February 8

VIEW FROM AWAY: Athletes should be the real stars of the Winter Olympics

Kansas City Star

If you’re weary of all the buildup to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — the bare-chested president Vladimir Putin, athletes’ odd-looking uniforms, computer hacking, potential terrorist attacks, blatant discrimination against gay people and, now breaking, journalists unhappy with their Third World hotel rooms — here’s much more positive news.

The first competition in the Games started Thursday in Sochi, and the Opening Ceremony was Friday.

After all the recent controversies, this is, we can hope, when much of the narrative tilts positively toward what the athletes are accomplishing.

Thanks to live television, plus tape-delayed broadcasts in prime time, Americans could witness some amazing performances until the Olympics end on Feb. 23.

Don’t worry if the names of the U.S. athletes aren’t familiar; they seldom are for many winter sports. But the events still ought to attract large audiences.

The figure skating competition will be elegant, the downhill skiing fast and furious, the bobsledding medalists decided by the hundredths of a second, the snowboarding ridiculously perilous and the cross-country skiing an endurance test for the ages.

More than likely, we’ll still hear about Russian corruption, cost overruns at the Olympic venues and various protests during the next few weeks. These stories also deserve attention.

But as so often happens at the Olympics — and often out of nowhere — athletes will put their own stamp on the Games with some brilliant performances on the ice or snow.

Thousands of talented women and men will be competing fiercely to win gold, silver and bronze medals in Sochi, many after training a lifetime to get there. This is their time to shine.

Editorial by the Kansas City Star distributed by MCT Information Services
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