For most of the world, the start to the 2010 Winter Olympics went over like a fart in a beaver lodge. Unseasonably dry and warm Vancouver weather caused countless delays. A mechanical malfunction marred the opening ceremony, leaving millions of television viewers—and one utterly befuddled Wayne Gretzky—waiting for part of an elaborate cauldron to emerge. (It never did.) Even the indoor ice went wrong when a trio of eco-friendly ice-resurfacing machines broke down, creating unsafe conditions during the speedskating competition.
Of course, all of that poor planning and bad luck doesn't even come close to surpassing the Feb. 12 death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run. Many competitors actually foretold the tragic accident, claiming the track was recklessly fast.
Taken together, these games are more unbearable than a pre-packaged NBC Sports bio of some no-name biathlete. Even Bob Costas seems put off by the proceedings.
But as the rest of the world condemns Canada to the cultural penalty box (assuming they've ever been allowed to leave), we've actually found some bright spots for the home team—as in, Montana.
Bozemanite Heather McPhie looked strong going into the final round of the women's mogul competition Saturday, ranked third behind Canadian Jennifer Heil and American Hannah Kearney. McPhie crashed mid-course—placing 18th in the final—but Butte native Bryon Wilson more than made up for the loss on Sunday, taking home the bronze in men's moguls. That means Montana, as of Tuesday, had won as many medals as Russia.
The men's nordic combined competition boasted an unusual local connection. Jason Lamy Chappuis overtook American Johnny Spillane in the final leg of the race, claiming gold for France. We later felt guilty for cheering against Chappuis—turns out he was born in Missoula. Small world.
If Montanans—or Montana natives—winning Olympic medals isn't exciting enough, we have one other rallying point for you: curling. You know, that weird ice-bound sport cropping up in clubs across western Montana. The Whitefish Curling Club plans to gather at Great Northern Brewery for the curling finals on Feb. 26 and 27. They'll probably be able to sum up the sport more eloquently than Homer Simpson, who, in the latest episode of "The Simpsons," follows Marge to the curling finals in Vancouver. "This is perfect for the both of us," Homer squeals. "It's got bowling for me, and sweeping for you."
We can only hope that Vancouver and the Olympics find an equally satisfying balance before the closing ceremonies. In the meantime, we'll try to keep the teasing to a minimum, eh?