Home > olympics, sports > The Den Mother’s Olympic Recap: Days 13-14

The Den Mother’s Olympic Recap: Days 13-14

Friday, February 26, 2010, 20:50 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Sleep…..I need sleep…….ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz…………..

Huh…What? Oh, sorry about that. Let me just wipe the drool off the corner of my mouth. There, I’m fine now.

We’re in the home stretch, people! Heading into the final three days of the 2010 Winter Olympics, a few trends are developing: First, the United States, which has already broken its own record for medals in a Winter Olympics we didn’t host, appears to be breaking away in the overall medal count, now leading Germany by six. Second, Canada, while falling short of their stated goal to lead in overall medals, is tied with the U.S. and Germany for gold with eight. And third, Vancouver 2010 may very well be remembered as the Olympics in which a few countries broke out in certain events. So without further ado, let’s recap the last two days of competition.

The men’s hockey quarterfinals all book place on Wednesday, with the U.S., Canada, Finland, and Slovakia advancing. Team USA and Finland are playing as I post this (no spoilers), followed by Canada and Slovakia at 6:00 9:30.

German bobsleigh crashCanadian women did well Wednsday, taking four medals, including gold and silver in women’s bobsleigh. The two Canadian teams, as well as the American bronze medal winning team, tamed a run that saw three crashes, including one in which a German brakewoman Romy Logsch was ejected from her sled and hurtled out of control down the track. There were no serious injuries in any of the crashes. The American medalists were Nutmegger Erin Pac and her brakewoman Elana Meyers.

Canada’s other medals went to speed skater Clara Hughes in the women’s 5000m, who nearly five seconds behind Czech winner Martina Sablikova. Germany won the silver medal. Later in the day, Canada won silver in the women’s short track 3000m relay, edging out the United States but falling short of China. The Chinese, for their part, did pretty well Wednesday as well, winning silver and bronze in women’s freestyle aerial skiing, behind Australian Lydia Lassila.

Foggy conditions at Whistler postponed the women’s giant slalom after the first run, but one run was enough to end hopes of another medal for Lindsey Vonn. The battered American, one of 17 skiers who failed to finish, crashed into the fencing at the edge of the course, breaking a finger in the process. The second run was rescheduled for Thursday.

Ah, Thursday. A day packed with seven medal events. When women’s giant slalom resumed, the victor was Austrian Victoria Rebensburg, trailed closely by Slovenian Tina Maze and Austrian Elisabeth Goergl. As an aside, notice that the events determined by the combined times of two runs can be interesting in that the medalists may not have won either run. In this alpine event, for example, only Goergl actually won a run (the first). It’s not an uncommon occurrence, but I thought it warranted mentioning since I’m not sure how many viewers have never noticed it.

Spillane, DemongOver at Nordic skiing, the women’s cross country 5km relay was won by the prodigious Norwegians, ahead of Germany and Finland. Speaking of Germany, American spectators may have noticed that Germany has been on our tail in the medal hunt, but we managed to put a little distance between them and us with gold and silver in men’s individual Nordic combined (large hill ski jump, 10km cross country). Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane will forever have the distinction of winning the first Nordic combined medals for the U.S. since the Winter Olympics began in 1924. That’s not a bad way to be remembered.

Team USA also notched another silver in men’s freestyle aerials with an outstanding performance by Jeret Peterson. “Speedy” narrowly lost the gold to Alexei Grishin of Belarus. Another Chinese, Liu Zjongqing, got the bronze.

Team CanadaThe two big events of the night were the women’s hockey final and the women’s figure skating long program. First, the hockey game. There isn’t much to say except that Team Canada’s goalie, Shannon Szabados, might as well have been a stone wall for all the damage the Americans were able to do against her. In a game in which the two teams matched each other virtually shot-for-shot and penalty-for-penalty, the deciding factor was two goals by Marie-Philip Poulin within three minutes in the last half of the first period. USA goalie Jessie Vetter got her shit together after that and was solid from then on, but the damage was done. It was an aggressively played, well-skated game, but one team has to come out on the short end and unfortunately we were it. Canada won 2-0, giving millions of Canadians a good excuse to have another beer.

Speaking of adult beverages, the winners stirred the ire of the International Olympic Committee with their on-ice consumption of alcohol and tobacco in celebration of their victory. The spectacle wasn’t quite consistent with the Olympic image, but let’s cut the young women, even those who are too young to drink, some slack. They were happy; they celebrated. If anyone is going to take heat, it should be the coaches who allowed the stuff to be carted out in the first place. Note to the Canadian grown-ups: next time, keep the bubbly and the smokes under lock and key until everyone gets back to the locker room.

KimThe highlight of the evening for everyone not residing in the Great White North was the women’s free skate featuring some exceptional young talent. To say that South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na won the gold medal is a gross understatement. She blew everyone else out of the water with a record-shattering score (150.06 for the free skate, 228.56 total) that left silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan more than 20 points behind. Besides excellent jumps, spins, and footwork, Kim also had superior speed, and this being figure skating, fast skating should count for something. The noticable price of her coach, Canada’s Brian Orser, prompted NBC commentator Scott Hamilton to comment, “Brian finally has his gold medal.” Orser was a two-time Olympic silver medalist who lost out both times to Americans, Hamilton in 1984 and Brian Boitano in 1988.

Asada’s silver medal performance was remarkable in its own way. She became the first woman ever to land multiple triple axels in the Olympics, two last night and one in Tuesday’s short program. (By way of explanation to the uninitiated, a triple axel is the most difficult of the triple jumps because it is the only one where the skater takes off facing forward, requiring 3½ rotations instead of only three.)

Turning in a solid bronze medal performance was the grieving Canadian Joannei Rochette, only four days removed from the unexpected death of her mother. Rochette was calm and composed, executing all components of her difficult program cleanly with the exception of two jumps she stepped out of slighlty. It was clear the crowd was behind her, as were most people watching from home.

The top U.S. finisher in fourth place was 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu, who scored a personal best and will be a gold medal contender in Sochi. Thus ends a remarkable streak of American women’s Olympic medalists going back to 1968. Who were all those medal winners, you may ask? And I would answer: Peggy Fleming (gold 1968), Janet Lynn (bronze 1972), Dorothy Hamill (gold 1976), Linda Fratianne (silver 1980), Rosalynn Sumners (silver 1984), Debi Thomas (bronze 1988), Kristi Yamaguchi (gold 1992), Nancy Kerrigan (bronze 1992, silver 1994), Tara Lipinski (gold 1998), Michelle Kwan (silver 1998, bronze 2002), Sarah Hughes (gold 2002), and Sasha Cohen (silver 2006). The streak almost certainly would have gone all the way back another 16 years if not for the 1961 plane crash that killed the entire United States figure skating team and their coaches, including 16-year-old Laurence Owen, considered the heir apparent to Carol Heiss for Olympic gold in 1964. Even so, of the 69 women’s figure skating medals handed out in the Olympics, Americans have won 23, fully one-third.

The Vancouver 2010 web site has more details about results, medals, and schedules.

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