The 2014 Winter Olympics have come and gone and the results beg one question: Doesn’t anyone in Sweden go sledding?
Sweden won 15 medals, 11 of them in cross-country skiing. The men’s hockey and both curling teams won medals but not one Swede even came close in bobsled, luge or skeleton. For a country that has winter for seven months out of the year, isn’t there at least one kid who thinks sledding is fun? Everyone can’t be out there skiing from lodge to lodge hunting moose. What, no one in Kiruna owns a toboggan? There aren’t any Flexible Flyers in Umea? People in Stockholm boycotting snow saucers?
When even Jamaica has a bobsled team, you would think there are at least a few Swedes willing to hurl themselves around an ice track at breakneck speed. Come on, where’s that Swedish sense of adventure?

Say it ain’t so
Swedes also failed to register a medal in biathlon, a sport that really does derive from skiing cross country hunting moose. Or, at least that’s the story I am spreading. This year, the Germans, Russians, Slovenians, French and those pesky Norwegians all won biathlon medals while Sweden won bupkiss. For those scratching their heads, biathlon is a mix of cross-country skiing and shooting. Competitors ski a set distance of 2-, 3- and 5-kilometers, then have to shoot at five targets. In 2010, Sweden won a gold. This time around, nothing. There has to be a solution.
Sweden also failed to garner a medal in any downhill ski event, snowboarding or ski jumping. The latter is understandable as it is a bit unnerving to hurtle down an ice track only to enter into flight before hitting the ground in a controlled crash. Still. Sweden is the land of ice and snow.
Then are the men’s and women’s hockey teams and the men’s and women’s curling teams.
Sigh. So close and yet so far, at least for three of them. The women’s hockey team was actually a pleasant surprise as it reached the medal round for the first time since 2002. Although the women lost to Switzerland, they hopefully provided a boost to the sport.

As for the men, let’s see … three of the team’s top four centers were either hurt before or during the opening games. Henrik Sedin didn’t mark the trip. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen were both hurt in Sweden’s win over the Czech Republic. That left Niklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals as the top center on the team and he was fourth on the depth chart. Backstrom did an excellent job as Sweden won five straight games. On the day of the final, however, the International Olympic Committee suspended Backstrom when he tested positive for a banned substance—a common allergy medication the team doctor prescribed. The upshot was Sweden had no real centers and lost the final in a somewhat listless performance against Canada.

Finally, there are the curling teams. The men’s team came in as the defending world champs and breezed through the early rounds only to lose to Great Britain. In the bronze medal game, Sweden needed China to make two crucial mistakes to claim third place. Niklas Edin said he was ecstatic to win the bronze. Typical Swede. Edin was the youngest skip in the men’s tournament and his inexperience—and nerve—showed throughout the Games. Still, he won third place, which is more than any Swedish alpine skier could muster, so that’s something.
As for the women, they ran into the buzzsaw that was Canada. The Canadians, led by skip Jennifer Jones, powered past the Swedes, the two-time defending Olympic champions, in the last two ends as Maria Prytz and company failed to capitalize on several golden chances. Although the silver medal was nice, it was a disappointment for another Swedish team that expected to win gold.
Now, eyes turn toward South Korea and the 2018 Winter Games. The question is, how can Sweden improve in areas where a winter sports nation should excel? Here are the top ten ideas:

10. Use the famed Swedish bikini team to lure young American snowboarders to Sweden. It worked for the Russians, who got American Vic Wild to compete for them.
9. Legalize marijuana. Every extreme skier on the planet will flock to Sweden the way they have to Colorado.
8. Start icing down Swedish roads, just to encourage sledding.
7. Start doing bong hits. How else can you win an event called the “Half-Pipe?”
6. At the next Games, force every snowboarder and freestyle skier to clean his or her own room. Rotten kids.
5. When the IOC decides to test for drugs, start with the snowboarders and freestyle skiers. Like they’re not smoking something Mexican between races. Right.
4. To make cross country events more compelling, at each “watering station” give the skiers beer.
3. Make figure skating an interactive sport, allowing fans to “tweet” the skaters’ next moves.
2. Combine biathlon and ski jump. The IOC could bill it as skiing meets skeet.
And the No. 1 way to improve Sweden’s chances at the 2018 Winter Olympics:
Full contact curling. Need we say any more?