The fact that the US position as an international power has been dealt a severe blow over the past year is an irrefutable fact. And this emerging, still unfamiliar reality will soon come before us to the full. While the prestige of America is falling in the eyes of its partners, Russia and other states are benefiting from what they can.
This sinister analysis is based on nothing else than the men's Olympic hockey tournament, which will begin on Wednesday, February 14, when the United States will meet with the Slovenian team, and Russia competes with Slovakia in the first two matches of the first round. Two-time Olympic champions Americans already have behind them the experience of historical achievements at the most appropriate time. However, their status as an applicant for medals almost disappeared as a result of a controversial decision taken last spring.
Since 1998, players who have contracts with the National Hockey League (NHL) were allowed to participate in the Olympics, as the league makes a voluntary two-week break in the middle of its regular season. For its part, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) invoices for insurance, travel and other additional expenses that are required to bring NHL players from North America to the Olympics and back. This eight-valued price tag, however, has become unbearable for the IOC. Last spring, the organization reported to the NHL, the largest professional sports organization, whose annual income is up to $ 4 billion, which will no longer pay for the flight of players.
Add this to the reluctance of the NHL to violate its schedule every few years, and you can easily understand that the term of this 20-year experiment in international competitions has expired. The NHL players association criticized the decision of the league, and loyal hockey fans, especially those who are keenly aware of the popularity of this sport, will be mortally upset if they fail to see how the Canadian Sidney Crosby gets a chance to win a third consecutive gold medal, or as the brilliant Californian Auston Matthews, regularly scoring goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs team (Toronto Maple Leafs), stands for the US team. These games will especially upset Russian Alexander Ovechkin, the best hockey player of his generation, who will not get a chance to fix a bad performance on his native land in Sochi,
But the decision of the NHL, probably, destroyed the chances of Americans to gold. Such hockey countries as Russia and Canada, as well as Scandinavian powers Sweden and Finland do not lack a talented player: this sport is not inscribed in the DNA of their citizens. However, this is not the case in the US, whose worn-out list of players is full of veterans of the NHL, whose time has long ago passed, failed players who failed to meet expectations, and young players who had not yet shown themselves. Team captain Brian Gionta was a star at Boston College, where he once scored five goals in one period, before playing 15 seasons in the NHL. Defender Matt Gilroy led the University of Boston to the National Championship in 2009 and won the Hobey Baker Prize - as a prize of Heisman, but in university hockey.
In the list of players, there are talented and experienced, they are just fewer than in past years. That the best goalkeeper was never on the NHL list, and he had to be invited from the team in Russia, eloquently testified about the deplorable state of the team and its chances of gold. Just think: some countries collect their national teams and spend several months coordinating training and developing potential tactics on the ice. By the time the Americans oppose Slovenia, the total time of their joint training will be about six hours. This is not good. Some countries collect their national teams and spend several months coordinating training and developing potential tactics on the ice. By the time the Americans oppose Slovenia, the total time of their joint training will be about six hours. This is not good. Some countries collect their national teams and spend several months coordinating training and developing potential tactics on the ice. By the time the Americans oppose Slovenia, the total time of their joint training will be about six hours. This is not good.
While America makes a mistake after a mistake, the Russians - or, more precisely, the "Olympic athletes from Russia" as they were technically called because of IOC punishments in response to accusations of mass doping - are gaining ground. They have the highest chances of gold, and any other achievements will be the next link in a chain of discouraging disappointments. But even without hacking hacks of GPS devices of their opponents, the Russians will not have any problems in paving the way to gold.
If it is possible to make comparisons with the current state of geopolitical affairs, then we know how everything will turn out. The Russians will take advantage of all the means at their disposal to demonstrate their superiority over all rivals, placing their stakes on their talent and determination in their struggle against competitors. The Americans will compete in each competition with confidence in their historical pedigree, but lagging behind in actual performance a couple of steps, and then they will be surprised at what point it all went wrong. The most revealing test can occur on Saturday when the United States and Russia converge on ice. It is likely that the US team will need at least a draw to go to the next round, so it will have to fully demonstrate all the preserved belief in exclusivity.
A little hope of the US may be that the Olympic hockey in its best form is better than its version in the NHL. There is a larger ice rink, minor but important discrepancies in the rules. Watch international hockey is a pleasure; it's an impetuous exercise in precise passes and teamwork. But a little luck will not hurt, of course. This would play into the hands of the Americans, especially if they can prevent the goal from hitting the puck and, thanks to this, will fall into the medal standings.
In Pyeongchang must take place the most controversial - and, as the Americans hope, the most unpredictable - games for the whole generation. The US, among other things, knows what it takes to show miracles on the ice when it is required most.