Say what you will about the 2010 Winter Olympics--they weren't dull. The gripping Vancouver games started tragically with a luger's death, and went on to an electric and emotional competition in women's figure skating, a record medal haul by the U.S. (covered here and here), and a golden finish for Canada.
Now that the Games are over, pundits and sportswriters are engaging in their own event: finding the big picture for the Olympics in the Vancouver experience.
- Winter Games Are Back "If you look at it by the raw numbers, the conclusion should be obvious that the Winter Olympics are back as a major event," begins ESPN's Howard Bryant. Though he recounts the statistics and events that made this Olympics memorable, Bryant argues Vancouver 2010 will pay its biggest dividends in future Games. "Buzz is one thing, and people were certainly talking about the Olympics, but the residual effect of these Games will be felt in recruiting when it comes time for elite-level kids across the country to take an interest in sports."
- Return the Olympics to the Athletes Instead of dwelling on the inherent tragedy of luger Nodar Kumaritashvi's death, FanHouse's Kevin Blackistone uses it as an example of how the IOC has marginalized Olympic athletes. "What happened here to Kumaritashvili should be the starkest reminder to those who run our world's biennial global games--Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee--that it is the athlete who is the gathering's most-precious resource and not the capital their exploits can mine ... It is time for the Olympics to be returned to the athletes."
- Olympics Should Stay in One Place Perhaps the strangest takeaway came from former Olympian Charles Banks-Altekruse, who wrote a guest op-ed for The New York Times arguing for a permanent Olympic home in Switzerland. Citing the financial toll of hosting the Games, he says the ever-neutral Swiss are an ideal host for the global event.
I think the best solution to end Olympic waste, promote stability and return the focus to the athletes would be to base all Olympic activities in the traditionally neutral Switzerland, which has the geography, weather, expertise and transportation necessary to host the Winter and Summer Games. The Swiss could reduce and then recoup the costs of building and maintaining venues through recurring use and tourism receipts.
- Memorable for its Low Moments In a guest editorial for the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press's Erin McClam finds no silver lining in a Games consumed by tragedy. "These Olympics will be remembered for all the wrong reasons," she declares before conjuring the specter of the most maligned Olympics in history. "The Vancouver Games opened with grief, and they end under a shadow as everlasting as those cast by the hooded assassins of Munich and the midnight thunder of Atlanta."