Games revealed real winners, losers

By JIM KERNAGHAN, Special to QMI Agency

As always, the winners outpaced the losers as the Olympic Games wound up Sunday, this time by a considerable margin. Herein, a personal accounting in no particular order:

The Winners:

* Canadians generally, who got to see so much athletic success unfold before their eyes during Canada’s record-setting performances on home turf with the most golds and the most medals ever.

* Every athlete who trained four years and got this far to compete, with added nods to medal winners and those recording personal-best performances.

* John Furlong, the embattled CEO of the organizing committee whose co-CEO Jack Poole died in October. Furlong stayed the course in the glitch-filled early dark days with unbowed resolve that was ultimately rewarded.

* The TV networks that created the consortium to bring us the games relatively seamlessly, with interesting features and plenty of live coverage. The old single-platform way of televising the Olympics is gone forever. If the record viewership numbers are accurate, sponsors were handsomely rewarded.

* The creative departments of advertising agencies that came up with so many fresh and appealing TV commercials. They didn’t start getting old until the end.

* The producers of those red mittens and condoms, since the Games ran out of both.

* Brian Orser, denied gold as an Olympic competitor, for molding Yu-Na Kim into a champion. He may well have started a dynasty with the towering young talent.

* Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skater who demonstrated true courage by coming up with a medal-winning performance in the midst of the grief over her mother’s sudden death.

* Slovenian skier Petra Majdic, who broke four ribs in qualifying but competed in the final and won a bronze to share the Terry Fox Award with Rochette.

* David Kumaritashvili, father of Nodar Kumaritashvili, killed while training for the luge on a suspect course when asked about a lawsuit. “What lawsuit? What kind of person would do that? My son is dead; that wouldn’t bring him back.”

* American ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis, for their genuine congratulations to friends Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue for winning the gold medal. Boos to others (see Losers).

The Losers:

* The Russians, whose decades of figure-skating dominance ended along with a weak podium finish across the board. Eight gold medals at Turin, three at Vancouver. There’ll be endless autopsies at home demanded by embarrassed political leaders.

* Ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin for their unsportsmanlike demeanour, from their dour faces rushing off the score stand to their dissing of the judging system. Others can skate, too.

* The Austrian men skiers, shockingly blanked on the slopes. It marked the first time since 1936 that they went home with no medals.

* Owners of Vancouver and Whistler homes, holding out in their greed for desperate individuals willing to pay anything at the last minute. It didn’t happen.

* The Brit twit reporter who termed the Games worst-ever. He’s probably hollering “misquote” today.

* Strident critics of Team Canada hockey player Marie-Philip Poulin drinking a beer after winning the gold medal. Was she was the only 18-year-old in Vancouver having a beer that night?

Along with the winners and losers, some fit both categories.

The Best:

Anni Freisinger-Postma in the women’s speed skating semifinal slid over the finish line on her belly and pounded her fists on the ice in dejection. Then, she looked up and saw her team’s time beat the American women and got them to the final. She was like a woman reborn.

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