Saturday, February 8, 2014

Let the Games begin: SLUH grad Patrick Meek finishes 20th in 5,000

Two great reasons to get up early Saturday.

1. Sven Kramer and his Dutch counterparts swept the medals in the men's 5,000-meter event at the speedskating oval. The Netherlands' dominance isn't a surprise; it's expected. Kramer's victory was assumed; he has won every world cup event at the distance in the past two seasons and was the defending gold medalist.

But Kramer carries the weight of a nation. The Dutch are nutty about speed skating; they erupt in squeals for each lap of the 13-lap event when lap times are posted. They're hard-core, no one moreso than the King of the Netherlands, who showed up for Kramer's race with the Queen Consort in two.

Talk about Weight of a Nation. Kramer carried it well. No one could touch his winning time of 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds. Jan Blokhuijsen was almost five seconds slower. Kramer took the first of what is expected to be two golds. The second proved his stumbling block four years ago in Vancouver, literally, when he was disqualified in the event for hitting a lane cone. Kramer threw a large hissy on the ice, for which Dutch sport writers can't seem to forgive him.

2. SLUH grad Patrick Meek finished 20th in 6:32.94. He won't be happy. The guy swears he has no talent but works harder than anyone else. He's worked 10 years, put his life on hold for a decade, for this one moment.

As former Blues coach Brian Sutter said, though, hard work is a skill. Too few of us master it. In an interview with KSDK, Meek gave kudos to SLUH for work ethic and setting the bar high.

Here's hoping any disappointment will be temporary. Soak it in, man. You are forever an Olympian.

Rings and things: 

  • The figure skating JV squad of announcers -- Rookies Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir and the smooth Terry Gannon -- are WAY more smart, sophisticated and informative than the varsity squad of Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic. Weir referred to skaters as Black Swans, out for themselves. Catch the JV on NBCSN.
  • Like a bad penny, 900-year-old Bode Miller might be back again. He had the fastest run on the final day of practice on the downhill run. A strong performance by the 36-year-old Ugly American would give NBC a ratings card to play that they thought lost on Sunday because Shaun White pulled out of snowboard slopestyle. 
  • Take a look at the events that NBC features on its website: Figure Skating, Alpine Skiing, Snowboard, Freestyle Skiing and Hockey. The network is just playing the odds: Figs always draw good ratings, hockey is one of NBC's bread-and-butter sports; the others are disciplines in which the U.S. is likely to medal. What happened to Bobsled, Ski jumping and Speedskating? Guess they're sports for old fogeys, like me. 
And old-school guys like Pat Meek.