Olympics 2010, Wednesday, Feb. 17
Today I watched:
Skiing, women's cross country 1500m sprint
Skiing, men's cross country 1500m sprint
Curling, men's, USA vs. Switzerland
Ice hockey, men's, Sweden vs. Germany
Speedskating, men's 1000m
Snowboarding, men's half-pipe
Speedskating, men's short-track, 1000m qualifying heats
Skiing, women's downhill
Speedskating, men's short-track 5000m relay semifinal round
Curling, women, Sweden vs. Great Britain
Speedskating, women's short-track 500m qualifying heats, semifinals and final
Doubles luge, men's
Between Lindsey Vonn's run and Shaun White's half-pipe, today was a dramatic day for Team USA. I get sick of the White coverage, but today's showing was really phenomenal. Even to someone like me, who only watches half-pipe every four years, it was obvious that he was far better than his competitors. Impressive.
Vonn's win was impressive too, and the event was dramatic. I don't think I have ever seen so many falls in an Olympic race, and the falls all looked awful.
I was confused about something the commentators said today. When discussing the men's 1000m (long-track) speedskating field, they said that they thought Canada's decision to prohibit non-Canadians to train with their team hurt Canada's speedskater. I'm curious as to why Canada decided to force its skaters to train without foreigners, especially if it worked to the detriment of the Canadian skater. Of course, the announcers didn't explain the reasoning at all.
As I said yesterday, I enjoy watching curling. Today I decided that since the commentators couldn't coherently explain anything about how points are scored, I would ask a Canadian friend. So now I understand how to get a point in curling. For anyone else interested, here is what he says: You get as many points as you have rocks nearest the target and inside the rings before the other team has one. So if the order of stones nearest the center is AAABBA, then A gets 3 points and B gets 0. If it's ABBBBBB, A gets 1 point and B gets 0. The trick is that if you score a point then the other team gets to go last in the next "end", which is a big advantage. So teams will usually try to avoid scoring only 1 point if they can; 0 points is often better than just 1.
Doesn't that help? Tomorrow I will try to figure out what "the hammer" is and how it fits into the rest of the game.
One thing I have found that I don't like about curling is that it is a very, very slow sport. I watched some of the USA-Switzerland at the gym today. I spend an hour at the gym, and when I got there the match was in the fifth end (an end is like a round or a set within a larger match or game--you score points after each end, and there are ten ends in all). When I left the gym an hour later, the match was in the...eighth end. I was at the gym for an hour and saw less than a third of the match? That seems ridiculous.
I watched a period of the Sweden-Germany game (would have watched more, but because of the endless curling match, CNBC didn't show the first period of the game, and I was recording too many things during the third period to be able to watch). Capital Niklas Backstrom had a very pretty pass to set up the second goal of the game, which Sweden won 2-0. Germany actually put up a good fight against a team that is considered far better. I'm so happy that former Islander Uwe Krupp is now Team Germany's coach--it's great to see players from my youth resurface.
I thought Sweden looked really good--their passing was nice and they didn't look sloppy. They really just looked like a team that had played together before. I thought the same of both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I watched that game in its entirety, and thought both teams looked strong. Jagr, in particular, looked great for the Czech Republic. As for Slovakia, no one even the team when discussing medals, but I think that's a mistake. Slovakia has Chara, Gaborik, Hossa and Halat, and that's really not a bad team at all. Tomorrow Russia plays Slovakia, and it will be interesting to see if Russia plays a more organized game than they did yesterday, and it will be interesting to see how Halat and his team handles the Russian firepower.
I really don't know why anyone would want to be a member of a doubles luge team. I wouldn't want to be on the bottom, having someone else sit on top of me, but I also wouldn't want to be on top--I would feel like I was crushing my teammate, and your body is more open to injury. Does anyone see an upside to this sport?