My top 2018 Olympic moments

Feb. 20: Tessa and Scott charm the world

No Olympic medal is ever certain, but it would have been shocking if Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had come home empty-handed. The Canadian couple who won gold in Vancouver in 2010 and silver in Sochi in 2014 had the top score in the short program, and so were the last to skate in the free skate. Their closest competitors were Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, a couple they trained with in Montreal. Their short program score was a couple of points lower, arguably in part because of a wardrobe malfunction that caused Papadakis’s breast to become exposed for much of the performance.

The French couple recovered from the embarrassing incident, and put on a world record free skate, scoring 123.35. For Virtue and Moir to win, they would need 121.61, more than three points above their personal best of 118.33. The pressure was enormous. But it didn’t show. Their skate was flawless, with perfect synchronization and lifts that wowed the crowd. Its technical score was slightly less than the French team’s, so victory wasn’t guaranteed.

The score came in: 122.40, first place. Canada went crazy, newspapers quickly tore up front pages (sorry to the bobsleigh team), and when the result was finally shown on the scoreboard at the arena, Scott Moir went nuts too. And we spent the next few days fantasizing about them being together romantically. I mean, surely you can’t fake that chemistry, right?

Even CBC got in on the act, with a beautiful tribute video edited by montage master Tim Thompson:

Feb. 20: Short track shocker

After heartbreak in the 500 and 1500, Marianne St-Gelais seemed to be finally on the way to a medal, with her three Canadian teammates in the women’s 3000m relay. With four teams and three medals, the chances were pretty good.

The race started out well, with Canada third behind China and Korea, but going in and out of the lead. But with four laps to go, Korea’s Kim Alang goes down during an exchange, and Canada’s Valérie Maltais trips over her. Maltais misses tagging Kim Boutin by inches and goes into the padding. Canada is forced to go around and tag up, costing it about a lap’s worth of time. The team wouldn’t recover, and finished last. But all it would take was one penalty for them to move up to a medal.

Unfortunately, there were two penalties, one to China and one to Canada. And the reason for the latter was soulcrushingly unimportant. The judges determined that Boutin, who was on the track on the inside lane preparing for an exchange, impeded the Chinese and Korean skaters right at the finish line. St-Gelais was on the outside lane, and so Boutin wasn’t where she was supposed to be. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the confusion from four laps earlier, and it had no impact on the result, but Canada (and St-Gelais) was denied a bronze medal because of it.

And once again, St-Gelais would have to explain to journalists how disappointed they are.

St-Gelais would come home empty-handed from the Olympics. In addition to the start penalty in the 500m, she failed to make it to the final of the 1000m and 1500. In the 1500 semifinal, she and Boutin were 1-2 and 1-3 but with three laps to go, St-Gelais gets caught up with Alang, loses her balance, toes into the ice and goes down. Instead of being advanced to the final, she’s penalized for going off-track. In her final event, the 1000m, St-Gelais was in a quarterfinal with Boutin and Alang, who finished 1-2. St-Gelais missed qualifying for the semifinal by a matter of inches.

Feb. 21: Lindsey Vonn’s final medal

Just watch the interview.

Feb. 21: Germany!

Germany has been a major force at these Olympics, historically dominating events like luge, bobsleigh and ski jump. But it’s not a country known for hockey. The men’s team didn’t even qualify for the Sochi games, and despite the lack of NHL players, no one expected them to go far in Pyeongchang.

The team finished third in its group, behind Sweden and Finland, with only an overtime win against Norway. But it beat Switzerland in the eighth-final. And against Sweden, they scored two quick goals in the first period. Sweden eventually tied it up 3-3 to send the game to overtime, and Germany scored the winner, causing the Germany play-by-play team to go nuts.

Germany would later edge out Canada in the semifinal, and lose to Russia in the final to win the silver medal. But this overtime goal was definitely the most magical moment of that run.

Feb. 21: New Zealand gets on the podium

New Zealand’s last Winter Olympic medal was Annelise Coberger in the slalom in 1992. But the country tripled its all-time count in one day as Zoi Sadowski-Synnott (big air snowboarding) and  Nico Porteous (ski halfpipe) won bronze medals. Porteous’s reaction was great.

One thought on “My top 2018 Olympic moments

  1. dilbert

    For the me, the olympics left me cold – and not just because of the weather. It’s because the Olympics are no longer about athletes being great in and of themselves but rather in a never ending, more and more expensive process of eliminating hundredth of seconds from a performance through aerodynamic testing, improved materials, hi-tech and insanely expensive equipment, and the like.

    Bobsleds? The number bandied about for the Jamaican team was somewhere around $50,000. You can imagine the piles of money put into development skis, snowboards, uniforms, googles, whatever. It’s not best athlete with a standard kit, but often the powerhouse countries who can afford the most high end equipment that win.

    That’s sad.

    Few sports are immune to the problem, the Olympics just make it a little more obvious at times.

    I didn’t even get into doping. The amount of money, time, and effort put into doping, anti-doping, anti-anti-doping, masking agents, sneaky (and cheaty) IV drips and whatnot… it’s all pretty disheartening.

    I long since got over the Olympics, any national pride is always overwhelmed by the idea that our athletes might do better with more funding, or would be beaten soundly by better athletes if their countries would finance the whole deal. That seems to kill the idea of amateur sports.


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