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At The Games – Sun. Feb.14th

In At the Games Baby on February 14, 2010 by geespotting

  The 2010 Winter Games are underway, and the first 2 days have provided a ton to talk about. While in Vancouver, here are some of my observations:

LUGE

– Following the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, a number of changes have been done to the track to prevent this from happening again. An investigation wrapped up early yesterday to say that this was the error of the luger. In my mind, this investigation was done pretty darn quickly. More has to be done in this sport to protect the athlete. I noticed that through most of the track (mostly the straight stretches), there was nothing to prevent the luger from flying over the side and onto a PAVED ROAD. Many blame the medal pole on the death of Kumaritashvili, while in reality, there was nothing preventing him from leaving the track. At the speed he was traveling, a tumble onto the road probably wouldn’t have saved him as well. There has to be higher walls in place to prevent this from happening. If it obstructs TV views…oh lord…so be it! This has to apply to tracks everywhere, and not just in Vancouver.

OPENING CEREMONIES

– There is not a whole lot that I can add to this. All the good and bad has been said already. It was an incredible experience, and to have run into a teary eyed James Taylor, just stated how remarkable it truly was. For me, k.d. Lang doing the Leonard Cohen standard “Hallelujah” was a highlight. She had recorded this song many years ago, and some say hererendition is the best. After that performance, you can’t really argue that.

GRETZKY

– It had to be the obvious choice, and the correct one, to have had the “Great One” light the cauldron outside. I enjoyed the procession indoors with the likes of Donald Sutherland, Betty Fox and Bobby Orr carrying the Olympic flag. Having Rick Hansen, Nancy Greene, Steve Nash, Catriona Le May Doan and Wayner there was the perfect touch. I think many figured it would be truly Canadian to have 4 light the cauldron, as opposed to picking just one. I did not realize that there was the outdoor cauldron, and truly enjoyed Gretz and his ride in the back of a pickup to light it. From what I gather, Wayne still has incredible back pain from his days of ruling hockey, so, to see him hanging on for dear life amidst the rain, cold, and people elements just added to the whole spectacle. (Wayne is my hero, and takes a narrow second to Christ for his contributions to Canada).

HOCKEY

– It’s a shame that the women’s game has only 2 powerhouses. In an 18-0 win over Slovakia last night, Canada was still taking it easy. How do you tell a team that scores every minute to take it easy?  At what point does someone have to put the puck in the net after 12 give-and-go’s? I want to feel sorry for the Slovaks, but, they destroyed Bulgaria in a qualifier 82-0. On the men’s side, goals for are extremely important as each team is seeded after the round robin. For Canada, not only do you want one of the 4 top spots to avoid the preliminary round, but, you also want that number one spot, so, you will presumably miss one of the big 7 in the quarters. On the ladies side…there really is nothing gained for Canada and the U.S. to hammer their opponents. Unless Sweden can pull off another upset ala the men’s side losing to Belarus in ’02, it will be Canada and the U.S. Goals for and against won’t really matter other than who is given the ‘home ice’ advantage in the final game. I may not watch a women’s game in it’s entirety until the Gold Medal encounter…and that’s the sad reality in women’s hockey.

GETZLAF

– Ok…here is how this should go. In order to be on Team Canada, Ryan Getzlaf not only has to play later today against Edmonton, but, he will have to impress too. Looking at both teams, he should be the best player on the ice, and should lead the Ducks to victory. Anything less than that, I am sorry, but, Jeff Carter gets in.

SPEED SKATING

– The long track yesterday wasn’t all that impressive, and more so because the long distance wasn’t one of Canada’s strong points. It will be easier to watch in the shorter distances when Denny Morrison should excel. The short track yesterday was exciting however. I love the demolition derby aspect of the game, and the fact that an upset is just a collision away. That was the case when a South Korean sweep was just seconds away until a crash allowed 2 Americans to grab medals. Those two being Apolo Anton Ohno, who skated very well yesterday, and his heir apparent J.R Celski. It was a longer distance, so, I didn’t think our Canadians would excel, but, it was a pleasant surprise to see Olivier Jean skate so well, and finish 4th. I look forward to the shorter distances, and the sprints to finish for medals!

KRISTI RICHARDS

– The women’s freestyle moguls were very exciting last night on Cypress Mountain, and to have a local girl from the Okanagan in the mix to win was even more impressive. Kristi knew that in order to have a shot at a medal, and in particular Gold, she would have to have a flawless run, and some amazing jumps. She was fourth in qualifying, and would have to jump into the top spot with three to go. She was blazing down the course, and doing very well until her ski got caught, and she went down. She put her ski back on…listened to the crowd for a moment, re-focused and finished her run, and included her new jump, which she executed perfectly. After her tumble, it seemed like Kristi wanted to finish…but, finish doing that jump she was going to debut. I (and everyone in Summerland) am so proud of her for her guts, and the balls to finish like she did. As for the top three girls, I am sure they know that anyone of them could have been on the sidelines had Kristi finished the race like she had planned to.

JENN HEIL

– I feel sorry for Jenn, not because she finished 2nd, but, because of the coverage leading into the Games that focuses on our athletes expected to win Gold. There have been some great ad campaigns on TV, but, some of them make me cringe. The worst one is the one where little kids are talking about “do you believe”? The commercial continues with “I believe that for the first time a Canadian will win Gold at home”, and then the next kid says “I believe we will win it all”.  Come on…not even the Americans do stuff like that. Jenn did not look happy upon winning Silver, and that’s fine…because she expected Gold. She was gracious moments later in talking to CTV, but, I hope she doesn’t feel like she let Canada down. If anyone is favored to win Gold, but, they still finish among the top 3, then it has to be a victory. I hope she will always realize that.

FRONT RUNNERS

– The U.S. has 4 medals so far to have jumped out in front. They weren’t expected to win in the short track 1,500 men’s metre, so, to have those 2 medals are bonus for the Yanks.

THE CANADA METER

Medal expectations so far: 1

Medals: 1

– In reality, the only medal that should have happened yesterday was Heil’s…and that took place. When the men’s downhill takes place, expect another one there.

– Today, look for the 3,ooo metre women’s relay team to bring home a medal, although it will be tough with China, South Korea and the U.S. all involved.

…no pressure though…Canada.

…That’s Geespotting from the Winter Games in B.C.

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