Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nordic Combined

Watching the Nordic Combined.  This starts out on the K-95 hill (the smaller or normal hill).  It involves a single jump and followed by a 10K cross-country.  The event has been a part of the Olympic Games since their inception.  The U.S team has never medaled in this event but have a good chance to do so today. In fact one of the Todd Lodwick, Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane seem to have the skills to be comepetative to for a medal.

The air seems be working well for the jumpers today. It's such a rush to watch these guy in flight.

The way this works is the jumpers score points on the jump. Each point provides a 4 second advantage in the cross-county. Then based on those points they stagger the starts on the cross country.

U.S. team member Todd Lodwick just had a very nice jump. Not the leader but very nice.  Right now he'll start 34 seconds behind the leader. +

Demong has jumped now and his jump not as impressive as Lodwick. Spillane is yet to come.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A few thoughts on the Luge

This will likely be my last post for the evening. I wanted to address the status of the Luge event in the aftermath of the Friday tragedy. The officials have made modifications to slow the speeds and have added some extra height to the sides near the point in which Nodar Kumaritashvili left the track and struck the poll. The starting point has been moved forward a short distance - this to reduce the speeds that the racers will reach by the time they reach their maximums near the bottom. Of course racing is naturally a sport in which you want to push your limits. This track had a reputation of being built for speed and racers have been clocked at nearly 96MPH. Kumaritashvili was believed to be going about 88 I think. These changes will likely keep speeds down into the 80's - still room for danger. Luge racing is after all not for the faint of heart, but many, perhaps all of the events here have elements of risk. The Canadian lugers are not happy. They have had more time on this track than anyone, and surely must consider this home track to be to their advantage. But Officials I believe have made the right call. This course has claimed one too many lives already.

I have noted across the internet some criticism of the media for showing video of the ill fated run. I think nearly all the times I have seen it shown or offered for viewing on the internet it has been with a disclaimer that it might be disturbing. Those media outlets I've seen that have offered it, I believe hade done so responsibly. While I agree it can be disturbing, it is not within the realm of gory. A warning is appropriate, but it should not be unavailable for viewing.

Canadian Women Hockey Team Skates All Over Slovakia

It was an 18-0 route for the Canadian women. A new Olympic record for goals by a women's team, the previous being 16. I close to watch is over other events because I grew up particularly fascinated with the game from junior high on. Admittedly I have a pecking order the ranks ski jumping and the alpine events high and hockey right up there. I'm not as into speed skating which I'm sure is a big draw for many Americans because of the popularity of Apolo Ohno, and while I didn't see it I understand he captured a sliver medal in the 1500m race giving him a 6th medal. The second place finish actually availed itself to him when two skaters ahead of him went down in the finall turn. His six medals ties him with Bonnie Blair for the most medals by a U.S. Olympic team member.

The Canadian woman played consistant throughtout the entire game. It would be easy for them to have let up at some point but they didn't. The controled the puck throughout. Admittedly they were paired with the last seeded team, but I see this as the team to beat if the US is to attain a gold in these games. The Canadian gals clearly carry themselves as the defending champains.

Olympic Quote

"The best way I can describe it is to go up onto the thirtieth floor of any building, and then get in the car and drive that car off the top roof, and then land safely. That is pretty much what it is."

American Todd Lodwick on real-life comparisons to Ski jumping.

Swiss Take First Gold

Simon Ammann - the Swiss ski jumper collects a Gold Medal on the K-95 hill. Polish jumper Adam Malysz took silver and for a few moments drove his Polish fans into frenzy. But Malysz was the next to the last to make his second jump and had to know there was a good chance Ammann who has the best jump in the first round was a strong possibility to overtake him, and he did. Both jumpers were quite impressive. The Bronze goes to old Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria

Olympic Quote

"It was funny - one of those experiences where you almost die and you find yourself laughing about it. That's how I feel every time I get down that track"  Shauna Rohbock on the Whistler bobsled track.

Olympic Hangover Perspective

Phote credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Don’t think by the title of this post I was wasted last night. No, in fact I had nothing to drink at all. It’s just that the long opening celebrations tend to leave one drowsy the next day.

I got up with the dogs at 5:30AM and let them out. Back to bed till 9:00AM. I’ve had the morning to think about it along with some caffeine and I am slightly disappointed as I look back on the opening day. Yes, there were magical moments in the chorography of the opening, but the technical glitch in the lighting of the cauldron and the tragic death of the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. Mark Grimmette a members of the U.S Olympic team and a luger who would have been one of Kumaritashvili’s rivals is wearing a Georgian pin to honor him. It was fitting that the games be dedicated to him, but what I now await is the level of Olympic Spirit that we are accustomed to seeing in these games. The death of Kumaritashvili we will not forget; but the glitch with the lighting ceremony can easily be erased by Olympic Competition.

In another element of less than joyful news - Rain and 50 degree highs are disrupting the Alpine skiing events at Whistler. These of course are among my favorite. I have no idea at this point when they are to be rescheduled.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Games Open

Simply magical...  the lights the costumes.  The bear pictured here left is quite impressive. The technical aspects of these ceremonies are growing with each year of the games.

At this point we are waiting for the lighting of the flame from the tourch and see who has the honors this year.  Who?

Ah, it is brought into the stadium - and handed off to a series of four Canadian sports heroes — all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, speedskater Katrina LeMay Doan, and basketball All-Star Steve Nash who all participated in lighting the indoor cauldron.  With some unfortunate technical hitch, the flame has been lit.  Now Gretzky will take the flame to an outdoor cauldron across town to to do the final honors.

Tomorrow / Saturday's Events - All Times Eastern

Alpine Skiing
At Whistler Creekside
Men's Downhill, 2:45 p.m.

At Whistler Olympic Park
Women's 7.5Km Sprint, 4 p.m.

Freestyle Skiing
At Cypress Mountain
Women's Moguls Qualification, 7:30 p.m.
Women's Moguls Final, 10:30 p.m.

Women's Hockey
At UBC Thunderbird Arena
Sweden vs. Switzerland, 3 p.m.

At Canada Hockey Place
Canada vs. Slovakia, 8 p.m.

At The Whistler Sliding Centre
Men's Singles Run 1, 8 p.m.
Men's Singles Run 2, 10 p.m.

Short Track Speedskating
At Pacific Coliseum
Men's 1500 Heats, 8 p.m.
Women's 500 Heats, 8:45 p.m.
Men's 1500 Semifinals, 9:24 p.m.
Women's 3000 Relay Semifinals, 9:49 p.m.
Men's 1500 Final, 10:18 p.m.

Ski Jump
At Whistler Olympic Park
Individual First Round (normal hill), 12:45 p.m.
Individual Final (normal hill), 1:45 p.m.

At Richmond Olympic Oval
Men's 5000, 3 p.m.

Sandra Behne / Getty Images photo credit

Tragic beginning

Just hours before the 21st Winter Olympics tragedy struck as Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control during a training run and flew off the final corner at the Whistler Sliding Centre striking a pole that was part of the structural couture of the course. Efforts to resuscitate the young athlete were unsuccessful.

Surely there will be some tribute to the luger during the opening ceremony. But the kind of suspense that we are normally thinking about at this time is what the ceremony will look like. Each host city seems to have a higher bar to reach artistically just as the athletes attempt to stretch the limits of their abilities. And who... what one person will be given the opportunity the light the caldron?