And, while there were plenty of "happy-happy, joy-joy" stories which are chronicled in a companion piece to this, there were far too many times when the only thing a humble scribe could do was follow the first rule of writing sports columns, to whit: The task of a sports columnist is to arrive at the scene of a catastrophe and shoot the survivors.
Much as I’d have liked to put a positive spin on the Adventures of Bode Miller, I couldn’t do it without resorting to such ploys as: "Although American medal hopeful Bode Miller failed to complete another race, Sestriere bars reported a 40-percent increase in sales, which they attributed entirely to his visits."
But Bode wasn’t the only American bummer during these Games. As a unit, Team USA fell well short of expectations in both total medals and gold medals. We’ll leave it for others to argue why.
My feeling is that it’s because of those team hats that look as if the athletes are wearing their underwear on their heads — backwards. But I’ll admit that four years ago, the Russian sailor hats were just as silly, and that team set a record for medals.
Whatever the reasons, there were plenty of disappointments in just about every nook and cranny of Turin. Here’s our list of the 10 biggest busts of the Games of the XX Winter Olympics.
He said all along that Olympic medals weren’t what they’re cracked up to be. One thing you can’t accuse Miller of is not backing up his words with actions, whether they were about the unimportance of medals or the benefits of a beer or 12 the night before a big race.
But not Bode. He lost the downhill in the very last section of the course, straddled a gate in the slalom part of the combined and kept on coming up small until the very end, when he made it through at least four gates of the slalom before straddling another one and skiing off into a very murky sunset.
It’s hard to think of a bigger American disappointment in the history of the Summer and Winter Games than Miller. He wasn’t in shape when he arrived, never gave himself a chance and never showed he understood what was at stake.
His defenders — and he still has plenty of them — say he was true to himself; he did it his way. There’s no arguing that. And the only hope is that his way isn’t contagious.
Shani and Chad
Chad Hedrick started the soap opera when he came in declaring himself to be in the hunt for five gold medals, the same number Eric Heiden won in 1980. But Heiden won five individual medals; Hedrick was going for four individual and one in a new event called the team pursuit. When Shani Davis said he wasn’t participating in the pursuit — an event he had never competed in before — to concentrate on his own races, Hedrick decided he’d been betrayed.
See pictures of Bode Miller's 2006 Olympic performances.
Check out the best images from the 2006 Winter Olympics.