I have a few overall thoughts when it comes to the figure skating free skate. Pardon me this one last piece; then I’ll try to move on to other relevant topics.
When it comes to a team that overall showcases great talent, like Russia, this kind of an event is wonderful. Even if the skater isn’t the best overall, they can still generate lot of points for their team by finishing second or third.
Because of this, a strong team like Russia can pull out ahead early and make the rest of the competition a bit anticlimactic. The four rounds of free skates weren’t incredibly tense because the order never changed: Russia was first, Canada second, the US third, Japan fourth, and Italy fifth. The biggest worry was that the skaters would have an incredibly awful performance and their score would plummet. But most had moderate to extreme success, so nothing changed.
Some year there may be some actual tension, but this year the most exciting bits of the figure skating team event were the first days. The last day was a bit...meh.
Considering the United States, I (being such an esteemed figure skating talking head...maybe) question their choice to use Jeremy Abbot in the short program, especially since it put the US in a hole right away that Meryl Davis and Charlie White had to dig the team out of. Given his terrible international experience, was it really worth it to have him in the competition at all?
Now perhaps the US squad knew that Russia and Canada were powerful enough that it would require a miracle to overtake them, and they knew that it wouldn’t kill their chances to get bronze. But he started us off on the wrong foot, and that’s never good.
Tonight, fellow men’s skater Jason Brown did his long program, which was great except for one fall. Not only did he perform great jumps, he also has great personality on the ice. His greatest flaw is that he doesn’t have a quad yet - something that probably helped the team choose Abbot as the short program skater.
Moving to the contest as a whole, it will be interesting to see how the skaters who competed this weekend fare in their own individual events. Those skaters who were shaky might be relieved at the chance to perform early and get the jitters out. Those who had great performances might have a hard time keeping up the momentum. And there are just some that will be amazing no matter what. (Yulia Lipnitskaya, anyone?)
Today Bob Costas is reporting from… the inside of a diamond mine! (I mean, just look at his desk!)
The overnight viewing: Last night I woke up at 12:30 to watch part of the men’s downhill. I knew that race would be incredibly long, so I made an attempt to time my viewing just as American Bode Miller and Norwegian Aksel Svindal were racing. (The two were 15 and 18 down the hill, respectively out of 50 skiers.) I actually did a great job in the timing, starting with number 13. I had just narrowly missed the 11th skier, Austrian Matthias Mayer, who took the lead then and waited somewhere close to three hours while everyone else failed to catch up with him.
After my depressing viewing of men’s downhill, I went back to bed and woke up at 2:45 for the women’s slopestyle final run. I tuned in right away, not wanting a repeat of Sage Kotsenburg’s immediate lead that I happened to miss. I knew the drill and how things were scored this time around. I didn’t have to this time, since all the best scores were submitted in the second run, but I was glad that Jamie Anderson took gold and my viewing was worth it.
Tonight I don’t plan to wake up at all - I need a night to catch up on sleep, and there’s no overnight events that pique my interest!
Finally figured out the difference: The difference between biathlon and cross-country skiing (besides the whole shooting-targets thing) is that in cross-country skiing, the athletes all start together, and the first to cross the finish line wins. (Except when it comes to time trials, but that’s a different animal.) In biathlon, skiers are staggered, so they all work on times. This is because there’s only so many shooting targets, and you can’t have twenty skiers come into the shooting range all at once! It does make biathlon way more confusing to follow, since some skiers are finishing when others haven’t even begun. I guess if I had to pick which one is better, I’d pick x-country because once racers cross the finish line, it’s clear who gets gold, silver, and bronze right away, and you can stop watching.
Harry Potter is done: Way back in Torino, when the Harry Potter books and movies were still new and fresh and the in-thing to do, Swiss ski jumper Simon Amann was called “Harry Potter on skis” because of his resemblance to the character, I guess. I couldn’t really see it. But he won both the normal and long jumping hills in 2006 and 2010, which made him a real icon.
Unfortunately, his time at the top seems to be done. He took tenth in the event, while current world champion, Poland’s Kamil Stoch dominated.
Czech update: Martina Sablikova took silver in the 3000m speed skating event. I could be disappointed, but gold was taken by a Dutch woman, so it works out either way for me!
It was slopestyle athlete Sarka Pancochova gave everyone a scare when she fell during her run and smacked the back of her head on the snow, cracking her helmet. She was laying still on the snow for a few seconds, but she ended up getting up and finishing her run.
Today’s roundup: women’s hockey (sorry Germany, it looked like you had a chance for two periods), men’s downhill skiing, women’s slopestyle, men’s x-country, women’s biathlon, figure skating - including men’s, women’s, and ice dancing events - men’s ski jumping, and women’s speed skating. (It is a LOT easier to watch everything in the Winter Games!)
Rhyming fun: Meryl Davis’ mom’s name is...Cheryl.
That blasted nesting doll: I swore it changed positions, and was very concerned for the crowd at slopestyle. That might have been the lack of sleep getting to me, because watching the event in Primetime, I see that there’s rails on either side of Creepy Nesting Doll (CND?) and the men went behind it and the women took the front.
Weather: Unlike the last couple of days in Sochi, the clouds were very present in the mountains. Oddly enough, they were also very present here in Denver.
Comraderie: It might be me, but I am noticing a lot more kinsmanship and frendliness between athletes. When it comes to snowboarding, it seems like they are all best friends. Jamie Anderson was one of the first people to give a big hug to Torah Bright when she finished her run. In ski jumping, the silver and bronze medalists lifted the gold medal winner up in the air. And then there’s the figure skating team event, which brings this article full circle!
More fun with the kiddos tomorrow. And Uncle K - curling begins tomorrow!