I’m enjoying the Olympics, but I’ve got to admit it’s too much, too quickly. I was doing an OK job of keeping up with the mixed doubles curling that more-or-less opened the Olympics for me, but once it got into men’s and women’s curling and men’s and women’s hockey and watching some figure skating with Mrs. S… It feels like I can’t keep up no matter how I try.
It almost seems like they should divide it up somehow… Maybe do the “Men’s Olympics” and the “Women’s Olympics” at separate times.
I have to admit, mixed doubles grew on me this time around. During previous exposure to it, I felt like it was just a weird spinoff sport, but I think I gained an appreciation for the speed and excitement it brings… not better, not worse, but different.
As an American I was, of course, rooting for the Hamiltons, but once they fell out of contention I was pulling for the Canadian team of Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris. I’d gained an appreciation for Lawes four years ago when she was part of the Gold-winning women’s team in Sochi, and I was happy to see them win (even if I didn’t get a chance to watch them win…)
In their game against the USA, the Swiss Mixed Doubles team won in the final end by scoring six… And I will point out that in Mixed Doubles each team only throws six rocks to begin with, so this is an Olympic record which literally cannot be broken.
That seemed to be the way it went with the Hamiltons… Good play overall which got undone by bad ends.
The Swiss pair of Jenny Perret and Martin Rios won the Silver medal. The US team had too many moments like the last end against the Swiss, and finished 7th overall.
I hadn’t really seen the Russian mixed doubles team, but two of my friends were telling me about how much they enjoyed their matches… and then I found out that a lot of men enjoyed watching the Russians… specifically because of Anastasia Bryzgalova.
The women’s competition, as I write this, is somewhat upside down. At one point the Canadian women were a shocking 0-3 (and took out their frustrations by beating Nina Roth’s USA team 11-3 in 7 ends), while Japan was 3-0 and Korea and China were also near the top.
Over on the men’s side, Sweden is rolling along at 6-0, while the Canadian and Swiss teams aren’t far behind.
Next week – and possibly during the week – I’ll have more curling customs.
Quick mini-rant here… I have to say that many of the Olympic websites suck, at least for hockey and curling. They give you high-level information and background pieces on individual players, but if you want to find out any details or statistics… well, why would you want to do that? Thank goodness for the websites of the World Curling Federation and the International Ice Hockey Federation.
End of mini-rant
In men’s hockey, the qualification playoffs start on Tuesday with the USA taking on Slovakia with the winner taking on the Czech Republic 24 hours later. I guess this is why you want to finish in the top four and get a bye…
Over in women’s hockey, the playoffs start late tonight with the US taking on Finland and Canada matching up against the Olympic Athletes From Russia. The OAR team lost all three games in the preliminary round and were outscored 15 goals to 1, but came alive in the quarter-finals and beat previously-undefeated Switzerland 6-2.
Brianna Decker is in her second Olympics (she had an assist in the preliminary round) and in 2012 won the Kazmaier Award given to the top collegiate player in the US.
It’s interesting… All of the photos I used came from “media day” photo sessions. All of the Americans smiled, but many of the Canadians, like Ann-Renee Desbiens, had their game faces going.
Desbiens has played only in the opening game of the preliminary round, but shutout the OAR team 5-0.
Kacey Bellamy is another player in her third Olympics; she’s also played in eight world championships. She scored a goal in the preliminary round; somewhat unusual since she plays defense.
One thing I’ve found interesting about following the women’s competition is how many of the players – not just Americans – played NCAA hockey. Natalie Spooner is from the Greater Toronto Area but set school records while playing for Ohio State.
Since some readers have been asking me… I haven’t decided how far I’m going to go with these hockey customs. I believe the “set” currently stands at 16, and I’ve shared all of the ones I’ve made to this point. I could be done, but if a player has a particularly noteworthy playoff or if someone nicely asks me to make one for a player I haven’t done yet, I can be persuaded to crank out a couple more.
There *will* be more curling customs; hockey was a side-trip that ended up being more than I’d intended (because I was so happy with the way they turned out).