USA, Russia, Norway AHEAD in Medals Count but which Countires REALLY Dominated?

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Ok, I had planned to provide daily Winter Olympic commentary, but I’ve fallen a little behind – a lot behind.  In fact, I sort of stopped watching the Sochi Games – well I tune in here and there and have lately wondered when it will all end.  Will the Games last the entire Winter which would take us to March 19th? They are the Winter Games after all. But they’ve run out of events or at least I thought so until I tuned in this morning and saw snowboard parallel slalom. Wow!  Kind of neat actually.  It’s parallel in the sense that 2 snowboarders zigzag down parallel (in different lanes) weaving in and out of flags trying to “carve” clean and fast lines to best the other rider.  And they are riders in a sense.  You ride, not race a snowboard, right? Anyway, it’s all a little silly really, but fun to watch and it’s over in a flash – it’s like the the twitter version of blogging.  Speaking of boards, what if the snowboarders skied on surfboards.  I’d like to see surfboards on the half-pipe. Imagine if you slipped up at a restaurant and ordered oysters on the half-pipe. But what I actually want to write about are patterns – patterns to the medals.  So if you haven’t been watching the Olympics and just want to know which countries are doing well in what and want to know how los Americanos are doing by comparison, this service is for you.

Let me preface the results reported below by saying that this might be a spoiler alert, or might not be. I’m not sure what you know or have or have not seen or what has been aired or what has yet to be aired tonight.  All I know is that the Games are nearly done.  Maybe some exhibition stuff, a Hockey match or two and perhaps a parade of champions or whatever they do left to go. You know what I think would be neat is for the athletes to compete in sports they don’t do for the last few days.  Bobsledders do Luge.  Lugers do Skeleton.  Sliders do Bobsled and so on (are Bobsledders sliders or just bobbers?) Figures skaters could do Freestyle Skiing; Snowboarders the Giant Slalom (on their snowboards if they like). Freestylers could do Ski Jumping. Hockey players could try the Half-Pipe on skates, Curling or Figure Skating. Short-Trackers could do Speed Skating and so on.

Final Spoiler Alert……What I find interesting is how some countries dominate in certain events. The Dutch completely dominated the world in Speed Skating.  Norway showed us all how to do the Biathlon, Cross Country and Nordic Combined.  Canada, with it’s tradition of Monarchs showed it reigns supreme in Curling and Hockey, it appears.  The Canadians also showed us how to Free Style with style.  The Chinese simply shredded up the Short-Track.  The host Russians danced their way to glory in the opening ceremony and on the figure skating ice, much to the delight of Vladimir Putin, no doubt.  Actually, Putin could be nicknamed Poutin over the Russians poor performance in Hockey. The Americans had the upper hand or perhaps lower leg with respect to Snowboarding events.  The Germans Lugers slid down the track with speed and precision and literally jumped off the charts on the hills of Sochi, normal and long along with Poland.   So, here are the medal results for each event by country of dominance compared to the USA for all you competitive American readers out there.

Figures Skating – Russia.  5 medals, 3 Gold.  USA – 2 medals, 1 Gold

Alpine Skiing – Austria 7 medals, 2 Gold.  USA 5 medals, 2 Gold

Snowboarding – USA 5 medals, 3 Gold. Russia 4 medals, 2 Gold

Freestyle Skiing – Canada 9 medals, 4 Gold. USA 7 medals, 3 Gold

Hockey – Canada 1 medal,1 Gold. USA 1 medal, 0 Gold

Cross-Country – Norway 11 medals, 5 Gold. USA 0

Nordic Combined – Norway 4 medals, 2 Gold. USA 0

Biathlon – Norway 6 medals, 3 Gold. USA 0

Ski Jumping – Germany and Poland 2 medals, 2 Gold (each). USA 0

Bobsled – USA 3 medals, 1 Gold.  Canada and Russia 1 medal, 1 Gold (each)

Luge – Germany 5 medals, 4 Gold. USA 1 medal, 0 Gold

Skeleton – Russia 2 medals, 1 Gold. USA 2 medals, 0 Gold

Curling – Canada 2 medals, 2 Gold.  USA 0

Short Track – China 6 medals, 2 Gold. Russia 5 medals 3 Gold. USA 1 medal, 0 Gold

Speed Skating – Holland 21 medals, 6 Gold. USA 0

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Young Daredevils First To Gold

Slopestyle. What is it exactly? It’s not a race. It’s more like an exhibition, and in my view has more in common with diving and figure skating especially in the way that it’s judged. But unlike diving and figure skating, it seems significantly more dangerous.  There have been quite a few injuries, fortunately none too serious on the Sochi course during practice runs earlier in the week.  One such injury compelled veteran Shaun White to withdraw from the event.  True, a diver could crack open his head on the board or do a belly flop and be knocked unconscious, but that’s rare to see.  I liken the slopstylers to cliff divers.  They are young daredevils.  In impressively fearless fashion, Americans Sage Kostenburg and Jamie Anderson won Gold in the inaugural event.

Obviously including the sport in the Olympics is an attempt to attract the interest of the younger crowd who grew up on the X Games and who might find curling and biathlon skiing a little boring.  I do think they made the mistake of making Slopestyle the first event of the games.  While it is true that Halfpipe snowboarding and Freestyle skiing have yet to “air”, the pioneer daredevils have left the stage and perhaps their age demographic viewers along with them. Speaking of age, the average age of the men who medaled in Slopestyle is 21.  Silver medalist Canadian Mark McMorris in a laid back reflection said that he was just happy to “podium”.  The Gold and Silver medalists on the women’s side are both 23.  You have to admire the Bronze medalist, Jenny Jones of Great Britain who at 33 is likely the oldest competitive snowboarder on the circuit.

I don’t know for certain what the American chances for other Gold medals might be in the Sochi Games, but it is possible that most of them will be from the Snowboarder contingent.  If I had to predict, it would be this: Shaun White and speed skater Shani Davis will win Golds and possibly several other Americans in the various events from Halfpipe to Snowboard Cross. It’s entirely possible for an American skater to eke out a win in short track, but it’s such an unpredictable event that anything could happen – all but one could wipeout and the slowest of the group could skate to victory.  It’s happened before.  Oh the thrill of victory when it’s least expected!

Winter Olympics Breakdown + Ideas for New Events

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I LOVE the Olympics – always have since I can remember.  Confession: I like the Summer Games better only because I grew up in a state that hasn’t seen much snow until recently, something I believe has to do with climate change, although the wise cracks out there would say it’s proof that global warming is a hoax. Having grown up in a balmy state, the only skiing I did was on the water, not ice, although I once went snow skiing in Tennessee as a 12 year old on fake snow which, as I recall, resembled white astroturf.  I didn’t like the experience of skiing much, but I had fun falling.

And while I prefer the Summer Games, I do enjoy some of the Winter Olympic events, and some not so much.  Here are the things I like followed by the events I dislike along with some snide commentary sprinkled in for good measure.

WHAT I LIKE:

Speed Skating.  But not the long skates because I get dizzy after watching them go round and round and round.  It’s a little like NASCAR, but I don’t watch for the wipeouts.  I don’t enjoy the “agony of defeat” moments.

Short Track.  It’s a little like roller skating, which is something I did as a teenager. I enjoy the speed involved and the fact that it’s a short, tight circle.  And I dig those amphibian gloves they wear, which work like ski poles.  It’s odd, though, not to see Apolo Ohno competing.  Retired at 31.  Short-track is for youngsters.

Ski Jumping.  It’s like flying, and that’s the ultimate for me.  I love anything to do with flying – as a passenger in an airplane, flying a kite or watching birds in flight.  One of the most spectacular dreams I ever had was one in which I was soaring like a eagle.  I do, however, have bouts of vertigo driving over bridges, and climbing or elevatoring to the tops of tall buildings.

Bobsleding.  It looks like fun and reminds me a bit of those soap box derby races I recall as a kid.

Luge.  Pure insanity.  Lugers are fearless.  The doubles event, though, is a little silly.

Skeleton. Head first sledding. Probably the most dangerous event, at least it seems so to me. And like Ski Jumping, the thing I would like to try once.  I actually have gone down a hill on a sled head first without a helmet as a kid, but the hill was one of snow not ice.  Skeleton is not on my bucket list because I value my bones, so much so that I’ve only broken one in my life.

Snowboarding.  Why not?  A little X games injected into the Olympics to keep the ratings up among the Gen X and Y crowd.  And really, who even skis on two skis anymore but old farts? I wonder if they sell Red Bull and Monster in Sochi?

Downhill Skiing.  Pretty much what I think of when I think of the Winter Olympics, Downhill and Ski Jumping.

Figure Skating.  Grace and athleticism – gymnastics on ice. It’s a bit like going to the circus.

WHAT I DON’T LIKE:

Cross Country Skiing.  It’s just a little boring and takes too long.

Hockey.  I don’t like hockey mostly because I didn’t grow up playing or watching it.  I don’t know the rules and the fights remind me of Championship Wrestling.  I’ll watch it though.

Curling.  There’s a certain zen quality to it, but it is extraordinarily silly, almost cartoonish.  To you curling aficionados, you are correct – I don’t know what I’m talking about.

NEW EVENTS I’D LIKE TO SEE:

Synchronized Ice-Fishing.  Fishing with a twist.  The idea is to catch a fish at exactly the same time as your partner.

Snowmobile Racing.  A little like drag racing.  Two machines going head to head down a track.

Snow Ball Throwing.  Lots of possibilities here.  Longest throw.  Fastest throw.  Accuracy, like hitting a target.

Sliding.  This is one where you run as fast a you can and then when you hit the line, you slide.  The one who slides the farthest, wins. A few points for style could be awarded too.  No blades, boards or skis allowed.  “Athletes” could use any kind of shoe they want.

Ice Diving.  The object is to stay under the icy water for as long as possible, but not too long.

Heavy Equipment.  Like Snow Ball Throwing, there are lots of possibilities here – snow removal competition, tractor pulls, snow piling and sculpting events and of course cross country snow plowing.  I was also thinking that the heavy machine operators/athletes could each design a course for the snowboarders with the most challenging design, which the snowboarders would have to compete on, taking the Gold.