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Heinrich: The Olympic Benedict

I know I’m a traitor. I’m the Benedict Arnold of Olympic fandom. I don’t know how this happened, but I’ve found myself in a strange predicament since the Olympics began on Friday night. I am rooting for Canada. In almost every event (except two that start Tuesday) I am leaning towards our neighbors to the North. I was born in raised in California; the closest I have ever been to Canada was when I had to change planes in Chicago on my way to Philadelphia. Every time an event starts I’m looking for the Canadians first and the Americans second. I don’t know what this means.

I first noticed this during the preliminary races of the men’s 1500 meter Short Track races Saturday night. I was watching the Jean ‘the Giant’ Olivier (CAN) (and he’s not a huge name in Short Track, he’s just a Giant compared to everyone else in the races. He’s the tall one). Olivier was taken out in the semis but placed into the final because he was sitting in an advancing spot when he was tripped. A little suspect because it looked incidental, but I don’t think he was going to bring that up. In the final Olivier didn’t really make a move and was bumped up into 4th place when two South Korean’s collided in the last turn. That crash also happened to place team USA’s Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski onto the podium. I was more disappointed Olivier didn’t win then I was happy Ohno and Celski grabbed silver and bronze respectively.

Later that night when Hannah Kearney (USA) laid down a fantastic run to grab the Moguls Gold all I could think of was how I wished Jennifer Heil (CAN) had been able to take one more shot. Heil still won Silver, but at that point Canada still hadn’t won a Gold Medal on their own soil and I was all in for anyone from the second largest country (as far as land mass) in the world.

Maybe that is the mitigating factor; Canada had never won Gold in Canada. They were home underdogs despite being overall favorites. People expect them to finish in the top two in overall medals, but they just have this underdog quality attached to them. Name me one other time where a home team has ever been the underdog even though everyone thought they would still win. It is such a paradox that it grabbed me pulled me in and made me call my friend in Seattle. I told her she needed to drive to Vancouver and buy me some Canadian mittens. I was all in for Canada to win gold, and in my heart I believed once that happened I was off the maple syrup bandwagon and hoping onto the eagle.

Then on Sunday Alexandre Bilodeau (CAN) won gold in the men’s moguls and Canada got the snow monkey off their back. And it wasn’t enough. I had only invested a day and a half into the Canadians and was already feeling the cold rush through my veins, eh. I’m still happy when the Americans win a medal, but if it is between a fellow countryman or woman and a Canadian, I keep leaning towards the Canadians.

Monday during the Snowboard Cross Final, the USA’s Seth Wescott was looking for his second consecutive Gold in the event. But when he and Mike Robertson (CAN) were coming over the last jump and heading for gold, I wanted Robertson to overtake Wescott. And during the pairs free skate the Canadian pair of Langois and Hay fell. After that I was rooting for every other couple to fall as well. Okay maybe I just like watching figure skaters fall on their butts, but I still felt bad for the Canadians. (Yes I watched it. I even missed my normal CBS Monday Night shows and watched every second of the figure skating. Will I write about it? Probably not, but I watched it and you should give me some credit for that.)

I’m not a complete hoser though. Starting Tuesday there will be two sports in which I know the USA will be number one in my heart. Curling starts Tuesday morning with the round robin portion of the tournament. The USA medaled in Torino and has an outside shot to medal again this year. Also the best event in the Olympics begins as the NHL stars don their home countries jerseys and compete for national pride over team loyalty. The USA is a contender but they will have to get by some tough opposition to get on the podium. (For more on the info on the tournament check out Robert Patty’s preview and predictions. For the Curling Tournament and the Ice Hockey Tournament I will be all red white and blue again. I guess I just love an underdog, even if they are a favorite.

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