KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — If bellyaching were an Olympic sport, Americans would win every medal.
OK, so holding the Winter Olympics at the one place in Russia where winter is little more than rumor defies logic, but U.S. snowboarders complained so much about halfpipe conditions being garbage it messed with their minds. Shaun White not only failed to win gold Tuesday night, he finished fourth and went home without a medal. After the Flying Tomato went splat, teammate Danny Davis kicked White after he had fallen down, suggesting fourth place was a gift from judges.
Being catty is threatening to become a nasty American habit at these Games.
When U.S. skier Bode Miller failed to medal in the downhill, he blamed Mother Nature. He skied like a champion, Miller insisted, but the stupid snow was slow. Blah, blah, blah. Wah, wah, wah.
Of course, ever since Americans landed in Russia, we all have been red, white and bickering. The reviews of the host country by visiting media members have read like an angry rant on Trip Advisor. Yes, my hotel room does look as if it were built by a high-school shop student. But the lodging was far worse at the 2002 Winter Games, back in the gold old USA, at a Salt Lake City hotel where the bedspread was 50 percent cloth and 50 percent cigarette burns.
U.S. snowboarders were shut out of medals in the halfpipe for the first time since the event was introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1998. “We let America down. Sorry, America,” said Davis, who finished 10th among the 12 competitors who advanced to the finals.
It's true the halfpipe was a mess. They should have parked a tanker truck at the drop-in point, unloaded a thousand gallons of cherry flavoring and declared it the largest Slurpee in the world. But if some 15-year-old kid from Japan could turn the slush into a silver medal, then what was our excuse?
We're snow snobs in America. We grouse when there's a lump in the mattress. And we expect the rest of the world to speak English.
But aren't snowboarders supposed to be chill?
If we can't win, then Americans do what we do second best: Whine.