Posts Tagged ‘Winter Olympics’

2014 Winter Olympics Evoke Childhood Dreams

2014 Winter Olympics

The Olympic rings in Whistler, Canada. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

As a kid, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Olympics. My family would gather around the TV night after night and watch the spectacle unfold. I was dazzled by figure skating and skiing in winter and obsessed with swimming and running in summer.

And since this was the dark ages before the Internet, I’d keep my own medal tally like the nerd that I was—and still am—drawing gold medals with yellow and blue markers (for the metal and ribbon, naturally), silver with grey and red, bronze with brown and orange. Forget Leap Year. The Olympics were the event I waited for every four years.

Once again, they have arrived.

As I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (holy jellyfish/dove of peace dance!) I was transported back to 2010 when I was lucky enough to attend the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a reporter. It was not only a career highlight, but also a personal dream come true.

2014 Winter Olympics

She-Ra rides Swift Wind “For the honor of Grayskull!”

I think Graham Watanabe, who competed for the U.S. in Snowboard Cross, summed it up best:

“Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.”

By the power of Grayskull! Apparently, being an Olympian is like being She-Ra.

It’s kind of what it felt like to attend the Olympics too. What struck me most was this: I was not only watching athletes doing what they do best, but doing what they do better than anyone else in the world. At that moment in time, there would be no faster speed skater, no lovelier figure skater, no more daring snowboarder. I witnessed the pinnacle. And we all get to witness it every four years. That is magical. Almost as magical as She-Ra riding Swift Wind, her winged unicorn.

2014 Winter Olympics

My Cinderella storybook cassette. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Olympic Childhood Dreams

How many of us as kids dreamed of being Olympians? I’m guessing a lot of us.

I always dreamed of going to the Olympics someday, albeit as an athlete. Swimming was my sport back then and I was sure I was going to be the next Janet Evans.

2014 Winter Olympics

Side 2 of the tape contained my Olympic warbling. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Not too long ago, I unearthed a cassette tape I had made on my purple boom box (it was the ‘80s after all) when I was about 8-years-old. Appropriately, it was the backside of a Cinderella storybook cassette. Regular readers know I’m officially obsessed with Cinderella. What you may not know is that I was equally obsessed with She-Ra. Like Cinderella, she is a princess. But she is the Princess of Power! A warrior. And what are athletes if not modern day warriors?

The recording reveals an intrepid young journalist (played by me) “interviewing” an Olympic swimmer (also played by me).

It went a little something like this. Bless my 8-year-old heart, this is an actual transcript of the recording). Read the rest of this entry →

08

Feb 2014

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Best Moments

Winter Olympics

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics flame. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are over. It’s been a week now and I’m going through withdrawal. And it’s no wonder. The games were 17 days of adrenaline pumped action, jaw-dropping performances and perhaps the best climax in Olympic history. I was there to catch all the action as a reporter for The Washington Times.

I think Graham Watanabe, who competed for the U.S. in Snowboard Cross, summed up the excitement of the games best:

“Try to imagine Pegasus mating with a unicorn and the creature that they birth. I somehow tame it and ride it into the sky in the clouds and sunshine and rainbows. That’s what it feels like.”

winter olympics

With my Olympic press pass. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I honestly couldn’t have said it better myself.

The U.S. had a history-making run. Team USA led the medal count for the first time since 1932 with a record-breaking total of 37. The Nordic combined team medaled for the first time in American history, winning three silvers and one gold. And with 8 career medals to his name, Apolo Anton Ohno became the most decorated American Winter Olympian and the most decorated short track skater ever.

Canada didn’t own the podium with 26 total medals, but they did win more gold medals than any other winter or summer games in their history—14 total. And they won more gold medals than any other country in Winter Olympic history, capped by double gold medals in men’s and women’s hockey. The U.S. vs. Canada men’s final was one of the most exciting games the Olympics have ever seen. And with Canada’s victory, it’s no surprise that three out of four Canadians said the much maligned and ballyhooed Own the Podium program was worth it.

Of course, there were so many moments I wish I’d seen: Team USA’s first gold medal win by Hannah Kearney in Ladies’ Moguls; Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn redefining American skiing with multiple medal wins including a gold medal for each; Seth Wescott and Shani Davis successfully defending their gold medals in Snowboard Cross and Speed Skating, respectively; and of course, the Night Train, a.k.a. the men’s four-man bobsled piloted by Steve Holcomb, winning the U.S. its first gold medal in 62 years. I also wish I’d been able to see some ski jumping—like the result of the US/Canada ski jumping bet—and biathlon, but I can hardly complain. You can can’t be in all places at all times. I’m not Santa Claus.

So in honor of all the “bests” and “mosts” that Vancouver brought us, here are my favorite Olympic moments that I experienced first-hand. Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

USA Curling Capitalizes On Olympic Coverage

USA curling

John Shuster calls the sweeping. (Photo: Courtesy of USOC)

The Vancouver Olympic Centre is packed with more than 5,000 fans, and USA curling skip, John Shuster, prepares to throw the hammer. He gazes intently across the sheet, lining up his shot. He glides and releases the stone just before the hog line, shouting “Whoa,” to the sweepers as the rock careens gracefully across the ice.

Bam! Team USA’s rock knocks Denmark’s right out of the house, in a classic example of a takeout.

“USA! USA! USA!” the crow cheers as the U.S. posts two points in the third end.

His teammate, John Benton, prepares to throw the first stone of the next end, serenely gliding across the ice like a crouching tiger. He shoots the roaring rock down the sheet, as the second and third furiously sweep the path in front of it.

Shuster screams “Hard! Hard!” loud enough for the entire stadium to hear.

“Whoa,” he calls as the stone nears the center of the house.

The rock lands in the 8-foot ring and the crowd gives a hearty round of applause.

You might be thinking, “Huh?” Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Closing Ceremony Live

Closing ceremony for 2010 Winter Olympics

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancvouer have come to an end. But not before the city passes the torch to Sochi. It’s been a wild and historic 16 days for both the U.S. and host Canada. Join me as I blog live from the ceremony at BC Place.

5:30 pm: The ceremony opens with a Canadian mime, poking fun at the cauldron malfunction from the opening ceremony. The crowd is eating it up. One thing Canadians have never been accused of is lacking a sense of humor. Well done Canada, well done. Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Canada Wins Hockey Gold

Feb. 28, 2010 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - USA's BOBBY RYAN and Canada's DANY HEATLEY battle for the puck in the first period in Men's Gold Medal Hockey game at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–A novelist couldn’t have written a better finale to this story. The last event of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was a cross-border showdown between Canada and the United States in the men’s gold medal hockey match. It seems the gods on Mount Olympus were smiling on Canada today as they defeated the U.S. 3-2 in a sudden death overtime. “It doesn’t even feel real,” said Canadian forward Sidney Crosby, who scored the final goal. “It feels like a dream.” But for the U.S., it was a stinging defeat that could have gone either way. “It’s going to be tough to swallow,” said U.S. forward Jamie Langenbrunner. Of course, when the two teams first met at Canada Hockey Place last week, the U.S. stunned Canada 5-3 for a win. Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Figure Skating Gala Live

Figure Skating

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–This has got to be my favorite night of the Winter Games—the Figure Skating Exhibition Gala. The competition is over, the medals have been doled out and the winners get to strut their stuff in fancy-free routines to music people actually like (hopefully). The top five skaters or couples in each event will skate tonight. No labored movie scores, no required elements—just unabashed skating like nature intended.

The lights are already dimmed in the Pacific Colisuem, and a blue light is shinging on the ice. So sit back, relax and enjoy the sparkles and spangles in the Olympics’ most carefree event.

4:30 pm: The lights are dim and the evening starts with a group skate (not the Olympians) skating to Olympic Fanfare. The teeniest tiniest little boy is on the ice. Super cute! Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Speed Skating Team Pursuit Live

Sports News - February 28, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–I’m back at the Richmond Olympic Oval for the final day of long track speed skating competition. The women and men of Team USA will be battling for gold in the Team Pursuit.

First up will be the women’s semifinals where the U.S. will go head to head with Germany for a spot in the gold medal final later today. The women’s team, comprised of Catherine Raney-Norman, Jennifer Rodriguez, Jilleanne Rookard and Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr., already upset the Canadian favorites with a win in the quarterfinals by .05 seconds.

“I had no idea where we were in the race,” Jilleanne Rookard said. “I heard a lot of cheering for the Canadians so I thought they were ahead by a long shot.”

The Team Pursuit is unique in Olympic racing in that it’s not a relay, but a team skate much like a team ride in cycling. Three skaters work together, drafting off of each other, to get all three members across the finish line first.

“As little as we skate together we have to focus on being in sync with one another,” said Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr. “This was the one race where we actually pulled it together quite well.”

After the ladies, the American men will face off with Canada in the gold medal final. The U.S. team, comprised of Chad Hedrick, Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck and Trevor Marsicano, are guaranteed a medal. The only question is: what color will it be? Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

Winter Olympics: Ohno Wins 8th Medal

Short Track Speed Skating - Day 15

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–Contrary to appearances, it seems that Apolo Anton Ohno can do wrong. After it looked like he won the silver medal in the men’s 500m, Ohno was disqualified for illegal contact with Canadian Francois-Louis Tremblay. But a consummate competitor, Ohno bounced back just 30 minutes later in the 5000m relay to anchor his team—including J.R. Celski, Jordan Malone, Travis Jayner and Simon Cho—to a bronze medal.

“I’ve have nothing but green lights this entire time here in Vancouver,” Ohno said. “The process has been amazing. For me, this has been my best Olympic games of all time.”

With the relay bronze, Ohno won his third medal of the games and the eighth of his career. He’d already sealed his title as the world’s most decorated short track skater and the most decorated American Winter Olympian with his seventh medal earlier in the week. Read the rest of this entry →

16

Mar 2010

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

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