Some Olympic prophecies for this week ... and beyond
Posted: Wednesday February 22, 2006 1:37AM; Updated: Wednesday February 22, 2006 11:21AM
Another prediction: Shani Davis (left) and Chad Hedrick (right), shown here with 1,500 winner Enrico Fabris, probably won't be exchanging Christmas cards.
TURIN, Italy -- You are strolling down Via Cernaia, in the heart of Turin, when you see it: Cafe Nostradamus, named for the French-born Jeane Dixon of the 16th century, whose cryptic writings are said to have foretold everything from the rise of Hitler to the assassinations of the Kennedys to the Jets' win over the Colts in Super Bowl III.
Your mind races. Here is a place where an Olympic journalist surely can find out what's in store for the final week of these curiously uneven Games. Indeed, your first premonition proves true -- no one in the place speaks a word of English. The power of prophecy must be strong in this cozy coffee bar, or why would so many policemen be coming in here buying lottery tickets with such utter confidence? There is something to be said for a restaurant where you can know tomorrow's specials today.
And so, over a caffe American (espresso diluted with water), you focus your thoughts on the skaters and skiers, the sliders and gliders, the quarrels and questions that will be in the spotlight over the next several days. The spirit of Nostradamus enters you -- or maybe it's just the smell of that croissant in the dessert case -- and you suddenly envision that before the torch is extinguished on Sunday night ...
The American team will continue to stumble, winning just one more gold medal, for speedskater Chad Hedrick in the 10,000 meters. (Sorry, Sasha Cohen; hope you like silver.) By Sunday, the final day of competition, no U.S. athlete will be in contention for anything, and NBC's ratings will slide dramatically, like Bode Miller going off the slalom course.
The American media will pull out their knives and carve up Team USA for earning "only" 22 medals -- 12 fewer than four years ago in Salt Lake City. It will matter little that the total is the second highest in American Winter Olympic history; among fans in the 50 states, the Turin Games will go down as an American flop.