Saturday, February 24, 2018

Russia, Russia, Russia

So maybe letting Russian athletes with no previous (previous - note word!) doping history compete in the Winter Olympics on the condition that they compete for themselves and not for their country has had an effect on the Russian psyche, and not been an issue in the competition after all.  The rump Russian team at PyeongChang, as of this writing, was sixth overall in the medal count and won its first gold medal only this past Thursday - in the women's individual figure skating competition.  Alina Zagitova took first place over her fellow Russian Evgenia Medvedeva, who won the silver. Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond won the bronze medal.
(Mirai Nagasu, the triple-axel heroine of the team competition and America's best hope for an individual women's figure-skating medal, came in tenth.)
So, despite a Russian presence, Russian prestige has never been lower than at these Winter Games.  I suppose the Olympic Athletes from Russia's male hockey squad could still win a gold medal, but it won't mean as much if they have to hear the Olympic, not the Russian, anthem played in their honor.  Unlike the old Unified Team of 1992, the team comprised of athletes from Russia and eleven of the other former republics of the Soviet Union in the wake of the U.S.S.R.'s dissolution in December 1991 (the Baltic States, having seceded from the Soviet Union in September 1991, were able to put their own teams together in time for the 1992 Winter and Summer Olympics), these Olympic athletes from Russia aren't really unified . . . or a team.  

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