Olympic Games come to an end with mixed results for America

Eric Monson

Eric Monson

Upon the snow, slopes and ice of this year’s Olympics, golden performances and muddled disappointments were provided for those who cared enough to watch the games.

The United States finished second in the total medal count with 25, behind Germany’s 29 medals. One of the U.S.’s medals was from Julia Mancuso’s stunning gold-medal victory in the women’s giant slalom.

Although Mancuso was able to capture gold, the first medal for a U.S. woman’s skier in eight years, the U.S. ski team’s performance in this Olympics can only be described as a disappointment. With Mancuso’s gold and Ted Ligety’s surprise gold in the combined slalom and downhill event, the U.S. ski team garnered only three medals. Just weeks prior to the start of the Olympics, the U.S. ski team projected they would bring home as many as eight medals.

The most notable disappointment in skiing was the disastrous performance of the hyped “bad boy” of skiing, Bode Miller. Miller’s behavior earned him considerable pre-Olympic buzz. He placed no higher than fifth in this Olympics. He also was disqualified and did not finish a race, yet claimed he could have won them all.

Also disappointing was the play of the U.S. hockey teams. The men played uninspired and failed to even play for a medal. Add in the fact that the U.S. women’s hockey team, a gold medal favorite, was only able to achieve the bronze, it may seem like the U.S. national anthem was played less than a Snoop Dogg record in a country bar.

Yet amid negative media views and the un-exciting manner of tape-delayed broadcasts, in the spirit of the Olympics, several tear-welling, shining moments took place.

Shuan White was visibly shaken after falling in his preliminaries. He pushed fear aside to make it into the medal round in the men’s snowboard half-pipe. Then, having captured gold, the seemingly ultra-cool snowboarder was reduced to tears by the sight of his family.

Also impressive was the complete dominance of the U.S. women in the snowboarding events. Watching a truly original sport, one many people do not understand, and seeing action and athleticism that most people cannot even fathom, is a cause for great awe.

Another shining moment in the plethora of Olympic images, in an equally confusing sport, was the bronze-medal winning performances of the U.S. men’s curling team. The U.S. won their first Olympic curling medal in an 8-6 victory over Great Britain.

During the U.S.’s bronze medal match, a man avoided Olympic security and slid onto the ice wearing nothing but a smile and a strategically-placed rubber chicken and displayed the type of enthusiasm that only a sport like curling can inspire. No one appeared overly concerned, for the man was unable to conceal anything and, as some may know, ice is extremely difficult to run on, even more so when naked.

Bringing the Winter Olympics closer to home was the debut of Black Hawk native Jana Lindsey. Lindsey was one of two U.S. women to compete in women’s aerial skiing at the Turin Olympics. She placed 15th on her first jump and was unable to improve her score in her second jump. She placed 16th overall in her Olympic debut.

Lindsey became interested in skiing aerials as a young girl, when she saw an aerials demonstration at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. After that, she entered an aerials camp in Park City, Utah. She qualified for her first jump in competition at age 11.

This past year, Lindsey battled to return from a torn ACL suffered in the 2003-2004 season. While recovering from her knee injury, Lindsey taught tap dancing to children in Spearfish. She currently splits time between Rapid City and training facilities in Park City.

Lindsey’s Olympic performance gave many people at SDSU an added reason to watch the Olympics, especially those who knew her.

“It’s pretty cool she made it. She was always such a down-to-earth person,” said Trisha Schmelz, a junior art major from Rapid City.

Beginning her Olympic dreams at an early age meant that considerable time was spent away from school and friends in Rapid City. Yet, her talent was recognized and people understood.

“She was always gone for a long time and then she would have to come back to school and catch up? but I think everyone knew she was special, even then,” Schmelz said.