Justin Reiter, a nation’s hopes are in your hands.
Who? He’s a snowboarder who does parallel events, which we in the USA don’t follow or fund to the same extent we follow and fund halfpipe, slopestyle and various X Games-ish things. Reiter actually needs another $12,000 and change to fund his Sochi excursion.
How unknown is he? “Walking into the Olympics, I had other snowboarders on Team USA asking me if I was a coach.” he told ESPN’s Alyssa Roenigk.
And yet, Reiter may be the USA’s key to reaching 30 medals.
The USA has 27 medals — the most, by one over Russia. The Games have 10 events left.
The projections give the USA two more medals. One, speedskating team pursuit, won’t happen — the U.S. men are racing for seventh place. Another, four-man bobsled, is a good possibility.
The U.S. is not projected to win a medal in ice hockey, but they have a good shot. That and bobsled would give the USA 29 medals.
Where could the USA get No. 30?
No Americans are entered in women’s snowboarding parallel slalom. The U.S. women’s speedskaters are racing for fifth in team pursuit.
Men’s slalom (the familiar Alpine skiing version) isn’t out of the question, but don’t bet on it. Ted Ligety has the gold medal to show for his giant slalom prowess, but he has done no better than 11th in slalom this season. The other skiers would need some sort of Weibrechtian surprise to get on the podium.
The cross-country endurance events (women’s 30k, men’s 50k) would also require a career performance for a U.S. medal. So would the biathlon relay, where the USA doesn’t have a lot of depth.
So if Reiter, who was second in the 2013 World Championships, can get a few breaks in the unpredictable world of snowboarding’s parallel events, the USA might have a shot at 30. Better than no shot, right?
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, Japan 7, Italy 7, China 6, Czech Republic 6
If the rest of the projections were to come true, we’d end up with: Russia 32, USA 29, Norway 27, Canada 25, Netherlands 24, Germany 18, Austria 16, France 16, Sweden 15, Switzerland 12, China 9, Japan 9, Italy 9, South Korea 8, Czech Republic 8.
We know Russia won’t get a medal in men’s hockey. The remaining projected medals are biathlon (men’s relay), snowboarding (women’s parallel slalom), bobsled (four-man), and two in cross-country skiing (men’s 50k).
China (+1 today, +3 overall): The narrow loss in curling may sting, but three medals in short-track will make any country happy.
USA (+1 today, -6 overall): Like Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin dealt with the pressure of being the favorite with no trouble at all. And the short-track men’s relay kept US Speedskating from a complete shutout in Sochi.
Ukraine (+1 today, even overall): What a great story — a country torn by unrest at home delivering a steady, gutsy performance in the women’s biathlon relay to win a convincing gold medal.
Biggest opportunity for federation to question itself: South Korea let Ahn get away.
Best U.S. employment program: Maybe we can’t call it the best, but it’s expansive — Adecco has 291 athletes placed with jobs, including hotel valet/speedskater Patrick Meek.
Best Winter Games growth area: Latin America has snow but no medals.
Best trifecta of Dutch transportation methods/sports:
Most surprisingly un-Photoshopped photo:
Best case to quit complaining and change tactics and/or coaches: British short-track speedskater Elise Christie has already been disqualified once in these Games for barging into someone else. (And once more for literally missing the finish line.) So in today’s 1,ooo-meter showdowns, she managed to pull off one miraculous escape by rallying from the back to advance, then tried to do it again against a pretty good group of skaters. See the 17:44 update at the BBC to see what Christie did to get past Li Jianrou. Christie and Li pretty much fell over each other at the next turn. They were both disqualified, which is quite reasonable. But don’t tell that to the British commentators or Twitter public.
Strangest speedskating suggestion (tie): From International Skating Union President for Life Ottavio Cinquanta – mixed team pursuit!
Strangest speedskating suggestion (tie): Dutch speedskating coach Jillert Anema thinks the USA should quit wasting time on sports like American football.
Quote most likely to be remembered in four years: Anema, from the same interview – “You won’t beat us, not in four years, not in eight years.”
Alpine skiing, men’s slalom: Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Mario Matt (Austria), Felix Neureuther (Germany)
Also considered: Ivica Kostelic (Croatia), Andre Myhrer (Sweden)
Biathlon, men’s relay: Russia, Norway, France
Also considered: Austria, Germany, Sweden
Cross-country skiing, women’s 30k: Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland), Therese Johaug (Norway), Marit Bjoergen (Norway)
Also considered: Yulia Tchekaleva (Russia)
Snowboarding, women’s parallel slalom: Ekaterina Tudegesheva (Russia), Patrizia Kummer (Switzerland), Hilde-Katrine Engeli (Norway)
Also considered: Caroline Calve (Canada), Isabella Laböck (Germany), Amelie Kober (Germany), Marion Kreiner (Austria)
Snowboarding, men’s parallel slalom: Andreas Prommegger (Austria), Roland Fischnaller (Italy), Rok Marguc (Austria)
Also considered: Benjamin Karl (Austria), Zan Kosir (Slovenia), Justin Reiter (USA), Simon Schoch (Switzerland), Vic Wild (Russia)
Speedskating, women’s team pursuit: Netherlands, Poland, Japan
Also considered: Canada, Russia. Actual semifinalists: Russia, Poland, Japan, Netherlands
Speedskating, men’s team pursuit: Netherlands, South Korea, USA
Also considered: Norway, Poland, Russia. Actual gold medal final: Netherlands vs. South Korea. Actual bronze medal final: Poland vs. Canada.