Shanoff's WUC: Kim, Canada & Olympic Legacy

Today's Calls: Vancouver vs. the World, Kim Yu-Na vs. History, USA Hockey vs. Canada hockey, Canada women's hockey vs. the IOC, Robbie Hummel vs. Kenyon Martin, Hasheem Thabeet vs. the D-League, Casey Hampton vs. Karlos Dansby, Stephen Strasburg vs. Jason Heyward, Admiral Ackbar vs. Colonel Reb and More. ↵

↵Kim Yu NaThe Opening Pitch: The biggest winner of the Winter Olympics was Kim Yu-Na, who put on the greatest performance in ice-skating history — perhaps Winter Olympic history — last night. ↵

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↵Any time you can watch a "best ever" moment — in any sport — it is special. And that speaks to the enduring appeal of the Olympics, in any season. I couldn't care less about skating; I was riveted by Kim. ↵

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↵And so perhaps that is the argument that the biggest winner of the Winter Olympics ... was the Winter Olympics. ↵

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↵Formerly an afterthought, the Winter Games became a sensation. They racked up TV audience numbers unseen in a generation. They took advantage of — rather than suffered from — integration with Facebook and Twitter to make this version of the Games as much of a shared social experience as it has ever been. ↵

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↵Even the biggest complaint by a noisy minority — "But it's not live!" — was defied by the actual results: People wanted to watch the broadcast in primetime, even if they knew the result. (Last night's skating final, of course, was live, and to NBC's credit, they ran the six finalists without commercial interruption, an amazing experience.) ↵

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↵Now, part of this success had to do with the fact the games were on Pacific time — it is unclear whether the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia will enjoy a similar effect, when the time shift is a half-day, not a few hours. ↵

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↵But given the dire predictions — lost revenue, low audience numbers, lack of interest — the entire thing was a smashing success. ↵

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↵It reaffirmed that every four years, people — some sports fans, many not — are happy to duck into random sports like curling or biathlon or even hockey and find compelling action. ↵

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↵Monday, things go back to normal: College basketball bubbles, MLB Spring Training, NBA playoff jockeying, NFL draft prep — unless, of course, the U.S. men's hockey team wins gold. ↵

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↵But beyond "Wow, that was the greatest performance in Winter Olympic history," the best thing we can all say is: "Gee, that really was a lot of fun. Let's do it again in a few years." ↵

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↵That's all an Olympics can ever ask for. ↵

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↵Hockey Mania: U.S.-Finland at 3, then Canada-Slovakia at 9:30. A U.S.-Canada rematch in the finals with gold on the line would be epically dramatic — but I would be nervous if I was the U.S.; beating Canada twice on their home ice would be extremely difficult. ↵

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↵Canada women win gold: Their post-game celebration was kind of awesome. (Chugging canned domestic beer and smoking cigars? If the IOC is ticked off, that means the women were doing something right.) ↵

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↵Robbie Hummel done for season: That's a shame, because it turns Purdue from a bonafide Final Four contender into an also-ran that will be lucky to make the Sweet 16. Without Hummel, they're a No. 4-seed, at best. ↵

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↵Mike DeCourcy's right: It is a lot like Kenyon Martin and Cincinnati in 2000. This time, there is enough lead-time for the Selection Committee to temper seeding by "resume" with seeding by "reality." ↵

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↵Kentucky slaps South Carolina: After the stunner in Columbia a few weeks ago, you knew this was coming. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Games of the Weekend ↵
↵*New Mexico at BYU ↵
↵*Villanova at Syracuse ↵
↵*Kentucky at Tennessee ↵
↵*Texas at Texas A&M ↵

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↵Hasheem Thabeet sent down to D-League: It's easy to say "Saw this coming." The fact is that the guy will be better off for the focused coaching and a team/league geared around his individual development. ↵

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↵The second-guessing is compounded when Thabeet's demotion comes the same day as Stephen Curry going off for 30 pts, 13 ast and 7 reb; it puts the Grizzlies' mistake in all the more stark relief. ↵

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↵(Speaking of stark relief: Last night showed the gap between the Celtics and being legit contenders in the East.) ↵

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↵NFL Draft Combine: The buzz is the Rams will take QB Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick. I see this as being the biggest risk of the draft. Forget that he is as much of a "system" QB as any of the good Oklahoma QBs of the past decade; is there any assurance Bradford and his flimsy shoulder can take the hits? ↵

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↵Interesting and new this season: The emphasis on players' concussion histories. Of course, the players will downplay anything on their record — as will the team execs. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: With Casey Hampton off the market, Karlos Dansby feels like the prize of the free-agent class available starting next week. ↵

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↵CFB Offseason: The Garrett Gilbert Era officially begins (as opposed to its unofficial start during the national title game). ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: Of all the things on Stan McNeal's must-see list, if I was going down to spring training, I would be watching Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward up close. ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: Nike's OK with his break. I'm sure they would love to see him back for the 2010 Masters, but they would rather have him winning the Masters in 2011, 2012, 2013. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "It's a trap!" ↵
↵— Admiral Ackbar, who should absolutely be Ole Miss's next mascot. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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