De­spite medal haul, Amer­i­cans join­ing in cho­rus of jeers for Van­cou­ver Games


“ice­holes,” “syrup-suck­ers” and “Saskatche­whin­ers.”

Some watch­ing at home say it’s not just the glitches but the ap­par­ent dan­gers faced by Olympic ath­letes that have made them un­easy about th­ese Games, es­pe­cially in light of Ku­mar­i­tashvili’s death on a track many lugers had warned was too fast and too danger­ous.

“I am not so jazzed about th­ese Olympics,” said Tanya Har­vey, a 31year-old soft­ware con­sul­tant in Las Ve­gas who’s been tak­ing in the Games with her hus­band.

“It seems like so many of the cour­ses and tracks are giv­ing the ath­letes hell, and while the chal­lenge is good for sport­ing com­pe­ti­tion and all that, there just seem to be a lot of wipe­outs ... those poor women came fly­ing down that track, legs bend­ing the wrong way, heads thwack­ing on frozen ground; it was bru­tal.”

Many Amer­i­cans are also grip­ing about an ex­clu­sively U.S. headache — NBC’s cov­er­age of the Games. Some of the most vo­cal com­plaints have been about the net­work’s time-de­layed broad­casts in a world where Twit­ter, Face­book and real-time news out­lets have told the world about Amer­i­can gold hours be­fore NBC airs the events.

The crit­i­cism seems milder in pol­i­tics-ob­sessed D.C., pre­oc­cu­pied in re­cent weeks with con­gres­sional bick­er­ing and dig­ging out from un­der al­most a me­ter of snow. The trade­mark Olympic red mit­tens have been seen around Capi­tol Hill, per­haps partly due to the Cana­dian Em­bassy dol­ing them out at a re­cep­tion last week to cel­e­brate the beginning of the Games.

Su­san Collins, a Repub­li­can se­na­tor from Maine, is said to be a fan of the cozy mit­tens, which re­tail for $10 but are be­ing snapped up on eBay for more than dou­ble the price.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den was seen wear­ing his mit­tens through­out his stay in Van­cou­ver last week. Bi­den is at the heart of yet an­other ap­par­ent Games em­bar­rass­ment — a men­tally ill man with fake cre­den­tials came close to ap­proach­ing him at the open­ing cer­e­monies be­fore two RCMP of­fi­cers stopped him.

The Den­ver Post’s Kis­zla pre­dicts Van­cou­ver’s Games could make du­bi­ous his­tory.

“The gold medal for most in­ept host of the past gen­er­a­tion has long been hang­ing heav­ily from the neck of the 1996 Sum­mer Games in At­lanta, known for ru­n­away greed, trans­porta­tion sna­fus and two deaths in a ter­ror­ist bomb­ing,” he wrote. “But Van­cou­ver has es­tab­lished it­self as a con­tender to steal the prize that no Olympic city wants to own.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press

Fans reach for a puck as it flips into the stands in the sec­ond pe­riod of a pre­lim­i­nary round men’s ice hockey game be­tween U.S.A. and Nor­way at the Van­cou­ver 2010 Olympics in Van­cou­ver, B.C., Thurs­day. Amer­i­cans have joined the crit­i­cism of the Games.

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