I’m proud be an American, apparently


Charlie Krupa /


Sure, but let’s see how she handles a bottle of Korbel.

There’s something about the Olympics that inspires a strange sense of intense national pride. When you see our athletes win, or hear our anthem play at the podium, it’s all just very emotional. No matter your politics or worldview, it’s just nice to see other Americans attaining success at something they’ve worked very hard for and representing our country with dignity on the world stage.

Tonight is a good night for the U.S.A. It’s really good if you’re Shaun White, Shani Davis, Lindsey Vonn, and Apolo Ohno.

Shaun White is actually extra lucky, because I’m pretty sure Cris Collinsworth has a crush on him. There’s a whole package on how Shaun White is single-handedly pushing the boundaries of snowboarding in his crazy Colorado snowboarding lair where he invents increasingly more dangerous tricks. Even when it means he lands on his face. And look! Collinsworth abducted Tony Hawk to ask him how he thinks White will do. The answer? He thinks he’ll do well!

On the lift up to the qualifications round, our favorite ginger lady snowboarder tells us it’s “freaky-deeky.” Why, Shaun? Why is it every time I think I like you, you say or do something so lame that it forces me to reconsider. Less talk, more flippy. Thanks.

Meanwhile, American Trevor Mariscano and Jan Bos of the Netherlands are on the rink for the 1000m Men’s Speed Skating match. Mariscano wins the match. It took me a second to figure out how this works. Even though they are skating in pairs, they are all competing for the best times. It’s strange, because I remember being really impressed by how they explained all the crazypants rules of the Summer Games. Here, they just sort of just start showing you people skating around a rink. Is it a heat? Is it a race against time or the other competitor? Who knows!

My real question now is how do they get the competitors’ home nations’ flags under the ice at the start point? Are they projected there? PAGING, MARY CARILLO, WHERE ARE YOU?

It’s all about American Shani Davis, who takes the gold medal, besting the silver medal winner’s time by .18 seconds. Pretty awesome. Good for you, Shani Davis. Spring’s Chad Hedrick wins the bronze! Yay, Spring! Yay, Chad!

Hey! Look! Viking Speed Skating! Did you know Vikings strapped axes to their shoes and dragons to their backs and then glided over the ice until the dragon launched them into Outer Space? Oh, you didn’t? Maybe you should spend less time reading blogs, and more time reading BOOKS. Thanks for the history lesson, Dreamworks!

Oh good, back to short track. American Travis Jayner lost his spot in the finals when he stumbled a bit in his final lap during his heat. His teammate Apolo Ohno, on the other hand, takes his heat with ease and skates right into Saturday’s finals. That precious, precious little J.R. Celski just barely makes it into a qualifying second place during his heat in the last lap. Exciting stuff.

Bob Costas and his inky, inky hair (Fact: The Houston Chronicle is printed exclusively using Bob Costas’ leftover hair dye) introduce us to Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn via a touching video package about OVERCOMING ADVERSITY. Vonn suffered a shin injury just a few days ago. In Torino, she flew off the course in a training run. She returned two days later, winning eighth place. Since then she’s become the best U.S. women’s skier ever. In December, she bruised her wrist during a giant slalom in Austria. Some of her injuries though have been a little less, shall we say, noble. At the World Championship last year, she almost “ripped her thumb in half” opening a champagne bottle. Huh? All I’m saying is that Therese and I would be in contention for the gold medal in the drinking Olympics, and I don’t think either of us could, in our worst state, injure ourselves that severely opening some bubbly.

Women’s downhill looks really, really scary. All these downhill events are overwhelmingly terrifying, because you’re going too fast and usually going off jumps and ramps and OH BOY I’M GIVING MYSELF A PANIC ATTACK JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. But, still, skiing seems way more scary than even snowboarding or luge. There just seems like there are way more possibilities to land in ways that your body is not meant to be, legs all akimbo and whatnot. Take Dominique Gisin, who took a tumble coming off the last jump AND LOST HER SKI on impact. Or Daniela Merigheti who also took a big ol’ spill. Or Anja Parson. I need a Xanax. How am I going to handle skeleton?

You know what they neglected to mention about Lindsey Vonn? Her creepy “visualization of the course,” which sort of looks like a breakdancer doing the robot, or a Wade Robson choreographed contemporary routine about a hummingbird.

Whatever she did, it worked. She zoomed down that hill and into first place. Even with her shin injury, she managed to find a way to compensate for it. Well done. As they review her performance on video, you can hear her talking on the phone saying, “I won, Papa … I won” and it’s all so sweet and clearly this meant so much to her and CRYING. NOW I’M CRYNG. Oh gosh, now she runs to celebrate with her husband Thomas and she runs to him and hugs him and cries and cries and cries and NOW I’M JUST PLAIN SOBBING ON MY COUCH.

(Also: In the interest of fairness, and since I have been talking about all the hunky, hunky male olympians, isn’t Lindsey Vonn unbelievably gorgeous? She looks like past America’s Next Top Model winner Whitney.)

Back at the rink it’s time for the CRAZIEST thing I’ve seen thus far, the 5000m speed skating relay. Apparently everyone’s just all perpetually in motion, but only four skaters (one per team) really matter at a time. And the only rule is that each member needs to make one lap and then they can go in any order they want. I don’t understand why some of these events have so many seemingly unnecessary rules while others are like pure chaos. Me? I prefer the chaos. MOAR CHAOS, PLZ. The Italians and French wipe out, leaving just the Koreans and the Americans to cruise around fairly leisurely, since the top two teams progress. The Italians get disqualified and they give France the go ahead because the Italians didn’t play nice, or something.

Back to the halfpipe. I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to how to best write about the halfpipe. This isn’t the official sports-page recap, it’s for the casual TV-junkie whose only real interaction with sports occurs every two years when the Olympics eat up two weeks of NBC programming. All these snowboarders are fun to watch. They go really high and spin and flip and twirl and grab. But when it comes down to the technicalities, all the tricks sound like “double-pits-to-chesty” and I can’t eye the differences so easily. I also can’t begin to figure out if that twisty-spinny-flippy thing is actually more difficult/impressive than that spinny-flippy-twisty thing.

The only real observation is SHAUN WHITE IS SO UNBELIEVABLY BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE. That’s pretty much all you need to know. He locked it up before even completing his second run. And then, just for a cherry on top, he finished up that run with a trick that the announcer described as two flips and three and a half rotations and then a series of words that are only usually used to describe cheeseburgers. It was insane.

Also, a quick note about Americans and their flags. Some commenters were meow-meowing about Hannah Kearney waving her flag around when she won the gold for freestyle moguls. Just to be clear, this is not an American display of poor sportsmanship; all the countries proudly display their nation’s flag to celebrate. It’s just here in the U.S., our television crews tend to linger on athletes from our country. So, let’s not all pile on our little ginger snowboarding queen Shaun White for waving around the Stars and Bars like he just don’t care.

Great show, my fellow Americans. Hopefully Lysacek can keep the streak alive tomorrow in men’s figure skating.

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