Best/worst, Sochi medal projections vs. reality: Feb. 15

Same story in several respects — disappointment for Norway’s cross-country skiers, disappointment for the USA’s speedskaters, the occasional Russian surprise, great hockey, and a 41-year-old seven-time Olympian winning his first Olympic medal.

OK, the last one’s new. And so is Poland winning two gold medals in the same day.

(New to the daily recap today: Sunday’s projections, at the bottom.)

CURRENT PACE

Original projections: Norway 39, USA 35, Canada 30, Russia 26, Germany 23, Austria 22, South Korea 15, Netherlands 14, France 12, Switzerland 11, Sweden 10

If the rest of the projections were to come true, I will invest my remaining money in a high-growth fund. But the medal count would be Russia 29, Norway 28, Canada 28, USA 27, Netherlands 23, Austria 22, Germany 21, Sweden 16, Switzerland 14, France 11, South Korea 9. Also: China, projected for 6, is up to 9.

UP

Poland (+1 today, +2 overall): Projected for ski jumping silver, and the gold there was no shock. But speedskating?

Germany (+2 today, -2 overall): Projected for no medals today but picked them up in Alpine skiing (not a big surprise) and cross-country skiing (a bit).

DOWN

Switzerland (-2 today, +3 overall): Missed projected bronze medals in Alpine skiing and ski jumping.

USA (-1 today, -8 overall): Again, it’s the speedskaters — this time, short-tracker J.R. Celski joined Shani Davis. Celski tripped over a marker in a qualifying heat. The good news: Matt Antoine got a mildly surprising bronze in skeleton. But even there, the USA couldn’t escape the bizarre — John Daly was in contention until his sled came out of the groove at the star.

Norway (-1 today, -11 overall): Again, it’s cross-country skiing, where the women’s relay was a heavy favorite on paper but watched the race get away from them.

FULL TABLE

[gview file=”https://duresport.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2014-medal-projections-feb15.pdf”%5D

HIGHLIGHTS

Best game: USA over Russia in the big men’s hockey showdown. It was the biggest win for the USA since they beat Canada in 2010, going on to … oh … sorry.

Best perspective on Kasai’s medal

Second-best perspective on Kasai’s medal

Best perspective on Poland’s medals

Biggest news in Olympic sports not in Russia: Pole vault record gone after 21 years.

Best romantic gesture: Figure skater Jason Brown to ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson. (And yes, she responded – click on this tweet and scroll through.)

But a short time later: Um, Sarah?

Most detailed biathlon preview: You know it’s from real biathlon.

Best visit: It’s Vernon Davis time.

Most surprising look at the world’s Oly interests: This Facebook buzz graphic shows us that curling is big in Argentina. Biathlon is big in Europe … and Algeria?

Most emphatic declaration of intent: Finland goalie Noora Raty is done with women’s hockey. But she’s open to playing in a men’s league.

Best proof that you don’t mess with figure skaters: Jeremy Abbott has one message for his detractors:

Best way to handle homework: Get it all done on the plane across the ocean, as figure skater Polina Edmunds did.

Best thing I don’t miss about covering the Olympics live: The “mixed zone.”

Best journalism/grammar quip: One former colleague to another …

Most candid assessment: Shani Davis is sorry to be having a dismal Olympics just when he finally felt the full support of the country. And he’s worried about his team: “We have no medals, man. We have none. The way things are looking, we might not get any.”

Worst general breakdown: Again, US Speedskating.

Worst time to miss the finish line, literally: This is why British skater Elise Christie was disqualified for the second time in two races. (She’s really only a strong contender in the other distance, 1,000 meters.)

Worst time to have “Innrømmer smørretabbe”: The Norwegian women’s cross-country team. That apparently means they had a wax mistake.

Worst parental support: Martin Johnsrud Sundby’s mom was in studio to watch her son. Maybe that’s a bad idea.

Worst thing to hear after a super-G race: “There is no snow at the bottom. It’s not funny anymore. This is a disaster.” – Lara Gut

Worst injury: Best wishes to Russia’s Maria Komissarova, who sustained a spinal fracture in skicross training.

Worst IOC overreach (today): Sure, you can have all the perishable flowers you want, but a piece of the big Russian meteorite? Nyet! (At least, not yet.)

SUNDAY’S PROJECTIONS 

Alpine skiing, men’s super-G: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway), Matthias Mayer (Austria), Patrick Küng (Switzerland). Also considered: Christof Innerhofer (Italy), Ted Ligety (USA), Matteo Marsaglia (Italy), Bode Miller (USA).

Still keeping faith in Svindal.

Biathlon, men’s mass start: Martin Fourcade (France), Tarjei Boe (Norway), Emil Hegle Svendsen (Norway). Also considered: Andreas Birnbacher (Germany), Tim Burke (USA), Jakov Fak (Slovenia), Dominik Landertinger (Austria), Ondrej Moravec (Czech Republic), Evgeny Ustyugov (Russia).

Fourcade has delivered so far, while Norway is really overdue.

Cross-country, men’s relay: Norway, Sweden, Russia. Also considered: Czech Republic, Italy.

Again — Norway is overdue.

Snowboarding, women’s snowboardcross: Maelle Ricker (Canada), Dominique Maltais (Canada), Lindsey Jacobellis (USA). Also considered: Helene Olafsen (Norway), Chloe Trespeuch (France).

We haven’t seen any of these athletes yet.

Speedskating, women’s 1,500 meters: Ireen Wüst (Netherlands), Lotte van Beek (Netherlands), Brittany Bowe (USA). Also considered: Heather Richardson (USA), Yuliya Skokova (Russia).

Well, the Dutch picks look sound.

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