It can be very difficult to execute the "perfect race" at the Olympic Games.
So many factors come into play:
- Your own health
- The ability of your opponents
- Weather or indoor environment
- Judging bias
- Teammate support
- Any other unforseen circumstances
Any little twist or turn here or there could result in survival by the skin of your teeth or a loss!
To accomplish that at the the Olympics is near-on impossible.
But I think I may have seen one of those perfect races today.
The Nordic combined large hill took place Tuesday evening. The results of the ski jumping portion determines where the athletes will start in the cross-country skiing portion later in the evening. Then it's an all-out race to the finish of a 10km course.
At the end of the ski jumping on Tuesday, Japan's Akito Watabe and Norway's Jarl Magnus Riiber were in the first and second positions, while Germany's Eric Frenzel, Johannes Rydzek, and Fabian Riessle were in spots 4-6.
Focus on those Germans.
While Watabe and Riiber were battling it out in the first half of the race, Frenzel, Rydzek, and Riessle were slowly working together to push themselves up to the leaders. Yes, even though this was an individual race, they were working together.
Eventually they did push up to the leaders, along with Finland's Eero Hirvonen and Austria's Wilhelm Denifl. This was when the teamwork came into play; when Hirvonen or Denifl tried to pass, the three Germans would spread themselves out over the course and block the other skiers.
They were waiting for Watabe and Riiber to make a mistake. They had to wait until 2km were left, and the leaders left their right flanks open for the Germans. With that, the Germans stormed into the lead, causing Watabe to clip a ski and stumble to the back of the pack. (I believe the announcer said he'd "caught a crab" or something close to that.)
Riiber didn't have anything left after his fight with Watabe, and all the Germans had to do was use all their pent up energy to go to the finish, which they did, and swept the podium.
It could not have been a more perfectly executed game plan, and it couldn't have been done if one or two of the Germans had decided to go their own way. They drafted, they blocked, and they inched to the lead, even when I was under the belief that they couldn't manage to catch up to the leaders.
I had to tip my hat to the German athletes - they sure knew how to win.
We watched the women's 3000m short track relay, and while I told them I was confused by the relay itself, several of them very seriously said, "well, the next person pushes the other one along!" Well, I know that, but I'm more concerned with what happens after that! How do the players on the team know which person is next? How do they find the time to go from the outside of the track back to the center? How come more skaters don't collide in the middle since there's so many there?
All the kids could see was the skater actually on the ice - hopefully in the future they can learn to pan out and view the entire track. (I'm sensing a life lesson here.)
- I watched stuff!
- Nordic combined (see above)
- short track speed skating
- figure skating
- biathlon relay
- alpine skiing
- snowboard big air
- My main Blurb was about Nordic combined, but I have to gush about the mixed biathlon relay that also took place! It was anybody's game...until France's Martin Fourcade showed up. Then no one stood a chance. Basically his teammates just had to make sure they were within striking distance when the fourth leg took over.
- It was interesting to see that the athletes had extra rounds that they could use (three total) if they missed a target. It prevented extra penalty laps, but they also had to reload their gun every time they needed an extra.
- I can't decide if I like the efficiency of the women's downhill or not. Basically you watch for 45 minutes and it's done. Three days of practice runs for 100 seconds of execution.
- It didn't take long for songs from Carmen to show up in the women's figure skating competition. I believe it was the fifth skater of the entire program?
- I was shocked to see Bradie Tennell fall in her first combination jump. She had been so natural in her jumps whenever I saw her, so it felt unnatural to see her fall!
- How about some AC/DC from a female figure skater? The live stream announcer declared Ivett Toth the "headbanger from Hungary."
- I do give extra props to those figure skaters that skate in leggings and not a dress, and there were several tonight!
- My dad is here tonight and it's been fun to watch some events with him. He's been telling me about his magical experience with watching the Olympics on the Canadian Broadcasting Channel (CBC) since he lives in the Ann Arbor area and cable over there reaches across the border. (I've written about my love of the CBC here before.) He also spent most of the evening trying to find video of Austrian alpine skier Franz Klammer, but it looks like the IOC has blocked most of the videos you could find online. (Apparently I need to look him up.)
That's my night tonight! What are you excited to watch over the next few days? I'm excited to see more relays! Bring 'em on!