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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

If Wishes Were Horses then Russians Would Skate

On February 14, 2006 (Valentine's Day), with the Torino Winter Games in full swing, the Moscow News reported: "With the U.S. Olympic team currently being the leader in number of golden medals, Russians still lead in total medals’ number with three golds, three silvers and one bronze." The story ran under the headline: "Russia Tries to Beat US in Number of Medals."

This view on the part of the Russians was, to say the least, a bit premature. Despite being the world's most famous snowy nation, Russia ended up in fifth place in the final total medal count, behind Germany, the U.S., Canada and Austria (all but the U.S. have much smaller populations than Russia, and none is reaping oil price windfalls except Russia). Russia was in fourth place on the gold medal count, one ahead of Canada. Russia did not medal in medals.

Oddly, things would get even worse for Russia at the World Figure Skating Championships in Calgary Canada a few months later. There, Russia managed only one medal, a lowly bronze in its vaunted pairs event, while the U.S. took four. Russians dealt with the debacle in their standard way, by pretending that it had not occurred.

La Russophobe isn't much of a sports expert, although she is fond of tennis, but she does think that a sports team that can't criticize itself and can't reform is utterly doomed to repeated embarrassing failure. But, perhaps that is Russia's goal.

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