Vancouver Gets Chippy: Vonns, Kesler Do Some Chirping

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↵Did you want more off-course/ice drama with your Olympics? You're going to get it in child-sized doses, thanks to a couple of American Olympians and a coach opening their mouths and speak in recent days. ↵

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↵Lindsey Vonn won only bronze in the women's super G on Saturday. That probably had more to do with a tentative run that did not attack the course as it could have, but it didn't take long for her coach/husband, Thomas, to accuse an Austrian coach of foul play. He said: ↵

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↵⇥"I know for a fact that the Austrian course setter said that he was setting [the super-G course] against Lindsey, which is kind of silly, considering. I know he made a comment to some people that ‘we studied all the tapes, and we found out that the one from Val d'Isere is the one she did worst in,' which happened to be third place." ↵
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↵That Austrian course setter won a lottery to set the course, and as Chris Chase notes, merely took advantage of a system that begs for exploitation. (Could you imagine an NFL team being able to choose where the Super Bowl is?) If Thomas Vonn had won the lottery, wouldn't he have tailored the course to Lindsey's strengths?  ↵

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↵This is a tempest in a teapot, but one that will help create a "rivalry" storyline for NBC. So get ready to be sick of it. ↵

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↵Lindsey Vonn's comments went heavier on humor than drama. Her Tiger Woods jokes, though, were like a tap dance on the third rail for someone with sponsors. ↵

↵Vonn, after piecing together the Tiger whatever-that-was from Friday, had some things to say about it, according to Time's Sean Gregory: ↵
↵⇥And like millions of Americans, Vonn can't help poking fun at Woods' staged event. When a member of her Vonn-tourage tells her that Woods gave a few friends hugs after ending his statement, she cracks, "They're like, 'Yeah, you're awesome, you go have that sex.' " The room breaks into a laugh. Then she describes a skit she would want to perform if asked to host Saturday Night Live: picture Vonn at Woods' podium, blue backdrop and all. "There's something you don't know about me," Vonn says in a faux solemn, apologetic voice. "Tiger, you're like my idol, and I too have a sex problem." More laughter. "That would be freaking funny." ↵
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↵That's not quite Bill Hicks in his heyday, but it is a bit of color from an athlete whose image hasn't deviated much from the stoic hero mold. One problem with praising that personality: the Vonn camp is reportedly claiming those comments were off the record, and refusing to talk to Time as a result. (Gregory tweeted that Vonn's comments were indeed on the record and that TIME.com stands by its story.) Because, after all, why would anyone want to sponsor an athlete with opinions? Opinions are liabilities and should be eschewed in favor of more training. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the United States and Canada play in men's hockey today, and tensions between the nations are running as high as they have since the South Park movie. American Ryan Kesler put it bluntly, saying "I hate them" more than once before backpedaling on that statement. The U.S. and Canada are both medal contenders, so tensions would run high based only on that fact, but there's certainly a big brother-little brother component to the rivalry as well. ↵

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↵For the unaffiliated fan who wants a rooting interest, I submit Brian Burke's emphatic defense of these games, the prospect of the U.S. to wearing 1960-inspired jerseys, and the Canucks' talent advantage as reason to cheer for the U.S. in a rare underdog role. ↵

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↵The unaffiliated fan who doesn't care who wins doesn't even need to root for a good game. That's more or less guaranteed, with the only two teams made up entirely of NHL players taking the ice. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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