Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Whistler, British Columbia The legend of Billy Demong continues to grow.
It’s tough to top where he’s at. Years or even months ago, Demong would have just been one of those crazy guys who hits the big ski jump. Now, he is a gold medalist, is essentially a spokesman for the U.S. Ski Team, is going to be part of the United States Olympic Committee’s closing news conference and is carrying the flag for America in the Closing Ceremonies. He also parlayed his gold medal into a marriage proposal. He’d been carrying the ring around for a while and was waiting for the perfect moment. A gold medal performance seemed like the time. Talk about guarantees. How could she say no?
■ Nordic combined in America has a chance to grow. After the banner performances by the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, it’s hard to see it not grow. But the biggest sign came from press row.
The first training day, we were the only paper there. The first event, there were journalists from about 25 news outlets. During the team event, there were about 70 news outlets from America. The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN.com and Sports Illustrated were on hand, just to name a few. Like it or not, when the big media outlets start paying attention, that’s when it goes from fringe sport to nationally accepted.
■ Cypress Mountain was great, but I’m so glad to not have to go back. The long trip aside, the conditions for the parallel men’s and women’s giant snowboard slaloms were some of the worst. Friday in the women’s competition, I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life. The men’s was the same thing. I can’t imagine how the competitors felt. In the men’s event, it was tough to see any of the course. Fans would see racers go out of the start gate and then nothing. Then poof, there were the riders at the finish. As Tyler Jewell said, “If this was a World Cup, they would have postponed it.”
■ It might not get better than today’s gold medal hockey game. The Americans are undefeated, and the Canadians have been lights out since the loss to the United States. Again, it comes down to goaltending, this time America’s Ryan Miller against Canada’s Robert Luongo. The longer the game remains tight, the better America’s chances. Talk about a Canadian loss out loud here, and you’re likely to get jumped. Reports are that more than 70 percent of the country watched Friday’s semifinal game. Why not — it worked last time. United States in a shootout. Miller stones Sidney Crosby.
■ On hockey, word on the street is that scalped tickets could go for upwards of $5,000 a piece. Yikes.
■ If the Canadians do win the game, however, Granville and Robson streets will be the place to be. It will be Canadian Mardi Gras, eh.