Thursday, February 25, 2010

Julia Manusco is threatening her good will

Julia Manusco and Lindsay Vonn have both been heroes who've led the US Skiing program to history, but i'm not on board Julia's whining over what happened yesterday. The U.S. Media is portraying it as though Manusco and Vonn were somehow ripped off yesterday. Bob Costas introduced a video about how sometimes athletes can't always control things that they train for and grouped Netherlands' Sven Kramer and Manusco together. The theme of the video was people who's Olympics dreams were fairly denied from them.

The headline on NBC Olympics' article says:
"The crash also affected her U.S. teammate Julia Mancuso, who was forced to stop her run when she had one of the fastest times"

Later in the article:
"Of course, I wish I could have this morning happen over," Mancuso said. "That was probably the worst possible thing that could happen in the Olympics -- to get flagged on ... your defending gold medal run."

That's a little short-sighted and cements the image I already had of her as someone who's a little spoiled. She used to wear a tiara onto the podium, referred to herself as a ski queen, and was somewhat unpopular among fellow skiers before finally winning a suprise Gold in Torino. Add to that, Manusco also complained that Lindsay Vonn is making it difficult for her because she has a lot of the attention already. That's the kind of feud that hurt the sport of speedskating in 2006 when Davis and Hendricks were remembered more for their feuding than their haul of 5 medals between them.

Let's just review the first incident:
There are four intervals in which your time is recorded so analysts (and people following on the internet like myself) can see mid-race how you are doing. Lindsay Vonn was ahead of the leader's pace all the way through the third interval. Then she skied off course. A commentator said "Lindsay almost had it but then the medal fell out of her grasp": I don't agree with that necessarily, the faster you ski, the more risk you're going to go out of control.

Then Manusco got flagged on a run. Manusco got flagged only a fourth of the way through the course. Vonn fell after the 3/4 mark. There's a big difference. She was ahead of the pace by 0.16. There were a very high number of skiers who were ahead of the pace by that interval who ended up falling behind the leader. The odds that Manusco would have held onto that lead are slimmer than is being portrayed by commentators.

Manusco's three other complaints (or, in some cases, complaints made on her behalf) were that 1) by restarting, it took her out of the zone, 2) she had trouble getting up. she was initially told to take a snowmobile than took the gondola and that was an inexcusable distraction and 3) she complained that the conditions were harder later in the race. At the same time, being able to go down a course a second time, means she knew the lay of the course better than any other competitor, or at least the part she skied.

It sounds like she's taking out her distractions on others but at least she acknowledged that a little bit. "Shortly after her run, Mancuso posted an angry tweet with an obscenity. Several minutes later, she filed a cleaned-up dispatch: "that yellow flag in the GS was such... I just want to scream. I'm really miffed. Anyway, gotta take that energy and focus it for 2nd run."

Sounds like someone on the verge of losing her temper. We've all been there before, but I hope she doesn't continue to complain. Skiing is very random and she's emerged on the better side of it twice already this Olympics. That's worth celebrating.

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