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OLYMPICS: Bode boasts & bombs; others show faithfulness

TURIN, Italy (BP)–The Olympics always have their share of drama and compelling stories. After a week’s worth of competition in the Winter Games in Turin, Italy, here are some developments of note:

— SOBERING PERFORMANCE — U.S. skier Bode Miller has struck out so far in his events. Miller finished a disappointing fifth in the downhill, sixth in the giant slalom, was disqualified for straddling a gate in the alpine combined and veered off course in the Super-G.

Prior to the Olympics, Miller boasted of how many times he has competed while drunk. If that’s a practice he’s continuing to employ, perhaps he should try skiing sober for once.

— COSTLY CLOWNING — Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis made a colossal blunder that cost her a gold medal in the women’s snowboard cross.

With an insurmountable lead in the race, Jacobellis decided to do a little showboating by grabbing her board on the next-to-last jump. She fell, allowing Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden to pass her. Jacobellis had to settle for the silver medal.

“I was having fun,” Jacobellis said in a conference call after the race. “Snowboarding is fun. I was ahead. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd. I messed up. Oh well, it happens.”

— PRAISEWORTHY SKIING — Another snowboarder, Kelly Clark, was the subject of a column by Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, who wrote about Clark’s faith in Christ.

“I love Jesus,” Clark said in Kiszla’s column. “It’s more joyful knowing him than all that snowboarding stuff. And so being able to snowboard for him is amazing.”

On her last run in the halfpipe, in which she finished fourth, Clark rode to the song “O Praise Him” by David Crowder.

— GOLD & SILVER GIFTS — Speed skater Joey Cheek has donated all of the winnings from his two medals, $40,000 total, to Right To Play, an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sports to help disadvantaged children.

Cheek won the gold in the 500 meters, which comes with a $25,000 bonus. His silver medal in the 1,000 meters earned Cheek another $15,000.

“I think we’ve had eight or nine companies or individuals match my original $25,000, and it looks like we’re over a quarter of a million dollars donated — and more keeps coming in,” Cheek said in an AP story. “I’m much more proud of that than winning a gold medal.”

— OLYMPIANS’ WITNESS — Sports Spectrum magazine has been posting a regular feature on “Who to Watch in Torino.” One of those featured, Neil Doese, coach of the U.S. curling team, said, “Once younger people realize that I’m a Christian, they will come up to me and share with me, ‘I’m a Christian too.’ So, they’re very excited about sharing that with me. I’ve had opportunities to sit down and pray with different individuals over situations, but it does open an avenue in a unique sport.”

Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen, meanwhile, noted on canadianchristianity.com, “Even when you want things … if it’s not in God’s will, it’s not going to happen. I’ve learned to go along with that. Right now in speed skating I’m having the time of my life, but I have to be ready to move on if He wants me to do something else.”

— JOIN THE TEAM — U.S. speed skaters Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis have been embroiled in a spat that continues to get attention. Hedrick, who won gold in the 5,000 meters, was disgusted with Davis for bypassing the team pursuit event. Davis said he didn’t come to the Olympics to compete in a team event, and instead wanted to focus on his individual races –- including the 1,000 meters, where he also won gold.

Hedrick criticized Davis for not being a team player. And without Davis on the team, the United States didn’t make it past the quarterfinals in the team pursuit.

After winning gold in the 1,000 meters, Davis asked what Hedrick would do if the shoe were on the other foot -– would Hedrick compete in the team pursuit if it were held a day before the 5,000 meters?

But Davis conveniently failed to mention that the first round of the team pursuit was a full three days before his 1,000 meters event –- not just one day. For an athlete like Davis, participating in the team pursuit shouldn’t have had any effect on his ability to skate well in the 1,000 meters.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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