Finland won one gold medal at the recent winter Olympics games in Sochi. It was a really great moment when Iivo Niskanen and Sami Jauhojärvi nailed down the gold in the men’s cross-country team sprint. I watched that race and the TV commentators were yelling their fool heads off, so I couldn’t help getting caught up in the moment.
Last week I had to go to the post office and noticed that a stamp featuring Niskanen and Jauhojärvi had already been printed and was available for sale.
“Wow, that was fast,” I thought. So, I bought my little piece of history and smiled yet again with pride that those guys won that medal. These Olympics were undoubtedly Jauhojärvi’s last and Niskanen, being only 22 years old – and a junior world champion, has many years ahead of him. This team combination was a winner! Congratulations Sami and Iivo!
It’s Friday and thousands of people across Finland will crack open a couple of beer tonight to wind down after a busy week at work.
I thought about it a few weeks ago and realized that, hey – here’s something else that is different than where I come from:
You have to use a bottle opener to open a bottle of beer.
Twist tops are not found on bottled beer produced in Finland (or in nearby Estonia, where we also get beer from). I suppose you can buy imported beer with twist tops, but I haven’t really paid attention.
You can also buy pop (= soda, limsa, lemonade) and carbonated water in glass bottles with caps. So, don’t throw away your bottle opener, you’ll need it!
I remember going home to Canada to visit way back in 2000 – nearly two years since the last time I had been home, and my uncle handed me a beer. My automatic reaction back then was to start rummaging through the drawers in the kitchen to look for a bottle opener, and I did!… He promptly took the bottle from me and twisted the cap off… Doh!
How quickly we can forget! Ha ha!
Cheers! Have a great weekend folks!
The Olympic hangover has begun! It felt like we just got started and it’s already over? <Sigh> And now we have to wait until 2018 to be entertained again on the winter Olympic front. Well, I was pleased as punch when Canada scored gold medals in curling and hockey and equally pleased that Finland won bronze in men’s hockey! But here’s the rest of my round-up for the second half of the games.
One of those sports that is still a mystery to Finns: curling – and probably short track speed skating (At least one of my friends said she had never heard of it until she saw it on TV at our place last week.)
Atta girl: Jorien Ter Mors (NED) for setting an Olympic record in the women’s 1500m in speed skating. I wonder if she was as surprised as the rest of us. I can say that the commentators were beside themselves when the time came up. She was one of very few (if not the only one) who participated in more than one event in the Olympics. She also represented the Netherlands in short track speed skating.
Atta girl II: Tina Maze (SLO) for scoring double gold in the alpine events – good for her! In the lead-up to the games she had had a disastrous World Cup showing, quickly erased however, by skiing like a boss!
Atta girl III: Marit Björgen (NOR) for her winning performances on the cross-country ski trails. Norway may not have registered in the women’s relay, but they sure did on an indivdual level.
Atta boy: Teemu Selänne, gotta love him! After the bronze medal game he announced he would be retiring from national team play after 26 seasons. Additional mention here should also go to Sami Salo and Kimmo Timonen (because the media were completely focused on Selänne), who also announced their retirement from the national program. I don’t need to rehash here what these fellas have done for the game, so see more about Selänne, Timonen and Salo.
Atta boy II: Goalie Kristers Gudlevskis (LAT, age 21) for pretty much standing on his head during the quarter-final game against Canada. The shots on goal were 57-16 and the outcome enough for Canada to eke (eek) out the win: 2-1
Atta boy III: Ole Einar Björdalen (NOR) for scoring his 13th Olympic medal in the mixed team biathlon event, and gold to boot!
Atta boy IV: Tuukka Rask (FIN) for being a solid pillar of defence in net for the Finnish hockey team. He is one of the reasons Finland handily defeated the Russians to advance to the semi-finals and secure the bronze medal.
Atta teams: Team Latvia (men’s hockey) for knocking off the Swiss 3-1 to make the play-off round! Also worthy of mention is Team Slovenia for shutting down Austria, the goalie was basically standing on his head and definitely earned the shut-out!
Atta teams II: The Canadian men’s and women’s curling teams for showing why Canada is consistently one of the best curling countries in the world.
Atta teams III: Canada won gold in men’s and women’s hockey. It’s still our game!
Team Great Britain in men’s curling: Not only did they come from behind in the 10th end with the last rock against Sweden to make it to the gold medal game, they did it two games in a row (winning the tie-breaker against Norway)! Great shooting!
Awesome: Finland winning its first gold medal of the games in the men’s cross-country team sprint, freaking brilliant skiing by Sami Jauhojärvi in the sprint to the finish line! The shocking fall by the German skier with just 200m left added a ton of drama to the finish. And if you look at the replays, Jauhojärvi had clearly taken his line before the German skier. A protest was filed by Team Germany, but was thrown out.
Puzzling I: The women’s gold medal game in hockey. The officiating was very questionable in overtime!
Puzzling II: In reading some stories about the Canadian curling teams on the CBC web site, one contributor expressed with concern that the American curling program needed a huge infusion of resources to help keep the sport alive globally. I thought that was an ignorant comment given that Canada is the world’s metre-stick to measure against when it comes to curling. In addition several European teams have upped their game and shown that they too, can compete. The game is alive and well in Europe, so there is no life support needed for curling!
Puzzling III: The judging in figure skating. It has become so questionable that while I like to watch, I don’t go out of my way anymore. I can’t be sure the judges are really being fair…
Still learning: Team Russia in men’s hockey – maybe they should start playing as a team instead of individuals. It got the best of them again. (Remember the World Hockey Championships in Stockholm in 2013?)
Still learning II: The previous comment should also apply to the US men’s team, who seemed to lose their team spirit while being steamrolled by the Finns in the bronze medal game.
Horrid: Arm chair athletes and sports critics who bash athletes for their performances during the Olympics. In my mind the word “failure” should never apply to an athlete representing their country at the Olympics. They’re the best in their sport in their respective countries… for some that is just not enough. Athletes are human and they too make mistakes.
Who’s crazier? The skeleton crew or the snowcross crew? (I might add here, that I like the comradery among the freestyle crew, they all seem to be like a big family.)
The Dominator award goes to: The Dutch speed skating team for taking 24 medals in just two disciplines: long track (23) and short track (1) speed skating. Incredible!
Good choice: Who thinks the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation’s (YLE) Niki Juusela was a good commentator for the Olympic hockey tournament? I did! Everyone in the country questioned whether he was up for the task. He was a great choice! You passed Niki! I wasn’t so happy with Kaj Kunnas’ commentary during the women’s gold medal game, he came off as too biased towards the US, at least to me anyways.
The biggest turnaround: By far the Canadian women’s hockey team in the gold medal game against the US. While the officiating was definitely questionable (who calls penalties in overtime??), it’s gold and I will take it.
Scary: The Canada3 men’s-four bobsled team took a bad spill during the heats and flipped their sled just two turns before the finish line. It was scary to watch, but heartening to see all the guys get out of the sled and walk to the finish line. They were a medal threat, but unfortunately the spill put them out of contention.
Hats off: The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation (YLE) showed hundreds of hours of live Olympic coverage over the last two weeks. This is a HUGE hats off to them! Please keep it free!
Baying for blood: The Finnish hockey-loving public after the news broke that Swedish player Nicklas Bäckström had tested positive for a banned substance. Statements were issued by the Swedish team doctor, Bäckström’s team (Washington Capitals) and by the NHL. Evidently the rules for doping in hockey are different for those in other sports and Sweden’s silver medal result will stand.
Happy: The games went off without any threats to security or terrorist attacks.
There’s so much more I could add here, but it would take me hours! I’ll leave it at that. What were your favourite moments at the Olympics?
Pyeongchang is only four years away and it’s on my bucket list: to see the Winter Olympics live – I can’t wait!
Well, if you have been following my blog for a long time, you’ll know I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics. If I had the time and the money, I would just follow the winter Olympic circus around the world every four years.
I’ve offered up my own analysis now and then (like here and here), but there has been so much action in the first week of the Olympics I feel the need to get it off my chest now. Part II will come after the Olympics are over.
There’s so many! Where do I start?
- The Canadian women in snowboard and freestyle skiing events – the late Sarah Burke would be proud.
- Finnish snowboarder Enni Rukajärvi for scoring silver for Finland on day 2 of the games.
- Finnish cross-country skier Aino-Kaisa Saarinen: so close! She came 4th in the women’s 10km.
- Finnish hockey players Karoliina Rantamäki, Emma Terho and probably several others for participating in their fifth Olympic games!
- Biathlete Darya Domracheva (BLR) for storming to gold in two events so far, she has been dominant!
- Hayley Wickenheiser, nuff said.
- Charles Hamelin (CAN) for taking the gold in the men’s 1500m in short track speed skating, it was a great pleasure to watch!
- Canadian Cross-country skiing coach Justin Wadsworth for coming to the aid of Anton Gafarov (RUS) during the semi-finals of the men’s cross-country skiing sprint. Gafarov got caught in pile up and broke his ski. He tried to continue, but his ski was so badly broken he couldn’t ski on it. Wadsworth to the rescue – he gave a spare ski to Gafarov so he could finish the race. The crowd roared when he finished the race and pictures of Wadsworth helping Gafarov went viral.
- Alex Bilodeau (CAN), not only for getting the gold again (he won gold in Vancouver in 2010), but for sharing his win with his brother.
- Ole Einar Björndalen (NOR) for winning a medal in each of the six Olympic games he has participated in, he was golden in the men’s 10km biathlon in the opening days of the Olympics!
- Figure skater Jeremy Abbott (USA), who took a huge tumble during the men’s short program and obviously hurt himself. He composed himself, dusted himself off, stuffed the remaining required elements into his program and finished it. It was enough to qualify him for the free skate. Gutsy.
- Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai who’s participating in his seventh Olympic games and won a silver medal in the big hill competition (120m). Wow, atta boy!
- Cross-country skier Dario Cologna (SUI) and his double gold medal performance so far… Not bad for a guy who was seriously injured and left out of action last fall!
- Team Jennifer Jones (aka Team Canada for women’s curling) – undefeated in the round robin
- Team Brad Jacobs (aka Team Canada for men’s curling) for keeping cool under pressure and making the shots when they needed to do it the most. It’s cool that they’re from the same area of Northern Ontario.
- The Norwegian men’s curling team and their pants – love it!
- Team Netherlands in long track speed skating – they’re dominating the oval!
- Team Germany on the luge track. Can anyone say total domination?
- The Finnish women’s cross-country ski team for winning silver in the 4×5 relay!
- What a game between Canada and Finland yesterday in men’s hockey! Canada won 2-1 in overtime, but I have to say – that surely was one of the best games I have seen those two play against each other in ages. Well done boys!
Not so happy with
- American athletes Bode Miller (alpine skiing), Shaun White (snowboarding) and Shani Davis (speed skating) all went into these games as defending champions in their events. While they put in decent performances, it was not enough for a medal for any of them. (Although Miller won bronze in the Super-G.) Times change, athletes get older and new ones come in to fill their ranks. What irked me was the panning by the press on these three guys, with words like disappointing, failure… I challenge the critics to maintain that kind of form year after year. Bah humbug to the critics!
- ARGH! Alpine skier Yuri Danilochkin (BLR) was injured during the men’s super combined downhill after losing an edge and flying into the nets. I nearly lost it when I saw members of the press taking pictures of him and not trying to help him! What is wrong with people… At least they could go and ask him if he was okay! It looked like they were taking pictures of a wounded animal and keeping a safe distance. Disgusting!
- The Finnish women’s hockey team seems to have a monkey on its back when it comes to winning critical games. Is it that women’s hockey is finally starting to get more competitive and that the top three teams are no longer Canada, the US and Finland? I would say yes, especially after the 4-2 drubbing the Swedes handed to Finland last Saturday. I feel bad for them, but even the ladies themselves said they were the ones to blame for their performance. It’s frustrating to watch, but what can you do?
- The near misses by the members of the Canadian luge team – they finished fourth in three events. So close, but yet so far!
- The challenging alpine courses, they have put the athletes to the test – and me on the edge of my seat.
- The crashes during the men’s cross-country sprint final – I have never seen so many skiers crash in a race that mattered the most!
- I fully expected issues with security and terrorism, so far nothing nasty has materialized.
- What a heart breaker for Yevgeni Plushenko who had to withdraw from the men’s figure skating competition after injuring his back in warm-up. No doubt the home crowd was disappointed.
- Several athletes have been injured during events and it’s scary stuff – here’s to hoping that they recover well!
- Finland’s glory days in ski jumping are long over and it is nothing less than painful to watch the men in action these days.
Have you been watching? What are your highlights?
We still have a week to go! Enjoy it!
I apologize for my recent absence, but I am currently stuck in an Olympic stupor – loving every minute of it all! The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation (YLE) has fantastic internet coverage of dozens of games and events. Hats off to them for this, best-ever coverage of the winter Olympics!
Anyways, I’ll have the usual Olympic “atta girl and atta boy” analysis soon – look for it!
In Finland, we get ‘em while they’re small…