Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 15 of the Sochi Olympics

Day 15 of the Sochi Olympics, 22Feb14 Sat:

The Olympics is winding down, but the excitement continues on Day 15.

It is a good day for host country Russia.

It was a spectacular competition over at men's biathlon 4x7.5km relay.  Norway was heavily favored to win the gold and defend their Vancouver 2010 title.  With Tarjei Bø (Vancouver 2010 4x7.5km relay champion) and his younger brother, Johannes Thingnes Bø, with winter Olympics legend and king of the biathlon Ole Einar Bjørndalen (winner of the most winter Olympics medals with 13 medals, 2 golds at Sochi in 10km sprint & mixed relay), and Emil Hegle Svendsen (winner of 5 winter Olympics biathlon medals, 2 golds at Sochi in mass start & mixed relay), the Norwegians looked unbeatable in the contest for gold.  And by the time Ole Einar Bjørndalen handed the final leg of the race to Emil Hegle Svendsen, the Norwegians had a huge lead in the field.  But at the last round of shooting, Svendsen misses 3 at the shooting range, and he has to do a penalty loop, opening the door wide open for Germany, Russia, and Austria to surge ahead!

Germany takes the lead!  Russia follows with Austria on its heels.  And in the final kilometer of the race, in front of the cheering home crowd, Russia's Anton Shipulin kicks it up in high gear and outsprints Germany's Simon Schempp for gold! 

Russia's team of Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyugov (Vancouver 2010 gold in mass start and bronze in 4x7.5km relay), Dmitry Malyshko, and Anton Shipulin (Vancouver 2010 bronze in 4x7.5km relay)  deliver Russia's only gold in biathlon.  Germany's Erik Lesser (silver in individual at Sochi), Daniel Böhm, Arnd Peiffer, and Simon Schempp win silver.  Austria holds on with Vancouver silver medalists Christoph Sumann, Daniel Mesotitsch, Simon Eder, and Dominik Landertinger (silver 10km sprint Sochi) claiming the bronze.  Such a disappointment for the Norwegians to finish off the podium in 4th.

It should be noted that Anton Shipulin's older sister is Anastasiya Kuzmina of Slovakia, who won gold in women's 7.5km sprint, defending her Vancouver 2010 gold in the same event (becoming the first female biathlete to successfully defend an Olympics title) and earned a silver in Vancouver 2010 in the pursuit. 

Gold medalists Anastasiya Kuzmina & younger brother Anton Shipulin
Anastasiya is married to her coach, former Israeli cross country skier Daniel Kuzmin, and they have a son and live in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia.  Back in 2008, the Russian team would not let Kuzmina take her child with her to the training camps.  So, Kuzmina, wanting to be close to her husband and child, and still compete, decided to take on a Slovakian passport through the marriage with her husband and compete for Slovakia.  The Russian team shot themselves in the foot with their poor decision not to accommodate her and I bet they regret it now.  With their incredible endurance, speed, and spectacular shooting, the Shipulin Kuzmin clan is definitely one of the most talented (and deadly accurate) families on skis!

Vic Wild, American expat, delivers Russia another gold, this time in men's parallel slalom, after winning the parallel giant slalom earlier in the week.  Zan Kosir of Slovenia takes silver, adding to his bronze in the parallel giant slalom, joins Vic Wild as the only 2 athletes to win more than one medal at a single Olympics in snowboarding.  Benjamin Karl of Austria wins the bronze over Aaron March of Italy.  With Vic Wild's win, Russia leaps to the top of the medal table.

On the women's side of the parallel giant slalom, Julia Dujmovits of Austria comes from a 0.72 seconds deficit and overtakes Anke Karstens of Germany by 0.12 seconds to take the first Olympics gold awarded in the event.  Karstens settles for silver; and fellow countrywoman, Amelie Kober beats Corinna Boccacini of Italy for bronze.

The Norwegians can celebrate an incredible women's cross country 30km freestyle skiing race.  Norway sweeps the podium for the first time!  Marit Bjoergen, Therese Johaug and Kristin Stoermer Steira all earned the gold, silver, and bronze respectively.  Bjoergen was able to pull away from Johaug and out-sprinted her to the finish; Steira couldn't hold on the top two as they climbed the final hill, but she held on to fight her way to finish 3rd.  This makes it Bjoergen's 10th overall Olympics medal!

Over in the mountains at men's slalom, it's a one two finish for Austria, as Mario Matt put in an incredible two runs to take gold.  Marcel Hirscher comes from a 9th place 1st run to a spectacular second run to earn him the silver.  In his second run, Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway moved up from 15th places to claim the bronze.  The podium finishers were able to survive a tough second run, after weather conditions wreaked havoc on the course, causing the first run leaders to tumble in their second run.

Back indoors, Finland crushes the US in men's hockey bronze match.  Just 11 seconds into the second period, Teemu Selanne and Jussi Jokinen scored two goals to take the wind out of the American sails. 
The US men fall apart as the Finns put in a rousing performance, scoring three more goals in the final third period, winning bronze 5-0 over the US.  The Finns played an aggressive and fast game, able to whittle at the Americans defenses and capitalize on the Americans missed opportunities.  It was an impressive effort from the fighting Finns and quite a disappointment for the Americans, who couldn't match the intensity the Finns dealt out to take a medal home.

The Dutch dominate again in speed skating.  In the women's speed skating pursuit, the Orange crush sets an Olympic record time of 2:58.05; Ireen Wust, Marrit Leenstra, and Jorien Ter Mors with Lotte van Beek (who helped the team qualify for the final) deliver the Netherlands its first ever gold in this event.  Poland's Katarzyna Bachleda-Curuś, Natalia Czerwonka, Luiza Złotkowska, and Katarzyna Woźniak take silver; and Russia's Olga Graf, Yekaterina Lobysheva, Yekaterina Shikhova, and Yuliya Skokova add bronze to the home country's medal haul.

On the men's side, the Dutch dominate again. And matching their female teammates, the men deliver the Netherland's first gold in the event and also set an Olympics record.  Jan Blokhuijsen, Sven Kramer, and Koen Verweij set a new record of 3:37.71.  South Korea's Joo Hyong-jun, Kim Cheol-min, and Lee Seung-hoon take silver.  And Poland's Zbigniew Bródka,
Konrad Niedźwiedzki, and Jan Szymański take bronze.

Sunday is the last the day of competition and the Closing Ceremony.  The only events left are the gold medal men's hockey game, men's 50km cross country free style skiing, and the four man bobsled.  I'll post about these events as soon it's tape delayed broadcast is done tonight.


  1. Women's Cross Country 30km: Wow, Norway really skied away with that one. It must have been really depressing for the rest of the field to know that the best they could do was fourth place.

    Men's Hockey Bronze: What a weak US showing. It really makes all of NBC's hype last week about the teams "Miracle On Ice II" win over Russia look pretty shallow and jingoistic.

  2. LX, Those Norwegians totally dominated after the halfway point. I think by the last 5km, everyone else just gave up trying to catch the runaway Norwegian lead group.

    Yeah, I totally agree about the US men being totally weak! That was a very poor way to end the hockey tournament. It's like they didn't even try!

    I always get annoyed with how NBC hypes up some of the American athletes, while totally being ignorant of where the athletes stand in world rankings. Just because someone is ranked #1 nationally doesn't mean they rank #1 in the world.