2014 medal projections: Hockey

Once upon a time, the Olympics were the only time the world’s best athletes faced each other in many sports. That’s not true in most sports these days, but it applies to men’s hockey. The men’s World Championship takes place during the NFL playoffs, thereby depriving the tournament of most of the world’s best players. And those tournaments play a big role in the rankings that we need to take with a whole bunch of salt. The women’s competition is a little easier to predict. The best players are all available for international events, and the USA and Canada keep … Continue reading 2014 medal projections: Hockey

2014 medal projections: Curling

Suppose basketball, globally, had a bunch of teams in the USA and a few elsewhere. Then for Olympic basketball, each country selected one team from within its country. Maybe the USA sends the Miami Heat, Spain sends Barcelona, etc. That’s curling, except that we put Canada in place of the USA. Curling has a lot of competitions through the year, some on the World Curling Tour. Check the list of men’s teams on the WCT, and you’ll see a lot of Canadians. Then you have the World Championships and Olympics, in which each country is limited to one team. Obviously, it’s a … Continue reading 2014 medal projections: Curling

2014 medal projections: Short-track speedskating

Updated Jan. 21 with Wang Meng injury Short-track is a little less about times and more about who makes the last pass and remains upright. World Championships actually compile “overall” results that reward consistency. No such luck in the Olympics, so these predictions are bound to go wrong somewhere. We predictors can’t take it personally. The action is often controversial, with a lot of collisions and interference requiring refs to figure things out. And for the USA, it has been controversial off the ice. The World Cup runs in the fall, so as with long-track skating, we have a lot … Continue reading 2014 medal projections: Short-track speedskating

2014 medal projections: Speedskating

Updated Jan. 21 Some sports run World Cup events right up until the Olympics. Not speedskating. Four World Cup events wrapped up by early December, then two more after Sochi. That’s why these projections have 2013-14 World Cup data rather than last season. They’ll have the European Championships and World Sprint Championships in January, though, so a few things could still change here. Salt Lake City still has one of the fastest surfaces in the world, and three world records fell there in November: men’s team pursuit (Netherlands), women’s 500 meters (South Korea’s Sang-Hwa Lee) and women’s 1,000 meters (USA’s … Continue reading 2014 medal projections: Speedskating

2014 medal projections: Skeleton

Updated Jan. 14 and Feb. 4 Yes, it’s the sliding sport in which athletes do what American football players should not — lead with their heads. The men’s World Cup circuit has had a distinct elite group. Only six men’s sliders finished on the podium in 2012-13 World Cup races — the Dukurs brothers, Alexander Kröckel, Alexander Tretiakov, and Christopher Grotheer. The latter only popped up once. But now the USA’s Matt Antoine is pushing into that tier. The women’s competition is a bit more wide-open — 10 sliders had podium finishes in 2012-13. The Olympics often lend themselves to … Continue reading 2014 medal projections: Skeleton

The rugby-NFL revolving door

While researching my next piece for OZY, I came across two stories of rugby players in the NFL — one on the way in, one on the way out: – Hayden Smith, formerly a college basketball player, is returning to Saracens after playing for the New York Jets. Smith is from Australia but has played international rugby for the USA. – Fleet-footed (4.22 40-yard dash!) Carlin Isles has signed with Detroit’s practice squad. If you’re debating the world’s best athletes, you have to consider soccer and basketball players for the mix of strength, speed, endurance and skill their sports require. But … Continue reading The rugby-NFL revolving door

What you’ll learn from ‘Enduring Spirit’ — now in print

I had intended to make Enduring Spirit: Restoring Professional Women’s Soccer to Washington available in print in time for Christmas.  You’ll have to hurry and possibly pay a bit extra if you want it under your tree, but in any case, it is finally available on Amazon. (Yes, I had to design a new cover, which irritated me to no end.) What will you learn from reading the book that you probably didn’t see elsewhere? Here you go … – How Spirit owner Bill Lynch summed up the team’s relationship with MLS club D.C. United. – U.S. coach Tom Sermanni’s thoughts on … Continue reading What you’ll learn from ‘Enduring Spirit’ — now in print