XX Olympic Winter Games - Torino, Italy - Page 34 - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-26-2006, 08:39 AM   #496
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Originally posted by trevster2k


For any athlete to go to the Olympic games, disregard the competitions, party hard before competing or not care about winning is an insult to the thousands of people who dream about competing at the Olympics. It is disrespectful of fellow teammates, coaching staff, friends and family, and sponsors. People make sacrifices just to compete and do so with the support of many other people, winning is great but doing your best is the most important. Athletes along the lines of Bode Miller do a disservice for their sport and their country at an event like the Olympics.
Very well said

But when you're self-centered like Bode seems to be, you don't have that mindset. Maybe one day he'll step out of the cocoon of his delusional ego.
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:10 AM   #497
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by Dan Wetzel, Yahoo

TURIN, Italy – This time the tears came for all the right reasons, signaling all the right emotions. Silvia Fontana would leave the Palavela ice in tears for the second time in three nights but this time it would be for joy, for perseverance, for self-confidence, for pride and mostly for her Italy.

"It was my Olympic moment," she said.

It was, in many ways, everyone's.

The Olympics always get hijacked – by television, by marketers, by poor sportsmanship, by controversies, by the pressure that makes athletes feel that you don't win silver as much as you lose gold. It happens. But so do comeback performances such as Silvia Fontana's Thursday to remind why this is still such a unique, special event.

You can hardly skate worse than Fontana had Tuesday in the ladies' short program. She plodded and fell in a routine that finished 23rd out of the 24 skaters who made the cut, so far behind Sasha and Irina and Shizuka there was nothing to do but cry. And so she did.

"I'm sorry to all of Italy," she said in embarrassment after.

Italy was the only reason she was here, though. Silvia Fontana was 29, retired for over three years from competitive skating when she heard the call. Figure skating is not popular here, but the host country must compete in all the Games.

Italy already had one great competing – Carolina Kostner – and now it beckoned for its old champion Fontana to try again. The girl from Rome couldn't resist the lure. She knew she would never contend for a medal against all of the flexible teenagers and in-their-prime stars. She was pushing 30 in a sport that doesn't always allow you to push 20.

But she could enjoy the swell of emotion that could come from competing in her homeland, in front of her fellow Italians, for Italy. She got caught up in it.

She was living in the United States by then, married to retired American skater John Zimmerman, who provided skating analysis for Yahoo! Sports during the games. She started training again in Hackensack, N.J., just nine months ago. It was slow at first. It was slow at second. But the gains came. So too did the injuries, including one less than a month ago.

But she had dreamed of skating again. She had promised Italy she would try. And so on Tuesday she did. And felt like she had failed.

"I was so nervous," she said.

The Italian crowd cheered for her anyway. They hardly cared that she had fallen, that she had misstepped. They knew what she was trying to do, why she was there. It wasn't about the medal. It was about Italy.

"I didn't regret trying," she said. "I regretted my skate for the reason of being timid, a little bit more tentative. That is not a great way to go into competition."

So for two days she vowed to be confident in the face of a frightening task. The free skate is longer, often more difficult – four minutes on the ice, four minutes in the spotlight. She would have to skate better.

She was the first to take the ice, the ultimate sign of non-contention – Irina Slutskaya wouldn't skate for nearly four hours. The crowd went nuts anyway. She smiled, settled herself and attacked the program. With each completed jump the fans roared. With each beautiful spin they cheered. With each minute, Fontana's smile beamed brighter.

She wasn't going to move up in the standings, but she was skating like an Olympian. When she finished in triumph, Italy roared. Fontana stood and cried, hands over her face at center ice, bawling for all the right reasons.

"It is funny, my program was not very difficult for [Olympic] standards," she said Saturday. "But my standards were for that one moment. It was my own personal medal."

The ensuing two days have been a scramble. Suddenly Fontana was famous. Suddenly she was beloved. The Italians were moved by the comeback, by the effort, by the simple ideals she represented. She was not one of the Italian athletes whose spurred-on emotion had pushed the country to a record 10 medals here, including four golds.

But Silvia Fontana couldn't have represented her proud homeland more perfectly.

And everyone wanted to let her know. She was at cafe in downtown Turin Friday with her husband and U.S. ice dancing silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto. They were famous faces of these games, yet over and over people kept coming up to thank Fontana, to meet her, to get her to sign something.

"It felt awkward, people coming to me," she said. "I am thinking, 'Here are silver medalists beside me.' [It's just been a] lot of warmth and love."

It was the woman who won nothing, who had apologized to her nation, who had picked herself up off the ice, who had finished in 22nd place, who had captured the hearts and reminded everyone the true ideals of the games that they wanted to celebrate.

She cried at center ice twice in two nights. She said wouldn't change a thing.

"Both feelings," she said, "made it sweeter."
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:14 AM   #498
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Only medal for Bode is fool’s gold
Failing at the Olympics is forgivable, but 'getting fatter on beer' is not


COMMENTARY
By Sally Jenkins
Columnist
The Washington Post Feb. 26, 2006

SESTRIERE, Italy - For weeks now Nike has advised us to “Join Bode.” Join him where? At the bar? That’s one place you might find Bode Miller after the Turin Games, unless he’s in his motor home, finding new ways to duck all that pressure he put on himself.

Miller is the biggest disappointment in the Winter Olympics, not because of the way he skied the mountain, but the way he acted at the bottom of it. The fact that he didn’t win a medal at these Games, going 0-for-5 in the Alpine events, is beside the point. It’s not the winning, it’s the trying. The point is that he acted like he didn’t try, and didn’t care. Failing is forgivable. Getting fatter on beer while you’re here is not.

If there has been a weaker performance by an American athlete on the international stage than that of Miller, I’m hard pressed to think of one. To hear Miller tell it, he spent more time in Sestriere’s nightclubs than he did in actual competition, which amounted to less than eight minutes. Miller’s final Olympic event, the slalom, lasted all of 16 seconds. He bulled out of the start house, did a couple of quick scrimshaw turns, and promptly straddled a gate.

Fair enough — Miller has struggled in the slalom this season, finishing just two of eight races, and it was a tough course. Nine of the top 29 skiers in the competition did not finish. It was Miller’s behavior afterwards that sealed his reputation as the goat of the games. He thrust his hands in the air, stuck out his tongue, and waggled in mock celebration. Then he skied off the course, avoiding the cameras and throngs of people at the bottom of the hill. When Associated Press reporter Jim Litke found him later, he declared, “Man, I rocked.”

Then he delivered a disquisition on his Olympic experience. “It’s been an awesome two weeks,” Miller said. “I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level.”

Let’s review his awesome two weeks. Miller arrived in Turin sullen and defensive, and blew his chance in the downhill when he lost time on the bottom of course, probably as a result of his lack of fitness. He blew another medal in the combined when he led after the downhill portion, but straddled a gate in the slalom. Next, he blew up a gate in the Super-G, and then insulted his rivals afterward by saying he wasn’t one of those guys “who skies 70 or 80 percent and gets on the podium.”

Miller has worked awfully hard to reach this point; the relationship he has built with the public is the one he himself has constructed over many months. He was impossibly over-hyped coming into the Winter Games between Nike’s ad campaign, his autobiography, and those nipple-baring magazine covers, all of which he cooperated with and cashed in on. Miller took the world’s biggest ego bath — until he realized it was going to be difficult to satisfy Olympic expectations, especially in a field chock full of Austrians.

Now he wants to distance himself from all the hype and commerce. “The expectations were other people’s,” he told AP. “I’m comfortable with what I’ve accomplished, including at the Olympics.”

The about-face has left Miller so confused that he can’t get his stories straight. In one breath, he talks about giving it his all, and in the next, he talks about how hard he drank during the Games. “I just did it my way. I’m not a martyr, and I’m not a do-gooder. I just want to go out and rock. And man I rocked here.”

Or: “My quality of life is the priority. I wanted to have fun here, to enjoy the Olympic experience, not be holed up in a closet and not ever leave your room.”

Miller’s act has clearly worn on his coaches, and Bill Marolt, president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, suggested that officials would have “a heart-to-heart” talk with Miller at the end of this season regarding his behavior. Nor would Marolt speculate if Miller would be back on the team. “I don’t believe we should have conversations like this in the media,” Marolt said. “But clearly it will be something we will address at the year’s end, and I don’t know where that will go right now.”

What they should tell Miller is this: Everyone can sympathize with his struggle to meet unrealistic expectations. And everyone respects what Miller has done on skis, from his two silvers at the Salt Lake Games, to the overall World Cup title last season. But nobody respects the Bode Miller who showed up here — maybe not even Miller himself — and unless he can compete respectably, he shouldn’t return to the team. There are few things less worthy of respect than the athlete who pretends not to care about the outcome. It’s a bail out position, a protection, and an excuse. If you pretend not to care, then no one can say you really lost. Miller never committed to these Olympics, never put his ante on the table. He sauntered around the Games as if he was just here to watch.

Which is mostly what he did.
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Old 02-26-2006, 11:17 AM   #499
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I really enjoyed watching Silvia skate her free program. Dick Button was right when he said "it's her Olympic medal experience".
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Old 02-26-2006, 02:05 PM   #500
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“I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level.”
Perhaps he can next time - as a spectator.
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Old 02-26-2006, 02:12 PM   #501
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Perhaps he can next time - as a spectator.
That would certainly be more appropriate.
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Old 02-26-2006, 02:17 PM   #502
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Maybe Nike can make beer mugs.
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Old 02-26-2006, 02:49 PM   #503
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Old 02-26-2006, 03:56 PM   #504
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I loved the article about Silvia Fontana. Her performance was a joy to watch! She was so happy and proud, and the crowd absolutely loved her.
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