SOCHI REFLECTIONS

There was far too much sports action going on to keep track of all that was happening. However ten days after the games finished in Sochi, some results and events have obviously made more of an impact on me than others. Here are some of my recollections:-

OLYMPIC RECORD for GB WOMEN’S CURLING TEAM (Bronze Winners)

Eve Muirhead’s team made Olympic history in their 2nd round robin match against the USA. They won this game 12-3 in 6 ends after securing an amazing 7 points in one end. Previously the best score in a single end was six.

MULTIPLE WORLD RECORD’S IN FIGURE SKATING

Pairs Short: Volosohar & Trankov (RUS) 84.17                Men’s Short: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) 101.45

Ice-Dance Short: Davis & White (USA) 78.89                   Ice-Dance Total: Davis & White (USA) 195.52

Ice-Dance Free: Davis & White (USA 116.63

MOST SUCCESSFUL WINTER OLYMPIAN

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen going into the Sochi Games had 11 Winter Olympic medals (inc. 6 Golds) from 5 previous games. Participating in the gruelling sport of BIATHLON he hoped to equal or better the record of fellow Norwegian Bjorn Daehlie (total 12/8 of them Gold). BJOERNDALEN in his sixth consecutive games succeeded in bettering his countryman’s record by winning Gold in 10km Sprint Biathlon and Gold in the Biathlon Mixed Relay. His tally now reads 13 winter medals/8 of them Gold.

IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR

Justine Dufour-Lapointe secured Gold (youngest freestyle ski gold) for Canada in the Women’s Moguls ahead of her older sister Chloe who took Silver. Another sister Maxime also took part in the event finishing 12th.

A husband and wife team won Gold and Bronze respectively for Russia in races that took place within minutes of each other. American born Vic Wild won Gold for his adopted country in the Men’s Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom, while his Russian wife Alena Zavarzina took Bronze in the Women’s event.

In the Men’s 500m Speed Skate the Netherlands Michel Mulder took Gold while his twin brother Ronald Mulder secured the Bronze. Another Dutchman took Silver making it 1-2-3 for the Netherlands.

WOMEN FINALLY GET TO SKI JUMP

At long last Women were allowed to participate in a Ski Jump event and competed on the Normal Hill. An analysis of the men’s and women’s results for the same hill made interesting reading. In the final round from a field of 31 men only 7 jumped 100m or more whilst 4 women out of 30 achieved the same result. But the longest actual distance jumped was 104.5m by Women’s Silver medallist Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria, whilst Kamil Stoch of Poland cleared 103.5m to earn the Men’s Gold for Poland. Of course points from earlier rounds are carried forward and style marks make an impact on the final result as well. But it’s intriguing to compare the two together for fun. Women didn’t take part in the Large Hill or Team events.

HOW A MATTER OF SECONDS/CENTIMETRES CAN CHANGE A RESULT BRINGING ECSTASY OR HEARTACHE

In the Women’s Ice-Hockey final between the USA and Canada, the American’s were 2-1 up with just over a minute to go in regular time. The USA had an open goal at their mercy but the puck hit off the right goalpost. The Canadians scooped up the loose puck, thumped it up field and promptly scored, equalising the game with only 54 Seconds on the clock. The game went into overtime and a golden goal situation. Canada won 3-2 with the player who had scored the equaliser taking the winning shot.

Lizzy Yarnold won Gold for GB in the Women’s Skeleton event by 0.97s. Third and Fourth place were separated by only 0.04s, the difference between a medal and nothing.

GB Short Track Speed Skater Elise Christie had to endure heartbreak in 3 events in Sochi. Looking in fine form she reached the 500m Short Track final but took a tumble with two other skaters. Only the Chinese girl was left unhindered and went on to take an easy Gold. Christie and the others picked themselves up and finished the race with Elise looking to have won Silver. However, she was disqualified for having caused the early race fall. In a second event the 1500m a wary Elise apparently eased into a final spot, crossing the line in a virtual photo-finish. But her skate passed 1cm outside the 1.5m finishing line and she was deemed not to have finished! With a few days to get over her obvious disappointments, Elise Christie harnessing all that untapped potential took part in her favoured event the 1000m. In the semi-finals Elise skated conservatively until almost the end when she moved deftly into a second place spot, only to crash out after a Chinese girl fell and took Elise out. To the commentators surprise Elise was not advanced to the final but penalised along with the Chinese athlete, thus being prevented from even taking part in the B Final.

Japan ski jumper Noriaki Kasai (age 41) won an amazing individual Silver medal in the Large Hill event, and a Bronze team medal on the same hill. Kasai appearing in his 7th consecutive winter games just missed securing gold by 1.3 points (about 75/80cm), which isn’t much when you consider the hill jump category, was 140 metres. Interestingly a ski-jumper is only allowed a minimal amount of bagginess in their clothing (up to 6cm), anymore and they are disqualified for having an unfair “lift” advantage.

INCREDIBLE PHOTO-FINISHES

I was riveted by the Men’s 15km Mass Start Biathlon Final which literally went to the line. Norway’s Emil Helge Svendsen with the line in sight threw up his hands in delight at winning Gold. He was completely unaware that Frenchman Martin Fourcade (looking for a hat-trick of Gold medals in Sochi) was coming up the home straight like an express train. He lunged a ski out as he crossed the line alongside Svendsen. A photo-finish showed that both men posted a time of 42m 29.1s but the ankle of Svendson had crossed the line first with the toe of Fourcade behind.

GB’s snowboarder Zoe Gillings missed out on a place in the main final by the narrowest of margins. In her Women’s Snowboard Cross Semi-final all four racers were involved in photo finishes. Canada’s Maltais was judged 1st alongside Bulgaria’s Jekova whilst Moili took 3rd to Gillings 4th. None of the four athletes were upright when they finished, instead all of them flung their outstretched bodies over the line. Only the first three went into the proper final.

In the first quarter-final of the Men’s Ski Cross only one of the four participants crossed the line standing on their skis. Literally feet away from the finishing line, the two leaders crashed followed by the fourth placed guy as well. The Swiss skier Armin Nieder; (third placed during the falls); negotiated around everyone to cross the line first, whilst the others all skidded toward the finish. Russian Egor Korotkov (travelling head first) stretched his arms out full length to break the line in second place, ensuring qualification for the semis.

1-2-3 for ONE NATION

In the Speed Skating events the NETHERLANDS dominated the results and had a clean sweep of the podium in the Women’s 1500m & Men’s 5000m and 500m finals. In fact in the Women’s 1500m it was the first time in Winter Olympic history the top four positions were taken by one country.

In the Olympic debut event of Men’s Ski Slopestyle Team USA swept the podium. Joss Christensen took Gold ahead of his team mates Gus Kenworthy and Nicholas Goepper. Only twice before (56-Men’s figure skating & 2002 Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe) have the USA dominated in this way.

FRANCE (for only the second time ever in their Winter Olympic history) filled the podium in the Men’s Ski Cross event. Jean Frederic Chapuis won Gold, Arnaud Bovolenta took Silver and Jonathan Midol slid over the line on his bottom to secure Bronze. After the event a protest was lodged by Canada & Slovenia against the results, as they felt Team France had violated the dress code using “baggier” clothing. This would have given them potentially more aero-dynamic runs, but the results stand.

In the Women’s 30 km Mass Start Cross Country (Free) event NORWAY filled the podium when Marit Bjoergen won Gold equalling the all time record for a Female Winter Olympian. It was her tenth medal in total with 6 being Gold, and Sochi brought 3 of them.

In the Men’s 50km Mass Start Cross Country (Free) event RUSSIA filled the podium with Alexander Legkov securing Gold and his fellow team-mates Maxim Vylegzhanin winning Silver and Ilia Chernousov Bronze.

SOCHI A GLOBAL PHENOMENA

The Sochi games have by far been the most extensively covered Winter Olympics of all time. Around 240 TV channels worldwide covered the last games from Vancouver, this time it was believed to be 464. Together with online footage being available, websites, apps and other digital platforms such as social media offering opinions on all the action, it was a global sensation.

The Ladies Figure Skating Individual Gold medal was won by Russia with the much fancied South Korean taking Silver. Consternation at this outcome went worldwide, and within 24 hours of the final result being announced 1.74 million signatories were on a petition demanding an inquiry.

Unfortunately not all social media interactions are supportive of the athletes. Elise Christie closed her Twitter account having suffered online bullying after her first event.

A spoof video of a “wolf roaming through the athlete’s accommodation” went viral after being posted on the web. The footage was supposedly shot by a Team USA luger Kate Hansen in Sochi. However the video was filmed in the ABC studios and was the brain-child of American comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

OUT OF THIS WORLD

I read a report on the BBC that medal winners on the 15th of February would have a medal with a difference. On this date last year news reports around the world showed the Chelyabinsk meteorite streaking across Russian skies. It ended its journey in the Russian lake known as Chebarkul, and the meteorite was recovered from there in October 2013. The ten Gold medallists from the anniversary date will receive an additional medal embedded with small fragments of the “out of this world space rock”.

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One thought on “SOCHI REFLECTIONS”

  1. Wow that is some write up! I dipped in and out of it myself as I could not work out how to play curling and was too busy and lazy to read up on it and it seemed to be on all the time! My favourites were the skating controversy and the acrobatic skiiing.

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