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  Thursday, October 23, 2014
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The Quest for the Gold
By Paul Noonan

     It’s that time of the fourth year again.  The Winter Olympics are back.  The hype hasn’t been quite as big as the Summer Olympics two years ago, but the games have attracted their share of the spotlight.  The games in Turin, Italy should be, as usual, a nice change of pace in the sports scene.  More important the games are a chance for countries to again prove their superiority, in sports anyway.  For the U.S., it’s a chance to build off the success of the summer games, and to achieve the same in the winter.

             

     In 2002, Germany bested the U.S. in both the gold and total medals count, by two medals in each category.  After that, the rest of the pack fell off, with the next closest foe, Norway, nine medals away from the U.S.  This year, the Americans will be trying to go out on top.  With many big names and a lot of talent throughout many of the games, the U.S. teams should be a dominant presence in Italy. 

            

     That doesn’t of course mean that the U.S. is guaranteed anything, however.  As always, with the Olympics comes a lot of pressure, and in some cases, scandal and negative spotlight.  Michelle Kwan will be on the Olympic figure skating team, but few are very optimistic that the Michelle Kwan that dominated the sport a few years ago will be in Italy, but rather an older, depreciating one.  That, in turn, will place a lot of pressure on young skater Sasha Cohen.  Apolo Anton Ohno is getting similar attention to Michael Phelps in Greece.  The dominant speed skater will again be expected to take nothing but golds, a hefty expectation even for such a great athlete.

     Bode Miller, one of America’s best skiers, will have to battle both his opponents and the continuous media presence that will still hassle him about comments he made regarding drinking and skiing a month ago.  How he handles the media could reflect in his performance.  Former University of Colorado football standout Jeremy Bloom has given up on the gridiron and is looking for a surprise in the freestyle skiing field.

     The women’s ice hockey team will likely be matched up against Canada’s in the finals given the fact that has been the case in pretty much every world tournament in the sport.  However, the men’s team will have a harder time medaling.  Luckily, many of the other teams are losing players left and right, but it will still take an overachieving performance from this squad to win a gold.

     The last winter Olympics was a record year for the U.S. in the medal field.  Their 34 medals were the most ever America.  This year, there is reason to be optimistic the Americans can duplicate, if not best, that success.  Only about half of the sports have been mentioned so far, and those alone should give the U.S. a good chunk of medals.  In most of the other sports, the U.S. teams are not as strong, but could still win silver and bronze medals, and, with a few upsets, perhaps a gold or two.

     No matter how successful the teams are, the Olympics should be very exciting.  It is still the world’s greatest sports stage stocked with the greatest athletes.  Let’s just hope ours turn out to be the greatest. 



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