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Games often memorable, or even more

My family’s Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics viewing experience officially ended on Monday night with a week’s worth of DVR’d “Colbert Reports” devoted to the events.
We learned that Jeret “Speedy” Peterson not only can throw down on the mountain, but he can hold his own with Stephen Colbert. A nervous, giggling Lindsey Vonn, not so much. But that was OK; a lot of polished politicians can’t deal with the off-the-wall Colbert.
Our viewing began with an opening ceremony tainted with the death of a Georgian luger and enlivened by a celebration of individualism. Give me a tattooed, kilt-clad fiddle virtuoso any day over the sterile attempts at perfection of the Beijing ceremony, where, for example, a cute kid lip-synched for a less-attractive hidden singer.
In between, I didn’t see everything. I’d rather watch Connor Merrill score his 1,000th point, the MUHS girls’ hockey team win a playoff game, or a rocking Pepin Gymnasium celebrate the Panther men’s basketball team than almost anything NBC shows on tape delay.
Other stuff just came on too late. Joannie Rochette’s emotional bronze medal figure skate after her mom’s death came after bedtime. I did manage to stay awake for Kim Yu-Na’s gold medal skate — darn impressive.
While we’re on figure skating, Evan Lysacek beat Yevgeny Plushenko fair and square. The Russians can quit whining about the new scoring system. Plushenko was second under the old system eight years ago, first under the new system four years ago, and second under the new system now. Where’s the beef?
Other sports, we avoided. According to surveys, 56 percent of Winter Olympic viewers are female, which means NBC chose to show lots of ice dancing. But the females in our household wanted more half-pipe, moguls, hockey, speed skating and aerials. 
So the following list of highlights is incomplete. Here’s what we found interesting:
• Hannah Kearney’s moguls gold and subsequent interviews. She was the last to go, with a Canadian in first and virtually the entire crowd rooting against her. Then she nailed her run.
Kearney (a Vermonter who wore a Jacoby Ellsbury jersey under her Team USA gear in the opening ceremony and will throw out the first pitch at Opening Day at Fenway) then showed herself to be thoughtful, humble and smart. Oh, and she reportedly will speak at MUHS this spring.
• The finish of the large-hill Nordic combined race, when the U.S. team broke through for its first-ever gold in the sport. With a teammate holding up the cross-country pack 30 seconds back, Americans Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane jockeyed with Austrian Bernhard Gruber for the medals.
Demong, who won, and Spillane, who took second, smartly took off together a few hundred yards from the finish just before the crest of a hill. They gained speed just before the down slope, dusting Gruber.
• Evan Bilodeau’s moguls win, Canada’s long-awaited first gold on its own soil, and then his heart-felt celebration with his brother, a cerebral palsy patient whose positive attitude has always inspired Bilodeau.
• Both USA-Canada hockey games. Although I lived crucial formative years in Canada (ages 3-5), I was rooting USA, but the quality of the games made the winner almost irrelevant.
After Ryan Kesler’s empty-netter to seal the USA win in the first go-around, I said to my daughter that was the greatest empty-net goal I had every seen, an opinion commentators soon echoed. And I bet stellar U.S. goalie Ryan Miller still wishes that he hadn’t put that loose puck right on Sidney Crosby’s stick moments before the OT game-winner in the final.
• The “Hurricane,” Speedy Peterson’s signature move. Who cares if he won silver, not gold, in the aerials if he can land that thing?
• The Canadian women’s hockey team celebrating with Molsons and cigars on the ice after the crowd left. The IOC said it would investigate — they’ll be shocked, shocked, to find winning hockey teams with beers and cigars!
Think about it: Would anybody have said anything if the Canadian men’s hockey team had beers and cigars after beating the USA?
Yes, sexism is alive and well at the IOC. Which won’t allow women’s ski jumping, either, if you need more evidence.
• Steve Holcomb, the great driver of the winning USA four-man bobsled, better known as “The Night Train.” Let’s just say if Holcomb is in a room of Olympic athletes, he’s the answer to the Sesame Street question, “Which one of these things is not like the other?” Well, unless there are curlers around. 
Holcomb, a computer technician, measures at 5-10, 230. And not a weight-room 230, more like a wings-and-Budweiser 230. Lycra bobsledding uniforms do him no favors. He will never be mistaken for Michelangelo’s statue of David.
In part, because (as my family was quick to note) neither will I, Holcomb is my hero. Someone has to have a steady hand and nerves of steel. And provide ballast.
• Finally, we loved the closing ceremony. William Shatner! Michael J. Fox! Neil Young! Catherine O’Hara showing pictures of maple syrup on pancakes, back-bacon and a phony montage of Canadian athletes saying sorry.
That all led to an intentionally cheesy finale involving giant inflatable moose and beavers being towed by fake Mounties. And another fiddler, this time surrounded by mini-skirted Mounties.
Oy, Canada. We laughed.

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