I was surprised to find a complete dearth of discussion on these boards of the Winter Olympics. Maybe it's here somewhere and I missed it. I, personally, followed a rather twisted trail in these Games. I was initially looking forward to them, but the run-up that included endless talk of terrorism, intolerance in Russia (and what to do about it) and a figure-skating kerfuffle here in the US, all but wiped out my enthusiasm. I avoided the Opening Ceremonies, as I always do, because, well, they just don't interest me and besides, the network (in this case, NBC) always uses the occasion to 1) hype events and 2) dump endless ads on me. But by the first day of events, I was ready. My internal Olympic Clock said that it was time for the Downhill, my favorite of all alpine ski events. But the timetable has been changed and we began with a "team skating event". The flacks told me this was a good thing, but to bunch a group of individual events together and call them a "team event" doesn't do much for me. I know it has NOTHING to do with the fact that the identified demographic for figure skating is the very one the networks target with the Olympics, so I won't mention it again. Besides, my wife is a member in good standing of said demographic, so we watched. I learned whatever I know about figure skating from the commentary of Dick Button, who may have been overly emotional and a bit of a motormouth but who also knew his stuff and explained the technical side of the sport very well. So, the emotion and the flood of verbiage sort of comes with the territory. That said, the team of Tara Lipinsky and Johnny Weir may have been the single worst announcers of any event I have ever heard (including John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman). And, no, it has nothing to do with Weir's incessant attempts to win a Carmen Miranda dress-alike contest (an obvious thumb-in-the-eye at the Russians); quite simply, they never shut up. And almost nothing was of any value, as they confined themselves almost exclusively to either "I like..." or "I hate..." comments or trivia (and not in a good way). The only comment of value that Lipinsky made was the night of the Ladies Finals, when she said of Ashley Wagner, "there were a lot of small mistakes there that fans won't catch but the judges will, and it's going to cost her." And it did. Early on in the Games, I discovered real-time broadcasts on alternate channels (owned by NBC), which were event-specific. This saved me. It eliminated most of the studio garbage and had the added benefit (being 9 hours behind) of allowing me to record and fast forward anything I didn't like. The downside was that I was often bleary-eyed when scheduling the next day's recordings (which explains how I missed the figure skating gala near the end; got biathlon instead). But, still, I got plenty of speed skating, alpine skiing, snowboarding (I don't care for the dipsy-doodle events, but the races are fun to watch, especially snowboard-cross), bobsledding and hockey. A lot of my attitudes about sports have changed over the years. I remember my grandfather saying that all he ever wanted to see was a really good contest, he didn't care who won. In fact, he would insist that he preferred a game in which his team lost but the score was close to a blowout. I'm getting that way, myself. I stopped watching NHL hockey after three NHL players died - including 2 suicides - in one off-season and the NHL refused to address the issue of fighting (in fact, the use of so-called staged fights made it worse), so Olympic hockey is all I get every four years. Naturally, I wanted the US to do well and I was disappointed when they lost to Canada in the semifinals. But when they came out against Finland in the bronze medal game, looking like they really wanted to be someplace else, and got outworked by the hustling Finns, I was just as glad to see the Finns take the bronze. An athlete shouldn't get a free pass just because he's wearing my country's colors. Which brings me to the Great Figure Skating Controversy. In the Ladies' finals, Carolina Kostner brought me close to tears (partly because she skated to Ravel's Bolero, partly because she is at the end of her international career and partly because she skated an incredibly beautiful program that even the Talking Heads shut their gobs to watch). Adelina Sotnikova took my breath away. Me, I'd have given the gold to Kostner, but the new scoring criteria really do give the advantage to the most athletic skater (those of us who remember the debate about Sarah Hughes vs. Oksana Baiul can savor the irony) and, besides, if you watch this sport for the medals, you've already missed the point. Still, conspiracy theories abound, despite the fact that the new system provides that 9 judges score the event but 4 of them are randomly discarded, so good luck finding any evidence of a conspiracy. I only watch the closing ceremonies until the athletes have marched in, because I always like seeing them relaxed and, in some cases, socializing with athletes from the other countries. That didn't seem to happen much this time, but then NBC didn't really show much. They did, however, show Steve Holcomb and his crew, fresh from their bronze medal finish in the 4-man bobsled. They were wearing their medals and brandished them proudly for the cameras. They had come to Sochi hoping to repeat as gold medalists, but Holcomb wasn't quite up to the challenge, with mistakes in each of the four heats. But he looked like he realized that the metal in the medal wasn't what mattered, and I was genuinely happy for him.