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Pairs Gold story - A Russian View

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Following is an interesting op-ed article from yesterday's (2/20/02) edition of Moscow's 'Argumenti i Fakti' newspaper. It sheds light on how some Russian citizens really feel about last week's 'Skategate' episode (not all Russians of course, but this mirrors what I have read in e-mails from friends & such). A bit different from the North American media view, is it not?

*****source - Argumenti i Fakti, 2/20/02

Title: Winter Games, American Style

The Canadians would never raise such a fuss over figure skating if they didn't feel the

approving look of their southern neighbor behind them. And now Mr. Bush has raised

his eyebrows - order must be restored. Oh yes, the United States has always been an

expert in "restoring law and order."

The hosts of the Olympics demonstrated that the rules don't apply to them even

before the Winter Games started. For the first time in Olympic history, the medals are

irregular-shaped and are different for various events, contradicting Olympic traditions.

The Olympic Village is made up of reequipped student hostels, although it seems the

host country is not so poor that they can't afford to build new hotels. The meals

served to the athletes are hamburgers and pizza for the most part. The Belarus

delegation has even lodged a protest against that. Do all athletes have to force down

the New World's idiotic fast food?

This is not all. It turns out that the winners are also determined according to U.S.

standards. If something goes wrong, the results can be revised, as was the case with

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

By their standards it is absolutely impossible to disqualify American Apolo Ohno,

who caused the massive pile-up during the 1,000m short track. On the contrary, he

was praised - What a guy! He just smashed his main rivals and crawled on to win a

silver medal!

And to whom should Italian snowboarder Kratter complain? The judges practically

pushed him off the podium for men's half-pipe to place their own man there instead.

Even U.S. papers wrote that the Italian well deserved a silver medal.

And, of course, "no one noticed" that judges announced false starts for all candidates

for the gold in the men's speed skating events (500 m), which makes the skaters

extremely nervous and stay a bit too long at the start for fear of being disqualified.

The only man who was spared all that was, naturally, future U.S. champion


And what about the pint of blood pumped out of biathlete

Pavel Rostovtsev right before the start? Did anything of the

kind happen to a U.S. athlete? There will definitely be many

more such cases before the Winter Games end: the hosts'

desire to win the unofficial team championship, which they

have long failed to do, is too great.

The USSR (and then Russia), Norway, Germany, Finland

and Austria - these are the favorites for ice and snow events.

What's to be done by those who are not used to yielding to

their starred and striped rivals? Train with greater zeal? This is

one way (it would be wrong to say Americans don't train well. Their results in

bobsledding and mountain skiing have greatly improved.) But there are other ways of

increasing the amount of gold won: push the events that suit them best, curling, short

track, freestyle, snowboarding, women's hockey, into the Winter Games. In half of

these events the champion was predetermined, just like it was in figure skating.

Take mogul, a kind of freestyle. The most important thing is not just to reach the finish

as soon as possible, but to do it beautifully. It is not clear to the ordinary mortal how

the judges arrive at this or that decision. And the gold, naturally, goes to the U.S. The

same happens to half-pipe snowboarders. Therefore, all the winners there are


Meanwhile, Russia has been unable to include Russian hockey into the Olympic

program for many years, a game played in many countries. I suggest launching a

massive campaign to include Nanaian wrestling, jumping over dog sleds and reindeer

sleigh races in the Olympic Games. They are in no way worse than curling, skeleton

or mogul.

How long will this injustice be tolerated? And we swallow it all. Meanwhile, the U.S.

has shown how to struggle for your athletes. Russian sports administrators have again

decided not to quarrel with their foreign counterparts. So, it looks like excellent

Russian athletes will be offended with impunity in the future as well.

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Thank you for posting that, Jeannie (and for translating it, if that's the case). It is very good to read what is being said. There was a similar problem with the men's fast track skating last night. A Korean skater was suddenly disqualified and an American won -- and the skating rules don't allow a protest on the part of the Korean!

Whether it's true or not, it's a perception. CNN reports similar views from Russia. Our coverage of the Olympics has long been excessively jingoistic, in my view. It's all "America cleans up at the Olympics." Entire sports are ignored, if Americans aren't highly placed. Often we don't see anyone except the Gold medal winner and the 22nd place American. That's not sports coverage.

There are probably examples of the kind of behavior cited in the Russian editorial among all countries, but when one country is so big and so powerful and so All About Me, it shows more.

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