Muse Reporting on popular and fine arts

Redeeming Sochi

Olympics | The Pyeongchang Games add new significance to tradition
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 2/09/18, 01:02 pm

Has it been four years already? The ignominy of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia—with its unusual restrooms, malfunctioning Olympic rings, and elaborate Russian doping scheme—still hangs in the air, setting a low bar for the games that officially started Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

This year’s games already outshine those of the last few decades in terms of geopolitical significance. North and South Korean leaders shook hands during the opening ceremony, and the two countries are sharing a women’s hockey team. The influx of world leaders to Pyeongchang reminds North Korea’s roguish regime that most of the world has the South’s back should it try anything offensive. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attended the opening ceremony, which airs Friday night on U.S. television, and Ivanka Trump plans to represent the United States at the Feb. 25 closing ceremony.

NBC and its various cable outlets will broadcast the Olympics with fresh leadership from anchors Mike Tirico and and Katie Couric. Bob Costas, who helmed the network’s Olympics coverage for 24 years, retired from the gig after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and former co-anchor Matt Lauer lost his job at the network in November amid sexual harassment accusations. In figure skating, one of the Winter Games’ most-watched events, former skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir are taking over the prime-time announcer seats from Sandra Bezic and Scott Hamilton. Lipinski and Weir—known for their enthusiastic, humorous commentary and matching outfits—earned fans’ adoration with their daytime coverage of figure skating in Sochi.

Heading into the games, the most talked-about U.S. athletes are veteran skier Lindsey Vonn, extreme snowboarder Shaun White, and figure skaters Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon. Chen is a favorite to win gold, but Rippon has made headlines for his public criticism of Pence’s stance on same-sex marriage and religious liberty.

Two other Olympic stories worth watching from outside the United States: Nigeria is bringing its first bobsled team to the Winter Olympics, and French biathlete Martin Fourcade, often compared to Michael Phelps for single-sport dominance, hopes to cement his reputation by adding to the two gold medals he won in Sochi.

For a fun diversion, try to count how many times the announcers have to correct themselves when they say “Russian athletes” instead of “Olympic athletes from Russia,” the correct descriptor for those allowed to compete as individuals despite their country’s doping ban. On Thursday, the International Court of Arbitration for Sport denied final appeals from 45 Russian athletes hoping to get into the games at the last minute.

In our house, watching the Olympics is a family tradition. We soak them in each night, warning each other not to stray too far from the living room lest someone miss an exciting race or routine. We love the parade of nations during the opening ceremony, a humbling reminder of the diversity and grandeur of the world God made. The games provide an opportunity to celebrate American exceptionalism while appreciating and learning about all of our international neighbors.

Associated Press/Photo by Matt Slocum Associated Press/Photo by Matt Slocum Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (left) celebrates with head coach Doug Pederson after Sunday’s Super Bowl win.

Super Bowl statements of faith

Coming off a historic Super Bowl win, the Philadelphia Eagles showed humility in victory by giving glory to God.

Just minutes after the Eagles won their first Super Bowl title, head coach Doug Pederson deflected adulation: “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity.”

Pederson then huddled with his team in the locker room to say the Lord’s Prayer, emerging afterward to address the media.

“It’s all about the faith, it’s all about our family, and it’s all about the Philadelphia Eagles—and it is in that order,” Pederson said. “My faith keeps me grounded every single day.”

The next day, newly crowned Super Bowl MVP quarterback Nick Foles reflected on his path from nearly retiring to Eagles backup to Philadelphia royalty. He told NBC Sports Philadelphia he cherishes his faith, insisting the times he’s failed led him where he is today.

“I’m not Superman,” he added. “I might be in the NFL, I might have just won a Super Bowl, but, hey, we still have daily struggles, I still have daily struggles. And that’s where my faith comes in, that’s where my family comes in.”

Foles’ postseason performance placed him in the record books and reignited his football career. But success on the field is not what drives him. The 29-year-old is taking online graduate classes at Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity. When he does retire from the NFL, Foles wants to work as a youth pastor. —Evan Wilt

Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais Beth Holloway, mother of Natalee Holloway, speaks during the opening of the Natalee Holloway Resource Center in Washington.

Insult to injury?

The mother of Natalee Holloway, the U.S. teenager who went missing in 2005 on a senior trip to Aruba, sued NBCUniversal this week over a TV series about her daughter’s disappearance. Beth Holloway accuses producers of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway of knowingly misrepresenting evidence to her and subjecting her to “agonizing weeks of uncertainty” that “completely and utterly destroyed her.” The show focused on Natalee’s father, Dave Holloway, and his search for answers. During the production, he contacted his ex-wife to ask for a DNA sample to compare to human remains that supposedly could have been Natalee’s. But the producers knew the bone fragments didn’t belong to the missing girl, the lawsuit claims. Oxygen Media, which aired the show last year, said in a statement it has “deep compassion and sympathy” for Natalee’s relatives, adding, “We had hoped, along with Mr. Holloway, that the information was going to provide closure.” The lawsuit states that rather than being a documentary or true investigation, the show was a “scripted, pre-planned farce calculated to give the impression of real-time events.” —L.L.

The force goes on and on

Disney’s strategy for the Star Wars franchise since buying rights to it 2012 seems to be, “You can’t have too much of a good thing.” This week, the company announced plans for another series of movies set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—this time directed by Game of Thrones producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The films will take place outside the story arc of the Skywalker family, the ninth installment of which is due out in December 2019. —L.L.

New management

Tronc media company announced this week it has sold the Los Angeles Times to a billionaire California doctor. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest physician in the United States, according to Forbes, bought the Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune for $500 million. Layoffs, administrative upheaval, and sexual harassment accusations against the publisher have hamstrung the Times since Tronc, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, bought the paper in 2000, NPR reported. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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