I got reminded of something today, and it's important that I share this.
This morning I watched several events and caught up with the madness of last night's super-G when the Czech Republic's Ester Ledecka stunned the alpine world by winning the event, even though she primarily competes as a snowboarder (and will compete as a snowboarder next week at the Olympics).
I found myself excited for Ledecka, because she appeared out of nowhere and shocked everyone - even herself! Just watch the five minutes that surround her run; people were already congratulating Austria's Anna Veith on her win because the top skiers were in the top 20 positions or so - practically no one with a bib of 21 or higher has any chance of getting on the podium.
It reminded me that if I'm looking for underdogs and upsets from Team USA, then I'm looking in the wrong spots. Yes, it's glorious when an American can medal, like John-Henry Krueger did in short track speed skating today when two of his Korean competitors were taken out by a Hungarian in the final. But there are so many upsets and enjoyable moments from athletes all over the world. It's very narrow-minded to focus only on one country, and I need to remind myself to branch out.
Even if the upsets come at the expense of the United States, it can only improve the competition and make things even better in the future!
Yes, it's Saturday, but this weekend I am calculating the first week country points for the students so I can display something when they return to class on Tuesday. They've been guessing all week about who is in the lead, and I think they'll be surprised to see that Norway has way more points than they know!
I am dividing the medals up, so gold medals get three points each, silver gets two, and bronze gets one. That will definitely increase Germany's points, but Norway has quite a few already, as well.
I've found myself rooting especially hard for those smaller countries because I know my students have them as their choice. I got excited for Slovakia's Anastasiya Kuzmina when she dominated the 12.5km mass start in biathlon because I know my student is pulling hard for her. Any time Belarus does well (and they did in women's aerials) I am happy for the student that picked Belarus!
- Today's list of things I watched:
- ski jumping
- cross-country skiing
- short track speed skating
- ski slopestyle
- alpine skiing
- Cross-country skiing had a relay today - 4x5km - and had the first two racers do the classic style and the second two do freestyle. The OAR team was great in the classic style and had Sweden challenging. But then the final racers took over and Norway, who had been a bit behind the first two teams, gave way to Marit Bjorgen, and I knew she would dominate. Guess what? She passed both the OAR and Sweden and took home gold.
- Good news for Team USA in that event: they had their highest finish ever - 5th place! Sophie Caldwell had a terrible first leg and they were in 11th at the time, so give credit to the other three for pulling them out and resulting in a good race. (They've been on the cusp of medaling for many years now - will they ever make it?)
- Ski jumping is a lot more fun when you watch the entire event. Sometimes it feels like certain events - ski jumping and cross-country skiing among them - take hours and hours to finish, when they actually don't. It's just that there are so many events for those disciplines that it feels like they're always continuing an event when it's actually a different one!
- I was on the treadmill during the biathlon, and my energy was so high I was yelling at the top of my lungs during the race. Some quotable quotes included my glee when so many of the top 20 skiers shot perfectly in the first shooting area ("I love the Olympics!!") and cheering loudly for Kuzmina and Belarus' Darya Domracheva when I thought there might be a tighter finish than there actually was. (Biathlon mass start - another race to watch from start to finish that isn't as long as you think!)
- Watching NBC's coverage of curling is a travesty - they cut down the ends so you only see the final six stones! Did you know that each end has twenty stones total? I was watching the OAR vs. Team USA in women's round robin and they kept skipping parts of the ends. How dumb. Don't watch their coverage - tune into the live stream and see it all if you're that into curling.
- I'm still reveling in men's figure skating. Two more thoughts:
- I loved Adam Rippon's long program - especially his music choices. Combining "Arrival of the Birds" by The Cinematic Orchestra along with "O" by Coldplay was brilliant, and they meshed together so you couldn't even tell they were two pieces to begin with.
- The costume choice for Yuzuru Hanyu was very smart. Because his jumps are so tight, the position of the belt allowed the lower part of his tunic to flare out so he looked like one of those helicopter toys that you can shoot out and it spins back to the ground.
- BOBSLED STARTS TOMORROW, GUYS. BOBSLED! BOBSLED! BOBSLED! (I might be excited for bobsled.)
- I wonder how fast the Olympic qualification time is, because there were some racers in tonight's men's giant slalom that were a whopping 12 seconds or more behind the leader. Usually it seems like someone is way behind the leader when in reality it's mere tenths of a second, but twelve whole seconds seems to be quite a gap.
- Man, without figure skating the evening live events are pretty skimpy, especially when the men's ski slopestyle final and the second run of men's giant slalom aren't until after 11:00 p.m. Eastern time. I'm too tired to make it until 1:30 like I did last night.
- Thomas Bach sighting: women's skeleton. He's always talking to athletes! I might be biased in his favor because he does look a lot like my college's president, who also was very personable and always talking to students.
- Personal ski update: turns out the nearest place to wax my skis is an hour away, but it's close to the ski hill I was looking at earlier. Tomorrow is going to be sunny and 40, and the hill offers a discount for lift tickets after 3pm. I might try to sneak over there - I'm not sure yet! I might just wait till next weekend.
A note: my buddies at the Olympic Fever podcast are doing a fundraiser during the Winter Olympics! They have only been going since September and would like to upgrade their equipment, website, and technology so they can be even more awesome in the future. You can donate at their website, like I did!
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!