Archive for Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympics Blog, Day 5: Remarkable and ridiculous

February 17, 2010

The shriek and collapse to the ground said it all.

Fatigued? Yes. Overjoyed? Absolutely.

What a run for Lindsey Vonn. Still recovering from a shin bruise that threatened to knock her out of the Olympics completely, Vonn turned in a powerful yet — according to the broadcast crew — mistake-filled run that thrust her to the top of the podium.

While others crashed and burned in violent crash after violent crash, Vonn attacked the course with her one good leg and came out on top.

One of the TV announcers pointed out that Vonn favored her healthy leg on difficult turns and also noted that she was essentially on one ski while crossing the finish line.

Given the uncertain conditions on the slopes in every skiing event throughout the Olympics, as well as the fact that practice runs had been canceled and Vonn wasn’t even at full strength, her accomplishment is even more remarkable.

EXTRA TOMATOES, PLEASE!

While Vonn was remarkable, Shaun White was flat-out ridiculous on the halfpipe.

There’s nothing like taking care of business early in order to savor the moment late. Basketball teams that hold a bit lead late clear the bench so the starters can kick back, relax and laugh as the reserves make the most of their moment in the spotlight.

For White, the American snowboarding sensation and reigning Olympic gold medalist, taking care of business meant playing it conservative on his first run of the finals and taking a commanding four-point lead. That way, he could blow peoples’ minds with his final run.

At this point, the mind hasn’t yet recovered.

In a run that was expected to be brilliant — with the gold medal assured moments before his final run, his coach said to White, “Do whatever you want. Have fun.” — White did just that with as crowd-pleasing a victory lap as you’ll ever see.

TV graphics showed White gained at least five feet more of air during his competitors on his first run. On his victory run, the air was higher; the tricks sicker; the grand finale — the Shaun White original Double McTwist 1260 — dangerous, dramatic and dead-on perfect.

It was a big, red-headed exclamation point on a day that saw three Americans grab gold (speedskater Shani Davis captured the 1,000-meter short track gold earlier in the day). What a day for the Americans, but wow, what a finish from the Flying Tomato.

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