Thoughts and tidbits about the Olympics

One of the best parts about the Winter Olympics is that for the only time in a span of four years I can write about ice dancing and not be looked at a little weird.

In a way, the Winter Games are a lot like the Cleveland Browns, who usually change ownership every four years. The difference is that there are actually winners at the Games, a concept that seems lost in Cleveland these days.

Now that the Olympics (aka Putin’s really big show) is near an end, I’m better suited to share a few thoughts as we look ahead to the 2018 Games in South Korea:

Olympic men’s hockey has it all over Olympic basketball. Who seriously wants to watch U.S. players dunking over players from other countries who couldn’t sit the bench in the NBA? There are four teams with a legitimate chance to take home the Gold in hockey.

On the same theme, the men’s U.S. hockey team was impressive in the group stage, rolling over Slovakia and Slovenia and winning a memorable shootout over the host Russians. T.J. Oshie’s performance by making four of six shootout shots, including the game-winner, ranks high in memorable moments for American athletes.

How long do you think it will take NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to adopt the Olympic-style rule for the shootout – the unlimited use of one player after three players alternate the first three shots. As a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, I’d have no problem with Jonathan Toews taking an unlimited number of shots.

I have to believe that women love men’s curling. After all, how often do you see two men with brooms in their hands actually sweeping the house (the circled scoring area)?

I must confess that I have a curious attraction to curling, and not because it can be a great place to cougar watch. It looks like a game you’d play in your backyard at a family picnic. It’s much safer than lawn darts, which in the hands of crazy uncle Bob can be dangerous.

Next to hockey and curling on my list of favorites are the sliding sports – luge, skeleton and bobsleigh. The skeleton looks like something I did on the hill at Packard Park when I was a kid, blazing down the slope at speeds of up to 5 mph.

Sorry, but I can’t get into the freestyle skiing events. The events are spectacular, but I’m old school all the way. Nothing will ever top Austrian alpine skier Franz Klammer’s dramatic win in the downhill at the Innsbruck Games in 1976.

I’m amazed at the physical endurance of cross country skiers. The 50-kilometer men’s event is one of the great physical challenges in sports. Plenty of anaerobic endurance workouts are put in to complete such a grueling run.

There’s no better analyst than Scott Hamilton, who sits in the NBC booth for figure skating coverage. His love for the sport slaps you across the face. Dick Button was outstanding during his lengthy run, but Hamilton adds a lighter style. No one can get more excited about a triple toe loop than Hamilton.

Still don’t know why any sane human would stand on a tower approximately 300 feet above the ground and slide down a slippery surface on skis that are two feet longer than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is tall. All I’d need to keep me from trying it is one look at the opening ABC Sports once used for Wide of Sports showing a ski jumper’s agony-of-defeat moment.

A friend that’s covering the sliding sports for the Associated Press recently tweeted that he’s a bit uncomfortable with the unisex bathrooms where he’s staying. My advice would be to think you’re at a Stones concert at old Cleveland Stadium.

Apparently Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Canadian ice dancing team that won the Silver Medal, are upset that their coach, Marina Zoueva, also coached the U.S. team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White that won Gold. Cameras were fixated on both duos just moments before the Americans were announced as the winner. Zoueva was sitting next to Davis and White at the time. Can you say awkward!

This was the first Winter Olympics since my mom passed away nearly two years ago. She loved all things skating, including an occasional hockey game. I think about her every time I watch a figure-skating event.

Thankfully, all the pre-Olympic concerns about violence in what is one of the most dangerous parts of the world haven’t played out. Here’s to a safe conclusion and a wonderful closing ceremonies.