Archive for the ‘The Olympics’ Category

January 12th, 2012

Why America Shouldn’t Want to Host Another Olympics

In my latest installment at The Daily Caller, I wonder out loud why in the world America would ever want to host another Olympics.

And if anyone was wondering, I don’t exactly have a great reservoir of affection for the folks who run the International Olympic Committee.

February 22nd, 2010

Updated Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Odds

Just got a note from the folks at with the latest odds on the Men’s Ice Hockey tournment in Vancouver.  As a reminder, here’s the post on the original odds we shared back on January 29.

As always, these numbers are for recreational purposes only.  Even after last night’s setback, Canada is still the favorite.

Odds to Win the 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey Championship (on 2/22/10)

Canada 9/5

Russia 11/4

USA 7/2

Sweden 5/1

Finland 11/1

Czech Republic 12/1

Slovakia 25/1

Switzerland 125/1

Belarus 500/1

Germany 500/1

Latvia 950/1

Norway 950/1

January 29th, 2010

Winter Olympic Ice Hockey Odds

The folks at just passed along the odds for Men’s 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey Tournment in Vancouver.  Unsurprisingly, Canada is the favorite to win Group A as well as the gold; Russia and Sweden are also heavily favored to win Groups B and C, respectively.

Remember, we don’t dispense gambling advice here at Off Wing.  But given the results of previous Olympic tournaments, the Czechs are looking awfully interesting.

Gold Medal Odds

Canada 1/1

Russia 2/1

Sweden 11/2

USA 7/1

Czech Republic 15/1

Finland 16/1

Slovakia 40/1

Switzerland 125/1

Germany 400/1

Belarus 500/1

Latvia 500/1

Norway 500/1

Odds to Win Group A of the the 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey Championship

Canada 2/9

USA 5/2

Switzerland 50/1

Norway 400/1

Odds to Win Group B of the the 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey Championship

Russia 1/3

Czech Republic 9/4

Slovakia 18/1

Latvia 400/1

Odds to Win Group C of the the 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey Championship

Sweden 1/2

Finland 7/5

Germany 50/1

Belarus 150/1

September 9th, 2009

Let the Women Ski Jump

Yesterday I wrote about the debate over allowing checking in women’s international ice hockey, and today I’m taking a look at another area where gender and sports intersect — Olympic Ski Jumping.  From the dawn of the sport, ski jumping , one of the six original sports in the Winter Games, has been a guys-only endeavor, but now a group of female jumpers want in on the action.  As far as I’m concerned, they make a very convincing case:

While they failed to get the sport added in time for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, the fight continues, as FIS, the international skiing federation, has petitioned the IOC for inclusion in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.  Meanwhile, a legal fight over a spot in Vancouver has made its way through the courts in Canada, details of which you can get through this interview at Pajamas Media.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know what the problem is.  Any argument that ski jumping is too dangerous for women doesn’t wash for me, and, truth be told, there’s considerable evidence that what the IOC is really afraid of is that the women might start outjumping the men.  That’s an odd position, because after all, I always thought the point about competition was, well, competition.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the pointer.

November 28th, 2006

Making Up New Sports For The Winter Games

Looks like we’re going to get some new Olympic sports in time for the 2010 games in Vancouver:

Likely to be approved for inclusion at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is skicross, a freestyle event similar to snowboard cross, which debuted at the Turin Games 10 months ago and drew good crowds.

Skicross involves groups of skiers racing each other to the bottom of a course featuring jumps, rollers, banks and other manmade and natural terrain features. The competition is part of the International Ski Federation’s World Cup freestyle circuit, which also includes the Olympic events of aerials and moguls.

And while they’re at it, why not give them rifles and grenades too? Is that extreme enough for you?

UPDATE: I’m thinking of something like this:

Yeah, there’s an Olympic sport in there that’s waiting to get out.

Or how about this?

September 5th, 2006

Cuban Aims For Profit Torpedo At The OIympics

Mark Cuban has been saying for years that the NBA shouldn’t send its superstar players to the Summer Olympics. Why bother? The league doesn’t need the exposure anymore. Cuban also makes the point that it’s insane for the NBA to put its player at risk to make money for networks that compete with the league’s television partners.

And now, Cuban is proposing a wholesale replacement for the Olympic Games:

Im not against International Basketball. I think it can be a decent business if done right. Unfortunately for the NBA, this is the only place where we give away our trademark and assets and we shouldn’t. If the game of basketball truly has grown to the level of interest we all think and hope it has, then we should just dump playing for the Olympics and hold our own tournament. If we were really , really smart, we would work with the NHL,NFL , MLB, the USA Track and Field organizations, Tennis and other sports with strong professional bases and create our own games. Then supporting the international development of the games would make sense. Then we could have bidding to host the SuperGames. To provide TV coverage. To sponsors. A Winter SuperGames, A Summer SuperGames every 4 years.

That would be fun.

An international for profit competition minus the self-important international bureaucrats? Sounds pretty good to me!

Think this might be a better deal for the NHL? You better believe it. Sharing time with the NBA, MLB and the NFL sure as heck beats getting squeezed out by figure skating and ski jumping.

Another great idea from the mind of Mark Cuban. Of course the folks at FIBA, the IIHF and the other international sporting bodies would have an absolute fit, but that’s just a bonus.

Here’s one vote to end the Olympic monopoly. Who’s with me?

June 30th, 2006

Woe Is Bode Miller

Bode Miller, perhaps the greatest underachiever in American history since Bart Simpson, had the gall to get up on a podium and lament his lot in life.

Excuse me for a moment while I go unpack the world’s smallest violin:

Miller, speaking at the World Scholar-Athlete Games at the University of Rhode Island on Thursday night, marveled at how he was perceived as “apparently the most hated Olympic athlete in history.”

A media prone to “sensationalism” had given the public misconceptions about him, he said, as he urged an audience of mostly teenagers to measure their success by their own standards.

“I’m sure some of you know me through the media, and that’s not, as we all know, the best way to get to know something,” he said.


“I was literally the number one guy in the Olympics that everyone was looking at, that everyone was paying attention to,” he said.

The public had placed a lot pressure on him, he said, and he was unfairly portrayed after failing to meet the expectations of others.

This is sort of like Dr. Faustus acting surprised when Mephastophilis came to collect his soul.

The bottom line is this: Before the Winter Olympics, nobody really knew who Bode Miller was. So in order to introduce him to the American public, and put him in the position to collect millions of dollars if he came home from Turin with even just one gold medal, his handlers put him in front of any audience they could find.

As for public pressure, perhaps it wouldn’t have been as intense if Miller had concentrated on preparing for the Olympics instead of granting interviews to 60 Minutes and Rolling Stone.

A lot of folks bet pretty heavy on Bode Miller. That includes sponsors like Nike as well as NBC Sports. And when Miller came up snakes eyes, how could he be surprised that the very same media he used for his own purposes in the run-up to the Olympics would return to deliver a metaphorical leg breaking that would leave him bitter and disillussioned?

As Sean Connery once said, “Here endeth the lesson“.

May 27th, 2006

Right On Your Highness

I’m not exactly a fan of the British Monarchy, but Prince Philip is onto something here:

Prince Philip says Olympic opening and closing ceremonies are “bloody nuisances ” which should be banned.

In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, the Duke of Edinburgh said he and Queen Elizabeth will have “as little as possible” to do with London’s Olympics in 2012, when he will be 91.

“Opening and closing ceremonies ought to be banned. Absolute bloody nuisances,” he told the newspaper.

“I have been to one that was absolutely, appallingly awful – aaaagh,” he reportedly said.

Thanks to Colby Cosh for the link.

April 4th, 2006

Overpromise Then Underdeliver

How do you know when a politician is lying?

Prime Minister Tony Blair predicts the 2012 London Olympics will generate economic prosperity and revive run-down parts of the city.

“Six years of wrangling, one year of blind panic, two weeks of glory and an endless period of repentance at leisure. Welcome to the Olympics,” Blair said Tuesday. “We are going to show that there is another story to be told.”

Unless the PM has got Peter Ueberroth hidden someplace, I’ve got my doubts.

February 17th, 2006

Dan Steinberg’s Turin Blog

Well, while television ratings for the Turin/Torino games are diappointing, those looking for a different take on the Olympics might want to stop by Dan Steinberg’s blog over at the Washington Post.

There’s lots of curling , lots of partying and even an appearance by a deranged fan of George Mason University:

You are a no-talent hack and may your kids grow up to be VCU music/art majors. Maybe then they can get high paying jobs at your whiny, liberal [bad word, misspelled to boot] newspaper.

Alumni of Virginia Commenwealth, please direct your complaints directly to Mr. Steinberg.

February 16th, 2006

The Olympics In Black And White

You know, when I watched Bryant Gumbel launch this tirade, on Real Sports earlier this week, I was momentarily angry, and then shrugged it off:

I figure that when Thomas Paine said that

February 12th, 2006

The “Real” Story At Torino

With American favorites dropping left and right at Torino, we’re beginning to get some honest talk about what these Olympics are really about:

The opening ceremony was seen by 22.8 million people on Friday _ half the number of viewers for the opening of the Salt Lake City games four years ago.

“Nobody expected them to do 45 million again,” [Marc] Berman [of Media Week Online] said. “To lose about half the audience _ that’s big. That’s dangerous. That’s very dangerous.”

NBC rebounded Saturday, when its viewership went up to 23.6 million people on what is usually the least-watched night of the week on television. It was still below the 29.4 million who watched the second night of Salt Lake City, but higher than Nagano eight years ago.

And it happened in the midst of the biggest blizzard in the history of New York City, the largest media market in the country.

I’d be worried too.

Perhaps it’s time to conclude that a lot of Americans just don’t care all that much about the Olympics.

January 31st, 2006

Striking A Blow For Democracy

Washington, D.C. wants to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (sort of). And Curling is the means to the madness.

January 27th, 2006

Miller: Bonds And Armstrong Are Cheating

U.S. skier Bode Miller seems determined to make sure as many folks as possible know who he iis before he hits the slopes in Torino in the Winter Olympics:

Just as the brash World Cup champion skier decided to skip this weekend’s events to rest up for the Torino Games and get away from media scrutiny, Miller suggested in an interview with Rolling Stone that Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs.

“Right now, if you want to cheat, you can: Barry Bonds and those guys are just knowingly cheating, but there’s all sorts of loopholes,” he told the magazine. “If you say it has to be ‘knowingly,’ you do what Lance (Armstrong) and all those guys do, where every morning their doctor gives them a box of pills and they don’t ask anything, they just take the pills.”

Click here to read the entire interview. And BTW: Even though the names Bonds and Armstrong are in this headline, don’t doubt for a second that this story, just like all the others, is really about Bode Miller.

Hats off to NBC, who managed to post a photo of Miller wearing a baseball cap with a sponsor’s name to their piece on the Rolling Stone interview.

January 13th, 2006

Skiing With The Whermacht

In an AP account of Bode Miller’s terse apology for his “skiing wasted” comment on 60 Minutes, Erica Bulman included the following quote from another skier from a few years back that had me shaking my head:

Three years ago, Croatian ski star Ivica Kostelic made a public apology for comparing his attitude before a race to that of a German soldier in World War II, saying, “You have to be aggressive and attack in such a situation. I felt like a German soldier ready for battle in 1941.”

For those of you who might not have taken WWII history, following the fall of Yugoslavia in 1941, Croatia was formally split from the nation and reconstituted as a Nazi puppet state.

Clearly, intelligence, while not ruling someone out of a career in downhill skiing, is not a pre-requisite either.

January 11th, 2006

More Curling For Everybody!

From the AP wire:

The Turin Olympics will be the most televised Winter Games with 416 hours of coverage, an increase of more than 40 hours from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Prepare yourself for the unmatched tension of the Biathlon.

Don’t laugh. Without Biathlon there would be a whole lot more ex-Soviet ski troops lying around with nothing to do.

January 11th, 2006

Miller Continues To Toy With U.S. Ski Team

The Bode Miller/Skiing Drunk charade continues, with the U.S. Ski Team threatening to boot Miller if he doesn’t apologize. While that doesn’t mean that Miller wouldn’t be able to compete in the Turin Winter Olympics, he would lose some perks:

Miller would still be allowed to compete in World Cup and Olympic races if he were independent of the team, but he would have to handle his own logistic and administrative responsibilities, and pay for his own coaches, service and travel. The Winter Olympics begin Feb. 10 in Turin, Italy.

Keep in mind that Miller is the centerpiece of a new Nike push into skiing equipment and apparrel, one that’s netting him millions and helped convince him to compete in Turin in the first place after hinting at retirement. Something tells me that Nike would be more than happy to pick up Miller’s tab for Turin if the U.S. Ski Team drops him.

It’s probably also important to remember that one of Nike’s first huge endorsement deals was with John McEnroe at the height of his brattiness. Miller is just the sort of personality that Nike likes to cultivate and have associated with its products. If he has to compete as an independent, it will mean that much more publicity for Nike and only add to Miller’s image as a rebel.

I’m really not seeing any downside for Miller in this whole episode.

January 9th, 2006

Bode Miller: Marketer’s Dream

Looks like Bode Miller suckered us all with his SUI (skiing under the influence) story from last week. Now that we’re past stage one, we’re well into the second stage of scandal stories: Mandatory manufactured outrage:

Bill Marolt, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, released a statement in response to the profile of Miller broadcast on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

He said Miller’s remarks “relative to alcohol use in conjunction with competition are unacceptable within the values expected of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association athletes.”

Marolt, who is based in Park City, Utah, is making an unscheduled trip to this week’s World Cup races in Switzerland to speak to Miller to “work with him to both recognize the seriousness of his comments and to reach a positive outcome.”

“Not only is the use of alcohol irresponsible on the part of an athlete, but it is also a dangerously inappropriate message to send to participants in our sport, especially young skiers and snowboarders,” Marolt said.

Later in the piece, the reporter talks to both Nike and Barilla, and asks them if they plan on dropping sponsorship of Miller. You can guess what their answers were.

Next up, the contrite (but insincere) apology, which should take place sometime before Miller heads to Turin for the Winter Olympics.

Think more people know who Miller is now than one week ago? And how many more of them are going to be watching him at Turin on NBC when the time comes?

More than likely, this is Miller’s last appearance at the Olympics. There is absolutely no way that anybody is going to prevent him from competing at this point, so with the apology out of the way somewhere out over the horizon, Miller’s sponsors will be grateful for the extra publicity.

January 6th, 2006

Bode Miller On Skiing Drunk

There’s always somebody willing to go the extra mile in order to deliver maximum entertainment value. Next up, U.S. Olympian Bode Miller:

Bode Miller knows he puts his life at risk when he skis drunk, but the outspoken Olympic favorite admits he may try the dangerous activity again.

“Talk about a hard challenge right there. … If you ever tried to ski when you’re wasted, it’s not easy,” Miller told “60 Minutes” for a segment that will air Sunday. “Try and ski a slalom when … you hit a gate less than every one second, so it’s risky. You’re putting your life at risk. … It’s like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it in ski racing.”

Asked if the risk meant he would never ski drunk again, Miller replied “No, I’m not saying that.”


November 3rd, 2005

An Olympian Mistake

Oops. I don’t think this is a rounding error:

Buying land and relocating businesses for the 2012 London Olympics could cost twice the original estimate.

But London Development Agency chair Mary Reilly said the figure approaching $1.76 billion was a “worst-case scenario.”

The LDA budgeted $846 million in June 2003 for Olympics-related land acquisition. Reilly said that amount did not include buying new sites for relocating businesses.

“Some of the land is in worse condition that we thought,” Reilly told The Financial Times. But she said the LDA would be able to cover the costs without making London taxpayers contribute more.

Really? I’d be holding on to my wallet if I was a British taxpayer.

July 29th, 2005

Would Bob Costas Go To Kazakhstan?*

Out of Lussane, Switzerland comes the news that seven cities are bidding to get fleeced by the International Olympic Committee for the privilege of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

But what caught my eye was the fact that one of the bid cities is Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Yes, that Kazakhstan.

I think there’s about as much chance of that happening as the X Games adding Super Modified Yak Racing as a demonstration sport.

But who’s gonna tell Borat?
*Probably not, but Jim McKay would. He’s such the dude.

July 11th, 2005

Is Paris Whining?*

Do sour grapes make fine w(h)ine?

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe says British prime minister Tony Blair and London bid leader Sebastian Coe “crossed the line” by criticizing other cities that were vying for the 2012 Olympics.

Last week, London was awarded the 2012 Games over Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow.

“They crossed the yellow line with respect to the IOC rules,” Delanoe told France-Info radio Monday after a meeting of the Paris city council.

Delanoe did not offer specific accusations, though two consultants for the British bid were critical of the sightlines at the Stade de France, considered a centerpiece of Paris’ bid. Under IOC rules, the bid cities are prohibited from criticizing each other.

I try to keep the French bashing to a minimum here, but it seemed warranted this time.
*My apologies to (the late) Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.

July 6th, 2005

What Has London Really Won?

When the announcement was made in Singapore that London had been awarded the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.K. delegation that was present erupted with cheers. But as far as I’m concerned, it should be the citizens of the cities who were passed over by the IOC — New York, Moscow, Madrid and Paris — that really ought to be cheering.

With an exception or two, the Olympics have proven to be a financial sinkhole for the city and country that win the “honor” of hosting the Games. Next up on that fiscal road to nowhere will be London and the U.K., as they embark on a seven-year hitch placating the capricious whims of the International Olympic Committee.

I pity the overtaxed citizens of the U.K. over the next seven years, as I’m sure that national budget will be larded with all sorts of goodies for the Games.

Granted, the Olympics have been the source of more than a few treasured sports memories for me. But as much as I might enjoy some of the coverage, I’m more than happy to see somebody else foot the bill.

April 20th, 2005

Pot, Kettle, Black

Am I the only one to find it ironic that the International Olympic Committee is conducting an “ethics” investigation?

August 30th, 2004

Once More On Whitlock

I don’t want to go back to the well too many times, but there’s just one more passage from Jason Whitlock’s column last week that bears repeating:

Despite the hypocritical, rabid patriotism displayed immediately after 9/11. . .

On the morning of Saturday, September 15, 2001, I hopped in my car to drive home to New York to see my family. As I drove North from Washington to New York on I-95, I couldn’t help but be struck at the number of American flags and banners with patriotic messages strung on the overpasses above the interstate.

Getting off the New Jersey Turnpike to drop a friend off with his family, the first thing you noticed were the American flags hanging from so many homes. It was the same when I got to my home town on Long Island, a little more than 20 miles from Ground Zero. Nothing but flags, and expressions of solidarity with the victims of one of the most barbaric acts in all of human history.

But if you’re Jason Whitlock, it was all just rabid hypocrisy on the part of grieving Americans.

Words cannot describe just the sort of contempt I have for what he wrote. But in a world where so many people have worked so hard to hide the images of September 11, 2001 from our eyes, I guess I really can’t be surprised.

UPDATE: And thank you Allen Iverson, you showed me something in Athens — even if it didn’t get all the attention it deserved.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Click here, and listen to a piece from the CBC radio archives on the 1972 Summit Series. Stick around till the end, and listen to the “unpatriotic” Canadians criticize their hockey team.

August 28th, 2004

Simmons On Whitlock’s Bill Simmons on why he rooted against Team USA in Men’s Olympic Basketball:

Am I rooting against them? Yes. I want them to lose. It’s for a greater good. If they win the gold medal, we’ll be back here in four years with another All-Star team. And besides, the Olympics aren’t about following your country, they’re about following sports. Five years from now, I won’t remember how many medals the United States won, but I’ll remember watching that Greek hurdler standing on the podium — her eyes filled with tears, her body quivering, the gold medal pressed to her chest — as the entire stadium belted out Greece’s national anthem. Now that was a moment.

Which after all, is sort of what I wrote last week.

August 27th, 2004

Is It Racist To Boo Team USA?

I’ve gotten a couple of angry emails about yesterday’s Jason Whitlock piece at’s Page 2 that casually played the race card when it comes to the Summit Series in 1972 — a point made earlier this week over at Blog Maverick, and a comparison I made in the wake of the American debacle at the FIBA World Championships two years ago.

But there’s one way the comparison falls apart. Because in the wake of three shocking losses to the Russians in 1972, the Canadian public turned on Team Canada like a pack of wild dogs — just the way the American public is bashing Team USA right now.

That team of Canadian professionals came into training camp out of shape and disinterested. They didn’t take their opponents seriously, and they didn’t take the tournament seriously. And it showed on the ice. And the fans let them have it.

It all came to a horrible crescendo after Game Four of the series in Vancouver, a 5-3 win for the Soviets. As Team Canada left the ice, at this point down 2-1-1 in the series, a rain of abuse hailed down upon them as Phil Esposito stepped up to a CBC microphone to give an interview that was simulcast inside the arena:

“For the people across Canada, we tried. We gave it our best. For the people who booed us, jeez, all of us guys are really disheartened and we’re disillusioned and we’re disappointed in some of the people. We cannot believe the bad press we’ve got, the booing we’ve gotten in our own buildings.

Sound familiar? Know this: 30 years ago, in the depths of the Cold War, people across Canada weren’t chary to express their disappointment in a group of lazy professionals who refused to take a sporting event as seriously as the average fan.

Were those Canadians any less patriotic because they booed that team? Not on your life. In fact, when they booed, they were simply insisting that the team on the ice live up to the hard-won reputation on the name on the sweater.

And that’s not any different from what American fans are demanding from our Men’s Olympic Basketball Team today.

By the way, Esposito wasn’t done with his comments after those first few sentences. Instead, as one of the leaders of Team Canada, he took responsibility for his team’s poor performance, promised to work harder, and rallied the Canadian fans behind the squad:

“Everyone one of us guys, thirty-five guys who came out to play for Team Canada,” Esposito continued, “we did it because we love our country and not for any other reason. They can throw the money for the pension fund out the window, they can throw anything they want out the window – we came because we love Canada. And even though we play in the United States and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home and that’s the only reason we come.”

If only Iverson, Duncan or Marbury would be man enough to step up to the microphone and do the same.

I don’t want to discount that there are, even today, a number of closet racists who are taking delight in seeing a team of African-American men beaten soundly on a Basketball court. But ascribing those twisted thoughts to an entire nation of sports fans ticked off because a team wearing the name of our nation and carrying our colors couldn’t manage to defeat the titanic basketball power of Puerto Rico, strains credulity.

As Charles Austin wrote to me last night, “When everything is racist, nothing is racist.” And in this case, it’s simply a convenient canard to let this team — from senior mangement, to the coaching staff and the players on the floor — off the hook.

UPDATE: Let the finger pointing continue, as Argentina has defeated Team USA in the semifianls, 87-81. The U.S. will play either Italy or Lithunia in the Bronze Medal game.

August 24th, 2004

Killing The Messenger

Guest blogging over at Hawspipe, Charles Tupper, Jr. exposes some of the weak thinking on steroids being fronted by the normally sane Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post.

August 24th, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Blog. . .

Or so says the International Olympic Committee:

The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites.

An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.

Which is exactly the loophole Brandi Chastain used to foist her blog upon the world.

That’s another forward thinking decision from a group of folks who are actually expect somebody like me to ask permission before linking to the official Web site of the Athens Games.

Link via Instapundit.

August 23rd, 2004

An Odd Moment

I never thought I’d see the day when I disagree with Charles Austin, and find myself on the same page as Christine Brennan.

They made a mistake. And while it’s a tragedy for one man, it’s very easily correctable. Paul Hamm should give back the Gold, and before somebody tells him he has to.