At the start of the Olympics Games, I wrote about how women's hockey was one of my favorite events -- and boy, howdy, they didn't let me down. The Gold Medal game was one of the great competitions I've seen during the Olympics over the years. However, I suspect that most people missed yesterday's finals between the U.S. and Canada -- not only were most people likely watching the Super Combined on NBC when Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin were skiing, but the hockey game didn't even begin until after 11 PM in the East and ended at 2:15 in the morning. (Fortunately this was all three hours earlier in Los Angeles.)
How dramatic was it? The U.S women's team had won 7 of 8 world championships, but Canada has won the last four Olympic Gold Medals. And they had won 24 consecutive Olympic games. AND they beat the U.S. last week in the opening round.
Canada was leading in last night's game 2-1, but Monique Lamoureux tied the contest with only six minutes left. The game ended tied in regulation. And it was still tied after the 20-minute overtime. And it stayed tied after the 5-shot shootout! So, it then went to a Sudden Death shootout, and on the sixth round, the U.S. winning goal was finally scored by...Jocelyne Lamourex! Monique's twin sister. And it was on the anniversary of the U.S. men's "Miracle on Ice" 38 years ago to the day.
That, folks, is sports drama.
I've mentioned that my pal Clare Duffy Swift is a producer for NBC News, and made and starred in a tremendous documentary eight years ago about women's hockey, training with the U.S. women's team in a George Plimpton sort of way as the centerpiece of the production. She loves-loves hockey and worked out her schedule so she could be at the game. We were trading emails throughout -- she said she had lost her voice by the end of the first period. By the end of the game, she was a ball of mush, totally wiped out.
(Speaking of Clare, yesterday I wrote about a piece she produced on three Ivy Leaguers playing on the U.S. men's hockey them -- but I forget to include the link. You can find the video here.)
One big quibble. A shootout is no way to decide an Olympic Gold Medal. It's faux-hockey. The players should be allowed to keep playing until there's a decision.
As for that aforementioned Super Combined, Mikaela Shiffrin got the Silver. Lindsey Vonn was leading after the Downhill, skied last with a chance to win, but couldn't hang on and went off course. It all came to a head as the hockey game was coming to a head. Thank goodness for being able to watch the Olympics on my laptop.
The United States beat a Canadian team in another event today -- curling. They won by a score of 4-3, holding on with a "hit and stay" on the last play. And no, I don't what that precisely accomplished, But I do know that this means is that the U.S. will actually be in the curling finals. It starts at 3 AM in the East, so plan your sleep according.
Speaking of curling, the Olympic Committee officially stripped an athlete from the Olympic Athletes of Russia team of his Bronze medal in the Mixed Team Curling event for testing positive with drugs. And the immediate question that comes to mind is -- what on earth is someone using drugs in curling for?????!! One person pushes a rock to slide it across the ice, and the other sweeps the ice. Drugs?? Which ones? Caffeine to stay awake?? But that would be legal...
There was a funny moment on the "Olympic Ice" segment today on NBCsports. When discussing last night's short program in women's figure skating, Scott Hamilton said there was one thing it is critical for all skaters to always, always, ALWAYS do, and he was going to be very, very serious about this, because you always have to do it. Always. And after giving his admonition, the other analyst Tanith White paused a moment and then said, "Sorry, Scott, but you can't pull off being grave. It's like when a Muppet tries to be grave. It still comes across as adorable."
I wish that I could find a video from an NBCsports interview this afternoon with Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, who together won the first-ever U.S. women's medal in cross-country skiing, and the first Gold Medal for a U.S. cross-country skier, period. Why it was so special is that they showed the two of them the video and call (with the ever-crazed Chad Salmela screaming his head off the whole way) of the final leg of the race, which they had never seen before. Their reactions were priceless. As Diggins made her move up, Randall was bouncing in her seat, pounding her hands together excitedly, as if urging her teammate on. And as Diggins made her rush towards first place, and maniacal announcer Chad Salmela began screaming, "HERE COMES DIGGINS!!!! HERE COMES DIGGINS!!!!", she buried her face in her hands almost like a little kid. And when the race was over, and they won, the first words out of either of their mouths was Diggins saying, with a huge smile on her face, "I love Chad Salmela SO much."
Two other related things to this:
First, you may have seen the ad Comcast is running for its service which shows a supposedly-Minnesota town gathering together to watch their hometown hero Jessie Diggins compete at the Olympics. Obviously this was shot before the Games, so they used footage of her other competitions. But yesterday, they edited a new version -- it's the same ad, but it now has footage of Diggins racing for the finish line and winning the Gold Medal.
And there was a funny column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, written by Michael Rand. He noticed a few bizarre similarities between two recent Minnesota heroes. One, Jessie Diggins from Ashton, Minnesota, and the other an amazing game-winning catch by a Minnesota Viking receiver on the very last play that put the team into the NFL Championship. He name was...Stefon Diggs. As Rand wrote,
"Just two weeks into 2018, Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs delivered what seemed like it would stand as the signature moment in Minnesota sports for the entire calendar year — if not more — when his leaping catch and run walkoff TD against the Saints rescued the Vikings from a playoff collapse.
"Barely a month later, Diggs has been equaled — and perhaps topped — by another Minnesota athlete, Jessie Diggins, and her exhilarating cross country skiing gold medal."
But the similarities weren't just their names, or both in Minnesota -- but they were wearing the same numbers. You can see his full article here, along with a few other connections.