SOCHI, Russia -- As I wave goodbye to the (adorable) Russian stray dogs and (very bad) Russian hot dogs, can we please see the judges' final marks?
Yes. Yes, we can.
(Dramatic pause for television reaction shot of the dogs.)
Here are my style-points scoring totals for the Sochi Olympics in various sporting and other categories over the past three weeks:
As it turned out, the U.S. Olympic Committee was smart to hold its "wrap-up" session with the media on Saturday, when Americans still led the medal count. By Sunday night, they didn't. A strong finishing kick by Russia gave the home team an edge in total medals won (33) over the USA (28). That's significantly down from the 37 medals won by the United States in Vancouver four years ago, despite the addition of events. Russia also won more gold medals (13) than the USA (9).
Judges' Score: We have some work to do before 2018, citizens. To start with, can we get rid of those ugly sweaters worn by the USA during the ceremonies?
FIGURE SKATING COMPETITORS
Ack. Except for the ice dancing duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who dazzled in a clutch gold medal performance, our wonderful triple-jump nation that once produced such dynamic skaters as Brian Boitano and Kristi Yamaguchi was left off the podium. San Jose teenager Polina Edmunds was a bright hope in her first Olympic appearance. Problem is, she can't carry the entire USA skating future in her arms, no matter how long those arms are. And they're pretty long. But I must say, the fresh-faced and seemingly well-grounded Edmunds made these Olympics more fun for this old and cynical scribe.
Judges' Score: Assemble a troubleshooting committee with the best figure-skating minds in America and come up with a master plan to lift the sport, one Lutz and axel at a time.
FIGURE SKATING JUDGES
Please. Don't get me started. I suppose the inevitable controversies are all part of the sport's appeal. But this sport must come up with a scoring system that's easier for average fans to understand. And the internal conflicts of interest are still maddening.
Judges' Score: Just throw out the entire questionable system and have Judge Judy decide the winners and losers.
I was tough on him early in the games after he made too many excuses for his medal-less downhill performance. I still think he deserved that criticism. His argument that course conditions foiled him didn't hold up because others skied the same conditions better. But it was nice to see him rally and win a bronze medal in the super-G. He is one of the USA's best ever, and despite his outward ennui, really does care about competing and winning. He's human. I'm sorry that NBC decided that it needed to induce weeping in order to drive home that point.
Judges' Score: Miller should be permitted to visit every NBC talk show, plus the "Nightly News" and force every host to tell stories about his or her dead relatives and pets.
The Sharks forward, who was almost left off the Canadian Olympic hockey team, showed what a big mistake that would have been by playing on the most impressive forward line of the tournament, with Jonathan Toews and Jeff Carter. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic also had a fine tournament to help Canada win a gold medal in the nation's premier sport. Marleau had not even been invited to the 47-person "orientation camp" held for Team Canada last summer and was a last-minute selection to the team. After the medal ceremony, he received what amounted to an apology from Canada general manager Steve Yzerman, who praised Marleau profusely and said: "Looking back, the obvious question is why we didn't have him at the camp."
Judges' Score: If Marleau and Vlasic can carry the Sochi mojo into the Sharks' playoff games this spring, maybe a gold medal won't be the only hockey reward they receive this year.
All right, you're the best. OK? Point made. In the five Olympics contested with NHL players, Canada has won three gold medals, including the last two. And that's not even including the women's team, which is still mopping up the floor that's flooded with USA torment.
Judges' Score: Go pour some maple syrup over those medals. And remember, our country is still better than yours in ice dancing.
FREESTYLE SNOWBOARDERS & SKIERS
They continue to do the USA proud. On the first day of the Games, it was my pleasure to encounter American hero Sage Kotsenburg, winner of the slopestyle snowboard event and cool fellow extraordinaire. He would lead the charge of X Games types who have kept the USA medal totals high even as we falter in more traditional Olympic sports such as speedskating and luge.
Judges' Score: 8.9, 8.8, 8.8, 9.2, 9.4. (That's not for artistic merit. That's the number of times Kotsenburg used the word "dude" in each successive interview.)
Blaming your slow times and failure to win a medal on your ... new uniforms?
Judges' Score: Simple solution. You guys should start competing in the nude. I'd love to see Vladimir Putin's expression.
FEMALE SKI JUMPERS
My most inspirational moment at these games. It was a long bus ride up to the venue -- which was awesome -- but so worth the trouble. For years, a group of women fought to have a female version of this event included at the Games. To see their wish come true and come off so awesomely was a joy.
Judges' Score: I boldly predict that at future Olympics, women may jump farther than men, given the physics involved. Smaller and lighter bodies should be able to travel farther while riding the wind, correct? (My high school physics teacher is probably cringing somewhere, because I'm pulling that theory totally out of my Lutz.)
SOCHI 2014 VOLUNTEERS
Staffing the venues and transportation network, almost all of them were under 25 years old, and they maintained their smiles and cheerful attitudes throughout the games. Russian young people -- or at least the ones who gave of their time to work here -- are the same as young people everywhere. They are curious, ambitious and fun-loving. They were my second favorite performers here, just behind the security folk who kept us all safe. But the security people were paid. The young woman who stood in the rain at 3 a.m. to make certain my bus would stop and take me back to my hotel was not paid.
Judges' Score: Every volunteer, before departing Sochi, should receive a free puppy. Goodness knows, there are plenty around. Alas, I'm heading home without one. And am eagerly anticipating my first real hot dog in a long while. Dasvidaniya, dudes.