The recently concluded Winter Olympics were a big disappointment for the U.S. Olympic team, its worst performance in 20 years.
The U.S. team managed to collect just 23 medals, and almost half of them were in sports we invented. To say that’s a surprise is putting it mildly: In an internal analysis before the Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee set a target goal of 37 medals, with a worst-case scenario of 25.
But we did dominate the Olympics in mouthing off, much of it having nothing to do with the games themselves. I supposed you can expect some of that in a high-pressure environment where obscure athletes have a chance to “monetize” their years of work and sacrifice.
Unless you’re a winter Olympian named Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin, it’s unlikely the average American has ever heard of you, so this is your one opportunity to cash in if you medal in your event. But typically, it’s the athletes who enjoy the moment and don’t try to cash in–people like Chloe Kim–who end up being the big winners.
That still left plenty of room for bad behavior. First up was speed skater Shani Davis, who was denied the chance to be the U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremony because he lost a tie-breaking coin flip. Davis huffed that the process was handled “dishonorably” and didn’t march into the stadium with his teammates.
Davis didn’t explain how the tie should have been broken–draw straws, a game of rock scissors paper?–but apparently didn’t get over the slight. He finished seventh and 19th in the two races where he was expected to medal.
Then there was figure skater Adam Rippon, who spent a lot of time promoting the fact he was the first openly gay American in the Olympics. Just to bring home the point, he went into lavish detail about his costumes and other aspects of his appearance like whitening his teeth. While he did help the U.S. team win a bronze in team figure skating, he was a non-factor in the individual event.
While not quite as big a drama queen, figure skater Mirai Nagasu would have taken the gold medal in excuses if the category existed. She set a new standard when she became the first American female to make a triple axle jump in the Olympics, but failed in the basics–like staying up–in her other routines.
Last we come to freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who managed to finish last out of 12 finalists in the slope style final. He apparently found it necessary to go out of his way to insult Ivanka Trump, who was representing her–and Kenworthy’s–country at the closing ceremonies.
I get it, he and a lot of other people don’t like Donald Trump and his family. But every American in Korea was representing our country, and Kenworthy could have shown some class by standing as one with a fellow American for just a few minutes, even if he doesn’t happen to like that person.
Given Kenworthy’s abysmal performance (on and off the slopes), I trust this is the last time he’ll be representing our country in the Olympics.