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Class acts amid the meltdowns in the Olympics


Sasha Cohen, Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes aside, it's easy to think of these Winter Olympics as another depressing reality show, only without a lot of bad singing or Donald Trump and his lacquered hair reducing some poor apprentice to tears.

Look at the pettiness and whining displayed by some of the happy band of brothers known as the U.S. team.

Speedskaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick are feuding like a couple of middle-schoolers trying for the same girl.

Downhill skier Bode Miller, a walking mood swing, has tanked in four of the five events he's entered and posted his fastest times running from the media.

Figure skater Johnny Weir, expected to medal, finished in fifth place instead and blamed his woes on a missed bus and the tightness of his costume, which was something right out of the Siegfried & Roy collection.

And it's not just the Americans who seem cranky and out of sorts.

When Italian ice dancer Mauricio Margaglio dropped his partner, Barbara Fusar Poli, during their routine, she glared at him and essentially said, "You're dead to me, Maury" by giving him the silent treatment.

Then there was the Austrian ski coach who fled the Olympics after a drug raid, crashed his car into a police blockade like something out of Smokey and the Bandit and wound up in a mental hospital.

(Speaking of going nuts, how about this nasty blood feud Trump has going with Martha Stewart? Is this beautiful or what? The Donald goes ballistic and rips Martha for lying about why her Apprentice show went off the air, snarling in a letter: "Essentially you made this firing up just as you made up your sell order of ImClone."

(Ouch. Then Trump really takes the gloves off. "Putting your show on the air was a mistake for everybody - especially NBC," he says, and "Your performance was terrible. ... "

(Naturally, Martha has to issue her own statement, saying Trump's letter "is so mean-spirited and reckless that I almost can't believe my longtime friend Donald Trump wrote it."

(Longtime friend?! Martha, a word of advice. With friends like this, from now on you may want to sweep a mirror under the car and check under the hood before you pull out of the driveway.)

Thankfully, we got a semi-break from all the petty nonsense in Turin with the start of women's figure skating.

This, of course, is the marquee event for American TV viewers, dating back to even before Tonya Harding had her boyfriend kneecap Nancy Kerrigan to start the mother of all Olympic feuds.

Let me go on record as saying this about Sasha Cohen's performance in the short program: Wow!

And let me say this about the routines of Bel Air's Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes: Double-wow!

Sixteen years old and cool as a cat burglar in her first Olympics - how does Kimmie Meissner do it?

If I was 16 and had to skate in front of a packed arena and worldwide television audience, I'd need an IV-drip of Valium just to get into the taxi to the arena.

But this kid is all smiles and giggles, taking the ice and finishing fifth like it's an afternoon at Skateland with her friends.

I think I was more nervous watching her than she was skating.

The announcers kept shrieking about her "triple-triple combination," whatever that is, and her clean jumps and effortless spins.

But all I saw was a kid having the time of her life and wowing the figure-skating intelligentsia while most other 16-year-olds were dozing through trigonometry.

Then there was Emily Hughes, coolly finishing seventh just a week after she got a phone call telling her to pack and get on a plane for Turin so she could replace the great Michelle Kwan for the U.S. And then there was Sasha Cohen.

Watching Cohen skate last and energize the crowd was like watching Springsteen take the stage after the audience sat through Sting and Hootie and the Blowfish.

She was that good in taking over first place, crisp and confident and joyful, even better than her chief rival, reigning world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia.

Tonight we get to see how they all do again, Sasha Cohen and Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes, in the long program.

It's better than watching Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick pout, Bode Miller choke and that crazy Italian ice dancer stare daggers at her partner.

Speaking of daggers, I wonder how this whole nasty business between The Donald and Martha will turn out?

You want to see glares - throw them together on the ice at Turin.

And watch the ratings go through the roof.

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