So the Winter Olympics are over, and while I’ll miss the intensity of the pass two weeks, I realize it’s also impossible to sustain that intensity forever. (Still, on to the Paralympics, which begin March 7.)
When a global event ends, I always like to stop and consider what I’ve learned. I think the first takeaway from these Games is that they really represented a changing of the guard. Continuing a theme that has played out all season first at the Australian Open and then at the Super Bowl, the sure thing wasn’t. In Sochi, the heavy favorites – the Shaun Whites, the Shani Davises, the Bode Millers – weren’t necessarily atop or even on the podium. Instead we were introduced to medalists like skaters Yuzuru Hanyu and Yulia Lipnitskaia and skiers Matthias Mayer and Michaela Shiffrin, just to name a few.
Why did many Olympic veterans struggle? Because four years is a long time, and time really is another country. Bodies age, motivation changes and hungry newcomers blossom to take their place on the world stage.
Among the stars to emerge were two behind the mic – NBCSN figure skating commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, who drew raves for the rapport, their outfits and their hip, anything-goes commentary. They were a little more careful, however, when they served as commentators for the Figure Skating Gala on the Peacock Network, so it will be interesting to see how they adjust their free-spiritedness once they become the NBC prime-time analysts, which is just a matter of time.
Some things, however, never change. Just as you don’t bet against the house, so you don’t bet against the home team. Russia took full advantage of home-field advantage (Adelina Sotnikova, anyone?). But say this: The Russians pulled it off, showcasing their great strength, their culture, in the closing ceremonies.
Before airing that ceremony, NBC presented Mary Carillo’s documentary on the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding drama that played out at the Lillehammer Games in 1994. (See earlier post on this blog.)
Talk about time being another country. Twenty years later, Kerrigan and Harding are middle-aged women with husbands, kids, work, lives. What struck me most is how the roles have been reversed. Harding used to be the conciliatory one. Two decades on, she seems to be somewhat aloof and angry. Kerrigan, who always seemed to me somewhat brittle, came off as gracious, understanding and above all eager to move on at last.
So let’s let them, shall we? The Olympics make a big deal about peace and unity, but there can be no global peace without peace of mind.
Here’s wishing all of us that peace.