Sorry, real life got in the way yesterday so I couldn’t get to Olympic Poseur and my extended rant about the hockey tournament. I still want to do it, but it’s going to have to wait because…
“YES! YES! YES! YES! GOLD! GOLD!”
That was NBC’s actual call of women’s cross country and it deserved all of the yelling. In the span of two days, the US turned a disastrous Olympics into at least a decent one, as the team combined for eight medals in two days, climbing into fourth place on the medal count. Let’s go through it event by event, because it is fun.
Women’s Downhill: Bronze
Lindsey Vonn did Lindsey Vonn things and attacked the hill with all out aggression. There’s been some criticism of her run in the reevaluation, but that’s Monday Morning Quarterbacking. Vonn had a terrific run, it’s just that Sofia Goggia had an even better one. Heck, the graphics team showed that Vonn hit higher speeds than Goggia, its just that somehow she didn’t pick up any time on Goggia’s absurdly great middle section. Vonn appeared to be cruising to silver as one of only two skiers even within a second of Goggia’s time until the more lightly regarded Ragnhild Mowinckel came out of the 19th slot to grab silver by finishing 0.09 seconds behind the leader. It was the run of her life, and that stuff happens sometimes. Especially if you’re a Norwegian skier in these Olympics. Thigs went well for the US, but here’s a reminder, this is still the Norway Olympics.
Women’s Bobsled: Silver
The US went into the day in first and third and finished second and fifth, so even though the US grabbed a medal, it was a bit of a disappointment. Jamie Gruber Poser (no relation) had a slight mistake, opening the door to the podium. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs threw down a great run from the lead spot, but the Germans were slightly better, and snuck into the lead by 0.07 seconds. It hurts, proving again the silver medal is worse than the bronze, as you think of what could have been.
Women’s Cross-Country Team Sprint: Gold
The US has not medaled in cross-country since 1976. The women have never won a gold medal. Ever. So when the US found itself neck and neck with Sweden and Norway on the final leg, it was already a huge win for the USA. Simply getting a medal was a massive win and a reason to celebrate. Instead, we got this:
UNBELIEVABLE!@kikkanimal & @jessdiggs earn the first ever cross-country #gold medal for @TeamUSA, with a pass that will go down in American Olympic history! #WinterOlympics #BestOfUS https://t.co/4YMw63E4C3 pic.twitter.com/bfHoGnPCWw— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 22, 2018
It’s not “Do you believe in miracles?” but it was still pretty great. In your face, Norway!
Women’s Speed Skating Team Pursuit: Bronze
The struggles of the speed skating team have been well-documented, but the women salvaged something out of these Games and prevented a goose egg. The US and Canada squared off in the B final in a head to head race for the bronze. The US squad jumped out to a big lead, getting their lead up to around three and half seconds by the middle of the race. However, they couldn’t keep up the blistering pace and Canada started slowly chipping away by not losing their own pace. The lead dropped from three seconds to two on the next split to one and half on the penultimate split… and Canada closed the final split by outsprinting the US by over a second. It was not enough. The US won bronze over its hat by 0.47 seconds.
The Day’s Tally
Four medals. One gold. All of them in classic sports, not an X-game in sight. Every single one of them one by a women. Dudes, we need to start pulling our weight.
Women’s Alpine Combined: Silver
Lindsey Vonn absolutely destroyed the field on the downhill leg of the combined. She had nearly a second lead on everyone and she built up a 1.98 second lead on Mikaela Shiffrin, who was still in sixth place. All she had to do was avoid disaster on the slalom, and Vonn was likely going to close out with another medal. Instead, she missed a gate. Shiffrin, on the other hand, came roaring back, but had given up too much time to Michelle Gisin. The US will take the silver, but it could have been two medals had Vonn not missed that gate.
Men’s Ski Halfpipe: Gold and Silver.
You know, I can’t really tell what separates the top runs from each other as the scores seem fairly random, but the US won the top two spots on the podium. David Wise was the favorite, and he had crashes on his first two runs, so it was cool to see him deliver under pressure. Watching the event, I came away less impressed by the winners than terrified by the crashes. When people wipe out on the half pipe on skis, they wipe out hard.
Women’s Snowboard Big Air: Silver
Another sport with seemingly random scoring, but Austria’s Anna Gasser was obviously the best. I don’t need to have any sort of expertise in the sport to recognize her greatness. Jamie Anderson had the best score by mere mortals. I do like how the event used the top two runs of three and not just one run. It made it seem a bit more honest, that you couldn’t crash out twice and then grab the gold with one run to salvage it. There’s something to be said for consistency.
Women’s Ice Hockey: Gold
HEAR FREEDOM RING, YOU MOOSE-LOVING CANUCKLEHEADS! WOOOOOOO!!!!!
The women’s tournament was essentially two weeks of waiting for this game, and it sure delivered. The US reversed the script from Sochi, tying the game late and then winning it in shootout. I admit, I may have doubted the Lamoureux twins’ loyalty to this country with such a suspicious last name, but Monique tied it up late and Jocelyne put in the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout. It was awesome.
Two Day Tally
Nine medals (3 golds, 4 silvers, and 2 bronze). The men finally decided to show up and help the women out, even if it took an X-games sport to do it. Even better, men’s curling pulled off a huge upset of Canada in the curling semifinals, and is now guaranteed a medal, but has a shot at gold.
The USA now sits fourth overall, four medals clear of the fifth-placed Netherlands, who are running out of speed skating events. Norway’s got this in the bag, but the US is now just three medals behind Canada and four behind Germany. It’s extremely unlikely to close those gaps, but we already got curling in the bag, so who knows?
7:00 PM Women’s Free Skate
7:00 PM Women’s Ski Cross
12:35 AM Men’s Curling Bronze Medal Game (Switzerland v. Canada)
4:00 AM Men’s Speed Skating 1000m
5:15 AM Men’s Biathlon 4x7.5km Relay
There’s also the men’s hockey semifinals in the early morning, but you shouldn’t willingly subject yourself to that unless you are related to one of the players.