Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rivals having the same coach kind of crushes the "Olympic spirit"

A little over a week ago it came to my attention that the USA and Canada's top ice dancing teams each employ the same coach.  My initial reaction was "Huh?  That's stupid.  Sports aren't supposed to work like that."

Marina Zoueva coached the USA team of Charlie White and Meryl Davis to gold, and Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue to silver (Zoueva also coaches the American siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani, who finished 9th).  Back in Vancouver in 2010 those results were flipped, with the Canadians winning and the Americans finishing second.

After failing in their quest to repeat as gold medalists Moir said "We sometimes felt like [Zoueva] wasn't in our corner."  Hmm, you think?

I won't presume to know anything about ice dancing, but I often find myself writing about when things go against the fundamental competitive nature of sports.  I don't care how well Zoueva handles it, it's impossible for one coach to do the best job she can simultaneously leading two opposing squads.  You'd have to think that if she'd wanted the Canadians to win instead of White and Davis they probably would have, and the fact that that question can even come into play is just dumb.

In reality the two teams may not actually even be rivals, they practice together in Detroit.  Like an alpine skier who competes for the Cayman Islands despite being a citizen of two other countries and training in a third, this situation sours me a bit on the whole idea of the "Olympic spirit."

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