Some might say so! With malfunctions both technical and human, with real sadnesses and imagined ones, these winter games have been fraught with hiccups and hold-ups. So do we leave them with a grim feeling?
Though today's not the last day of the Olympics, that's
tomorrow Sunday, there is a sense of finality in the air, mostly because the ladies twirled to the podium last night for Ice Maneuvering and that's the most important medal ever competed for in any of the Olympics. So taking a look back, were these strange, dark games afflicted in some way? A little bit.
Of course there was the obvious pall cast over the festivities with the death in luge, a tragic and frustrating story about track builders flying too close to the sun or something. And it happened a day before everything really even got kicked off, so even the usually joyous (if ridiculous) opening ceremonies had a long shadow cast over them.
And speaking of those! There was that whole yikesy technical malfunction during the ceremonies that left Wayne Gretzky's date standing there like a jackass, holding her flaming phallus like a chump. If part of your grand mechanized Olympic Cauldron breaks down at the bigtime opening ceremonies, well, that's not a good sign.
We also had Lindsey Vonn's ski crash during the Giant Slalom that led to her teammate Julia Mancuso, the gold medal defender from Torino, winding up in eighth place. One skier's crash ruins the chances for her teammate? Only in these hexed Olympics.
The Dutch felt the sting as an absent-minded coach steered his star speed skater, bellicose handsome guy Sven Kramer, down the wrong lane, costing him a gold medal and a world record.
There was the weather, a nasty soup of rain and foggy snow and bad winds, delaying events and causing various mishaps. Just yesterday a host of favorites in the Nordic Combined totally whiffed it because of a perilous tailwind at the ski jump. The expressions on their faces kind of said it all: What the hell is going on? Plus we had other dangerous conditions, with a women's downhill fraught with crashes and a sliding track that, even after being altered in reaction to the young luger's death, caused a nasty pair of bobsled accidents in the women's two-man earlier this week.
People got sent home for doing stupid shit, the condoms ran out early, an American woman was denied a spot on the figure skating podium for the first time since Peggy Fleming. Russia had their own streak-breaking failure in ice dancing. And on their hallowed home ice, Canadian hockey was beaten by a rowdy and jingo-fanatic US.
And then there was Joannie Rochette, the French-Canadian figure skater whose mother died suddenly, mere days before her competition. Rochette bundled it all up and tied it down and grabbed a bronze medal despite her grief, doing her small part to try and break the spell, to cast the curse out.
Yes there's been obvious calamity at these games, they haven't gone smoothly. But I suppose — in some corny, misty-eyed way — that these struggles and mishaps are really what the Olympics are all about. It's not a curse, it's just the affliction of living. Dealing with the imperfect, rising to frustrating challenges and sometimes failing, sliding away into the unknown. It's the entirety of human drama writ small and Canadian. For all of the McNuggetsy corporate shilling and cynical NBC coverage and silly puritanism, the Olympics are still, at their metal core, something good and stirring. They are their own small proof of humanity, of how we tumble and succeed and regret. As I'm sure any Olympian can tell you, we all have off years. And Vancouver's year was certainly not the finest in winter games history.
But they happened, and people flew. People did things, wonderful and scary and dangerous things, in the name of silly sport. As it does every two years, the world tilted its head and watched, as if to say "Ah yes, there we are." There we all are, navigating this frozen and rocky world. Falling all over ourselves, testing and straining these miracle bodies, always thrilled to pick ourselves up and race on into the white.