- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2006

The Brillo pad that lurks on the chin of Apolo Anton Ohno is an apt symbol of the Turin Games.

His lack of dexterity with a razor is as disconcerting as the events.

Ohno, no relation to Yoko, earned a bronze medal in the 1,000-meter speedskating race after stumbling in the semifinals of the 1,500.

You might have had a sense of his mood if you were not overcome with the urge to say, “Hey, Apolo, you missed a spot on your chin.”

There has been lots of bumbling among the contingent in red, white and blue, led by the suddenly muted Bode Miller.

You could not escape his likeness and insights going into the Turin Games, whether he was discussing Lance Armstrong or skiing while intoxicated. Now that Miller is endeavoring to be the biggest bust of the Winter Games, he has lost his voice.

Miller claims not to care about winning medals or being the object of publicity, which begs an obvious question and a follow-up: Why did you ever agree to go to Turin? Was it the scenery or bottled spirits?

His is the desperate act of the vanquished, which goes like this: After committing one blunder after the other, you pretend not to care in order to be so cool, so above it all. Cheers, Bode.

In a related development, snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis won one of the most disappointing silver medals ever after grabbing the back of her board in midair and landing on her backside near the finish line.

Lindsey, Lindsey, Lindsey.

Your stunt was dumb. And dumber still was your initial contention that you merely were trying to stabilize yourself. The only thing you should have been trying to stabilize was your head.

The Winter Games come out of the sports attic once every four years, and only the childish would toy with this precious moment in the spotlight. The financial difference between a gold and silver medal is hardly small.

To put it another way, Jacobellis will not be appearing on the cover of the Wheaties box, not with egg on her face.

She goes down as a lesson in hot-dogging, although we always had the image of Leon Lett holding the ball out as he lumbered to the end zone, only to have it knocked away before he reached pay dirt.

Substance usually trumps style in sports, except in figure skating, where the costumes are loud and the programs highly interpretive.

At least that is how it was with the red-gloved Swan known as Johnny Weir, who turned into an ugly-duckling during his long program en route to a fifth-place finish.

At least Weir was a chatty fountain of refreshing exchanges to the end.

“My aura was off,” he said.

His aura was off. Here you thought his nerves looked shot.

Bob Costas has been trying to maintain a sober face, no easy assignment, given the prevailing sense of puzzlement among all too many viewers in the United States.

The prevailing line following a competition is: What just happened?

Whenever an athlete shows up to the studio to be interviewed, it has the feel of a confessional, almost as if the athlete is there to be blessed or mildly rebuked by Father Bob.

By the way, how did that Chinese couple earn a silver medal after the woman landed on the ice like a sack of potatoes and then needed a few minutes to gather her equilibrium?

Do judges award bonus points if you go splat, appear to be sidelined the next six months with a knee injury but then miraculously recover in minutes after brushing back a tear or two and massaging your knee?

To recap the social highlights, the Flying Tomato is looking to win the heart of U.S. figure skater Sasha Cohen with his gold medal.

“I’m hoping Sasha Cohen digs gold medals,” Shaun White said, in his surfer dude manner.

Like wow, man, you go for it.

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