Russia’s Total, Olympian, Collapse
Even for a country whose history is littered with as many humiliating, disgraceful moments as Russia’s, the 2010 Winter Olympics were a startling new low. As we’ve often said, sport is a perfect metaphor for wider failure on the part of Russia’s incompetent Kremlin, and there are signs of a silver lining for Russia in this disaster: The government is catching plenty of flak from outraged, humiliated citizens, who at least for a few moments can see their naked emperor in all his inglorious shame, despite furious neo-Soviet attempts to lie, rationalize and otherwise explain away this pathetic failure. All intelligent Russians are asking: If the Kremlin has bungled Olympics preparation this badly, isn’t it possible it is bungling other things as well, things we don’t know about because the Kremlin won’t say? Whether Russians will carry this through to regime change is, of course, anybody’s guess.
Russians bragged about their expectation of a whopping 30 medals at the Vancouver Olympiad. In the last go-round, 2006 in Italy, Russia had collected 22 medals, 8 of them gold, so arrogant, preening Russians were expecting more than a one-third improvement on the way to the Sochi games of 2014 that Russia, if the world continues its insanity, will host. It sounded like crazily demented bluster to many of us, but we gave Russia the benefit of the doubt and waited to be impressed as Russia walked the walk. We remained silent.
Yet, when the dust had settled, Russian athletes clutched just 15 total medals, only 3 of them gold, a one-third reduction in total medals, the exact opposite of what Russians had claimed would occur, and a two-thirds reduction in gold medals. The USA, by contrast, won 25 medals in 2006, and improved to a whopping, devastating 37 medals in Vancouver, significantly enhancing its own medal count without any advance bluster. In other words, it was the USA, not Russia, that ended the games actually doing what Russia had claimed, holding more than 30 Olympic medals. Ouch.
Russia did not even make the top 10 in the gold medal count, coming in at #11, and placed 6th in the total medal count — Russian officials had openly admitted that anything worse than 4th place would have meant absolute failure for Russia at the games. The US finished in dominant first place in the count, with three times more gold medals and more than twice as many total medals as Russia. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
And even if Russia had actually won the 30 or more medals it planned on (something neither Russia nor the USSR had ever done), the Olympiad would still have resulted in shame and disgrace for Russia beyond the worst stereotypes imaginable. One need look no further than the appalling misconduct and failure of Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko to see the evidence.
Continue reading →