Archive for the ‘Olympics’Category

Winter Olympics: Demong Wins Gold, Gets Engaged, Named Flag Bearer

Olympics - Closing Ceremony

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–It’s a story that reads almost like a fairy tale or a hero epic worthy of Joseph Campbell. Billy Demong of U.S. Nordic combined is The Hero With the Thousand Faces. He answered the call to adventure, he faced the supreme ordeal, and now he’s ready to return to the ordinary world with the boons of his quest. He got the gold—and the girl.

“Crossing the finish line to win the medal was the beginning to a little epic journey I had last night,” Demong said. “I’ve really only slept three hours since I crossed the finish line.”

Straight off of winning the U.S. its very first Nordic combined gold medal, Demong dropped to one knee in front of nearly a hundred friends, teammates and family at the Spyder U.S. Ski Team House in Whistler, and proposed to his girlfriend, Katie Koczynski.

“It was less than private,” Demong said. “I just kind of stepped off a cliff and said where’s that microphone?” Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Men’s Short Track Final Live

Olympics Mens 500m Finals Short Track Speed Skating - Vancouver 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–It’s the final night of short track speed skating, aka the most exciting thing to happen on ice since the margarita.

First up is the men’s 500m race and then the men’s 5000m relay. The star of the show is none other than the defending Olympic champion Apolo Anton Ohno. I’ll be bringing you the action live from the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

Here in Vancouver, the men’s action will alternate with the women’s 1000 meter event, which my colleague in Olympic arms, Jason Black, will bring to you on his blog, Fade to Black.

We’ve just had some excitement in the press tribune when an access control box caught on fire. Is a portent of hot things to come? I hope so. Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Nordic Combiners Win Gold, Silver

Whistler Medal Ceremony - Day 14

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–What a bonanza. The U.S. Nordic combined team—which had never medaled in 86 years of Olympic competition—now has four medals in the three Olympic events.

“It definitely has not sunk in,” Demong said. “But every hour or so I get two seconds of a glimpse at that reality and it gives me chills.” Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Ladies’ Figure Skating Live

CANADA-VANCOUVER-WINTER OLYMPICS-FSKATING-WOMEN

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—It’s ladies’ night at the Pacific Colisuem. What will it take for any of the other skaters to dethrone Korea’s “Queen” Yu-Na Kim? Nothing short of an anti-monarchy revolution. In other words, a miracle.

The reigning world champion delivered a show-stopping performance in the short program on Tuesday night that put her nearly five points ahead of Japan’s Mao Asada. Short of a total meltdown, which would be unprecedented—Kim has won every competition she has entered this season—the Olympic crown is hers for the taking. She simply needs to skate like she usually does. And with record scores in both the short program and free skate, it shouldn’t be hard for her to do. Read the rest of this entry →

07

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: U.S. Ski Jumpers Win Canada Bet

Ski Jumping - Day 2

The young men of U.S. Ski Jumping, who I chronicled in a feature last week, didn’t win any medals at the Vancouver games, nor were they expected to. But they won something just as important: a bet with the Canadian team.

The wager? The losers of the ski jumping team competition had to chug a bottle of maple syrup. The U.S. finished 11th with 340 points. Canada finished last in 12th place with 294.6 points. Who knew Stephen Colbert would be so right when he jokingly called Canadians “syrup-suckers.”

“It’s just fun,” said Peter Frenette, the youngest male on the entire U.S. Olympic team; he celebrates his 18th birthday today. “Team events are always fun.” Read the rest of this entry →

07

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Nordic Combined Medals Again

Nordic Combined - Day 12

U.S. Nordic Combined makes Olympic history again, winning a silver medal in the team competition.

Coming into the Vancouver games, the U.S. had never won an Olympic Nordic combined medal in 86 years of competition. But now, they’ve got two: first Johnny Spillane took silver in the Individual Normal Hill/10km Cross-Country pursuit. And now, Spillane along with Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong won silver in the Team/4×5 km relay at Whistler Olympic Park. Austria won gold; Germany took bronze.

“We’ve been dreaming about this day for four years,” said Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colo., who came out of retirement “to get some hardware.” Read the rest of this entry →

07

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: U.S. Hockey Downs Canada

Men's Hockey - USA over Canada 5-3 - Vancouver 2010

The sky is falling. The U.S. men have beaten Canada at their own game—for now. And after all the hype and hoopla surrounding these Olympics games, Canada may need hockey gold now more than ever.

Team USA trumped our neighbors to the north 5-3 in men’s ice hockey at the winter Olympics for the first time in 50 years. With a perfect 3-0-0-0 record, the U.S. won its group and will move onto the quarterfinal round as 12 pm PST on Feb. 24.“To beat Canada on their own soil is special,” said U.S. forward Ryan Kessler of the cross-border showdown, which ended in the biggest U.S. vs. Canada upset since the epic figure skating Battle of the Brians at the 1988 Calgary games.

While NBC’s primetime coverage went to ice dancing, the U.S. vs. Canada game was relegated to MSNBC. But in Canada, the national obsession is primetime. Which meant all of Canada was watching the stinging national defeat. Read the rest of this entry →

07

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Ohno Medals Again

Short Track Speed Skating - Day 9

Watching short track speed skating at this Olympic games, a thought has occurred to me over and over: Why am I not watching this sport year round?

Short track just might be the most exciting sport I’ve ever seen live—and I’ve seen a lot of sports. Watching it on TV is nearly as good. What’s makes short track one of the best sports ever?

It’s so unpredictable. But don’t take my word for it.

“Short track is not a sport where you can actually give predictions. It just doesn’t happen,” said Apolo Anton Ohno. “Nothing is guaranteed. So it should be a good show.”

It’s a good show all right. Unlike long track speed skating, Alpine skiing, and all the sliding sports, it isn’t a time trial. It’s a race that requires strategy, skill and plain old guts.

But despite being so unpredictable, the best of the best somehow manage to shine. And no one shines brighter than Ohno himself. Read the rest of this entry →

07

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Ski Jumping Has Talent, Not Money

Ski Jumping - Day 1

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Imagine jumping out of a 40-story building and gliding the length of a football field—and then some. In the large hill competition, ski jumpers soar for 410 feet from a hill 460 feet high in the air—at 60 miles per hour. It’s the closest thing to flying the Olympics has to offer. And the men of U.S. Ski Jumping love it.

When it comes to Olympic sports, not every team gets the fame and fortune. The U.S. Ski Jumping team is a young group of athletes gambling everything they’ve got on a dream. Without funding from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, these competitors have forged a program on their own, and put the rest of their lives on hold for the sport they love. Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Men’s Free Skate Live

Men's Figure Skating Short Program - Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—It’s the most exciting Olympic men’s figure skating final perhaps since the famous Battle of the Brians in Calgary in 1988. American Brian Boitano came out on top. Will the USA be that lucky again? It’s certainly possible. With only .6 points separating the three leaders—Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko, USA’s Evan Lysacek, and Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi—they might as well be tied. It’s any man’s medal going into the free skate tonight.

And not to be ruled out are Nobunari Oda of Japan, Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland and Johnny Weir of the USA, who sit in fourth, fifth and sixth place. If any of the three leaders fall apart tonight, one of them could move into medal position.

There’s going to be drama, funky costumes and odd music choices for sure. But there’ll also be some darn good skating. So stay tuned for the Men’s Figure Skating Free Program! Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: White Wins Halfpipe Gold

Snowboard Men's Halfpipe - Day 6

CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, British Columbia–What a day for Team USA. Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso go gold and silver in Women’s Alpine Skiing Downhill. Shani Davis defends his 2006 Olympic title with another gold, while teammate Chad Hedrick skates to bronze in Men’s Long Track Speed Skating. And then, the American men faced off in Snowboard Halfpipe. Did they pull a double medal stunner like their teammates?

You betcha.

Welcome to the big show.

With four riders competing in the final, Team USA aimed for a podium sweep. Shaun White, Louie Vito, Scotty Lago and Gregory Bretz tricked their hearts out. Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Men’s Halfpipe Preview

Men's Halfpipe Snowboard event at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

If there is one event that just keeps getting bigger, better and more dangerous, Men’s Halfpipe has got to be it. Shaun White, the defending Olympic champion, is back for another gold. But don’t even think of calling him The Flying Tomato. That’s so 2006. Now you can call him “The Animal.”

“Lately I resemble the drummer from the Muppets so ‘The Animal’ has become my thing here,” he said.

Whatever you call him, he’s the heavy favorite and is coming into the competition with a big bag of new tricks.And with two other strong Americans in the field—Scotty Lago of Seabrook, N.H., and Louie Vito of Sandy, Utah—there’s even talk of a Team USA sweep. Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Men’s Figure Skating Live

Figure Skating Pairs Free Program at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–The media tribunes are packed. I hear the constant click of camera shutters in front of me. And that can only mean one thing: Some Olympic magic is about to be made.

I’m live at the opening night of the men’s figure skating competition. It will be a battle for the ages in one of the most competitive fields in recent memory. Defending Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia will go skate to skate with reigning World Champion Evan Lysacek of the U.S., U.S. National Champion Jeremy Abbott and former U.S. Champion Johnny Weir, among a bevy of other heavy hitters. Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Spotlight on Johnny Weir

US Figure Skating Championships Day Seven

Johnny Weir knows how to enter a room.

Over a black long-sleeved shirt, he wears a gauzy white scarf emblazoned with red skulls trimmed in maple leafs. His black watch glitters with a jewel-trimmed face. He carries his 5-foot-9-inch frame with perfect posture, and he is poised and well-spoken. With perfectly curled eyelashes, he has a genuine way of looking you in the eye when he speaks. When Johnny Weir enters a room, everyone knows a celebrity has landed.

“It’s not my main goal to be famous or popular,” Weir said. “My goal is to be good at whatever I do.”

When it comes to figure skating, there is no doubt Weir is good. But is he good enough to win gold? Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Women’s Snowboard Cross

Snow Boarding

Sometimes, there are second chances in life. And Lindsey Jacobellis is about to get one of them.

After a late start due to bad weather and fog at Cypress Mountain north of Vancouver, the Women’s Snowboard Cross—with the too-cool moniker of SBX—is up next on my Olympic schedule.

Though games officials had to cancel all snowboard standing-room-only tickets due to muddy ground conditions, the weather is beautiful. It’s a cold, clear day, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and Jacobellis is hoping this will be her moment. Read the rest of this entry →

06

Mar 2010