Home > olympics, sports > The Den Mother’s Olympic Update: Part 7

The Den Mother’s Olympic Update: Part 7

Saturday, February 18, 2006, 06:26 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Torino 2006What’s this? An update less than 48 hours after the events took place? WHO IS THIS MYSTERY BLOGGER AND WHAT HAS SHE DONE WITH THE DEN MOTHER?

It is I, dear readers, taking advantage of the impending weekend (read: no early rising for work) to post my latest recap before I hit the hay. On Friday night, which it still feels like even though it’s technically now Saturday, I did something I should have started doing a week ago: taking notes while I watch the Olympic coverage. There was lots worth noting, to put it mildly.

(I plan to add pictures and links to this post later, so please check back again.)

The Mighty Have Fallen

That’s the phrase that keeps coming up between my mother and me every day as we ponder the lost opportunity du jour by members of the much-touted “best U.S. Olympic team ever”. Time and time again, Americans who were expected to do great things in Torino haven’t. Not to take anything away from those who have achieved, and there have been lots of them, or even from those who haven’t won but can be proud of their effort. It’s just that so many of the misses have been so conspicuous. Bode Miller, with a mouth the size of his native New Hampshire and an ego to match, has yet to get an alpine skiing medal. Johnny Weir, full of righteous indignation for his so-called detractors, couldn’t get it done in figure skating. Cult favorite Apolo Anton Ohno knocked himself out of the 1500m short track competition with his greed to be first across the finish line when second would have advanced him just as well. The men’s speed skating team failed in the pursuit event, due at least partially to the apparent selfishness of one skater. Add all the other stories of the ones who, either because of lousy luck or simply not being good enough, didn’t achieve what was expected of them—the luger and the downhiller who suffered terrifying crashes, the hockey team that lost their dominance at the worst possible time—and you’re left with a sense that it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Today, we witnessed a self-inflicted wound, and it was harder to watch than all the others combined. Lindsey Jacobellis, the young snowboarder for whom gold was waiting patiently, lost her head in the snowboard cross and wiped out within sight of the finish line after a moment of foolish (and premature) exuberance. Jacobellis used the last big jump of the course to perform what’s known as a method air, basically the mid-air snowboarding equivalent of a flirtatious wiggle of the backside, and it resulted in a fall that allowed another boarder to win.

Some people live their whole lives without ever learning the value of a little humility. Jacobellis learned it the hard way, and it’s a lesson she’ll never forget.

The Den Mother’s Day 7 Viewing

The women’s snowboard cross was a blast to watch, right up until the last five seconds. I paid much closer attention last night than I did Thursday, and my reward was seeing a lot in the course that I hadn’t noticed before. Those ripples at the beginning of the course are wild, separating the women from the girls early on. I almost felt bad for the boarders who didn’t get a strong start because I just knew their only chance to pull ahead would be someone else’s unlikely crash and burn. That’s why I have to give lots of credit to Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden, who kept doing what she was supposed to do and was rewarded by being in exactly the right spot when the door opened for her to win.

I had hoped to see a significant portion of the men’s skeleton, but NBC didn’t show all that much. What they did show was slider after slider, each faster than the last, setting a new track record with every run. That included Canadian silver medalist Jeff Pain, who bounced off the sides of the track in the last couple turns and still came in with the best time to that point. Speaking of pain, do you suppose any of those guys has ever considered that the protective helmets they wear won’t keep their necks from breaking in if they slam head-first into the wall? The only way you’d get me down that run is comatose.

The women’s alpine combined, which was supposed to be over by now, will finish up today with the downhill segment that was postponed from Thursday due to high wind and fresh snow. On Friday night, we got to see some of both slalom segments. The slalom is my favorite alpine event, right up there with the downhill. (It’s the middle stuff, the giant slalom and super-G, that do less for me.) So to summarize Friday’s slaloms: Austrians great, Americans sloppy, especially in the second run. Julia Mancuso was all over the course and didn’t seem to have any control of her turns. Maybe she was worried about losing that inexplicable tiara she was wearing over her head band, though it wasn’t any more ridiculous than Resi Stiegler‘s big beaded necklace, which didn’t help either. In contrast, the Austrians looked strong and disciplined, which is why they’re consistently considered among the best in the world. I was also impressed with the second half of Croatian Janica Kostelic‘s second run; it was a very clean textbook example of sound slalom skiing. Imagine what she could have done if she weren’t sick. Not so fortunate was the battered and bruised Lindsay Kildow, who fell, evidently unable to handle the gruelling event. Now she’s going to rest and prepare for her other events. Quick, someone get that woman into the hot tub.

The fourth event featured Friday evening was ice dancing’s compulsory dance, the first of three events. Of the three, compulsory dance is the most restrictive, and it can get boring if you aren’t paying attention. All couples skate the same dance to the same music, so in addition to hearing the music in your head for hours afterward, you can look at the ice surface after a few couples and see a fairly well-defined track where each couple has essentially retraced the blade marks left by the previous skaters. What distinguishes one couple from the others in the compulsory dance is how well they execute. There is also a clear distinction between the Russian ice dance teams and everyone else: the Russian women are all bleached blondes, wear too much makeup, and choose white costumes.

See all of Friday’s results at the official Torino web site.

What to Watch on Day 8

Since the weekend means camping out in front of the Den Parents’ digital cable, the question is not “What’s on TV?” but rather “What isn’t?&quot. If I get up early enough, I can start the day with—you guessed it—curling beginning at 8:00am (eastern). The U.S men, who are on a roll, play Germany live on USA Network. I may flip back and forth between that and CNBC, which is somehow showing four men’s hockey games live. That should be interesting. CNBC returns at 3:00pm with more hockey, and MSNBC picks up women’s curling featuring the U.S. against Italy at 5:00.

Daytime programming on the broadcast network begins at 11:00 and includes women’s cross-country 4 x 5km relay, men’s and women’s biathlon pursuit, women’s 1500m short track semifinals, and U.S. vs. Slovakia in men’s hockey. The evening telecast features the previously postponed downhill segment of the women’s alpine combined and the men’s super-G, so there’s plenty of speed from the ski slopes. The long track speed skaters will compete in the 1000m race (gold #2 for The Boyfriend?) while the same distance will be contested on the short track. I’ll also get to see more ski jumping, this time the large hill, and my father finally sees one of his very favorite Olympic events, bobsledding (or as it’s officially called, bobsleigh).

With all that ahead of me, I’d better get some sleep. I’ll post some news throughout the day.

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Categories: olympics, sports
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