The Den Mother’s Olympic Update: Part 11
I have absolutely no internal discipline.
Despite my best intentions yesterday, I broke down at around 4:30pm and looked up the speed skating results online. It was the third time that I had gone to NBC’s Olympic web site, but the site was slow coming up the first two times, which I took as a sign from God that I would regret knowing in advance. Then I realized that God doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about my Olympic viewing habits and finding out who won wouldn’t keep me from watching the coverage later on.
Those #&*!@@% Skating Costumes
Sasha, we expected better of you. You arrived in Torino as the favorite of American figure skating fans, the heir to the great Olympic legacy of Albright and Heiss, Fleming and Hamill, Yamaguchi and Lipinski and Hughes. We were prepared to embrace you as you showed that the choke rep for which you have become infamous was a thing of the past.
But then, you came out wearing that… that THING.
Current U.S. women’s figure skating champion Sasha Cohen was the last skater in last night’s women’s short program, a two minute 40 second event during which the skater must execute certain pre-determined elements. She aced it. It would have been the perfect moment if she hadn’t been wearing this.
I’m not the only person who thinks figure skating costumes have gone around the bend.
The Den Mother’s Day 11 Viewing
The men’s 1500m speed skating final did not disappoint, if you’re Italian. Enrico Fabris, whose name was pronounced by NBC’s commentators about seven different ways (all of them wrong, no doubt) won his third medal of the Games and his second gold. His countrymen are delirious; before last week, Italy had never won a medal of any color in speed skating. Fabris also managed to throw a wet blanket on what was billed as a U.S. showdown among Olympic champs: 1000m winner Shani Davis, 5000m winner Chad Hedrick, 500m winner Joey Cheek, and the defending 1500m Olympic champion Derek Parra. Davis and Hedrick took silver and bronze respectively.
Germany’s Sandra Kiriasis and Anja Schneiderheinze won gold in the two-woman bobsleigh competition, topping Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming by nearly three-quarters of a second. Rohbock and Fleming ran third in three of four runs but finished in the #2 spot due to the inconsistency of other teams. Italy took the bronze. Vonetta (the bobsledda) Flowers‘ finished sixth.
Over in figure skating land, the U.S. women (actually, two of them are teenage girls) did quite well in grabbing the first, fifth, and seventh spots going into tomorrow night’s long program. Sasha Cohen sits a mere .03 points ahead of Russia’s Irina Slutskaya, who got better scores than I thought she deserved. Japanese women hold third and fourth place, though there’s quite a gap between them. The backstory here is that Slutskaya finished second to Sarah Hughes at the 2002 Olympics and believed she deserved the gold. You can bet she doesn’t want to turn into Russia’s version of Michelle Kwan.
See all of Tuesday’s results at the official Torino web site.
What to Watch on Day 12
It’s a North American clash on the curling sheet, with the U.S. facing Canada in the men’s semifinals. That’s on CNBC, as almost all the curling has been, so I will be availing myself of Mom and Dad’s cable once again.
The prime time lineup includes the women’s slalom and freestyle aerials competitions. Also on the snow is men’s parallel giant slalom snowboarding, yet another event I have never seen.
Rounding things out is the women’s 3000m long track speed skating relay and mens’ 500m short track.
Other Olympic News
Germany, Russia, and France made it to the podium in yesterday’s men’s 4 x 7.5km biathlon relay. The results appear to show a tie for third place between France and Sweden, but France got it with a photo finish.
The gold medal in men’s nordic combined went to Austria’s Felix Gottwald after the cross country sprint segment vaulted him past several other athletes. Gottwald was in 12th place after the jumping segment. The only one of the top jumpers who held on for a medal was Georg Hettich of Germany.
In today’s events that have already been televised, the 2006 U.S. men’s hockey team may be loaded with professional talent, but they couldn’t do what their younger and poorer counterparts did 26 years ago in Lake Placid. The Americans fell to Finland 4-3 in this afternoon’s quarterfinal game. Mike Knuble, Mathieu Schneider, and Brian Gionta scored for the U.S., while Olli Jokinen figured heavily in the Finns’ success with two goals and an assist. Perhaps team U.S.A. might have done better if they hadn’t racked up 20 penalty minutes in the last two periods. In other quarterfinal action so far today, Sweden trounced Switzerland 6-2. Friday’s semi-final games will pit Finland against the winner of today’s Russia vs. Canada game and Sweden against the victor of Slovakia vs. the Czech Republic.
Chad’s Mouth Watch
The honeymoon is over. I had to laugh listening to Chad and Shani making nice with each other after the race. Couldn’t you just picture someone (coach? teammate?) saying to these two guys, “STOP IT NOW!” and threatening with bodily harm the next one to fan the flames? It worked for awhile, until Davis let it rip in the formal post-race press conference.
“I’m just throwing it out there,” Davis said at the crescendo of the tense 28-minute session. “It would have been nice if after I won the 1,000-meter race, [Hedrick] could have been a good teammate and shook my hand, just like I shook his hand—and HUGGED him—after he won the 5,000 meters.”
Hedrick was pissed, that much was apparent. As Davis stood up and left the room, muttering about “typical Chad” as he left, Hedrick just smiled, shook his head, and started to rise from his chair. After several seconds of what looked like a mental argument with himself, he sat back down. That should have been where he siezed the opportunity to be the better man. Shani is entitled to express his opinion, Hedrick could have said before announcing that he was finished talking about it and thanking the assembled media for their time. But in the world of international competition between people who can’t stand each other, tit-for-tat is evidently the order of the day.
“I felt betrayed in a way,” Hedrick said. “Not only did Shani not participate in it, he didn’t even discuss it with me.”
I don’t blame him for feeling betrayed. I don’t blame him for being mad at Davis for standing up the team. I blame him for not letting it go. Why try to win a no-win situation? We all know these two aren’t going to be the best men in each other’s weddings. We all know their earlier remarks were all about image. What they need to know is that we’re tired of hearing about it.