23 February 2010

Americans gain is Canadian pain in 2010 Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are halfway over already. With so many Maltese living in Canada and America, these Olympics have been both a joy and a disappointment.

For the Canadians, nothing was right from the beginning. With the unfortunate death of the Georgian Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Olympics began on a sour note. After what appeared to be an incredible opening, the last arm of the Olympic torch failed to rise out of the ground, leaving the remaining arms seem out of place. It was an ominous start for the Canadians. Things looked up for the Canadians as they finally won a Gold medal on their own soil, but looking back that might have been the high point for them this Olympics. After spending millions of dollars to "Own the Podium" by winning the most medals in their own Olympic games, the Canadians sit a long off 5th place and have officially given up on this dream.

The biggest disappointment of the Olympics for the Canadians must be the Ice Hockey team, a sport Canadians hold so dear, yet they had to go to an overtime shot out to beat the Swiss and then lost in a horrible fashion to the Americans. Yes the Americans are better than the Swiss at hockey, but to lose to their neighbors in a game they call their own, ripped at the hearts of the Canadians. Now their team must beat the Germans before facing off with the Russians in the quarterfinals. A team destined to win the gold, now will be lucky to get to the medal games at all.

For the Americans however, the games have been a great success. American athletes seem to be medaling at an incredible pace. The best athletes have shown brightly for the Stars and Stripes, and the underdogs have made a stand (See the Hockey team for an example). There is a theory floating around America for this incredible success, and that is the theory of familiarity.

Many American athletes have trained in Vancouver for years, Apollo Ohno the American superstar speed skater, grew up in Seattle and learned to speed skate as a young boy in...Vancouver. Many people are saying the Americans have all the comforts of home without the pressures of playing at home. With Canadian and American cities so similar in layout, with virtually the same language, cultures and lifestyles the Americans are in quite the comfort zone.

It should be an exciting finish to the 2010 Olympics with the Germans right on the heels of the Americans for overall medal count, and the American media is already comparing the USA Hockey team to the "Miracle on Ice" team of 1980 (which is a bit of stretch). I hope all of you in Malta and around the world have been able to tune in and catch some of the action, it is certainly worth it!

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