What didn’t happen?  What shocked us?  What came as no surprise?

Coming into these Games, one was hard pressed in the United States to understand Torino beyond the names of Bode and Michelle.  Coming out of them, neither should have nary a mention.  These Games got going with speed skater Chad Hedrick winning gold – the first for the U.S. – in the 5000m.  Then the Flying Tomato – Shaun White – took gold in halfpipe.  Snowboarding was a big story for the U.S. squad, with 7 of 18 medals going the way of Americans such as Danny Kass and Hannah Teeter and Seth Wescott.  At Sestriere, where alpine took place, those that we expected to do well did not, but Ted Ligety won gold in the combined and Julia Mancuso, when all hope seemed lost for the American women, took gold in a blizzard in the giant slalom.  

Some of my own personal favorites had their own fabulous days.  Joey Cheek won gold and silver on the skating oval, while short tracker Apolo Anton Ohno tied speed skating legend Eric Heiden as the most decorated American man in the Winter Games.  And it wasn’t all about the medals.  Evan Lysacek had a terrible short program – he would be the first to admit it – but what a beautiful free skate he had, spinning with grace and precision.  After falling in her free skate, a silver medal seemed like the full championship for Sasha Cohen.  And while the U.S. women faltered on the hockey ice, the U.S. men took curling bronze – the first in the Olympics for the Americans.

But of course, it wasn’t all about the United States, nor should it have been.  Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen become her country’s most decorated Olympian, and the Austrians were simply spectacular on the alpine slopes, sweeping the final alpine event, men’s slalom, for gold, silver, and bronze.  The performance of the Swiss Schoch brothers on the gold and silver level of the medals dais after the men’s parallel giant slalom showed why sibling rivalry is overrated, while Italy’s Enrico Fabris told America it should occasionally get over itself without actually saying a word.  And hockey’s Alexander Ovechkin, without any medal at all, taught me a lot about what a twenty-year-old can do on the ice.

And while we prepare for the Closing Ceremony, when we all officially say farewell to Torino, the work of Games continues, as the IX Paralympic Winter Games begins, hosting over 600 athletes from 36 countries.  The event is the premier international athletic competition for athletes with disabilities, the Paralympic Program will include ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, alpine skiing, biathlon, and cross-country skiing.  So good luck to all who will take part, and thanks Torino – it’s been fun.

Chad Hedrick competes in Oval Lingotto, winning first gold
for the U.S. in the 5000m.

H A V E  A  Q U E S T I O N  F O R  D R .  B A S S
D U R I N G  T H E  W I N T E R  G A M E S ?

C L I C K  H E R E
We will be posting the questions and answers
on the CNR At The Winter Games website!
m o r e

Be sure to check back often for Dr. Amy Bass's updates to her
Online CNR Winter Olympic Games Diary.

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