The Show Always Goes On

The Show Always Goes On

Friday, Feb. 19, 2010
9:40AM

So much for my excitement about the start of the Olympics. I dont know why I forgot that these are the Corporate Games. You would have thought the failed Chicago 2016 bid would have taught me that, but again something happens that makes me shake my head. In fact, its more than that the shenanigans of the failed bid did not result in the loss of life of an Olympic competitor. I cant get the image of Nodar Kumaritashvili out of my mind. My hope was to watch and learn about new champions bringing glory to their countries. Instead what Im left with is a sense of sadness over lost life and appalled at what levels the powers to be of the Olympics will stoop to.

As I wrote here last week, I along with most others, only pay attention to most of the sports being played at these games for two weeks every four years. But even I knew of the dangers of the Whistler Sliding Center for years. I would read about how it was the fastest track in the world and taking speeds to unthinkable of levels. All the while I wouldnt give these statements a second glance, assuming it was all a part of the natural progression of any sport that measures speed. (In the center's website, it is promoted as being, Vivid, violent and rough, not for the faint of heart.)

Was it natural? Or was it part of a master plan to increase revenue? What better way to sell than to increase the level of danger? The viewing public gets bored if its the same old, same old. Lets see where the edge is! The events leading to Kumaritashvilis untimely demise where all laid together in a perfect storm of, unfortunately, finding that edge. My hope was to watch and learn about new champions bringing glory to their countries.-- Frankie-O on video of Kumaritashvili's death.

In trying to find a location for the luge and bobsled track for the 2010 Vancouver Games, a site was found in upper altitudes that would afford proper temperatures and a location that would be tourist friendly. This track would be financially viable long after the games. But in choosing the site specifically, the tract of land was more vertical and narrow than any before. Usually these courses arent laid out on the same mountains as the alpine events; too steep. But thats where the tourists are, so why not? Then in a move to amp it up it was laid out in a space that was 100 yards wide. (In Calgary, for example, the track was laid out on a space that was 300 yards wide and Salt Lake City had a course that was 500 yards.) Im no physics major, but Im guessing if you put a luge track on a mountain thats very steep, then squeeze it extra tight, things going down are going to do so VERY FAST! After her practice run last Thursday, a day before Kumaritashvilis fatal last ride, Australian Hannah Campbell-Pegg was quoted, To what extent are we just little lemmings that they throw down a track and were crash test dummies? Given the fact of how Im sure none of these competitors want to let anyone know that they have any fear, I find that statement remarkably chilling. In fact, there where many statements like this, from many people, for years. Kumaritashvili himself admitted to being terrified of the course.

But at this point it was not going to change anything. The design of the course was there for a reason, so was the access to it or should I say lack of it. As Ive read many articles on this tragedy, I learned about the Canadian quest to Own the Podium. This is because they had the stigma of being the only host country of the Olympics to not have a gold medal winner during their games, and they had done it TWICE! This was not going to happen again. Much of what I read had to do with how, with limited runs down this monster track for international competitors, the Canadians with literally ten times the amount of practice, would have a considerable advantage over everyone else. With a track that has no room for error, you have to wonder if this had any effect.(Safety over winning?)

Then, as always, when there is a tragic occurrence of this magnitude, the blame game starts. Should there be any surprise? There are tickets to be sold and money to be made. Are we going to shut this thing down? It would be THE story. We cant have an accident cast a pall over our two-week corporate cash grab. The IOC and VANOC disassociated themselves right away. Each sport was under the governance of its own body. The International Luge Federation wont talk to anyone, (they must be grief stricken). The designers, very respected, were only building what they were asked to. In fact there were two sets of builders, so the track designers and builders had nothing to do with the support poles to the stands and roofs. So it was no wonder, after their thorough ten minute review, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police deemed there was no design flaw or that excessive speed played no role. What happened was an accident therefore there was no one to blame. Well, there was someone. The international governing body that was responsible for luge events wasnt talking to anyone, but they did issue a statement that placed the blame on someone besides themselves. The athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not properly compensate to make correct entrance into curve 16. There was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.

My question here is, if youre saying that he was a bad rider, one who was liable to make a mistake, making sure that it was known that he ranked 55th and 44th in the world the last two years, why was he allowed on such a high level course? Why wasnt he allowed more access and practice time? Shouldnt he have been required to master it at lower levels first? Isnt that what governing bodies are for? To protect the sport and those who partake in it? Also, if there was nothing wrong with the track, why was there a new wall put up as an extension of curve 16? Why where the luge events of these games moved down to lower staring points on the course, dropping speeds by a whopping 5 mph? Doesnt that make it seem like something could have been done BEFORE to prevent this?

I know Ill drive myself crazy trying to figure this out and hoping that something like it will not happen again. But I know thats not how the world works and for a lot of people this event will be forgotten as soon as the games are over,(if not sooner.) In life its about moving on and moving towards the future, not dwelling on the past. But the parent in me cant help but think what pain his parents are feeling at this moment. I agree life is about the future, the future of our children. Unfortunately, one of those children wont be here to see it, and that will be my image of these games no matter what else is done or said. Rest in peace Nodar.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

Cubs manager Joe Maddon misses his chance to guest-star in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

MESA, Ariz. – This is a big bowl of wrong: Cubs manager Joe Maddon might have missed his only window to make the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" cameo appearance Jeff Garlin promised. 

Garlin – a Second City alumnus and one of several celebrity fans within the team's orbit – had offered Maddon a role whenever Larry David brought the band back together for the loosely scripted HBO comedy.

But last week's Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore conflicted with filming in Southern California, where "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is working on a ninth season after a five-year hiatus.

"There was one matchup, and I couldn't get there," Maddon said before Sunday's World Series rematch against the Cleveland Indians at Sloan Park. "I just couldn't do it. It'll happen."

During an all-over-the-place session with reporters that lasted 20-plus minutes, Maddon declined to make any Oscar predictions, saying he's into Netflix and Hulu now and doesn't really go to the movies anymore.

Maddon also hasn't watched much – or any – of the World Series highlights or documentaries. When it came to the handling Aroldis Chapman part, there were some boos inside Chicago's Civic Opera House during the premiere of Major League Baseball's "The 2016 World Series."

But Maddon said he basically skipped that type of content after being Mike Scioscia's bench coach for the 2002 Anaheim Angels and managing the Tampa Bay Rays to the 2008 World Series.

"You get busy and I don't know," Maddon said. "I need to start reading more and watching Netflix less."

Didn't you say that last spring?

"I did," Maddon said.

Maddon had been addicted to cable news during last year's polarizing presidential campaign: "But, damn, it's gotten really annoying, so I stopped watching all that stuff. It's just not good for your brain. It's really not. There's nothing to be gained."

When Maddon starts rolling, it's not hard to picture him in a scene with David and J.B. Smoove. Shaquille O'Neal, John McEnroe and Bill Buckner are among the sports figures with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" credits.

"That was the only day, so I don't know how we're going to figure this out," Maddon said. "First, they had one day set up, and that was going to be good. And then they had to change it to this other day, which was not good. So we'll have to (come up with something else), even if it's maybe a picture on the wall or a phone call."

Preview: Corey Crawford ill, Scott Darling in for Blackhawks vs. Blues

Preview: Corey Crawford ill, Scott Darling in for Blackhawks vs. Blues

The Blackhawks were already without Niklas Hjalmarsson on Sunday night. Now they’re without Corey Crawford as well.

Crawford is ill and Scott Darling will start in his place when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Crawford was expected to start but did not skate this morning – goaltending coach Jimmy Waite took the other net. Coach Joel Quenneville does not believe Crawford has the mumps – “I haven’t heard the word mumps around here,” he said. The Vancouver Canucks are currently working through an outbreak of the mumps and several teams battled it a few seasons ago.

As for the backup, Quenneville was hoping Lars Johansson could be up in an emergency situation, as long as logistics work out. The Rockford IceHogs are scheduled to play at the Ontario (Calif.) Reign later today.

Marian Hossa did not skate this morning but he is expected to play tonight. As Quenneville said on Saturday, Hjalmarsson is day-to-day with the upper-body injury he sustained on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes but is out tonight.

The last time the Blackhawks faced the Blues was in their Winter Classic game on Jan. 2. A month later coach Ken Hitchcock was fired and, now under Mike Yeo, the Blues have gone 7-3-0 since then. That includes two losses heading into their bye week, however, which they come out of tonight.

“I think usually teams seem to respond pretty well with coaching changes. Whenever you get something new, something to renew the group, whether it’s systems or different energy in the locker room, teams seem to respond at least in the beginning,” Jonathan Toews said. “We can expect this team to be really hard to play against and obviously pretty eager to, maybe, be better overall than they have been all year, knowing what they’re capable of as a team. We know whether we’re playing St. Louis or Minnesota, teams that are close to us in the points race, the points are always huge.”

BLACKHAWKS VS. ST. LOUIS BLUES

6:30 p.m.

TV: NBCSN

Live stream: NBC Sports app

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Tomas Jurco-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Andrew Desjardins

 

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Michal Rozsival

 

Goaltender

Scott Darling

 

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Corey Crawford (ill).

 

St. Louis Blues (via NHL.com)

Forward lines

Alex Steen-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Dmitrij Jaskin-Jori Lehtera-Magnus Paajarvi

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

 

Defensive Pairs

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

 

Goaltender

Jake Allen

 

INJURIES/ILLNESS: None.