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Medal Time: awards for the best and the worst from week one of the Winter Olympics


It's time to award platinum medals to the best and lead medals to the worst the past week at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver

Platinums for guts go to Petra Magjic, Annya Pearson and Lindsey Vonn.

Slovenia cross-country racer Madjic took a horrific fall into a ditch during training for the women's sprint competition and was airlifted to the hospital. On her return to the venue, she was allowed, under Olympic rules, to get a start in the event finals and took the bronze despite having three broken ribs and a punctured lung. Epic.

Swede Pearson took a bruising fall in the women's alpine downhill (in which she broke a ski) and came back for bronze the next day in the super combined.

Vonn gutted it out despite her painful shin injury winning the downhill and being competitive in the super combined until hooking a gate.

Platinums for stick in your ear got to Julia Mancuso and Bode Miller.

Four years ago in Torino, NBC talking heads ragged on Mancuso for being, "too loose" and for wearing a tiara during the alpine ski slalom final. Ooops, she won. So tiara (now painted on her helmet) in place she gets two silvers in Vancouver.

Also the subject of much network negative talk, Bode Miller came back to prove he's the real deal and now the most medal winning U.S. alpine skier ever.

Platinums for a great repeat performances under pressure to Shawn White and Shani Davis.

White simply killed it in the snowboad halfpipe and Davis remained unflappable in his quest for a repeat speed skating gold.

Platinum for reporting goes to The Oregonian for not going all Oregon-o- phobic about each Oregon athlete participating in the Games. Instead the paper gave readers an honest appraisal of each athletes chances. Further kudos to the paper for stating, correctly, that" "Tommy Ford is the only born and raised Oregonian at the Games."

Platinum to men's Super G winner Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal for a compelling comeback story and for being one good looking big dude who gives a great interview. If he lived in the U.S. he'd be a media darling.

Platinum to Swiss jumper Simon Amman whose win of both jumps in 2002 in Salt Lake was called a fluke. Then he flubbed at Torino and got more heat. So what's he do? He comes back to win the small hill gold at these Games. A super geek with an infectious sense of joy, Amman is a super flyer.

Platinum to Canadian x-c skier Sara Renner for her excellent tenth place finish in the women's 15 km pursuit. Renner's family runs the Mount Assiniboine Lodge, one of the coolest places to backcountry ski in the world.

Platinum to the curlers for making sure there's one sport you don't have to be in great shape to participate in. Noted one U.S. men's team members: "nobody would take us for athletes when we walk down the street."

Now to the lead medals.

Lead to KTVZ for perpetuating the myth that Chris Klug is a "Bend native". Wrong. Klug was born in Vail, Colorado was raised in Bend and now calls, except for a few weeks a year in Sisters, Aspen, Colorado home. (best wishes to the former Mt. View quarterback and all-state footballer in his races yet to come)

Lead to the Olympic organizers for staging the hockey event on a small (read NHL sized) rink. The beauty of Olympic hockey is the big ice sheet and more of a passing and finesse game.

Lead to El Nino for the weather, which while great for spectators in many instances was tough for on-snow competitors.

Lead to America's on-line cross-country press for putting a happy face on the U.S. Team's lackluster performance. After a 56th place finish, one female skier was quoted as saying: "the Games were the dawning of a new era for the U.S. team in internationally competition." Really.

Now to NBC-TV which gets a few platinum and a few lead.

Platinum for their website which was packed with stories and videos minutes after an event ended.

Platinum for decent coverage of low profile (read no figure skating) sports like biathlon.

Lead for yet again trotting out the tried and now very tired studio host, emotionally charged athlete profile, sappy format. It hasn't changed since I worked for the network at the 1988 Summer games. It's time for an update folks.

Finally on a somber note, just prior to the Games, 1964 alpine ski slalom bronze medalist Jimmy Huega passed away. One of ski sport's nicest people, Huega was diagnosed with MS near the end of his competitive career and spent the rest of his life as an advocate for MS research and treatment.

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