Sunday, February 25, 2018

Underdog Glory

I love the Olympics. One of my favorite things to do is root for the underdog. After all, what’s better than an underdog story? Each Olympic Games always has some, and this one – in PyeongChang, South Korea – has been awesome.
First, Ester Ledecka. Wow (and screw you, NBC, but we’ll get to that down below*). The Czech athlete won gold in the women’s Super-G alpine skiing race. Astonishing? Yeah, considering she’s primarily a snowboarder. She’s the first athlete (male or female) to ever compete in both disciplines in the Olympics. That was going to be enough of an accomplishment – until she made it down the mountain faster than the entire field, including American superstar Lindsey Vonn and 2014 gold medalist Austrian Anna Veith. I still grin when I think about it.
How about a bobsledding team from Africa? Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga are the Nigerian team. They’re Americans with Nigerian parents, who – like many other athletes throughout the world – have chosen to represent their parents’ countries. They finished last, but acquitted themselves well considering they built their first bobsled out of wood 15 months ago, according to ESPN.
This year there was even the chance for me to have the best of both worlds. Rooting for the underdog and my country at the same time.
The USA women’s hockey team hadn’t won gold since the first time the sport was in the Olympics, in 1998. And this week, we did, beating four-time winner Canada in an overtime shoot-out.
On the men’s side, the German national team defeated powerhouse Canada to reach the gold-medal game. Germany men last medaled in hockey in 1976, and that was a bronze. Now they’re guaranteed at least a silver. As of this writing, the game against the Olympic Athletes from Russia hadn’t yet been played. Either way it turns out, it’s a stellar underdog victory for Germany.
The Hungarian men’s short track held off China and Canada in the 5,000 meter relay to take gold. It was Hungary’s first Winter Olympic gold medal ever. How cool is that?
USA's Red Gerard, only 17 years old, unexpectedly won gold in men’s slopestyle, a snowboarding event.
American Chris Mazdzer won a surprise silver in men’s singles luge, which was the USA’s first medal in that sport.
And finally, well, holy buckets. Just yesterday, the USA men’s curling team won gold. Yes, curling. To get to the gold medal game, the team bested Canada, which has won multiple golds in the sport. As you probably know, curling’s not the exactly the hottest sport in America. To get together a team that good is underdog-inspiring. Just as every Olympics should be.
* NBC, the Nincompoop Broadcasting Company. They declared a winner in the women’s Super-G when one-third of the field hadn’t even raced. They didn’t even qualify it with a simple “as things stand, Anna Veith of Austria looks likely to win.” How hard would that have been to do? Instead, they flat-out announced Veith the winner and switched over to another event elsewhere at the Games. They then were forced to come back and show their audience Ledecka’s winning ski on tape delay (after showing the top-ranked women live). Good for you, Ester, for making them look like the asses they are for covering the race like that. 


scott adlerberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scott adlerberg said...

I watched the Ester Ledecka win in the Super-G also, and I agree. Very poor coverage there. What is sports if you don't have the unexpected happen, an upset, and NBC doesn't know that? Anyhow, I'm a big Olympic fan also and enjoyed it again this year. Nice piece!