Monday, February 20, 2006

Curling Fever Unabated

U.S. men's curling skip Pete Fenson and third Shawn Rojeski (Getty Images photo/Brian Bahr)

The U.S. men's curling team kept rolling with a big win over Great Britain on Sunday but fell to Canada today. The game didn't affect the U.S. bid to make the medal round, but the win let Canada slide in. The teams play again in one of Wednesday's semifinals.

U.S. women's curling vice-skip Jamie Johnson and skip Cassie Johnson (AP photo/Morry Gash)

After smashing the Italians on Saturday, Sunday brought the U.S. women another tough loss, this time to Switzerland. They wrapped their Olympic competition today against Great Britain, but as it's sitting on the DVR waiting to be watched, I'm incapable of commenting on it.

Curling was the main place for Olympic excitement over the weekend. Except for Lindsey Jacobellis' mind-boggling wipeout in the snowboard cross finals--a showboating moment that cost her a guaranteed gold medal--the events were on the lackluster side. Weather caused some to be cancelled, although that still wasn't any excuse for NBC to set aside time to talk to Jerome Bettis. It was a bald-faced plug for the network's return to NFL coverage this fall and nothing else.

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (Getty Images photo/Clive Rose)

Ice dancing is mostly a crushing bore, especially the compulsory dance; however, it did turn slightly interesting last night when consecutive pairs fell, presumably an uncommon occurrence in this sport. The American pair, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, skated the best original dance of those couples whose performances I didn't fast forward through. The commentators have mentioned many times that Belbin, a native Canadian, became an American citizen on New Year's Eve 2005. What they haven't explained is why she changed her citizenship. What, there weren't any decent ice dancing partners in Canada?

I realize that a great number of non-Team USA Olympic athletes live and train in the United States. Unless I'm mistaken, I don't believe it is out of the ordinary for some smaller countries to solicit Americans whose heritage might qualify them to compete for a non-powerhouse nation. What seems strange about Belbin's case is that not only did she come from Canada--not exactly a tiny nation--but that she came to a bigger country and changed her citizenship at conceivably the last possible date. In all fairness, I wouldn't be surprised if the timing was due to bureaucratic backup. (I have a friend who had to wait a long time to change his citizenship.) Still, this seems like one of those obvious things the announcers would explain, but assuming I haven't missed it, they've been oddly silent on the matter.

Update: If I would have read Belbin's bio and this article, I would have found the answer. She's lived in the US since 1998. (Belbin was 13 when she moved here.) So, you know, disregard what I wrote before.

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