Monday, February 24, 2014

Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics

Day 16 is last day and the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, 23 Feb 14 Sunday:

It is the final day of competition at the Sochi Olympics.  And the last day proved glorious for the host nation and some of the very last athletes to compete on this final day.

In four man bobsled, Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunekov, Alexey Voevoda and Alexander Zubkov deliver Russia the gold.  And they did it by maintaining an impressive lead over the other sled teams.  This is Alexander Zubkov's second gold of the games, having won the two man bobsled earlier with Alexey Voevoda.  They also won medals from Torino 2006, a silver in 4 man bobsled, and Vancouver 2010, a bronze in 2 man bobsled. 

Latvia's Oskars Melbārdis, Arvis Vilkaste, Daumants Dreiškens, and Jānis Strenga slide to silver. 

The US make the podium to earn bronze, with Steven Holcomb (bronze in 2 man bobsled in Sochi, gold in 4 man bobsled at Vancouver 2010),  Steven Langton (bronze in 2 man bobsled in Sochi), Curtis Tomasevicz (gold in 4 man bobsled at Vancouver 2010), Christopher Fogt (US veteran who competed at Vancouver 2010 in the second US sled and was deployed to Iraq right after the end of Vancouver 2010).

In the men's hockey gold medal game, the Canadians successfully defend their Vancouver 2010 title, beating Sweden 3-0.  Sweden settles for silver.

Of all the games the host nation was hoping to medal in, hockey was the one they had high hopes for.  But there is controversy over the International Olympics Committee mishandling and amateurish, possibly politically motivated actions that forced Sweden's forward Nicklas Backstrom to sit out the gold medal clash against Canada for a doping offense.  Except it wasn't a doping offense. 

It was the stimulant pseudoephedrine, which showed up in elevated levels in Backstrom's tests, because he was taking the over the counter sinus med Zyrtec D for his sinuses.  It is an allergy med he has taken over the years for his sinus condition and he did inform the drug testing officials that he was taking it, so they were aware of it.  Even Sweden's team doctor had given the okay for Backstrom to take the sinus med.  What makes the IOC's decision to keep Backstrom out of the gold medal final so suspicious was that they had the results two days prior, yet waited just 2 hours before the final to reveal their findings, making it impossible for Sweden to appeal and clear Backstrom. 

A similar case occurred in Vancouver 2010 when a player also took the over the counter sinus med and showed an elevated level of pseudoephedrine.  The International Ice Hockey Foundation was able to get the IOC to retest the player the next day to show the levels had gone down to the acceptable range once more.  That player was allowed to play in his matches.  The IOC's serious mishandling of Backstrom's case is very offensive and suspicious to Sweden, with the International Ice Hockey Foundation and the National Hockey League coming out to support Backstrom, declaring he had done nothing wrong, and criticizing the IOC for their very questionable and offensive actions in a game where Backstrom could've made a difference.  There are all ready threats from the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association to stop participating in the Olympics due to the IOC's poor mishandling and incompetence in handling the case. 

I hope the IOC gets their act together, because on the world stage, their incompetence and mishandling of this case not only makes them look stupid and hurts the players and fans, it also makes them look suspicious and probably corrupt in eyes of the hockey world.  Don't hold on to possible positive test results for two days, then reveal them only two hours before a gold medal game, causing a team to lose a good player, jeopardizing their chances to get gold.  Get your crap together, IOC!

Finally, in the last outdoor event of the games, Russia sweeps the men's 50km mass start cross country skiing race for the first time.  Alexander Legkov. who won silver in the 4x10km relay, was the first Russian out of 3 in the lead group coming into the stadium to cross the finish line first.  Maxim Vylegzhanin takes the silver, adding to the two he won in the 4x10km relay and team sprint.  And Ilia Chernousov holds off Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby for the bronze.
And with this medal sweep, Russia wins the medal table for most medal and most gold medals.  It is a glorious finish for the host country.  It may not be the hockey gold they wanted, but it's still an impressive win.

And so we come to the Closing Ceremony:

Let's give it up for the Russians, who followed Canada's lead in how to handle Opening Ceremony glitches with humor.  If you recall, during the Sochi Opening Ceremony, there was a glitch in the Olympics Rings light show, when one of the rings failed to open.  The Russians embraced that mistake and repeated it in the fantastic Closing Ceremony floor show, where one group of dancers imitated the glitch, then successfully complete the rings.

My favorite performers where the birds flying over the ocean:
A flock of seagulls:  And  I ran, I ran so far away!

I've always wondered what happens to tinsel after the holidays:
Shiny Happy People

This being Russia, of course they would showcase ballet:
Hey, baby; want to go on a magic carpet ride?
The ballet was okay.  But I much prefer the circus:
Where do I apply to be her assistant?

And the fireworks.  I love the fireworks:


I think it's quite appropriate that Sochi's cauldron looks like a penis on fire.  It's very symbolic of how Russia is like a penis with herpes, trying hard to be prominent and noticeable, while its track record of suppressing dissension and minorities is a painful reminder that all is not well.  And while everything looks fine and seems to work on the surface, the occasional flare up and painful eruptions that breaks to the surface is a warning to always be cautious and safe when dealing with Russia.

The Olympics flag has been passed on to South Korea for the next winter Olympics at PyeongChang 2018.  In two years, the summer Olympics will be held for the first time in South America at Rio de Janeiro 2016.  And I can't wait to see what incredible feats the Olympic athletes will accomplish and I look forward to seeing what Rio does to welcome the world and show us what Brazil is all about.

There were fears about safety and concerns over whether Sochi would be ready and how to keep the games safe.  I say, well done, Sochi!  Thank you to all the thousands of volunteers, staff, and organizers who worked very hard to prepare the games and maintain the venues to put on a spectacular winter Olympics.  Thank you athletes, for your hard work and for being ambassadors of your countries on the world stage.  Thank you to all the armed forces and law enforcement for protecting the athletes and fans and keeping the city safe.  You welcomed the world to your home, and we are very thankful for a great Olympics experience. 

Bol'shoe spasibo (Большое спасибо); Thank you very much, Sochi!.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 3 of the Sochi Olympics

Day 3 of the Sochi Olympics, 10 Feb 2014 Mon:

Day 3 of the Sochi Olympics proved to be outstanding for several athletes.  It is certainly a golden day for Canada.  Two of Canada's Vancouver 2010 champions successfully defend their titles.

Canadian Charles Hamelin wins the gold medal in 1500m short track speed skating race.  In the thrilling and spilling chaotic sport of short track, Hamelin was able to hold off the powerhouse South Korean and Chinese men in a strategic move that catapulted him from 3rd to 1st in the race.

My tights were inspired by Infomaniac!
He managed to hold off the formidable Victor An, the Korean who now represents Russia after a falling out with the South Korean Federation.  An won 3 golds in Torino 2006, but an injury kept him from Vancouver.  Because the Korean Federation has such a powerful bench full of talent, An and the Korean Federation didn't see eye to eye and the Federation thought An was not good enough to compete.  So An moved to Russia, got citizenship there and changed his name to Victor An, and now with his bronze, gives Russia its first ever short track medal.  China's Tianyu Han barely scraped by An to take the silver.

And once again, Alex Bilodeau delivers Canada its first gold medal of the Olympics!

His Sochi 2014 gold along with Hamelin's granted Canada 2 golds for the day.  In a tough field of full of talent, the Canadian Bilodeau outscored his competitors in the moguls by putting in an incredible performance that earned him the gold medal and allowed him to successfully defend his Vancouver 2010 champion title!  Fellow Canadian Mikael Kingsbury takes the silver, adding to the Canadian medal haul.  While another Canadian, Marc-Antoine Gagnon. was edged off the podium by Russian Alexandr Smyshlyaev who took the bronze.

And the Orange Crush rolls on!  For the first time ever, Netherlands wins gold in the 500m speed skating sprint.  Moreover, it was a clean sweep for the Dutch!  Wonder twins:  Michel Mulder takes gold while brother Ronald takes bronze, and fellow teammate Jan Smeekens takes silver.

Smeekens was originally declared the winner, but a photo finish and jury decision leading to a 100th of a second adjustment that bumped him to second place.  It is a hard experience for the skater to realize in the space of 3 minutes that he went from 1st to second, but he gets props for giving such an amazing performance.  Hey, a silver is a great medal; hell, any medal is a great medal!  Just ask defending  Vancouver 2010 champion South Korea’s Tae Bum Mo who came in fourth.  A fantastic performance for the incredible Dutch team.

Meanwhile, in the fast and furious world of the Ladies Super Combined, Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, world champion, successfully defends her Vancouver 2010 champion title, by taking gold at Sochi.

In a race that combines a downhill race in the morning and a afternoon slalom, the fastest combined time wins.  And Maria Hoefl-Riesch put in an incredible slalom performance, making up for a whole second behind after the morning's downhill portion, knocking American Julie Mancuso from the top spot.  Mancuso, although thought by many to have little chance at medaling due to injuries and unsteady performance recently, proved her skills by taking bronze here at Sochi.  Nicole Hosp of Austria puts in a stellar run to get the silver.

And it's a great day for France!  In the Men's Biathlon 12.5km pursuit, Martin Fourcade, silver medalist at Vancouver 2010, out skis and out shoots his opponents to claim gold to put France on the medal board!  Fellow Frenchman Jean Guillaume Beatrix delivers Frances second medal with a bronze.  And Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic takes the silver.

Veteran and legend Veteran Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who all ready won gold earlier in the games, was 4th.  Still, he put in an impressive performance as the 40 year old battles against a much younger competition. 

What an amazing day for the athletes and what an amazing display of heart and skill from all the athletes who gave it their all.