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February 28, 2010 7:30 AM

Check Olympic Standings for Miracles

apejim.jpgWhen the United States skates past Canada later on to win hockey gold it will simply be a case of the better team winning. It won't be a miracle, no matter how many times those sultans of spin at NBC want you to believe it is.

The USA, anchored by a rock in goal named Miller, has been the best overall team in the Games. As I recall, only a week ago, the Stars-and-Stripers skated past the Canadians, 5-3, so let's quit being surprised, and talking about miracles where this group is concerned. 
But if it is miracles you are after, then check the medal standings for these Winter Olympic Games in 1964, or these Games in 1968.

When I was growing up, in addition to walking three-miles to school through driving snowstorms wearing only some torn-up, plaid scarf, we watched the Winter Olympics for extra credit in the subjects of social studies and geography, not because we thought the United States was going to win much of anything.
The world was a simpler, though no less screwed-up, place than it is today.
Brave American kids were dying in some never-ending, faraway war, while the folks back home bitched about the economy, gas prices and do-nothing politicians.

We tuned into the Winter Olympics because back before cable, satellites and computers, it was the best of three available options on the tube.

We watched as athletes named Rolf or Sven or Hana or Corina from story-book towns in places like the Alps schooled the world, and mostly us, in their ability to effortlessly move across cold, icy surfaces.
We were told by the late, great Jim McKay (pictured), that they were simply born to do so.

We'd watched as these Austrian ghosts flew down some pine-laced mountain toward all those waiting cowbells Danish skaters slid across the ice as if rockets were attached to their the Flying Fins floating through the air, and way down the hill toward ski-jumping the Norwegians somehow chugged uphill on skis and in front of all those red and blue the Red Army hockey team representing something called the Soviet Union battered our doe-eyed college kids, and threw fear into countries named Czechoslovakia... 

Occasionally, we even watched an American from some small hamlet in the Adirondacks or something, steal a bronze medal.

We did have Peggy Fleming (pictured), though, to remind the rest of the world, and us, that where grace and beauty were concerned, we could still do a pretty good rendition of No. 1 when we wanted to.
So there was that...

My, how times have changed.

When these Winter Olympics are over, the United States will own more medals than any other country in the world.
Forty or fifty years ago, the thought of that would have been called a dream -- a miracle even. 

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