Winning three in a row is hard. Threepeats are rare in any sport, let alone an event that only takes place every four years.
There are many reasons, but age is the biggest one. When a whippersnapper wins an event back in 2006 and repeats in 2010, his body has run through the Cycle: train, compete, win, party, less training, party more, lose focus in favor of endorsements, lose some smaller events, refocus on training, train, compete, win, etc.
Once the Cycle starts over, the body doesn’t want to go through all that crud again. The body isn’t in the early-20s anymore. It starts to deteriorate. It doesn’t recover as quickly from less training and more partying. It starts to do what normal people’s bodies do around the mid-20s: decay.
So should it surprise us that Shani Davis and SJ Shaun White couldn’t medal in their strongest events the past couple of days? I’m not really that surprised. I watched that documentary that NBC had a couple weeks before the Olympics began about White, and he did not look on top of his game at all. And Davis, even though his weakest event is probably the 500, did not look solid in that event.
It’s really too bad that we have to pile these expectations on old bodies. But who is taking up the slack? In speedskating, there is no one in long track from the US that is willing to take up the reins, men or women. The Dutch dominance (as much as I love it) has meant that Americans struggle even more than before.
In snowboarding, thank goodness for the ladies. The guys are having a hard time keeping up with the competition in halfpipe, and that will eventually happen in slopestyle as well - sorry, Sage Kotsenburg. Meanwhile the ladies are very consistent in their halfpipe. Kaitlyn Farrington took the gold while ruining-my-Cycle-theme Kelly Clark took bronze. Clearly the snowboarding ladies have a good transitional system going on that the guys could really try to emulate.
More on the US ladies in a later post.
Today Matt Lauer is reporting from… the freezer that you’ve never cleaned out and now has ice crystals all over it.
Little did I know: When snowboarders are done with their run, they put their hands up in the air. So at the end of their runs, they aren’t just putting up their hands in joy - it’s supposed to be done!
Blue Butt Group: They have to spray the snow in blue so the course is easy to see. But when the snowboarders are wearing khaki-like snowpants and are falling a lot, it means that the blue paint gets on the butts of the athletes. I just noticed that today. Hel-lo, Smurf!
Popular mascots: They may be reviled by the rest of the world, but it’s clear that the mascots are always a big hit in the host city itself. Evidence over the past couple of days shows that the hat/mitten combination with the three Sochi mascots are hugely popular. The hat has two really long pieces of fabric down past the ears and all the way down so that people can stick their hands at the ends for mittens. There’s a first grader at my school that has one like this, so I already knew the style!
English and Cyrillic: In snowboarding halfpipe, they have a HUGE screen that shows video of the athlete, and their name. The cool thing is that they show the name in English, and then again with Cyrillic letters.
Torah Bright’s mouthguard: It may just be how her face is shaped, but Torah Bright’s mouthguard has been visible almost every time she’s seen! It doesn’t hurt that Bright has a great smile that she’s always wearing.
Tie! Very cool that in the women’s downhill there was a tie for gold. Slovenian Tina Maze skied last, and her time matched the leader, Swiss Dominique Gisin. I would be very cool with sharing the podium with a competitor!
Pairs skate: Did the winners just skate to Jesus Christ Superstar? Was he supposed to be Jesus? If he’s Jesus, who’s she? Did they end the skate by making a human cross? What the heck?
And kudos to the German pair, who tried everything they could to win, including a throw triple axel. And there was a wink-wink by using music from The Nutcracker, which was originally written as a novella...by a German.
I am frightened: I am actually starting to enjoy cross-country skiing. The short stuff - not the long 50km races. But I watched the entire Nordic combined cross-country skiing portion (at least, what they showed on-air), and had fun! It helped that the course was set up right off the ski jumping area, which meant that there was a GIANT grandstand full of people cheering them whenever they came in (which was four times).
It helps that I enjoy the idea of Nordic combined - however long you jump determines when you start the cross-country skiing. Eric Frenzel and Akito Watabe had amazing jumps and started almost 30 seconds in front of everyone else, and the two skiers only saw each other the whole race.
Today’s roundup: 2-man luge (the kids even thought that was a ridiculous event - we watched it live), women’s downhill, nordic combined, pairs figure skating, women’s halfpipe, men’s speedskating, and curling.
Live and taped: I am beginning to figure out the best way to avoid spoilers but still watch some events live. All I had to do to avoid all the spoilerific sidebars was to minimize the screen, so the only thing I see is the main screen! It meant I didn’t know any results except the ones I watched. Good deal.
Czech report: The Czech snowboarder that fell hard in slopestyle participated in halfpipe today. That’s guts!
The Czech men’s hockey team kicked off the men’s hockey portion of the Games. Unfortunately, they lost.
Excited to show the kids the new luge relay tomorrow! We'll have some fun with that.