As I watch this first full day of Winter Olympic coverage, I have noticed a change in myself. There used to be events that I would make top priority that are no longer important, and others that I used to think were dull that now I consider must-watch!
One discipline that has become less interesting has been short-track speed skating. I discovered the event back in 2002 after years of casually watching long-track, with its very organized rounds and two-people-per-race outline. I was fascinated that so many people could fit onto such a tiny track!
Not only was the idea of a short track appealing, the crashes were spectacular! There was so much bumping and jostling going on that it was an abnormality when there wasn't a crash of some sort!
It helped that one of my favorite Olympians, Apolo Anton Ohno, was a short track specialist. He failed spectacularly in one of the 2002 races - one where the Australian in the back of the pack ended up winning gold because all of the competitors up front crashed - but won gold outright in 2006. (He also won gold in 2002 but it was because the person in front of him was disqualified.)
After Ohno retired, I found it harder and harder to watch short-track. The judge reviews of the race sometimes take longer than the race itself! The crashes have resulted in more groans from me than cheers because I hate seeing someone get taken out of a race in such a way. The camera work also makes it difficult to watch, because they don't show the entire track all the time. Sometimes crazy thing happen, but the audience watching at home can't see it!
As a result, short-track has become less and less of a priority for me. But as my enjoyment of short-track has lessened, my enjoyment of biathlon has increased.
Biathlon is an event that the television coverage has helped greatly. It is able to cover several areas of the course while also targeting (pun intended) the shooting area of the track.
Biathlon combines cross-country skiing and shooting from both the prone and standing position. Each time you shoot, you shoot five targets. If you miss one target, that means you need to do one loop in the penalty track. Five misses? Five laps! Fastest person wins.
It might not seem too difficult, but remember that the shooting takes place during the cross-country course, so they are breathing heavily and very tired. Plus, the targets are only about 4-12 cm in length!
I admire the technique and the skill needed to compete in biathlon. I grew to appreciate it even more in 2010, when the biathlon events took place right after school and I ended up prepping for the next day with biathlon on the television all the time!
It might not be on your radar, but try to find some biathlon events over the next few weeks. They're not long events, but always exciting!
I did not have school yesterday because we were in the middle of a winter storm. However, at my part was one of my students with her family. We were watching some curling before the NBC broadcast of the Opening Ceremony, and one of the teams placed the stone about two yards away from the target. One of the people said, "Aw, that was a terrible throw."
My student replied, "No, they put it there to block the other team's stone!" which is what I had said yesterday!
She got a high-five for showing she was listening. (She also remembered what I'd said about the OAR!)
- Here is this day's watch list:
- cross-country skiing
- short-track speed skating
- ski jumping
- ice hockey
- figure skating
- This is one of those days where I am thankful that the NBC Olympics app and website air replays of events. I was so exhausted from my week that I needed to sleep in, which I did until 10:30 a.m. But it doesn't mean I need to miss everything! I woke up and immediately put on the women's skiathlon and I could watch all of it! If I wanted to, I could have fast-forwarded to the end. It does mean not opening up social media till I've watched everything.
- The app also has English-speaking commentators that aren't always American, so they are much more focused on all of the great athletes that are participating and not just the American in the field. In skiathlon the commentator talked a lot about Charlotte Kalla, who won the first gold medal of these Olympics, and Norway's Marit Bjorgen, who is dominant in cross-country skiing and took silver.
- The skiathlon was closely competed - about nine women were in the lead pack for most of the race. For being the longest race of cross-country skiing, it didn't take very long - only about 40 minutes. They do 7.5 km on classic skis and track and 7.5 km on freestyle skis and course. The hardest part of the race probably is the transition between the two!
- Watching these events just makes me want to get to Tokyo even more than before. I've been informing people of my plans recently, which - if you know me - means that I have to follow through! The good news is that I've been talking to some Olympic fans on Twitter and they also are trying to get to Tokyo. Maybe I can make plans along side theirs! (It would be nice, since I've never done anything like this before!)
- Team Canada has fully embraced the flannel look, adding the black-and-red checkered printinto its gear. If you've got it, flaunt it!
- The camera work in ski jumping has gotten better and better lately. Now they have an overhead shot that follows the athletes all the way from the top of the hill down to the base!
- Another ski jumping note: I never realized that the suits they wear aren't skin-tight. They are rubbery and wind resistant (for good reason).
- If you watch the Olympics for long enough, everyone kind of starts to look the same. So if someone stands out with crazy hair or a unique accessory, I tend to follow and support them because they are easy to see! Case in point: Norwegian ski jumper Robert Johansson, who has a wicked handlebar mustache. (And after I wrote this, he won bronze!)
- Saw this sign as I watched men's luge:
- It seems a crime to put Germany's Felix Loch near the beginning of the luge runs, because basically no one can catch him and they're all falling short while he just stands at the end in the leader's position for 45 minutes. He should think of clever poses for all the times the camera has to pan onto him.
- Snowboard slopestyle has basically turned into "how many spins can I do without falling down." It's less about technique and more about "getting that last 360 in before landing on my face."
- That being said, the best technique and execution ended up being Red Gerard on his last run. When Max Parrot did his run at the very end, he didn't fall or put his hand down, but it seemed safer than Gerard's, and luckily the judges and I were on the same page!
- I've been having some issues with my NBC Sports app today, with the app sometimes going to a blank screen in the middle of an event or freezing up entirely. It's been frustrating to have to reboot so many times in a day, especially because I've been using it so much.
- The figure skating team event continued today, and the first event was the ice dancing short program. Unlike other disciplines, ice dancing has a required tempo and style in order to incorporate the necessary movements. This season it's been the Latin style, so many of the skaters chose Latin dances and songs. Not Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They did finish with Santana, but their first song was "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones and their second was "Hotel California" by The Eagles. I'm a ShibSibs backer but I liked the Canadians' choices there.
I think I'm going to call it a night! What was your highlight of Day 1 (/2)? What are you looking forward to the most come tomorrow? Is anyone planning an all-nighter later in the Olympics? See you tomorrow!
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 2 HERE!