Let's do something a little different! I'm going to comment on all the events I'm watching tonight. Since it's Friday and I have nothing going on tomorrow, I'm going to try to stay up as late as possible. I might even stay up late enough to watch the gold medal curling match! (We'll see. I'm pretty exhausted.)
Men's and Women's Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom
- Ester Ledecka from the Czech Republic is back to it - but this time, on one board instead of two. In the qualification rounds she took the lead and qualified for the final.
- To qualify, each snowboarder takes a run on both the red and blue course, with the times added up in the end. There's not really much difference in the tracks theselves, but because snowboarders face different directions depending on their preference ("goofy foot" means leading with the non-dominant foot), the two courses make a little difference to them - especially at the end of the run.
- Poor Michael Trapp. At the beginning of his first run the racer on the blue course didn't stop and went right in front of Trapp's lane! They gave him a re-run, but he couldn't recover and finished near the bottom of the pack.
- Aaron Muss is a big man for a snowboarder! He's got a big beard, too - also big for a snowboarder. I enjoy supporting those who go against the norm - but alas: he didn't make it past the qualification rounds.
- Squirrel alert! One of the ladies had to dodge a squirrel in her path - she almost sliced the thing in half! The first instance at these Games where I've heard of animal interference. (I wonder what they do to prevent wildlife from waltzing in? In Breckenridge they had "crazy moose" warning signs if one was near.)
- Ledecka was so serious through all the runs. While other athletes were waving and smiling at the camera, she would put up her snowboard and stare at it and wait for the camera to turn to something else. I think the pressure was really getting to her.
- Luckily, she was able to live up to those monstrous expectations and win a gold medal in this snowboarding style as well! That is absolutely incredible. I wore my Czech sweatshirt and wave my Czech scarf proudly!
4-Man Bobsled - Runs 1 and 2
- Out of the four runs that occur, two of them are the most exciting: the first and the last. The first run helps people understand who run the dominant sleds and who is going to hit Curve 9 twice. Germany - unsurprisingly - has three sleds in the top six.
- Countries like Germany and Japan are good at many events in these Winter Olympics. But Latvia is known for one thing: bobsled. Their sleds are near the top of the board, and they pride themselves greatly in that power. Bonus: their singlets make it look like they're wearing steel! (Check out the rivets on the seams.)
- It is amazing to remember how "slow" the lugers went two weeks ago compared to the immense power and speed of four grown men pushing a sled.
Men's Big Air
- I might be coming around on the big air competition. Not entirely sure yet.
- I can't imagine Red Gerard winning the gold almost two weeks ago, going back to the States for a publicity tour, and then flying back to South Korea to compete in the big air!
Alpine Team Event
- I'm glad I watched snowboard slalom first, because ski slalom relay is way better!
- NBC actually put up two great graphics about the event:
- This event was fantastic. It was easy to follow, it transitioned quickly between matches, the competition was fierce, and the athletes really wanted it. I don't think it lasted more than 1 1/2 hours, and in the end Switzerland came out on top!
- There was a definite difference between how the women and men took to the gates. They were two-staked gates with a flag in the middle. The women would ski around them and largely avoided the gates, but many of the men used the "punching method" and would punch the flag as they skied past. Sometimes this backfired, and they would get their arm caught in the gate!
- I would say that this event has entered my Top-5 of Must Watch Winter Olympic Events.
Men's Cross-Country Skiing 50km Mass Start
- The marathon of the Winter Olympics.
- I was able to access the website Reading A-Z before the Olympics and print out some great (and current!) informational sheets about the Winter Olympics, as well as a 20-page booklet that could be given to the kids. We read it today, and it mentioned how the 50km event has been in the Winter Olympics since it first began in 1924, and it took the winner, Norway's Thorleif Haug, 3 hours and 44 minutes to complete. Nowadays with the advancements in training and technology, the winner can finish in roughly half that time!
- Each Olympics the 50k switches which style of cross-country it uses. In Sochi it was freestyle, and here it is classic style. I want to see the machines that make those grooves in the snow. They never break down when the skis go over them! (It also makes me think how they used to make them all those years ago!)
- Once the racers started to spread out, it was a Fin and a Kazahk that were in the lead! Iivo Niskanen broke away at about 17km and didn't look back. He exchanged the lead a couple of times near the end with the OAR's Alexander Bolshunov, but with 1km left Niskanen just bolted and Bolshunov didn't have anything left.
- It's the first time in 58 years that a Fin won the gold medal in the 50k! And he had to do it as the conditions went from sunny to cloudy to windy and snowy. The mountains around PyeongChang have the same kind of weather changes as any mountains, apparently.
Men's Curling Gold Medal Match: USA vs. SWE
- I didn't stay up for the women's hockey gold medal match and it got spoiled to me (by NBC, unfortunately). Since this curling match was on a Friday night/Saturday morning, I knew I could manage to watch it even though it started at 1:30 a.m.!
- These teams are good friends with each other - they even FaceTimed yesterday! Two of the Swedes flew to Madison, Wisconsin for Matt Hamilton's wedding! This certainly isn't Team USA-Canada women's hockey rivalry.
- In the end, though, (pun intended...?) the two had a fierce battle. End 8 happened, and John Shuster got five points and that was it. Ends 9 and 10 were the equivalent of a basketball player running away from the defenseman who is trying to foul him and stop the clock. But even Sweden knew that nothing they were going to do was going to get them the points they needed. Gold medal Team USA!!
- The crowd was awesome at the event, I must say. And I loved the shots at the bars around the States who were cheering along!
- Do I understand more about curling? Not really - I knew a bit already before these Games. But thanks to my buddies at Olympic Fever and Sarah Patton I learned about the players of Team USA, and I think all that background knowledge helped me appreciate the win and the journey even more.
I'm going to bed! Don't wake me up for a couple of hours.
My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes for lots of Olympic comments, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!
Read about Day 15 HERE!