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Olympic round-up II

February 24, 2014

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! 🙂

7 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    February 24, 2014 1:33 pm

    24 medals in just two disciplines: long track (23) and short track (1) speed skating

    Can’t help thinking that there are way too many speed skating sports.. That result alone means the minimum of 9 separate speed skating events. More likely at least 8 long track events and 8 more for short track. That’s a lot!

    who calls penalties in overtime??

    Penalties should always be called, no matter what.

    Please keep it free!

    I think the separate tax for funding YLE pretty much ensures that. (Unless the broadcast rights become too expensive.)

    • February 24, 2014 2:31 pm

      The Netherlands high tally can be attributed to the fact that they swept the podium in four events – three on men’s side and one on the women’s side. There are not that many events in long track, there were 36 medals up for grabs in total: women (500, 1000, 1500, 3000, 5000 and men (500, 1000, 1500, 5000, 10000) and the team pursuit for both. Short track is a whole ‘nother can of worms. As a former speed skater, I can say that short track is pretty exciting and is a crowd draw.

      My question about penalties in OT was meant to be rhetorical. 😉

      After hearing that the Olympics moved to pay TV in Sweden and Norway I was disgusted with the thought that it could happen here.

      • anonymous permalink
        February 24, 2014 4:29 pm

        Seriously? Do you really need both 1000 and 1500 meter events?
        And then all that duplicated on the short track? That’s just weird.

      • February 25, 2014 6:42 am

        Well, if you think about it, speed skating is kinda like the slate of running events in the summer games – and there’s an awful lot of those. The differences between short track and long track are huge – you can’t just switch from one discipline to the other easily – believe me, I know!

      • anonymous permalink
        February 25, 2014 12:16 pm

        Well, yes, I get it is like all the running events in athletics, but I bet you’d get more than a few raised eyebrows if they added another batch of them using a shorter or a longer track. It’s a lot of events of essentially the same. If you dropped off two distances of the five, say 500 and 1500 meters, then I’d have no problem with it. Hell, you could drop different ones for different tracks. You have to admit, six events for men and women each, on both short and long track is a lot of skating. 24 events in total.

  2. February 25, 2014 12:59 pm

    Well, speed skating is one of the “traditional” winter Olympic events – kind of like wrestling in the summer games, removing any of them is not an option. 😉 The 500 and the 1000 are the sprint events, once you get up to 1500m and longer the nature and the strategy of the skating changes. It is very rare that you’ll find a good all-rounder who can cover all speed skating distances in competition.

    And adding running events to the summer games? I’d like to see cross-country running added an event.

    • anonymous permalink
      February 25, 2014 8:11 pm

      Traditional events aren’t holy, they’ve dropped those before. Hell, cross country running used to be an Olympic event. But it would be damn ridiculous to add more than two or maybe three distances of that.

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