Monday, February 24, 2014

Goodbye Sochi, Hello Pyeongchang

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games closed last night after seventeen days of competition and a $50 billion pricetag, exceeding the estimated $40 billion the Chinese spent on the Beijing Games.    

Guess Russian President Vladimir Putin and his people will consider it a great investment.  The host Russians made up for their by their standards poor showing of 3 golds and 15 medals overall in Vancouver by riding the home soil competition wave and owning the podium  

Usa-opening-ceremonyThey led all nations with 13 gold medals and 33 overall.  Norway was second with 11 gold (26 overall) and Canada third with 10 golds (25 overall).  The USA was fourth, Germany (19 overall) and The Netherlands (24 overall) tied for fifth with 8 gold medals. 

While the USA had the second highest total medal count with 28, only 9 of them were gold, reflecting the disappointing showing of the speedskating team, the aggravating losses to Canada in men's and women's hockey (arrgh), some medal favorites not coming through, and the failure of the women's figure skaters to medal in ladies singles for the first time since 1936.

yuna 2Hey US Figure Skating Association, guess y'all should have taken.Mirai Nagasu to Sochi instead of snubbing her in favor of Ashley Wagner.    Wagner did get a medal in the inaugural team figure skating event, but still finished sixth in ladies singles.

And speaking of figure skating, it wouldn't be a Winter Olympics without a figure skating controversy that revolved around the judging 

South Korea's Kim Yu-Na was robbed of a gold medal repeat due to some (surprise, surprise) alleged shady judging that led to Russian teen homegirl Adelina Sotnikova who trailed Kim after the short program winning gold to the delight of the Russians in the audience and the derisive whistling (the international version of booing) from the rest of the crowd in attendance at the Iceberg Skating Palace.  

Olympics: Bobsleigh-Women'sSpeaking of failing to medal, one of the two US Summer Olympic team members who was a winter Olympian at these Games is coming home with a history making medal and it isn't Lolo Jones.

Lolo Jones along with Lauryn Williams became the ninth and tenth Americans to make both a Winter and Summer Olympics team and were part of a US women's bobsled team that had four African-Americans on it.   

Jones convinced Williams to try out for the bobsled team, and despite being in the sport for only six months, she became only the fifth athlete ever to win medals in a Winter and Summer Games.   Williams narrowly missed by .10 seconds becoming the first woman and only.the second ever person to achieve the rare feat of winning gold in a Winter and Summer games and the second African-American to win a gold in bobsled

(Left to right) Bobsledders Lolo Jones, Lauryn Williams, Aja Evans, Elana Meyers, Jamie Greubel and Jazmine Fenlator of the United States arrive in SochiShe and Elana Myers were leading in the women's bobsled competition before being bumped off the top of the podium by the Canadian duo and defending Olympic champions Kallie Humphries and Heather Moyse. 

Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones in USA-3 were also trying to make history as well.   Fenlator was trying to become the first African-American bobsled driver to win a medal and Lolo Jones was trying to win her first Olympic medal period but they finished 11th.   The duo of Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans took the bronze, which marked the first time ever the US has taken two medals in the sport in the same Olympics. 

The USA women were up 2-0 and 58 agonizing seconds away from a gold medal, ending Canada's feminine women's hockey dominance and me unleashing a hockey themed rewrite of the Canadian national anthem on this blog and the world until the Canadians scored late to tie it up and then won their fourth straight gold medal in overtime.

It didn't help I had to hear about that 3-2 overtime gold medal game loss and 1-0 loss of the USA men's team in the semis the next day from a certain Canadian.

Shani Davis came into these Games seeking his third straight gold in the 1000m but shockingly finished in 8th place   Like I mentioned earlier, it was a bad Olympics for a US speedskating squad that left Sochi with only one medal in the 5K relay. but a great one for the Dutch speedskaters who made themselves, the Dutch royal family and their orange clad fans feel at home in Adler Arena.

Sarah HendricksonTwo time Olympic halfpipe champ Shaun White also failed to leave Sochi with a medal
And in the inaugural edition of the women's ski jump the American women favored in it failed to make the podium.  Sarah Hendrickson did battle back from a serious injury to make a little history as the first woman ever to jump in Olympic competition. 

But there was more drama away from the competition venues that at them.   While the feared terror attacks failed to happen, there was the video of members of the activist group Pussy Riot being horsewhipped by a Cossack militiaman, the arrests of former Italian MP Vladimir Luxuria for protesting Russian anti-gay policies, and the escalating violence in Russia's neighbor Ukraine that led to an emotional gold medal victory for the Ukrainian women over Russia in the biathlon relay .   

Now the flame has been extinguished and the hosting torch passed to Pyeongchang, South Korea who after two narrow losses to Vancouver and Sochi finally get to host the 2018 Games.  

Wonder if Dennis Rodman's good friend Kim Jong Un is going to demand like his daddy did when Seoul hosted the Summer Games.back in 1988 that the South Koreans let him host some Olympic events at the brand new ski resort he's having built? 

We'll have four years to see how that plays out.      

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