We watch the Olympics all day, so's you don't have to.
I suspect most people didn't watch the women's hockey game between the U.S and Canada, because it was on NBCsports while the mothership channel was showing the Giant Slalom, which American Mikaela Schiffrin won. That's okay, because it was a good, exciting event. But the hockey game between these two rivals was a gem. It was 0-0 after the first period, but the second period was an oddity that decided the game. The U.S. outshot Canada 17-6 -- yet the Canadians scored two goals to take a 2-0 lead. In the third period, the U.S. scored, and it came down to literally the last second to decide things. There was a jam-up at the Canadian net as the clock ran out, and the referees had to go to Official Review to check if the puck went in. But it didn't, so Canada won 2-1. Great game.
There was an interesting set-up to last night's pair's figure skating win by the German team which likely slipped under the wire. All night long during the competition, we heard about how poorly the Germans had done in the short program that left them with little chance of winning, let alone even getting a medal despite having been one of the favorites. But it was almost more than that. In the morning, NBCsports ran an interview with the German pairs team that had been done right after their disastrous skate, and it wasn't that they knew they'd done poorly, but they were so crushed it seemed like they didn't have a chance. Reporter Andrea Joyce asked Aljona Savchenko a sort of kindly softball question, to help boost her spirits, wondering what she could draw on from her years skating that could help her in the free skate -- and the German woman pretty much just stared blankly at her and imploded before our eyes, not answering until finally mumbling a sort of "I don't know" under hear breath. At that point, Joyce tried to help further, going so far as to offer a possible answer, "Experience?", she asked. And even at that, Savchenko basically shook her head and mumbled, "No." There really wasn't anything she could see that would help. At last, she said something like, "We can have fun out there." Her partner didn't appear to speak English, but even if he did it probably wouldn't have mattered, since he seemed shell-shocked, in large part because it was his mistake (only doing a double flip when they had planned a triple) that caused their biggest problem. So, together they clearly had a sense their Olympics were over. And then, last night...they won.
The women's cross-country ski competition was this morning -- 10,000 meters which takes about 25 grueling minutes. The United States has never won a medal in this event, but the joyful (and glittered) Jessie Diggins was a serious contender for the first. And after about 8,000 meters, she was in third place Bronze position by .2 of a second. It came down to the final sprint -- imagine sprinting after all that, in skis -- but alas she finished fifth, by a little over three seconds.
Tonight they have the skeletons. This is an example of one of the more semi-bewildering events. Not for what it is, but why it's in the Olympics. (The answer, I think, is what I've mentioned before -- they have many fewer events in the Winter Games than the Summer, and they're always looking to add competitions.) The skeleton race is pretty much exactly the same as the luge, except the luge athletes lay on their sled on the backs and go down the course feet first, while the skeleton is like what you did as a kid on your Flexible Flyer, on your stomach and head first. I'm 100% certain that the competitors will tell you why this is completely different, and I'm in no position (no pun intended) to argue. I'm sure the qualities required are different. But once upon a time high jumpers used a scissor kick to go over the bar feet first, and now, after Dick Fosbury changed things in the 1968 Games in Mexico City, they use the Fosbury Flop and go over the bar head first. So...why is it still the same event, but not two different ones...?
By the way, every afternoon (in Los Angeles), NBCsports channel has a half-hour part of their 4 PM broadcast that they call "Olympic Ice." It tends to start around 4:30 and runs for a half hour as a sort of pre-show look at that night's figure skating. Hosted by Liam McHugh, with Scott Hamilton and Tanith White, the program is very good, with nice features, like answering viewer questions, and good commentary. Yesterday, the question was, "When skaters spin, don't they get dizzy??" To which Hamilton answered, "Yes!!" But then went on to explain that because you train your spins in the same direction over and over and over again for year after year, your body adjusts to you. You do get dizzy, but your body learns how to handle it. If you spun in the other direction, though, your body would collapse.
Big complaint. The NBC Olympics website should post every single one of the videos they air during their broadcasts. They have a few, and also post some good videos of things that aren't on the air -- mainly "behind-the-scenes" things with the athletes. But it's inexplicable to me that they don't provide a venue to watch all the videos they've already produced. This was the case in the last Summer Games, as well. Huge oversight.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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