Olympics: Gold mine for drama | TheUnion.com

Olympics: Gold mine for drama

Better than Jerry Springer, more intense than a Red Sox vs. Yankee spat, with more outrageous plot lines than any number of day time soap operas – what exactly could I be talking about here?

The Olympics of course!

I will admit I’m not a die-hard follower of the majority of the sports featured in the Winter Olympics and I suspect many sports fans are the same way, but once every four years I willingly hop on board for what will certainly be quite the wild ride.

At each and every Olympics we can be guaranteed of some type of drama or scandal with fierce rivalries that must be settled, rolled all together with countries across the world trying to prove their superiority.

Each Olympics have enough potent ingredients present for one big batch of drama soup – and this year is proving no different. In fact, the juicy headlines even began before the athletes marched in the opening ceremony.

We watched as figure skater Michelle Kwan pulled out of the U.S. Championships because of a severe groin injury and petitioned for a spot on the team anyway, pending her recovery. Her petition was granted and 16-year-old Emily Hughes found herself off the team.

However, after sustaining another injury shortly after the opening ceremony, Kwan withdrew from the Olympics. An ice skating competition without some sort of drama is like March Madness with no upsets – it just doesn’t happen. Except most years we have to wait until the actual judging begins for the dirt to come out.

Don’t forget about the infamous headlines Bode Miller made prior to the games, with his claims of sometimes hitting the slopes a bit tipsy after a long night of partying. The only thing more interesting than his outspoken thoughts regarding various topics has been his subpar performances at the games.

Thus far he’s skied in five of his six events and hasn’t reached the podium in any of them. Pumped up before the games as one of America’s best multi gold medal candidates, he may be one of the biggest disappointments for the U.S. team.

Speedskating is a sport I have paid little attention to considering I grew up 15 minutes from the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, a popular training spot for Olympians – producing such stars as Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen. But I tuned in Saturday night to catch all the fun bubbling up between Americans Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis.

Davis became the first black athlete to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, but it was difficult to see how much that honor meant to him through his terse words and angry scowl.

Apparently more is going on in the wings of American speedskating than we will probably ever know, but we are aware of the rift that surfaced after Davis decided not to skate the team pursuit event. Hedrick was less than pleased with his teammate’s decision to sit out the grueling event.

I’m not sure exactly who I agree with in this cat fight, but I know that I’ve been following speedskating more closely than ever before.

And these are just a few stories that have emerged already regarding the Americans. How about the Austrian ski coach that skipped town before a raid to find performing enhancing drugs in his living quarters, only to become involved in a wild police chase that ended in a crash?

He’s now staying in a psychiatric facility.

Even for those not totally into the sports featured in the Winter Olympics or the pep rally type feeling surrounding the United States and its athletes, I encourage sports fans to tune in, if not for the aforementioned reasons, but for the sheer drama of it all.

The Winter Olympics only come once every fours years, but when they do, great storylines are always a guarantee.

Sportswriter Stacy Hicklin’s column appears on Wednesdays. To contact her e-mail her at stacyh@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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