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Friday, February 23, 2018

WINTER OLYMPICS 2018: What Happened?

The 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea are coming to a close.  2,952 athletes from 92 countries competed in 102 events across 15 different winter sports.

The USA had placed first and mostly second at all these events since Salt Lake in 2002.  This year we will probably end up fourth.  Norway will prevail.  The U.S. has 63 times the population of Norway.  Norway had 109 competitors in 11 sports, while the U.S. had 242 (largest team in Winter Olympics history) in 15.  So what happened?

Who really cares, anyway.  Well, NBC does, for ratings have been dismal.  Poor U.S. performances for sure hurt, plus timing (Seoul is eleven hours away from New York), and there seemed to be uncertainty what would be shown when and where on TV.  You could plan ahead for the 52nd Superbowl because you knew it would start at 1:30 PM EST on February 4.  Not so for the Winter Olympics.  Then too, watching skiing or almost whatever, it was hard to tell which country was being represented.  There was no clear distinction among national uniforms, except for those tiny words on the sleeve.

None of the nearly 3,000 Olympians was paid to participate.  However, if an American won a gold medal, the value was $37,500, silver $22,500 and bronze $15,000.  Team members split those amounts.  If your name is Shaun White, his gold was piddling, for he pulls in $10 million/year and is said to be worth $40 million.

If you won from Singapore:  gold $750,000, silver $375,000 and bronze almost $200,000.  No Winter winners, but Joseph Schooling did get a million Singapore dollars for beating Michael Phelps in the recent Rio Summer Olympics.  Schooling is currently swimming for the University of Texas.  He has actually being going to school in the U.S. since the 8th grade.

The most memorable moment for the USA had to be the gold for our women's ice hockey team, chronic losers to Canada.  The score went into overtime, and that failed to determine the winner.  So it came to a shootout, where finally the U.S. prevailed, winning gold medal for first time since 1998.  This is the team that  a year ago threatened to boycott the World Championship.  But USA Hockey buckled, and the women got what they wanted, including winning that 2017 World Championship.

The official 2018 Winter Olympics Jerk was unanimous:  Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence’s job in Pyeongchang isn’t limited to creating awkward moments and bashing the press. He is also there for diplomatic purposes—a tough task, given that he is the representative of a president who recently deemed Haiti and several African nations “shithole countries.” How has that been going? Well, Pence reportedly arrived late to a Friday dinner hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, then left early and skipped the very special dessert. At Friday’s opening ceremony, Pence was one of the few people in the stadium who notably refused to stand and applaud when the combined North Korean and South Korean teams entered together. Photographs indicate that, during the opening ceremony, he either conspicuously ignored or entirely failed to recognize Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim Jong-un, despite the fact they were literally sitting an arm’s length apart.

Hopefully, First Daughter Ivanka Trump will not become official jerk #2.  She came for the Closing Ceremonies, and while about the only one left in the Administration with any kind of positive vibe, she did begin by dissing North Korea, maintaining the Trump viewpoint.  Once an enemy, always...except if you're incoming Senator Doug Jones or future Senator Mitt Romney...see a looming pattern?

In some media circles Kim Yo-jong is North Korea's Ivanka.  Unfortunately, they won't meet.

Prediction:  even though Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. only won a bronze medal, she will became the face of Toyota's Mirai, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell car.  If this vehicle succeeds, she will have a PR job into the 2030's:


I tried curling once and did as shakily as my skating and skiing.  However, a potential highlight of these Olympics could well be USA beating Sweden for the gold.  They upset Canada to get here.  Tonight at 10:35PM PST.  The closing ceremony will be shown live on Sunday morning at 6AM EST, which is 3AM Pacific and 1AM Hawaii times.

Then again, you can watch this finale that night, but by then you will know that there was no missile attack.  Jessie Diggins (left), who with Kikkan Randall won gold for their  cross-country sprint, will carry the American flag.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will jump only 669 miles away to Beijing:  February 4-20, 2022.  Beijing will become the first city to ever host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.  

It's only 637 miles to Tokyo, which hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics.  The 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics marked the re-arrival of Japan back into world economic power status.

Oh, I'm leaving Las Vegas today.  Back to San Francisco.

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