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Olympic round-up (week 1)

February 17, 2014

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.

Atta girl

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.

Atta boy

  • 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 a 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!

Atta team

  • 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?

Surprised

  • 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.

Sad face 😦

  • 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! 🙂

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    February 20, 2014 1:35 am

    The match between Canada and Finland was great. And clean, too: I think they only took 2 minutes of penalties each.

    Interesting to see what the match against Sweden will be like. I have to say I haven’t watched Sweden that closely this time around, but when both teams are at the top of their game their match-ups are instant classics. Traditionally both teams are well-coached to play strictly by system to control the game and like to hold the puck (unlike North American teams which are traditionally more opportunistic) so it gets really contentious and you get to marvel the strategy and tactics clashing against each other. It sort of becomes a physical game of chess.

    • February 20, 2014 7:43 am

      Indeed, it really was a good game!… Sweden is a mystery again, just as they were during the WHC last year. We never got to see any of their games, so it feels like we don’t know who we’re dealing with.

      But, classic rivalry coming up –> CAN-USA and FIN-SWE – who could ask for more (except maybe the Russian fans who wanted their team in the mix)?

      • anonymous permalink
        February 22, 2014 7:41 pm

        Damn you, Team Finland! If they’d simply bothered to play yesterday like today – or even just bothered to play in general – they’d be wearing at least silver tomorrow and had a fairly good shot at gold, but no.

        Sweden wasn’t very good, Finnish players just couldn’t be bothered. Sweden didn’t really win, Finland just decided to lose. Hell, the two tackles they took were effective, but, again, they just didn’t want to win. Playing superpassive defense like they were short-handed doesn’t win any games.

        Sweden’s so lucky, though, that they’ll might just half-ass themselves to a gold medal tomorrow.

      • February 24, 2014 6:28 am

        Anonymous, what’s your take now? BTW, I was also a bit amazed about Finland’s performance – they were so flat against Sweden. But seeing them steamroll over the US was priceless – it was a great game! And Canada winning gold, well, I am biased – I am very happy!

      • anonymous permalink
        February 24, 2014 11:05 am

        My take hasn’t really changed. I think Sweden was fairly crap in the gold-medal game as well. Team USA obviously wasn’t as interested in bronze as they were in gold, but I still think Finland now showed that they could play well if they wanted to. It’s just so flicking sad that they didn’t bother to show up in the semifinals. I could have sworn they were sitting in cubicles most of that game. It was bureaucrat hockey.

        It would’ve been a great final. Well, better than this one, anyway. It would have made a more even matchup in the bronze medal game too. This wasn’t worthy of Olympics. I’m actually kind of surprised how few teams played well. Only Canada was consistently good. I would have liked to see that challenged. Win by default isn’t much of a win. This was sort of that. Not really, but kind of.

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