The Olympics Sap-o-Meter: Father's day comes early to Vancouver.

Scenes from the Olympics.
Feb. 22 2010 9:03 AM

The Olympics Sap-o-Meter

Father's Day comes early to Vancouver.

This weekend in Vancouver, Apolo Ohno won his American-record-setting seventh Winter Olympic medal, and skier Bode Miller finally snagged gold. In the realm of sap, however, the winner was paternity. Cumulatively, the words father, dad, and son were uttered a staggering 47 times between Friday and Sunday.

Most of those mentions happened on Friday, when the network aired a sentimental featurette about Ohno and his dad, Yuki. "I don't know how my dad stuck in there," Ohno told Cris Collinsworth, describing how his single father pushed him to become a skating star. That segment, plus bits about the loving fathers behind Georgian ice dancer Otar Japaridze and super-G gold medalist Aksel Svindal, pumped the day's total to 45 Sap Points, one of the highest tallies of the Winter Games so far. 


But just as a major sugar rush inevitably induces a brutal crash, Friday's sappy highs plummeted on Saturday evening. Though this was the night Ohno actually won the bronze medal that made him an Olympic legend, there were no indications that the hero battled adversity or tragedy to achieve triumph and Olympic glory. (On the other hand, Lindsey Vonn was said to have the courage and determination to make her Olympic dream come true.) Saturday's paltry 21 Sap Points made for the lowest total in Sap-o-Meter history.

The Winter Games bounced back on Sunday when Svindal's father, Bjorn, made a repeat appearance. Svindal the elder watched unhappily as Bode Miller earned the gold medal that eluded him in Turin. "His father, Bjorn, oh, man, he is just heartbroken there!" Collinsworth exclaimed as the Norwegian papa clutched his head in agony. The key to Miller's success? After his Olympic failures in 2006, NBC's Todd Brooker explained, the American "changed his life, especially when he became a father." With so many fathers in attendance, Sunday's coverage reboundedto a respectable 34 Sap Points.

Still, nothing said on Sunday could compete with Friday's feature on Apolo Ohno, which spawned several quotes worthy of being the Sappiest Line of the Weekend. The best of the bunch came from Ohno himself: "[My father, Yuki,] says, 'Apolo, you need to figure out what it is you are going to do with your life.' He says, 'You need to decide and you need to make sure that you dedicate yourself and you sacrifice your heart and your soul towards this, this goal.' " (Emphasis on sap words is ours.)

Previous Sap-o-Meter entries:

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Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.



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