We were shitty in Pyeongchang because we’ve allowed ourselves to become a shitty country. Unless there are big political and cultural changes afoot, don’t expect the news to get better in the years to come.
The good news is a world-record amount of fucking went on in Pyeongchang South Korea over the last two weeks, 110,000 condoms were distributed; that’s enough for every person to go through 37 prophylactics… you are and are with the best athletes in the world so why not throw in a few barebacks for good measure just to see what happens. Yes, indeed, the world did come together, or at least maybe really, really close to one another, for a time.
The world also watched a few healthy countries dominate these games, namely Norway, Germany and Canada. Countries that, while not perfect, are functioning democracies with the primary goal of taking care of their own—starting with their children. They value social safety nets, discourse over rancor, the common good… and they also drink a lot of beer.
The U.S. is quickly becoming the land of the unfit, of built-in distractions, of lies and false promise; it starts with the top office and we still have plenty of room to fall.
There is no excuse for our lack of success at these winter games. When Norway—a nation about the same size as New Mexico with the same population as South Carolina and a GDP less than one eighth of California—fucking comes in and owns you, effortlessly, there is a problem, a huge one.
Norway took home 39 medals in Pyeongchang, breaking the previous Winter Games’ record of 37, set by the U.S. in 2010. The US’s output of 23 medals was the nation’s worst since the 1998 Nagano Games. Only 11 of the Americans’ 23 medals came in events that existed during the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Most of our medals came from snowboarding and freestyle skiing events that, arguably, the rest of the world hasn’t caught up to yet or may or may not be around three or four Olympics from now (if humans exist that long) and it is clear to see the the US is more of a novelty act, a lumbering, slumbering giant—the world’s punchline.
We failed to medal in men’s and women’s individual figure skating, took home a bronze in speed skating (the only medal in the event, men’s or women’s, in the last two games for the US) and were nowhere to be found on the leaderboard in ski jumping, nordic combined or biathlon, bobsled or skeleton. Mikaela Shiffrin’s alpine skiing program was curtailed by weather. Still, she took home a a gold and a silver, and Lindsey Vonn, the winningest skier in US World Cup history, took home a lion-in-winter bronze. With surprise golds, U.S. women’s hockey team and U.S. men’s curling provided some solace for the ever-dwindling audience, but that was about it for the team feel goods from the previous two weeks.
If there was one epic Olympic moment for the Americans it was the gold medal team freestyle of Nordic skiers Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall. Diggins, who rounded the final turn of the race in third, put on some kind of glitter-infused turbo boosters to will herself across the line in first. Randall, a five-time Olympian, an Alaskan and a mother (not necessarily in that order) finally got the medal she deserved for skiing fast and mentoring better than any woman at this year’s games. It was a tear-filled moment and watch-on-repeatable.
The only problem: the pair was not representative of the bright future, but a hangover fever-dream of the glory of a nation’s storied Olympic past.
The rest of the games for the U.S. were as productive as NBC’s anodyne coverage. There wasn’t much substance behind the Visa ads. An overhaul would be underway in the countdown to Beijing, said USOC Chief of Performance Alan Ashley during a closing news conference. But, the privately funded USOC is a symbol of the problem in the states, not the solution.
The U.S., if it chose to distribute its nearly infinite resources to making communities healthier, raising children in safe environs and prioritizing their education over their bleeding out on classroom floors; if it had a tax plan that favored individual workers and their ability to raise up to a better tomorrow; if it went back to an immigration policy that included people from all countries, of all races and religions and backgrounds; if it was blessed with elected officials who served to protect our lands and the people, plants and animals on them from greed and punishment and destruction at the whims of corporations, then yes—and I’m speaking to both sides of the political aisle—Olympic glory would be attainable once more.
As it stands, we are a country for the elites propped up by the elites. And all of these elites are self-dealing shitheads. Expect, in other words, the progeny of Eric and Don Jr. to be driving bobsleds in the future while the rest of us fight it out in the bread line.