U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider head coach Kenneth Andreasen (left) has a big job ahead of him trying to get the team to rebound from a medal shut out in Weymouth. Convincing talented young sailors like Women's 470 crew Sarah Lihan (right) to continue on the Olympic path will be crucial to the team's future success.
The closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics featured a phoenix rising as the Olympic flame was extinguished. Can the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider treat the sailing regatta in a similar way, and pull the keys to a successful future from the ashes of a disaster? Here's a few thoughts.
The first step for anyone looking to find the reason behind the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider’s dismal performance at the 2012 Olympics (no medals, just one top-five finish) is this: take a deep breath.
In fact, that’s probably steps two through 10 as well.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s move forward by looking at some of the most pressing questions hovering around this regatta.
Head coach Kenneth Andreasen, Women's 470 crew Sarah Lihan, outgoing chair of US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Committee Dean Brenner, and two-time Olympian Amanda Clark put a close on the US Sailing Team's regatta on Friday when they pulled Clark and Lihan's 470 from the water.
With her Olympic career now in the rearview mirror, this two-time Olympian fires back at some of the team's critics.
Like this Olympic regatta, the medal race didn't go as planned for Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan. The American 470 team was out of the medals, but in a position to move up a spot or two with a good race. They got caught on the wrong side of the first run (along with the British team that had a 50-50 shot at gold) and could never close the gap, finishing 10th in the race and ninth overall.
Dean Brenner, outgoing chairman of US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Committee.
For the first time since 1936, the U.S. Sailing Team returns from an Olympics with nothing to show for its effort. Dean Brenner, outgoing chairman of US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Committee, talks about the process going forward and puts a cap on his eight-year run at the helm of the team.
In all of my interviews with Dean Brenner, chairman of U.S. Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee, I’ve been amazed at his ability to hold a consistent temperament. He has been positive, but never over the top. He has always expected great things of his sailors, he’s not afraid to call it like it is, but he has been unfailingly supportive. Like a proud father who can some how emotionally detach himself from his children’s performance. Were he an actor, everyone would laud him for never breaking character. And that's not to say he was forcing it.
Graham Biehl (left) and Stu McNay ended their regatta on a high note, with a seventh and a fourth, but it wasn't enough to get them inside the top 10 and qualified for the medal race. They finished 14th.
The only thing, realistically, standing between the U.S. Sailing Team and a shutout at the 2012 London Olympics, is the match racing team of Anna Tunnicliffe, Molly Vandemoer, and Debbie Capozzi, and they're one win from being eliminated from the medal chase themselves.
Being that this is Britain, it’s no surprise that Queen’s power-rock anthem “We Are the Champions” was playing during yesterday’s medal ceremonies. For the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, today’s theme music is decidedly less triumphant. Though also by Queen. Try, “Another One Bites the Dust.”
The Olympic regatta is dwindling quickly. Two more medal races today means there are only six fleets still racing. Tom Slingsby, of Australia, got redemption from four years ago when he went into the Olympics as the reigning Laser world champ and went home 22nd. He did what he had to do, held back Pavlos Kontides, of Cyprus, enough to ensure he couldn’t pass him in the overall standings. Kontides still got the first-ever Olympic medal for Cyprus. And at just 22, there’s probably more hardware down the road for this small island nation.