Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

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Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby fantasia_kitty » Feb 03, 2014 11:12 am

The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics is this Friday and I'm excited! :D This is about the only time every two years where I'm glued to the TV. ;) I don't follow anybody leading up to the Olympics so I don't know who's participating or even who to cheer for. Well, I tend to cheer for everybody because I like to see everybody perform their best at the Olympics. :)
My favorite sports tend to be the singles ice skating and couples ice dancing, but I watch just about everything that's on. ;)
Who else is watching this year? Who are you cheering for (country and/or person(s))? What are your favorite sports?
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Gymfan15 » Feb 03, 2014 4:38 pm

Jason Brown is my spirit animal. ;) I've been keeping tabs on this kid for years...I always knew that he was the future of US Men's figure skating and that someday the world would realize that. I had hoped that he might be able to squeak onto that Sochi team, but I was entirely unprepared for him to give an AMAZING performance at Nationals a few weeks ago and have his routine go viral; getting over three million views on Youtube.



Squee. Makes me so happy. I'm so excited he gets to go to the Olympics, which will set him up very nicely for a great few years leading up to the next Olympics, where he will be much more prepared to take home a medal (his technical content isn't quite up to speed yet).

Anyway, to summerize, I'm looing forward to figure skating, as always. ;) US Figure Skating hasn't been super great the last while except in ice dance, where Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been utterly dominant and are a heavy favorite for the gold medal. Our pairs are kind of meh and our ladies are currently in the process of digging themselves out of a six year hole of mediocrity. The men are SUPER talented and promising but aren't quite medal contenders yet.

One new thing this Olympics is the team event in figure skating. It's only even been COMPETED in any capacity for a few years so strategy and outcome is definitely very suspenful.

For those who don't know, eight (or ten?) countries have qualified to compete in the team event. It actually starts on Thursday, the day before the Olympics officialy begin. Each country nominates one skater/team from each disciplin to skate their short program. Programs are scored and then each team is awarded points based on rank; I.e. 1st is 10 points, second is 9, and so on. The top six teams with the highest point total will advance to the final round where they all compete their long programs. Again, points are awarded based on rank. At the end, the teams with the highest combined total of points wins the medals.

A lot of strategy is involved because each country is allowed to make two substitutions in between the long and the short program (so a total of six teams/skaters can win medals). For instance, Jeremy Abbot might skate the short program and Jason Brown the long, and if the USA wins a medal, they both get one. Also, who skates what program is of vital importance because rank, not just score, is important. If the fifth place country with no medal hope happens to have the top skater in one category, they can really affect the points scored by the other teams.

Right now, Russia, the USA and Canada are the top teams in the hunt for medals. Japan is one of the strongest figure skating nations out there, but they are very iffy to advance out of the first segment into the final because their ice dance and pairs teams are pretty much the bottom ranked teams in the whole competition. Their ladies and mens skaters could (and probably will) win their segments, but might not be able to make up the points lost by the pairs and dancers.

USA has a very solid if not spectacular team; they have the top skaters in Ice dance but their men and ladies are mid-ranked and their pairs, not too great. They won the team competition last year (their version of Worlds) but Russia has really caught up; they have medal contenders in pairs, dance and ladies. Their men's entry is a total wildcard because four-time Olympian Plushenko is skating for them, and nobody has a clue how well he's going to do (his body is not in great shape and no one knows if he has the stamina to make it through in one piece, lol). Canada has gold medal favorites in mens and dance, medal favorites in pairs and a very good ladies skater, so right now they and Russia are the favorites for gold with the USA being a solid bronze medal pick; maybe gold depending on how the other teams do. If Japan makes the final they might be in the hunt for the bronze; if not, it will definitely be Russia/Canada/USA in some order.

Anyway, sorry to go on and on but I figured not many people know about the team event, or when it starts. Remember, this THURSDAY is the first day of skating; it will be on NBC primetime. On Saturday, live coverage starts on NBC Online and NBCSports (for those who get that channel). Saturday is the end of the short program segment and start of the long program final, and the last programs of the final will be skated on Sunday.

ETA: IceNetwork put together a nice rundown on the team event that explains it better than I can: http://www.icenetwork.com/news/2014/02/ ... team-event
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Puddleglum » Feb 03, 2014 10:29 pm

I definetly plan on watching this year. according to the local news Minnesota has the second largest delegation of any state in the US. For one of the curlers this is his third time, having bronzed in 2006.
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Varnafinde » Feb 04, 2014 11:25 am

I won't be watching much, I think, but the newspapers will be full of it!
Expect some Norwegian medals in cross-country skiing - probably even some gold medals :)
Men: Petter Northug usually does very well
Women: Marit Bjørgen did very well at the World Championship two years ago, but I think she will have more competition from other Norwegian women this year
(There are even some - gasp - non-Norwegians - who might do well :-o )

Lots of regular TV or radio programmes will be moved to different times or skipped altogether to allow the sports events, especially the various skiing events, to run as they happen. Just putting them in the news afterwards isn't good enough :p
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Gymfan15 » Feb 04, 2014 12:25 pm

Varn, was that a not-so-subtle dig at NBC's notorious tape delay? ;)

It's gotten better as years have gone on. In London all the events were shown live online, and in Sochi all the figure skating (except for Thursday's programs) will be shown live online and on NBC Sports. The only thing they're not showing live in some capacity is the Opening Ceremonies, but I should be able to hack a feed easy enough. :p
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Arwenel » Feb 04, 2014 2:35 pm

The Olympics is about the only sports-related thing i get excited about. I still remember cheering on the US swim team in the one men's relay (2008?), and the US-Canada men's hockey match last winter Olympics.

That said, i'm not sure how much i'm going to be able to watch. Our TV is in an out-of-the-way place, and i work during the day a lot of the time, so i won't have much time to watch and i'm not sure if i will when i can. I do hope to catch some of the ice-skating, at least, especially the figure skating. I'm always afraid they're going to land wrong when they jump.
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Feb 06, 2014 1:33 pm

I caught part of a live stream of the pairs figure skating in the team competition earlier today, and I really enjoyed it! I'm always amazed at the beauty of the art form and the difficulty of the jumps—not to mention the danger! Very impressive. China skated so well, and Canada's routine was so lovely. Russia's performance was just absolutely stunning. :ymapplause:

Gymfan, I always enjoy reading your posts here on NW during the Olympics; they're always so informative. That Jason Brown free skate was electric! Thank you for sharing it!
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Impending Doom » Feb 06, 2014 3:26 pm

Winter Olympic sports are harder than Summer Olympic sports. Most of us know how to run, jump, throw and swim, but skating, skiing and sledding are foreign to most of us 'average' folks. :ymblushing: There also much more entertaining!

I'll probably end up not watching as many events as I want to because of the time difference. But I'm going to try to watch all of the luge, figure skating and hockey events.

Go Team Canada!
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Gymfan15 » Feb 07, 2014 3:52 pm

The team competition started yesterday, with the men's and pairs short programs. Bit of a rocky day for the US. Jeremy Abbott completely bombed his program, finishing in 7th. Not altogether unexpected, sadly. Our pairs did well with a mostly clean program and a new season's best, BUT they're not as strong as the other teams and finished in 5th.

Not a COMPLETE disaster, but definitely a rough day if you were rooting for the US. There's pretty much no way they can win the gold now; it was a very long shot at best (it was always going to be dependent on the other teams not doing well), but now they will be fighting for the bronze. A lot will depend if Japan makes the cut to the final or not. If they do, they will be a strong contender for the bronze; if not there's not really anyone else who can challenge the US.

Russia is looking to be in the driver's seat with Canada as a spoiler (although they are not planning to field their A skaters for the final, so it's unlikely they will pass Russia).

Here are the current standings:
Total Points
1 RUS 9 10 19
2 CAN 8 9 17
3 CHN 7 8 15
4 JPN 10 3 13
5 GER 5 5 10
6 FRA 6 4 10
7 USA 4 6 10
8 ITA 1 7 8
9 UKR 3 2 5
10 GBR 2 1 3

Tomorrow, the ice dance and ladies short programs will round out the qualifying stage, and the pairs final will end the night. The US is expected to do much better tomorrow, probably moving up to third at best and 5th at worst. They'll place no worse than 2nd in ice dance, and between 3rd-6th in ladies. Japan will be on the cusp of qualification; it depends on how their ladies skater, Mao Asada, does. She more or less has to win her segment of the competition to advance. That's definitely expected of her, however she is prone to the odd hiccup every now and then. Italy will probably move up into the top 5, and one of France/Germany (or both if Japan is lucky) will drop out.

There's a certain degree of predictability in skating these days because of how the technical and performance aspects of the programs are scored differently. Even if a skater falls once or twice, it's not as devastating as it used to as long as they were doing harder jumps than their compatriots. As long as you rotate the skill, you still get credit even if you fall, and while you'll take the hit on execution and whatnot, it's not as bad as not attempting the skill at all. So with that in mind, there's only so many places that a skater can move up or down relative to the other skaters based on what technical skills we know they're going to attempt. The only time a mistake can really mess with the standings is when a skater botches it badly enough that they don't get credit at all, or simply doesn't attempt (i.e. doing a single or double rotation instead of the planned triple or quad), ala Jeremy Abbot popping his triple axel. Fortunately, you don't tend to see a LOT of that at the World level because (as expected), most people who are prone to doing that don't make it to that stage. But, it's still a factor.

Anyway, I just wanted to add that last tidbit so people aren't thinking, "Well, the other countries could really mess up and the US could still win!". Especially in the final, last place still gets you a bunch of points which is often all you need to maintain position. Plus, the fact of the matter is that most of the skaters are just not prone to really bad mistakes and it would take a disaster of epic proportions to vault the US over a couple other countries at this point.

In other news, the Opening Ceremonies was this morning (CST). I'll refrain from spoilers from those who couldn't watch it live, but I will say that I really enjoyed it!
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Reepi » Feb 08, 2014 4:45 am

Has anyone heard about the horrible situation regarding their media hotels? There have been a LOT of news stories about that lately :P
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby ValiantArcher » Feb 08, 2014 9:04 pm

Gymmie, the team competition is completely separate from the individual competitions, correct? I saw a couple of the ladies short programs tonight and we were trying to figure out if the team competition was over-arching or not.
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby Gymfan15 » Feb 08, 2014 10:01 pm

Yes, they are completely separate. On Tuesday, the "normal" figure skating competition will start with the pairs, and go on just as it usually does. Most of the "heavy hitters" (i.e. medal contenders) will have competed in the team event due to the fact that the teams qualified based on overall results from all skaters during the last year (so consistently winning events really boosted the whole country up in the rankings); but not all...Yuna Kim will not debut till the individuals, as will a couple other teams/skaters.

Today was definitely a much less nerve-wracking day if you were a USA figure skating fan. ;) The competition kicked off with the ice dance short program, where Davis and White were practically flawless as usual and took first place. Then we moved to ladies, where Ashley Wagner did something that hardly anyone thought she could, which was pull off a nearly clean program after SO much stress and drama that had been thrown at her after Nationals. I was so happy for her, I could have cried; it was such a relief to see that she had the mental nerve to keep it together and prove that sending her to Sochi wasn't a fluke.

Thanks to D/W and Ashley, the USA vaulted up into third place after the qualifying round (as many expected after calming down from Jeremy's dismal skate on Thursday, lol). The competition went straight into the finals, where the pairs took the ice once more to compete their long program. The USA fielded the same team they had in qualifying, Castelli and Shapnier, who I believe made history by competing the first throw quad salchow? I'll have to double check on that, but either way it was a huge move for them and was nearly executed cleanly. All in all, they had a really good skate and placed as high as they could have hoped for considering that they are NOT one of the top teams in the world.

Tomorrow the team event will end with the dance, mens and ladies free programs all happening back to back. Jason Brown (WOOOT WOOT YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY RIVERDANCE!) will be competitive for the US in mens, National champion Gracie Gold for the women, and D/W will once again represent us in dance.

If you look at the competitors slated to compete, Russia has more or less guaranteed themselves the gold medal already. Canada is in solid second, with not really any chance to move up (they are not fielding their strongest skaters in the final). The USA is in third, not really any chance to move up. They are fairly secure for the bronze but Japan and Italy could overtake them if the USA had a disastrous showing. But, again, considering that only five skaters/pairs advance to the final, finishing last isn't as devastating as it could be because there's only couple points that your competitors can gain over you.

It should be a great day tomorrow. I'm really sad because I won't be able to watch any of it live (it happens right during church!) but I will be catching up once I get home.

That's it for today! May your costumes be sparkly and your Floyd be Pink! ;)

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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby stargazer » Feb 09, 2014 3:11 pm

I've been watching quite a bit of the Olympic coverage when I can, and having Gymfan's informative posts has helped me enjoy the skating programs more. Thanks!

I saw most of the opening ceremony and also enjoyed that.
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby ValiantArcher » Feb 09, 2014 7:47 pm

Ah, thanks for the info, Gymmie. :) I only caught the last few last night, but thought that Carolina Kostner had a beautiful performance.
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby fantasia_kitty » Feb 13, 2014 10:28 pm

I have had no time to post in this thread this year. :(( But I've been watching the Olympics religiously from 7pm to 10:30pm. ;))

I've enjoyed just about everything I've watched though I've been a bit frustrated by the higher temps affecting the outdoor snow events.

I'm turning into a freestyle skiing and snowboarding addict. Those are FUN events (provided that nobody is hurt... hate it when that happens).

And I'd like to give a shout-out to my fellow Kansan Katie Uhlaender who is competing in the woman's skeleton! Go Katie! ;))

The irony of these Olympics is that I've had to boycott Facebook throughout the day. Their idiot trending feature has spoiled something just about every time I sign in cause I don't watch the Olympics live. :P
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Re: Winter Olympics 2014 - Sochi, Russia

Postby stargazer » Feb 15, 2014 8:35 am

Like fantasia, I've been watching much of the prime-time coverage and also some of the live daytime coverage.

I also liked watching the slopestyle and halfpipe competitions, even though I had only a vague idea of what I was watching (the commentators would describe the tricks using specific terms of the sport, and much of it didn't mean anything to me. ;)) But I think I'm learning). It's not like other events where I know what's going on, like skating or hockey or even curling (hey, people laugh but there's lot of physics going on there. Besides, almost all of the men US curlers come from Minnesota).

However, I did miss the US-Russia men's hockey game since it was on pretty early. The result was US 4, Russia 3 in a shoot-out
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