My top 2018 Olympic moments

Feb. 24: Blaming the organizers

Some of the most noteworthy moments weren’t inspiring or heartwarming. On the same day, two Canadians frustrated by disappointing performances didn’t mince their words with journalists, blaming the environment they were racing in for being unfair.

Jasey-Jay Anderson, in his sixth Olympics (sixth!) in parallel giant slalom, had a disappointing first run, crossing the line in 42.99 seconds, a second and a half behind the leader. In his interview, he blamed the course maintenance, saying the guys with the rakes to clean up the course after snowboards cut through it weren’t doing their jobs. He said he needed to be better in the second run to qualify for the playoffs, but his second qualifying run was even worse, at 43.77. He finished 24th, with only the top 16 advancing.

Meanwhile, bobsleigh pilot Chris Spring went on a rant about timing, saying “the time is garbage” because he put on a good run and the time wasn’t good. In the second of four heats, Spring’s sled posted a time of 49.58, 0.57 seconds behind the pace and 17th fastest in that leg. It wasn’t clear what he thought the actual problem was, but he said “it makes you wonder” and that this issue could drive him away from the sport.

(Spring later defended himself on Twitter, saying he gave “a real interview”)

Spring’s team finished in 16th place, more than two seconds behind the leader after four heats.

Feb. 24: Alex Harvey finishes 4th in 50km

Canada doesn’t generally do well in cross-country skiing, but our best hope in many years was Alex Harvey, the son of Olympian Pierre Harvey. The cross-country skier failed to make the podium in Vancouver and Sochi, but with a world championship in the 50km, it seemed like he was poised for victory here.

He almost made it. For most of the second half of the race he was in the second pack of skiers, fighting for the bronze-medal position, oscillating between fourth and sixth place. But in the final kilometre and a half, Russian Andrey Larkov pulled slightly away. Harvey, six seconds behind Larkov, raced to the finish line with Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, and lunged at the last second to beat him by 0.1 seconds.

After more than two hours of skiing, in his final Olympic competition, to miss the podium by six seconds had to hurt. But he kept his head high.

The silver and bronze medallists in the race were both Russians, and with the news of athletes testing positive for drugs everyone has to wonder if he might someday be retroactively upgraded to the podium. But even if that happens, Harvey won’t be able to experience Olympic glory like he hoped for in his dreams. Instead, he’ll retire as one of those great Canadian athletes who couldn’t get their hands on one of those coveted metal discs.

Feb. 24: Squirrel on the course!

Feb. 24: Blondin goes down

Ivanie Blondin, who started in short track and switched to long track, was Canada’s best hope on the women’s side in speed skating. And after finishing sixth in the 3000m, fifth in the 5000m and fourth in the team pursuit, logic would dictate her final event, the mass start, would put her on the podium. She’d won the world championships in that event in 2016, so there was a strong expectation of a medal.

But in the semifinal, on the second sprint lap, in the lead to get the points necessary to advance, Blondin falls during a turn. She got back on her skates, but couldn’t challenge for the lead and ended up failing to advance to the final. Despite being a threat in four events, she went home empty-handed.

Feb. 25: Marit Bjørgen wins her fifth medal

The last event of the Olympics, the women’s 30km cross-country race. It wasn’t that dramatic in the end, at least not for the gold medal. Marit Bjørgen or Norway led from start to finish. But her win made her the only athlete at these Olympics to win five medals — the 10km free, 15km skiathlon, team spring and 4x5km relay. It also gave her an eighth career gold medal, tied for most all time at the Winter Olympics, while her 15 total medals mean she’s the most decorated winter Olympian of all time.

The future

For those who want to continue living the experience of following these sports, their seasons continue as early as next week. CBC resumes broadcasting its Road to the Olympic Games sports broadcasts next Saturday afternoon with the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships, ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, and ski cross, moguls and giant slalom events.

The full schedule is here, for events being livestreamed or broadcast on TV.

And, of course, there are the Paralympic Winter Games. The opening ceremony is Friday, March 9.

But for the special moments that only the Olympics can bring, we’ll have to wait a couple more years. Until then, we’ll just have great memories, win or lose.

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.

    Reply

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