The Den Mother’s Olympic Update: Part 9
The second half of the winter Olympics is the time when team sports—hockey and curling—begin to move from tournament play to the medal rounds. Some sports, like biathlon and downhill skiing, award medals after one race. Others, like speed skating, have qualification races before the medal race. Bobsled and figure skating involve multiple events over a day or two contributing to the overall results. But in hockey and curling, play has gone on for over a week with medals just now being awarded.
The first such medal, the women’s hockey bronze medal, was won earlier today by the United States in their 4-0 win vs. Finland. Canada, who beat the U.S. in the gold medal game four years ago, won the gold over Sweden, who knocked this year’s U.S. team out of gold medal contention. The men’s hockey games started several days after the women’s, so their medal games won’t happen until Saturday. At the moment, the only men’s teams that remain undefeated are Finland and Slovakia.
Meanwhile, in the world of curling, Wednesday’s semifinal games will pit Finland against Great Britain and Canada against the U.S., with the results determining the medal matchups Friday. Different countries are contending on the women’s side, with Switzerland and Sweden leading the standings followed closely by Norway. The Americans are out of it, having won just two of nine games. The semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, with the medal games on Thursday.
Law & Order: ABC
That’s Austria’s Biathlon Coach Walter Mayer, who was arrested in Austria after fleeing Italy by car following a drug raid on the living quarters of the Austrian team. Now it appears that two of the athletes are running scared as well. Wolfgang Perner and Wolfgang Rottman have returned home, allegedly to escape the harsh penalties that drug offenses carry in Italy.
The story began to unfold with the news of the Saturday raid, which was protested in the strongest terms by the Austrian Olympic Committee. As it turns out, the raid turned up syringes, a variety of drugs, and “devices for blood testing and blood transfusions “.
This is by far the most serious controversy of these Games, and each new piece of information makes it worse. The latest is that Mayer has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for apparent suicidal ideation.
The Den Mother’s Day 9 Viewing
Hockey and figure skating. That’s what I watched yesterday. I started with the U.S. men’s hockey team falling to Sweden 2-1. The American’s frankly didn’t deserve to win. Their defense and goaltending were good, but they couldn’t capitalize in two different 5-on-3 power play situations. Mike Modano scored the only U.S. goal to tie the game in the first period, but that was all. After that game, I watched the end of Finland beating Canada 2-0.
After an evening out to hear my son play guitar at a church coffee house, I checked out the last group of ice dancing couples in the original dance segment. Original dance allowed the couples to design their own program, but it must be skated to the selected theme, which last night was a Latin style. Of the six couples I watched, half of them fell, and that is no exaggeration. The most spectacular tumble was by Canada’s Marie-France Dubreuil, who came down hard on her right hip at the end of their program and had to be helped from the ice. Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto skated very well and, with a little help from all the falls, moved from sixth to second place with the free dance still to come. I also have to mention that the costumes last night were horrific, as shown in this picture of Italy’s Barbara Fusar-Poli.
See all of Sunday’s results at the official Torino web site.
What to Watch on Day 10
On the prime time schedule tonight is the ice dancing free skate, which is the least restrictive of the three ice dancing segments. In this dance, after which the medals will be awarded, the couples can skate to any kind of music they want and are bound only by the basic rules of ice dancing that regulate the kinds of moves they can do. I know very little about the way ice dancing is scored, but my understanding is that the judges look for certain technical elements just as they do in individual and pairs figure skating competitions.
Men’s giant slalom gives Bode Miller his penultimate opportunity to redeem himself in what has been a disappointing showing for him. His teammate Daron Rahlves has fared no better, but we don’t see Rahlves on television commercials every 15 minutes. The only men’s alpine event left after this one is the slalom. Also tonight, we’ll see the women’s super-G.
Nordic skiing continues with the team ski jumping. This is an event involving individual jumps by each of four members of a team, with the scores combined to determine the winning team. In another kind of ski jumping, the men’s aerials round out the television coverage. Aerials is the freestyle skiing event in which competitors make acrobatic jumps and get scored on difficulty and style.
Other Olympic News
Germany won the two-man bobsled gold medal Sunday ahead of Canada and Switzerland. The winning team had set a track record in their first run and also had the fastest time in the third run. Their total margin of victory was a mere 0.21 seconds.
The hometown crowd got another thrill in cross country skiing as Italy took gold in the men’s 4 x 10km relay. Germany and Sweden took silver and bronze.
In the women’s 1000m speed skating final, Dutchwoman Marianne Timmer took gold ahead of Canada and Germany. Of note in this race is the fact that all three medalists skated a slow pace early in the race but turned on the heat to finish on top. Jennifer Rodriguez was the best American finisher, coming in tenth.
Olympic Boyfriend Watch
Chad Hedrick is taking some heat for some poor-sport remarks after Saturday’s 1000m race won by Shani Davis. It’s no secret that Hedrick and Davis don’t like each other. But many feel Hedrick crossed the line when he said after the race, in response to a question about whether he was happy for Davis, only that he was happy for silver medalist Joey Cheek. Hedrick was being ripped for his remarks by Dale Arnold of Boston’s WEEI sports radio earlier today. Tomorrow night, he and Davis will face off again in the 1500m event tomorrow.