POSTED: Friday February 12th 2010

Mike Moran's Vancouver Vantage Point

Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002.

The Omaha,Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City’s Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant.

February 11, 2010 #2 - An Audience of Four Billion Viewers Friday Night

So, where is Dick Lamm when you need him? Thirty years ago, when Lake Placid was experiencing the same kind of lack-of-snow problems nagging Vancouver’s organizers, the then Colorado Governor offered to host the Games’ skiing events at the state’s venues….....the very same guy who led the effort that torpedoed the 1976 Olympic Winter Games in Denver through a state-wide referendum that killed funding and drove the Games to Innsbruck…....Lake Placid had not had a good snow in two months, but things eventually worked out with the help of artificial snow, used for the first time in the Games…...So, tomorrow evening, more than four billion viewers (8:00 p.m. Mountain) will tune in on NBC and other worldwide sites to see the Opening Ceremony at the 60,000-seat BC Place, the first time the ceremony has been held indoors for the gathering of the world’s best winter athletes….....the forecast for Vancouver is 47 degrees and rain… Beijing, host city for the 2008 Summer Games, it will be 36 and clear, and 41 with snow in Atlanta, host for the ‘96 Summer Games…........I don’t need any aging Rockers like The Who or lame TV commercials to get me in the right frame of mind to enjoy the Opening Ceremony, either….....I’ve got my own memories to keep me feeling warm and fuzzy…....Eric Heiden, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen, the Golden 1980 ice hockey team, Scott Hamilton, Downhill Bill Johnson, Phil and Steve Mahre, Michelle Kwan, Sara Hughes, Derek Parra, Thor Heyerdahl (Kon Tiki) at the ‘94 opening in Lillehammer, the World Trade Center flag with our athletes in Salt Lake, the women’s ice hockey gold medal in Nagano, and a hundred others….......

UPDATES: Five-time Olympian Mark Grimmette (Luge) has been selected to carry the American flag into the Opening Ceremony tomorrow evening at the head of the USA Delegation…......this singular honor, determined by a vote of representatives of each sport, almost never is the highest profile athlete or the most well-known…..speedskater Chris Witty carried the flag in Torino in 2006…...Skier Lindsey Vonn is attempting training runs this morning to see if her injured shin will allow her to go…..she’s a medal favorite in four events, and her loss would be a big blow to USA medal tally hopes against rivals Canada and Germany.

These Games are deadly serious stuff in Canada and it goes far beyond lack of snow, protestors, security or drug cheats….........Canada has hosted the Games twice (Montreal, 1976) and Calgary, 1988), and no Canadian athlete has won a gold medal on home soil….........this time, the hosts are expected to win the overall medal tally, including gold medals by their revered men’s and women’s ice hockey teams….........expect a national week of mourning if the United States hockey teams pull off a “Miracle on Ice” of their own and get their gold medals and hear the strains of our National Anthem rather than “O Canada,we stand on guard for thee”.........our neighbors to the north are so obsessed with winning the most medals that they have sunk $110 million ($66 million in government funds) into a program tagged “Own The Podium” that was launched in 2005 with the goal of making the home team the top dog in Vancouver….....The United States Olympic Committee figured this out years ago, and with special funding (all from the private sector) for athlete specific training and focus, built teams that have won the medal counts in Atlanta, Sydney and Beijing, and finished second behind Germany in Salt Lake and Torino….......not just when we have hosted the Games.  Chris Rudge, Chairman of the Canadian Olympic Committee, puts it this way…......“Canadians are excited about going to these Games on a mission while still retaining the qualities of humility and humbleness. Winning in that context are nice things to aspire to, but marrying them to more of the American attitude of ‘we think we’re the best and, damn it, we’re going to step up and try to do it.”............Well, whatever, but it’s our Olympic Team that I’m keeping an eye on for the next seventeen days, always great stories, family, dreams and controversy….....skiing sensation Lindsey Vonn, snowboarders Hannah Teter and Claire Bidez and aerialist Lacy Schnoor are in this week’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition in, uh, not their Opening Ceremony Polo outfits, shall we say….....four medal favorite speedskater Shani Davis stiffed the first USOC press briefing, isn’t in the speedskating media guide, has his own sponsors, and called comedian Steven Colbert a “jerk” when Colbert came to the rescue with a fund-raising effort after the team’s Dutch bank sponsor rolled over…...... a chastened Bode Miller is back on the slopes again with a new attitude and his own dream after going without a medal in Torino in six races….......Colorado Springs’ own, figure skater Rachael Flatt hopes to do what fellow Broadmooor Skating Club great, Peggy Fleming, did in winning gold in 1968 in Grenoble….......the USA Women’s Ice Hockey Team faces incredible odds on Canadian home ice, but shoots for the stars and a gold of their own….......short track speedskater Apolo Ohno, who lived and trained for years in Colorado Springs, can become the most decorated athlete in his sport with a two more Olympic medals, passing Bonnie Blair…........and history could be made by upstarts Tim Burke in Biathlon (no American has medaled), and Nordic Combined skiers Johnny Spillane,Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick, all three world champions in a discipline in which the USA has never won an Olympic medal…....then there is Colorado snowboarded Shaun White, maybe the best ever in the world and who joins the sparkling Vonn as the best of the best on a team of 216 Americans (123 men, 93 women) with 48 Olympic medals among them…..........Minnesota has 21 athletes on the team, followed by New York (19), Colorado (17), Utah (16), California (15) and Wisconsin (15) own home state, Nebraska,even has bobsledder Curt Tomasevicz of Shelby, a 29-year-old former Husker football linebacker, on the team….........Curling athlete Tracy Sachtjen is 40 years old, and the U.S. Olympic Team’s average age is 25.87 years…..........move aside,cynics,this is the best sports event on the planet, and the best of America on display for the next seventeen days, so enjoy!

Here’s some really good websites to help you follow the Games  (Official USOC site)  (scores of Olympic stories from all over the world)  (the NBC Games site) (The USOC’s superb media site)  (Click on link to Olympic coverage)  (click on the link to Olympic coverage)  (Worth the subscription price, too)

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Keywords · Vancouver 2010 · Paralympics · USOC

Name: Mike Moran
Organization: Colorado Springs Sports Corporation
Phone: (719) 634-7333, ext.1011

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