Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev is calling for blood over the dismal performance of the Russian team at the Vancouver Games. Many Russians, used to dominating the winter games, are in agreement and considerably concerned that the Russian athletes may fumble again on home turf at Sochi 2014. Think they’re overreacting? Let’s look at the Vancouver scorecard:
Following the fall of the USSR, Russia has consistently placed top five in the winter medal standings. This Olympics they placed 11th for golds and 6th overall with only 15 medals. Analysts had predicted a top 3 finish with 30 medals, so clearly they should be the first to go.
The Russian figure skaters finished without a single gold medal for the first time in 50 years. Evgeni Plushenko, who completed two quads in the long program (impressive!) but also wobbled on just about everything else (less impressive…), even leapfrogged over the gold medal stand before taking his place on the silver. Tacky, so he’s next for the chopping block.
Finally, after the flipping of a bobsled somewhere along the line, the Russian hockey team did not even make it to the medal round after being whooped by Canada 7-3. The Russian coach jokingly called for “guillotines and gallows” for his team. Yes, off with their heads!
Just kidding. The problem does not lie with the Olympic athletes who deserve nothing but respect for a lifetime of sacrifice and dedication. There are several reasons for Russia’s less than stellar performance at the Games, not the least of which is the defection of its top coaches following the decline of the Soviet Union. Just ask Russian Olympic Committee deputy president Vladimir Vasin: “If we make a list of all those who should be held responsible, then it would be half the population of the country because, unfortunately, many took part in the destruction of athletics or passively looked on. In the 1990s everything was destroyed. When stadiums were turned into markets and pools into V.I.P. saunas, athletics collapsed.”
Here, here, my friend! Those Soviets may not have been good at running a country, but dang it they could skate!