olympic sports

Best/worst, Sochi medal projections vs. reality: Feb. 18

The fog moved out, we had terrific races in several venues and some good hockey games. Aren’t the Winter Olympics fun?

CURRENT PACE

Russia 30, Norway 28, USA 28, Canada 27, Netherlands 24, Germany 21, Austria 19, Sweden 15, France 13, Switzerland 12

And to check in on gold medal pace today: Russia 10 (+4 from projections), Germany 10 (+2), Norway 10 (-4), USA 9 (-6), Netherlands 8 (+3), Switzerland 8 (+3), Canada 7 (-3)

UP

Norway (+1 today, -11 overall): Projected for two medals (silver, bronze) and got that many golds with a biathlon win for Emil Hegle Svendsen and a 1-2 in Nordic combined.

RIGHT ON TARGET

USA (even today, -7 overall): We’re running out of long-track speedskating events. Torin Yater-Wallace was clearly not all the way back from his injury, preventing the predicted 1-2 in the men’s halfpipe, but a snowboardcross bronze for Alex Deibold made up for that.

Netherlands (even today, +10 overall): This time, the speedskating sweep was projected.

France (even today, +1 overall): Got the projected medals in biathlon and snowboardcross. Missed in Nordic combined but made up for it in halfpipe.

DOWN

Austria (-2 today, -3 overall): Just fine in Alpine but didn’t get the medals in Nordic combined or snowboardcross.

FULL TABLE

[gview file=”https://duresport.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2014-medal-projections-feb18.pdf”%5D

HIGHLIGHTS

Best reason to dump cable “news”: Because curling blows it away (along with everything else) in the ratings. (HT: @alanabrahamson)

Best shot: Did you see this? Curling rocks, folks.

Best flashback: Hey, kids — this is how video games looked in your parents’ day …

Play for yourself (if your computer allows it).

Best tribute: A couple of days before the late Sarah Burke’s sport of halfpipe skiing made its Winter Olympic debut, her family received a flag on National Flag of Canada Day.

Best dog adoption (today): Lindsey Jacobellis didn’t get a snowboardcross medal, but she has a new friend.

Best insight into tribulations of covering Nordic events/biathlon: I saw Nat Herz a lot in Whistler, and I can attest that his depiction of life in the press areas is quite accurate. My favorite interview of all time: biathlete Jay Hakkinen walks through the mixed zone, where we (A) can’t see the course or scoreboard and (B) couldn’t see the TV because of the glare. “So … Jay … um … how’d you do?”

Best game that would’ve been an intrasquad scrimmage not too long ago: Czech Republic held off the pesky Slovakia in a hockey playoff.

Best protest coverage

Most curious letdown: Don’t let the 4-0 final score fool you — Russia’s men’s hockey team labored past Norway. Feeling pressure?

Worst finish line antics: Emil Hegle Svendsen was within a foot of throwing away a gold medal in biathlon.

Worst injury timing: Like ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, freestyle halfpipe skier Torin Yater-Wallace was a projected medalist and one of the bright young faces of the Olympic run-up but was injured a few months ago. Like Hendrickson, he gave it a go today but wasn’t quite himself.

WEDNESDAY’S PROJECTIONS

Alpine skiing, men’s giant slalom: Ted Ligety (USA), Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Alexis Pinturault (France). Also considered: Manfred Moelgg (Italy), Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)

Svindal withdrew. Ligety has been disappointing in his other events.

Biathlon, mixed relay: Norway, Russia, Czech Republic. Also considered: France, Italy

New event in the Olympics. The USA finished eighth in the 2013 World Championships, and the way Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey have gone in a couple of events, they could stick around in this one. All four of Norway’s athletes have at least one medal already — yes, that includes the 40-year-old Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Bobsled, women’s: Kaillie Humphries (Canada), Elana Meyers (USA), Sandra Kiriasis (Germany). Also: Jamie Greubel (USA), Cathleen Martini (Germany), Anja Schneiderheinze (Germany)

After Day 1, it’s Meyers, Humphries, Greubel.

Cross-country skiing, women’s team sprint: Sweden, Finland, Norway. Also considered: Italy, Russia, USA

Cross-country skiing, men’s team sprint: Russia, Norway, Sweden. Also considered: Canada, Finland, Germany

The big question in both events: Can Norway get it right this time? Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell will pair up for the USA, which will have an outside chance.

Snowboarding, women’s parallel giant slalom: Isabella Laböck (Germany), Tomoka Takeuchi (Japan), Marion Kreiner (Austria). Also considered: Julia Dujmovits (Austria), Ekaterina Ilyukhina (Russia), Amelie Kober (Germany), Patrizia Kummer (Switzerland), Nicolien Sauerbreij (Netherlands), Ekaterina Tudegesheva (Russia)

Snowboarding, men’s parallel giant slalom: Roland Fischnaller (Italy), Andreas Prommegger (Austria), Benjamin Karl (Austria). Also considered: Zan Kosir (Slovenia), Rok Marguc (Austria), Simon Schoch (Switzerland), Vic Wild (Russia)

Yes, the projections are hedging bets here. These events tend to be wide-open.

Speedskating, women’s 5,000 meters: Martina Sablikova (Czech Republic), Ireen Wüst (Netherlands), Yvonne Nauta (Netherlands). Also considered: Claudia Pechstein (Germany)

The way the Dutch are going, just add Carien Kleibeuker to contention as well.

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