Why support USA Curling?

“Why give any money to an organization that has been hostile to so many members and bungled an investigation of its CEO?”

“How does USA Curling membership affect me if I’m never going to play in a national championship?”

Both legitimate questions. And not easy to answer in a quick message on social media.

So I’ll give it a shot here, and I’ll have to start with some basics …

What is a National Governing Body (NGB)?

NGBs are established under federal law to govern each Olympic or Olympic-adjacent sport. That law is the Ted Stevens Act, revised not long ago to add “SafeSport” in as many places as they could while still leaving intact an archaic definition of “amateur.” If you’re eligible to compete in international events, which now includes pretty much everyone, you’re “amateur,” even if you make a lot of money.

An NGB must, according to the Act and from US Olympic and Paralympic Committee bylaws (especially 8.4.1) do the following things, roughly paraphrased and not exhaustive: 

  1. Represent the sport internationally (e.g., being a member of the World Curling Federation).
  2. Conduct events (national championships) that lead to world championships.
  3. Have a strategic plan that spans the gamut from grassroots to elites, including such things as marketing, instructor training, performance analysis, talent identification, sports medicine, sports safety, marketing, etc.
  4. Ensure equity for women and run programs for disabled athletes.
  5. Comply with the Center for SafeSport, which investigates several types of abuse claims and puts offenders’ names in an easily accessible database. (See discussion below. This is important.)
  6. Comply with the US Anti-Doping Agency.
  7. Have insurance (whether its members need to get insurance through the NGB itself is the subject of some debate — other NGBs allow clubs to use other insurers, but USAC seems rather insistent that clubs must use USAC’s).
  8. Have elite athletes (the definition is complicated but basically includes people who have played in world championships or could reasonably compete for qualification for those events) comprise 33.3% of the board and all relevant committees.
  9. Submit to periodic audits of its governance, effectiveness, etc. The next one for USAC is due in 2023. Those audits are publicly posted.

Though it’s not explicitly stated, a good NGB strategic plan includes getting eyeballs on the sport and getting money from sponsors. USA Curling spends a considerable amount on broadcasting. Their biggest sponsors are Toyota and Columbia Sportswear; see the bottom of their home page for what I hope is an updated list of their sponsors and partners.

So what does USA Curling do specifically?

A lot. The question is whether it does it well or fairly.

I’ve gone through 990s and Audited Financial Statements to come up with a snapshot of USAC finances (and, while a side-by-side comparison is nonsensical because the organizations have different responsibilities, GNCC finances).

Their big responsibility, over which they were threatened with decertification a few years ago, is the national teams — including youth and Paralympic teams. They get annual grants of around $1.5m from the USOPC, and that’s roughly what they spend on the national teams. (Not all of it can be parsed out easily — the “travel” line item isn’t broken down, and some national team programs may benefit other curlers.)

In 2014, the USOPC shoved some changes upon USAC because national team results weren’t good enough. Fortunately, the USOPC has been willing to back that up with money. So far.

Other big expenses include broadcasting (Amazon Prime and ESPN aren’t in a bidding war to show the national championships), salaries, travel and insurance.

USAC says it spends more than half of the money it receives in membership fees on member services, but that’s a vague definition. They do provide instruction for instructors, on-ice officials, ice techs, etc., and they could stand to spend more on their national championships.

Can we have two NGBs?

No, under federal law (Stevens Act, Subchapter II) and international law — or at least International Olympic Committee law. USOPC Bylaw 8.3.1: “In accordance with the IOC’s Olympic Charter, the corporation will not recognize or certify more than one NGB in each sport.” Also, an NGB may not “delegate decision-making and control of matters central to governance.”

So if you’ve been following this and wondering if the GNCC can become a co-NGB of sorts, something that was asked and not answered at a GNCC board meeting once, the answer is no. I think USAC might also run afoul of its auditors if it simply handed over grassroots curling to another organization.

What options do we have other than leaving or trying to push for reform from within? 

The nuclear option is decertification. See 8.11 of USOPC Bylaws and the USOPC Dispute Resolution Policy.

Does decertification ever happen? 

Yes. It happened in taekwondo, modern pentathlon and (team) handball. 

Does it help? 

Do you see a lot of taekwondo, modern pentathlon and (team) handball these days? (Not counting kids’ taekwondo, which usually has as much to do with competitive taekwondo as a Planet Fitness has to do with Olympic marathoning or weightlifting.)

But the threat of decertification produces change. USA Curling itself was threatened when its national teams underperformed (see above), which led to an emphasis on High Performance. USA Track and Field has been threatened because of the composition of its board. USA Gymnastics … that’s an ugly story, though the organization is reforming. USA Badminton had to reform under pressure in 2019.

And just this summer, the USOPC launched decertification proceedings against USA Skateboarding. The accusations are a bit more serious than USA Curling’s current issues: lack of background checks, revocation of tax status by the IRS, no anti-doping procedures, lack of child protection … yeah, it’s not good. (See the USOPC site for cases — Sections 8, 10 and 11 are the relevant cases here.)

Irony: former USAC CEO Jeff Plush, the epicenter of controversy in 2022, was a panel member in a Section 10 complaint against the US Equestrian Federation.

WHAT IS SAFESPORT?

(In allcaps because this is really important.)

A lot of Olympic sports have had horror stories of sexual abuse. Congress responded with some rewrites of the Stevens Act, including the official launch of the US Center for SafeSport and the SafeSport Code in 2017.

Then they left the Center underfunded. (I need to do a follow-up story to my 2019 Guardian piece at some point.)

But while the Center and the legislators who founded it have their critics, there’s no doubt a lot has changed. Some of it seems trivial — a youth soccer player can no longer text a coach to say he’s running late without including a parent or guardian — but is useful when you think of all the coaches who groomed their players for future dating. At curling clubs, we’ve had to pass rules on locker-room usage to make sure a young curler isn’t alone with an unrelated adult.

You can think of SafeSport having three main functions:

Training: If you’re even tangentially involved in sports, you have to take SafeSport training. I was a soccer coach, and I’m still a soccer referee, so I’ve watched this stuff quite a bit.

The database: Find suspended coaches, players and various peripheral people by sport, by name, by city, etc.

Investigations: The Center has exclusive jurisdiction (all sexual misconduct, criminal charges of child abuse, various failures to report, etc.) or discretionary jurisdiction (non-sexual child abuse, emotional and physical misconduct, criminal charges not involving sexual misconduct or child abuse, other failures to abide by the Code). 

In other words: If it’s a case of sexual misconduct, child abuse or something the Center simply wants to take on itself, the Center does it, NOT the NGB.

That’s not a choice. That’s the law.

And it’s a good thing. Twenty years ago, the overlords all decided to hand over anti-doping work to the US Anti-Doping Agency instead of having NGBs police themselves. Given the abuse problems in so many sports, can anyone doubt it’s a good idea to have another entity take on the bulk of the work?

That said, an NGB needs to have staffers to work on misconduct claims that the Center doesn’t investigate, and it must work to educate members on their rights and responsibilities.

(Which is why the notion that “GNCC can do SafeSport” doesn’t sit well with this reporter who has covered the issues and doubts that a volunteer organization can tackle them.)

WHAT CAN USA CURLING DO MOVING FORWARD?

Some people want the entire board to resign. I think that’s impractical and unnecessary, given the turnover of the top two people (the CEO and the board chair) and the fact that those two were eventually pushed out as a result of some political machinations that will probably never be fully public.

The reasons for leaving USAC would be:

  1. Handling of the Jeff Plush/NWSL situation.
  2. Handling of the GNCC situation.
  3. Inadequate work as an NGB.

The third is worth addressing, but let’s be honest — no one’s talking about leaving USAC because Curling Night in America sucked. Interim CEO Dean Gemmell agrees that it sucked, and he has thrown open the door to hear concerns about what USAC can do better.

Then there’s Plush. I can understand why some board members stuck with Plush for a while, given the investigations that turned up higher-ups in soccer who testified that Plush did what he could given his limited powers as NWSL commissioner. Having covered women’s soccer for a couple of decades, I can attest that his powers were indeed limited. But they weren’t that limited, he has shown a tendency to take appallingly bad advice, and he refused to cooperate with the Yates Report. Therefore, he’s out. I’m not going to fault the board for failing to push him out instantaneously. Firing a CEO isn’t a simple task, especially when a board chair also has to go.

That leaves GNCC, and I’m simply not worked up over that.

What? You’re not worked up over GNCC being kicked out?

Yeah, I’m going to steer clear of that for a bit. I agreed that they should’ve had an extra year to comply with USAC rules, but it has since become clear to me that they simply didn’t accept their position in the org chart.

I would also suggest asking all the regions and clubs who voted against GNCC why they did so.

So what else is on the list?

  • Regain trust. The Members Assembly at which the GNCC was kicked out was the nadir of an already frayed relationship between USAC and many members, even those who weren’t necessarily on GNCC’s side. (See this essay from Colin Hufman, an athlete rep on the board.)
  • Clarify bylaws and policies. Governance 3.0 just finished. Next: Governance 4.0, a direct response to the outcry of the past year.
  • Redefine membership. A flat fee of $34 per person in each USAC club isn’t working for everyone. USA Fencing’s tiered approach has been mentioned by multiple people, including me.
  • Give the USA Curling Foundation a proper launch. USAC has grant programs and is the guarantor of World Curling Federation loans. The Foundation needs to be a visible focal point for these efforts, and it needs to do effective fund-raising. USAC is set to give it an official launch … soon?

I’M A PHILOSOPHY GEEK. What would famous philosophers suggest regarding USA Curling?

John Rawls would similarly argue that civic unity can and should prevail.

David Hume would say sense data is all that matters, so we should stop using stopwatches when we play.

Plato would say we’re living in a cave, observing only the shadows of Niklas Edin and Tabitha Peterson.

John Stuart Mill of his own free will would order a half pint of shandy from the warm room bar and be particularly ill.

Ayn Rand would let the free market decide, which means we probably wouldn’t have any curling on TV at all.

And Rene Descartes would say curling doesn’t think; therefore, it is not.

I’m fundamentally utilitarian, and I think John Stuart Mill would argue that the curling community should act to spread the greatest amount of joy to the greatest number of curling clubs across the country, which would mean staying in USA Curling as a means of growing the sport as a whole for the benefit of all.

So that’s why, given my club’s decision to depart, I’m getting an individual membership. Not for my own benefits. I believe USA Curling needs reform, but I believe it needs money to do it. I don’t expect everyone to help with that, but I will.

And no matter what, I will continue to struggle with takeouts on the edges of the house, and I will continue to have trouble sliding around to get back to a hack after delivering a stone. But I’m going to have fun.

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Most of the stories I wrote for NBC during the Olympics

I didn’t keep track while I was working, so this is a retroactive search that may have missed a few stories.

For the most part, writers were also responsible for headlines, photos, videos, “related” tags and other production.

Pre-Games

Podcast: In the Village gives a glimpse of Games’ most exclusive zone


July 24 (Day 1 roundup)

Handball: Spain survives for one-point win over No. 1 Germany

Cycling: Carapaz outlasts Pogacar, U.S. rider McNulty to win road race

Shooting: China’s Yang Qian claims first gold in Tokyo


July 25 (Day 2 roundup)

Boxing: Keyshawn Davis opens with dominant decision

Shooting: Will Shaner takes air rifle gold

Basketball: Australia pulls away from Nigeria


July 26 (Day 3 roundup)

Table tennis: Japan spoils China’s run with rally in mixed doubles

Shooting: U.S. shooters Hancock and English sweep in skeet


July 27 (Day 4 roundup)

Boxing: Delante Johnson controls fight to reach quarterfinals

Diving: Parratto and Schnell land first U.S. medals in women’s synchro platform diving

Weightlifting: Canadian Charron takes gold


July 28 (Day 5 roundup)

Weightlifting: China’s Shi Zhiyong sets weightlifting

Boxing: Duke Ragan blasts his way to featherweight quarterfinals

3×3 (earlier in the day): U.S. women survive French challenge

Archery: Ellison, Brown cruise through early stages


July 29 (Day 6 roundup)

Table tennis: Chen wins all-Chinese final

Boxing: Richard Torrez Jr. puts super heavy U.S. presence in quarterfinals

Basketball: Spain beats Serbia to stay unbeaten

Archery: Jacob Wukie advances to all-U.S. matchup

Sailing: Dutch sailor Badloe closes in on windsurfing gold

Canoe slalom: Australian Fox takes elusive gold


July 30 (Day 7 roundup)

Diving: Hailey Hernandez advances to next round on springboard

Boxing: Oshae Jones clinches medal to buoy U.S. contingent

Shooting: ROC shooter Batsarashkina doubles up on pistol gold

Canoe slalom: Czech Republic’s Prskavek adds gold to trophy case

Baseball: Dominican Republic pitches shutout against Mexico


July 31 (Day 8 roundup)

Shooting: First mixed trap medal falls to U.S. shooters Bernau and Burrows

Shooting: Swiss shooter Nina Christen wins women’s 3-position event

Archery: Turkey’s Gazoz wins gold; Ellison upset in quarterfinals

Boxing: Day 8: British, Cuban favorites roll on


August 1 (Day 9 roundup)

Water polo: Women’s Day 9: Upset gives U.S. group win

Sailing: Australia, Denmark sail to dinghy medals


August 2 (Day 10 roundup)

Sailing: Lack of wind postponed medal match

Shooting: France’s Quiquampoix wins rapid-fire pistol

Weightlifting: Sarah Robles repeats as bronze medalist


August 3 (Day 11 roundup)

Baseball: Dominican Republic ends Israel’s run

Cycling: Kenny family adds two medals as crash controversy rocks cycling track


August 4 (Day 12 roundup)

Cycling: Italy sets world record in team pursuit to stun Denmark

Weightlifting: Lasha Talakhadze sweeps world weightlifting records

Boxing: Day 12: Torrez powers his way to final


August 5 (Day 13 roundup)

Cycling: Day 13: Dutch win, mixed bag for GB

Handball: Denmark to defend men’s gold against France

Modern pentathlon: German, British, Russian athletes take early lead

Boxing: Albert Batyrgaziev wins featherweight gold; USA’s Duke Ragan claims silver


August 6 (Day 14 roundup)

Field hockey: Netherlands’ women take gold

Boxing: Keyshawn Davis earns opportunity to break U.S. gold medal drought

Modern pentathlon: Women’s pentathlon yields another British gold

Cycling: Day 14: Denmark takes men’s Madison


August 7 (Day 15 roundup)

Wrestling: Sadulaev defeats Snyder in gold medal showdown

Handball: Spain edges Egypt for men’s bronze

Wrestling: USA’s Hildebrandt rebounds for bronze


August 8 (can’t find roundup)

Tokyo Olympics Archery in Review: South Korea nearly sweeps

U.S. men win curling gold — how it happened

If you’re a little tired of curling coverage that tries way too hard to explain the sport without telling you anything that’s actually happening on the ice, this post is for you.

This is what happened. If you don’t know the terminology, figure it out. It’s not that hard. Also, my local curling club has a good glossary.

The teams in order of when they deliver their rocks:

Sweden: Christoffer Sundgren, Rasmus Wranaa, Oskar Eriksson, Niklas Edin.

USA: John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton, Tyler George, John Shuster.

I’m also going to refer to the shot-by-shot diagrams on the results page, which includes grades for each shot (100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, 0%). Not that they’re accurate. When in doubt, trust NBC analyst Kevin Martin, a Canadian who took silver in 2002 and gold on home ice in 2010.

1st end: Sweden has the hammer. The USA goes straight into the house with its first rocks, setting up a routine string of takeouts. The only tricky shot in such an end is the last one, where Edin needs to hit Shuster’s last rock and roll his own rock out of the house, which means he has to hit it to one side rather than on the nose. Edin does just that, meaning there’s no score and Sweden retains the hammer. Fourteen of the 16 shots are scored at 100%, but it’s all pretty routine. 0-0.

2nd end: USA opts to set up a center guard this time. Sweden sets up another guard. Landsteiner draws around his own guard into the house, and Sundgren counters with a precise shot to bump the USA’s rock to the back of the house.

Hamilton, showing he’s not just a man with a sense of humor and great mustache, follows with a terrific shot to take the Swedish rock out of the house. Then Wranaa tops that with a double takeout, clearing out the U.S. rocks.

So we have a more complicated series of takeouts because everyone has to deal with the two guards in front.

And we finally get an outright miss. After Edin draws his penultimate shot to the top of the four-foot, Shuster tries an ambitious shot that would knock his own guard into the house and take out Edin’s. He hits the guard, but it’s just a little bit off the nose, and his rock sails by Edin’s rock, leaving the top-ranked player in the world an easy draw for two. 2-0 Sweden.

One thing here showing how Shuster has changed. The stereotype of Shuster in the past is the scrunched-up face of anguish. As The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman put it:

Each time, the camera finds Shuster, whose missed stone has turned him stone-faced. His look is not “Crap, I’ve messed up.” It’s “Crap, I’ve messed up again.” He’s probably lamenting the failure, and probably remembering the aftermath of every one of his past failures, and dreading the fact he has to live through it again. Then, the tweets begin to pop up.

This time, Shuster has a wry smile, and he and Hamilton dissect what went wrong. It’s a cool, calm reaction of a man at the height of his game.

3rd end: Sundgren puts Sweden’s first rock in the top of the house. Landsteiner sets up a guard off to the side. Sweden guards its own, and Landsteiner comes around it to bump Sweden’s rock back. Wranaa swiftly removes the U.S. rock in the house to leave Sweden lying two with a guard in place, but Hamilton’s double takeout reduces that to one. Wranaa freezes a Swedish rock to his own, both on one side of the button.

The next shot shows how scoring can be inexact. Was Hamilton trying to draw around his own guard to hit the Swedish rocks? If so, he failed, and it’s 0% — as it was indeed scored. But he managed to bump his own guard out of the way, which will make it easier for George and Shuster to bring the heavy lumber. Also, his shooter has neatly rolled underneath that forgotten corner guard that Landsteiner put in place earlier.

A cool-looking hit-and-roll from Eriksson gives Sweden three clustered rocks near the center of the house. Looks good, right?

3-9

Tyler George changes that. He hits the top rock, which bangs one of the Swedish rocks out of there, and his shooter rolls just ever so slightly so it’s neatly positioned between the two Swedish rocks. Good luck getting that rock out of there, Sweden.

3-10

Again, the scoring is a little odd with the next shot. Eriksson bumps into the cluster of rocks and gets 100%, but the NBC commentators think it’s a slight miss because it leaves George a good double takeout. George responds by getting both red rocks out of there, leaving just one yellow. He gets 100% and applause from Ivanka Trump in the crowd, but he’s grimacing (as he too often does), perhaps because he thinks Edin will make a double takeout of his own. He does.

That leaves two red rocks on one side of the house, lined up for a possible double. Shuster can only get one (50%). Edin takes out the rock Shuster just threw and rolls as far as he can across the house. We’re not sure who’s second rock now, which complicates things.

3-15

Shuster can easily take out Sweden’s shot rock and score one, but maybe not two. Does he go for the double takeout to make sure he gets two?

Yes. And he hits it. It’s the best shot of the game so far, and we’re tied. 2-2

4th end: The inverse of the last end at the start. Landsteiner draws to the button. Sundgren sets up a corner guard (remember from the last end — the USA’s corner guard helped them keep a second rock in the house). Landsteiner guards his own, and Sundgren freezes to the rock on the button.

Hamilton’s draw is slightly off (75%). Wranaa also gets 75%, Hamilton gets 50% on his next one, and we have five jumbled rocks in the house. Wranaa makes it six and bumps the yellow U.S. rock off the button — scored at 100%, but the NBC crew thinks it’s heavy, and they’re right.

Shuster and George have a long conversation about the next shot to see how many of these rocks they can get out. And it’s another strange score — 100%, but no one on the U.S. team sounds pleased. Eriksson tries a difficult double takeout and gets one (though he’s also scored at 100% for some reason).

NBC says George wants to bump a Swedish red rock out of the four-foot and roll slightly onto the center line. George bumps a Swedish red rock out of the four-foot and rolls slightly onto the center line. THAT is 100%, and Sweden’s path to score two is more complicated. The chance of scoring three or more is probably out.

But when Eriksson hits and rolls off his own, everything is coming up Sweden. Shuster says no, threading the needle to bump in for shot rock ahead of the Swedes.

4-13

And Edin finally misses. He tries to get past that yellow at the top of the four-foot (pinkish red circle) but just nicks it, sliding off to the side. Shuster has a half-miss (appropriately scored 50%), hitting to the right of that jumble and knocking a red rock off the four-foot, but he leaves a potential double takeout from which Edin can score two. But he doesn’t. He’s a little off to the right. The various caroms leave that best-placed yellow rock on the edge of the four-foot, and we need a measurement to see who scores one. It’s the USA, and it’s a steal of one. 3-2 USA

5th end: The first four shots are virtually identical to those of the fourth end. Wranaa accidentally gives Sweden a rock to the side of the house, bumping into a guard and rolling off to the side. Hamilton jumbles things up a bit more, and Wranaa has a difficult shot to hit and roll into the center.

Tyler George go bang. All the red rocks are out of the eight-foot. The USA lies four. Eriksson draws into the eight-foot, but it’s wide-open.

Another long chat ensues. Lots of U.S. rocks in the house, but that also means a lot of rocks Edin can hit.

George on one option: “We’ll only be sitting three.”

Shutster: “That’s fine. I like that — only be sitting three.”

George’s shot is fine. Eriksson’s is not. He should be able to get a couple of yellow rocks out of there, but he only gets one.

5-12

Shuster guards the middle of the house. Edin manages to draw past it but just a bit heavy, going to the back of the button. (Curling 101: Front is better than back. The idea isn’t just to get there but to stay there.)

But Shuster misses badly. His rock sails through the house. Edin draws for two, and we’re roughly even at the halfway point — Sweden up one, USA with the hammer. 4-3 Sweden

6th end: A little less traffic this time. Landsteiner removes one of Sundgren’s rocks. Wranaa tries to take out both Hamilton’s guard and the lone U.S. rock in the house, but he only gets one. Hamilton gets a harsh 0% on his next rock, which leaves a Swedish rock clinging to the house but leaves the USA lying two.

Eriksson plays a perfect hit-and-roll, given Sweden shot rock under a long center guard. George, who’s on fire, makes that one go away. Eriksson, also playing very well, takes out both U.S. rocks in the house and rolls his own shooter out, leaving just the one Swedish rock in the house. George draws around the Swedish guard and sets up shot stone at the top of the house.

Edin tries one of the curling shots that boggles my mind — the long, long runback, banging a guard into the house and trying to use that to take out the rock in the house. Shuster missed this shot earlier in the game. Edin misses, too.

Shuster draws to the side of the house to give the USA two stones and leave Edin a difficult double takeout. Edin opts against that shot and tries a hit-and-roll that would give him shot stone. It rolls too far, and Shuster draws for two. 5-4 USA 

7th end: Landsteiner plays a nice draw to the top four-foot behind his own center guard. Sundgren comes around and bumps it, giving Sweden shot rock early.

Hamilton isn’t happy with his first delivery. He hits the red rock, but it jams into the yellow rock behind the button. Sweden has one at the back of the four-foot, outcounting a U.S. rock off to the side.

But Wranaa’s attempt to freeze to that U.S. rock is off-target, and Hamilton redeems his end with a perfect double takeout. That’s two U.S. rocks in the house and none for Sweden, thanks very much. The Mustache Man is pumped. And Wranaa counters with a draw that comes up very light, not even reaching the house.

George pounces. He puts a draw right on the button, and with a yellow rock immediately behind it, that’ll be difficult to dislodge. Eriksson clears some traffic. George tries to guard the center, but he leaves enough room for Eriksson to put his own red rock on the button.

7-12

Shuster plays a guard in the eight-foot. He’s content to give up one here and take hammer in the eighth in a tie game. Edin tries to pick off Shuster’s rock and misses everything. (Well, he moved the red rock about an inch when his shot glanced by.) Shuster tosses up another guard to further complicate Edin’s chances of getting two, and Edin has to hit a complex chain reaction up the middle just to get one. 5-5

8th end: And now, the deluge …

Landsteiner tries the most difficult shot a lead ever plays, the “wick” shot to bump a guard out of the way without knocking it all the way out, which isn’t allowed while the leads are playing. (The stone would be replaced.) He misses. But he plays a nice draw with his second shot. In the house: 2 U.S. rocks, 0 for Sweden.

Wranaa draws into the four-foot for shot rock. Hamilton, whose numbers in this game aren’t great, removes a guard. Wranaa replaces it, and Hamilton bumps it out of the way again. The Swedish guard only moves partway out of the way, but Hamilton’s shooter rolls (spins, in fact) to the edge of the house, which will be important later.

Eriksson puts up yet another guard. George tries to pick the red rock out of the house but isn’t really successful (a legit 50%). Eriksson draws to the four-foot but leaves it open for George, who knocks it away.

Edin’s first rock is a draw almost to the same spot as Eriksson’s. But it’s not quite buried behind all the guards.

So we have one of those complicated ends in which a lot of rocks are in play. It could be a big end for the USA or a steal for Sweden, the latter outcome possible if Edin can get a rock in there that Shuster can’t get out.

8-14

Edin calls timeout. Kevin Martin thinks Edin can hold this end to no more than two, which would certainly leave Sweden in contention.

8-15

That 75% is so deceiving. Edin left Shuster a double takeout.

After all that John Shuster has been through — all the disappointment, all the ridicule — he has this shot to virtually clinch a gold medal.

Need you even ask?

10-5 USA

9th end: This is nearly academic now. Edin has to swing for the fences and get a ton of points here just to make the 10th end worth playing.

Landsteiner tosses a shot through the house. No need to leave any traffic. Hamilton takes out a guard. Wranaa replaces it. Hamilton clears it again. Wranaa draws deep into the house, partially buried behind the lone remaining guard, but George takes it out.

Then Eriksson errs. His draw goes all the way through the house. George has a bit of a miss, too, knocking out the lone guard but leaving his own rock in play. Eriksson draws behind that.

Shuster takes out the guard. He’s willing to give up two here. Edin barely gets a draw to the top of the house. Shuster removes it, leaving Edin the whole house to draw for two. 10-7 USA 

10th end: Sweden needs to steal three. Good luck with that.

A mistake from Landsteiner as he tries to hit the “wick” — he knocks the Swedish guard all the way out, so it’s replaced. Sundgren puts up another guard. Landsteiner flings his rock through the house. Again, just trying to avoid a lot of traffic here. Completely different situation than trying to score two.

Wranaa draws behind the two guards. Wait, what two guards? Hamilton bangs them away and leaves nothing in front of the house. Big fist pump time. Sweden’s got very little to play with here.

Wranaa guards again. Only one? Hamilton gets rid of that one, finishing his lonnnnnng Olympics (about 40 hours on the ice between mixed doubles and men’s) on a high.

Eriksson guards. George removes it. Rinse, repeat.

 

Edin does a spin move on his last shot, then shakes hands. It’s over.

 

 

 

 

UPDATED — USA in Pyeongchang: How bad is it?

Updates are in italic. Things have taken an upturn.

We’re at the middle Sunday of the 2018 Olympics, and the USA has … 10 medals.

The Netherlands have 13, perhaps an advantage of picking one sport and getting really, really good at it. They only have four athletes at the Olympics who aren’t speedskaters.

Canada has 16 medals in seven different sports, and we haven’t even hit the hockey medal rounds yet.

Germany has 18. They slide, shoot and ski jump quite well.

Norway has 26. Basically, if it involves skis, the Norwegians have medaled. They’ve already equaled their total from Sochi.

The USA had 28 medals in Sochi. It’s no surprise that they do better in North America — 34 in Salt Lake City and 37 in Vancouver, compared with 25 in Torino.

Sure, the numbers were in the 20th century. In those days, 13 was a record. In 1988, Bonnie Blair and Brian Boitano were the only Americans to take gold, and Blair accounted for two of the USA’s six medals. But that was a different era. The Winter Games have grown — 38 events in Lake Placid 1980, 68 in Nagano 1998, 98 in Sochi 2014.

And the USA has gained from the X Games-ification of the Winter Olympics. Freestyle skiing officially debuted with one event (moguls) in 1992, then added aerials, then ski cross in 2010 and halfpipe and slopestyle in 2014. The USA had 21 medals in that sport coming into Pyeongchang, along with 24 in snowboarding.

But it’s not just the newfangled sports that have kept the USA near the top of the medal table. In Sochi, the USA took five medals in Alpine skiing, four in bobsled (including two in women’s, still a new-ish event), one in luge and one in ice dancing. Even with the long-track speedskating shutout, that’s not a bad showing.

The USA is actually competitive in sports that were once far beyond Americans’ grasp. I was there in 2010 to see the USA’s first Nordic combined medals. The long-overmatched bobsled and luge programs have sprung to life. Skeleton’s return to the Olympics was a boon for the USA — apparently, going head-first down a long slide suits us. And the USA took two medals in last year’s biathlon World Championships to go with a steady stream of cross-country skiing medals, two sports in which the USA has a combined total of one all-time Olympic medal.

So what’s going on in Pyeongchang, where snowboarding accounts for half of the USA’s medal haul so far and all but one of the Americans’ golds?

Two categories. First, near misses:

  • An ailing Mikaela Shiffrin, who already has the only non-snowboarding gold for the USA so far, was fourth in her best event (slalom).
  • Jessie Diggins came into South Korea with a terrific shot at winning the USA’s first women’s cross-country medal, and she has finished fifth, fifth, fifth (relay) and sixth.
  • Nathan Chen made a heroic effort to reach the podium in men’s figure skating and posted the top free skate, but he was fifth overall. (Should’ve been fourth.)
  • The luge team relay, led by surprise men’s medalist Chris Mazdzer and track record-breaker Summer Britcher, was fourth.
  • Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner each took fourth in snowboardcross. The USA also nearly had fourth-place finishers in men’s and women’s halfpipe, which you may have not noticed given Shaun White and Chloe Kim’s golds.
  • Brittany Bowe has nearly broken the speedskating hex, placing fourth, fifth and fifth.
  • Maggie Voisin, who was injured in a training run in Sochi and couldn’t compete, finished fourth in slopestyle skiing.
  • Casey Andringa was fifth in men’s moguls.

So the 10-medal haul could easily be 15 or more.

Second, ill-timed down years:

  • Biathlon. Lowell Bailey took gold and Susan Dunklee took silver in last year’s World Championships, but it’s just not happening this year in the World Cup or in South Korea.
  • Men’s Alpine skiing. While the women have two skiers vying for G.O.A.T. status (Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn), Ted Ligety is the only viable medal contender for the U.S. men. He was fifth in the combined.
  • Long-track speedskating. There’s really no good way to explain how a team with Bowe and Heather Bergsma has gone two Olympics without reaching the podium.
  • And the glory years are long gone for Nordic combined, women’s short-track skating and skeleton.

So what’s the path forward here? Can the USA still get into the mid-20s?

Let’s peek at the remaining medal events:

Sun/Mon, Feb. 18-19 – Day 10. 0 medals. Indeed, none

6:15 a.m.: Bobsled, two-man final two runs. No chance.
6:53 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 500 meters. Little chance.
7:30 a.m.: Ski jumping, men’s team. No chance.

Mon/Tues, Feb. 19-20 – Day 11. 1-2 medals (running total: 11-12) Got both, bronze in each case. Total of 12.

⭐8 p.m: Figure skating, ice dance free dance. Very good chance. If the Shib Sibs aren’t at their best, two more teams have a shot.
⭐8:30 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s halfpipe. Very good chance. Maddie Bowman is the defending gold medalist.
6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, mixed relay. If Dunklee, Bailey and Tim Burke have awesome legs … well, we can dream.
6:33 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s relay final. Didn’t qualify.
7:45 a.m.: Nordic combined, large hill 10k race. No chance.

Tues/Wed, Feb. 20-21 – Day 12. 1-4 medals (running total: 12-16) OK, I was wrong about the women’s team pursuit. The USA took bronze. That made up for only getting one in women’s bobsled. Vonn got her medal, and yes, so did Diggins (with Kikkan Randall). Still running on the high end of the projections — 16 medals.

⭐9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s downhill. Lindsey Freaking Vonn, folks.
⭐5 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s and women’s team sprint finals. Please, please let Jessie Diggins get her medal here.
⭐6:40 a.m.: Bobsled, women’s final two runs. Certainly one, maybe two.
7:52 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s and women’s team pursuit finals. No chance.

Wed/Thurs, Feb. 21-22 – Day 13. 2-4 medals (running total: 14-20) Not quite a sweep, but two medals in halfpipe and then gold in women’s hockey. So just one off the high end of the projection at 19 medals. Also, the Alpine combined and big air were moved ahead a day, but I’ll leave them with the next day for projection purposes.

⭐9:30 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s halfpipe. Outstanding chance. Might even sweep.
⭐11:10 p.m.: Hockey, women’s gold medal game. All-but-certain gold or silver.
11:45 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s slalom. Not likely.
5:20 a.m.: Nordic combined, team relay. Not this year.
6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, women’s 4x6k relay. I wish, but no.
6:18 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s 500-meter final. Slight chance.
6:30 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s 1,000-meter final. Little chance.
7:03 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s relay final. Didn’t qualify for A final, though if a bunch of teams are disqualified …

Thurs/Fri, Feb. 22-23 – Day 14. 1-5 medals (running total: 15-25) Already got two of these a day early thanks to rescheduling. That’s probably going to be all, so they’ll still be at 21. But five medals here was always a stretch.

⭐7:30 a.m.: Snowboarding, women’s big air. Pretty good chance.
⭐8 a.m.: Figure skating, women’s free skate. Less than 50-50, but maybe?
⭐12:30 a.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s combined. Shiffrin and Vonn could contend.
12:35 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s skicross. No U.S. entries.
5 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 1,000 meters. Only if Shani Davis turns back time.
6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, men’s 4×7.5k relay. No chance.

Fri/Sat, Feb. 23-24 – Day 15. 1-4 medals (running total: 16-29) This will be at least one thanks to the men’s curlers. So the minimum stands at 22. The Torino total of 25 depends the snowboarders and speedskaters.

⭐8 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s big air. Possible.
9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, team event. Hard to say.
10 p.m.: Snowboarding, parallel giant slalom. Probably not, but you never know.
12 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s 50k mass start. No chance.
⭐1:35 a.m.: Curling, men’s gold medal game. They’re still in it, but this might be a stretch.
⭐7:30 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s mass start. Decent chance. Joey Mantia won the 2017 world title. Maybe they can finally break through.
8 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s mass start

Sat/Sun, Feb. 24-25 – Day 16. 0 medals

7:05 p.m.: Curling, women’s gold medal game. Not likely.
7:30 p.m.: Bobsled, four-man final. Not likely based on two-man runs.
11:10 p.m.: Hockey, men’s gold medal. No Miracle here.
1:15 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, women’s 30k mass start. Not Diggins’ best event.

So the chances of matching Sochi are slim. They’ll struggle to match Torino. But 20 medals wouldn’t be so bad.

 

2018 Winter Olympics: A concise viewing guide with stars, medals and flags

Each day during the Olympics, I’ll be telling you what to watch and making a few predictions. You can also find my daily previews at Bleacher Report.

Time difference and schedule/streaming options: The Pyeongchang schedule is …

  • Eight hours ahead of a lot of Europe (Eurosport)
  • Nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (BBC)
  • 14 hours ahead of Eastern Time (NBCCBC)
  • 17 hours ahead of Pacific Time (NBCCBC)

Here, all times are Eastern. So if it’s Thursday morning in South Korea, it’s Wednesday night here. If it’s Thursday night in South Korea, it’s Thursday morning here. NBC is live-streaming everything, and I’ve noted network coverage where applicable.

And yes, I’m using emoji. Stars for recommended viewing, Xs are for events of interest to X Games fans, medals for medal events, U.S. flags where the USA has a good chance of getting a medal (or a couple of events you simply have to see if you’re interested in U.S. athletes). It’s slightly selective — on busy days, I don’t list every qualifying session or curling matchup.

(Update: Bleacher Report bowed to the “Day 1” naming convention, and so have I. Also, I’ve updated some of the rescheduled events.)

Wed/Thurs, Feb. 7-8 – Day before the day before Day 1

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-“Russia.” First event of Games. Note: Each curling session throughout the Games (until tiebreakers and playoffs) will have 3-4 games at once.

OVERNIGHT

Naught (NBCSN will have more curling and some training runs.)

EARLY MORNING

6:05 a.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-Canada (NBCSN)
7:30 a.m.: Ski jumping, men’s normal hill qualification (NBCSN)

Thurs/Fri, Feb. 8-9 – Day 0

PRIME TIME

6:35 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-Switzerland
⭐8 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, men’s short program (NBC; Nathan Chen?)
8 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s moguls qualification (NBC; Jaelin Kauf)
9:45 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, pairs short program (NBC)
9:45 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s moguls qualification (NBC)

OVERNIGHT

11:35 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-South Korea (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

⭐6:00 a.m.: Opening Ceremony. (Live stream has “natural sound only.”)

Fri/Sat, Feb. 9-10 – Day 1

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-China
(8 p.m.: NBC shows fully produced Opening Ceremony on 14-hour delay)
✖8 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s slopestyle qualifying

OVERNIGHT

🥇🇺🇸2:15 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, women’s 15k skiathlon (NBCSN; Jessie Diggins; chance for U.S. women’s first-ever Nordic medal)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, Japan-Sweden

EARLY MORNING 

🇺🇸5 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, heats in multiple events (NBCSN; Maame Biney)
🥇6 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s 3,000 meters
6:05 a.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-Norway
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, women’s 7.5k sprint (Susan Dunklee)
7 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, Switzerland-South Korea (USA Network)
⭐🥇🇺🇸7:28 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s 1,500-meter final (NBCSN; J.R. Celski)
🥇7:35 a.m.: Ski jumping, men’s normal hill final (NBCSN)

Sat/Sun, Feb. 10-11 – Day 2

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, USA-Finland (final round-robin game)
✖🥇8 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s slopestyle final (NBCSN)
⭐8 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, ice dance short program (NBC; Shib Sibs?)
⭐🥇9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s downhill (NBC)
⭐9:45 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, women’s short program (NBC)
✖11:30 p.m.: Snowboarding, women’s slopestyle qualifying (NBCSN)
11:40 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, pairs free skate (NBC)

OVERNIGHT

🥇1:15 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s 30k skiathlon
🥇2 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 5,000 meters (Brian Hansen)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, USA-Finland (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

🥇6 a.m.: Luge, men’s, final two runs
6:05 a.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, tiebreaker (if necessary)
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, men’s 10k sprint (NBCSN; Lowell Bailey)
🥇🇺🇸7 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s moguls final (Jaelin Kauf)
7 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, Canada-“Russia” (USA Network)

Sun/Mon, Feb. 11-12 – Day 3

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles semifinal 1
✖🥇🇺🇸8 p.m.: Snowboarding, women’s slopestyle final (NBCSN; Jamie Anderson)
8 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, men’s free skate (NBC; Nathan Chen)
⭐8:15 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s giant slalom, first run (NBC; Mikaela Shiffrin)
9:10 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, women’s free skate (NBC)
⭐🥇🇺🇸10:20 p.m.: Figure skating, team event, free dance (NBC; Shib Sibs)
⭐✖11:30 p.m.: Snowboarding, women’s halfpipe qualifying (Chloe Kim)
⭐🥇🇺🇸11:45 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s giant slalom, second run (NBC; Mikaela Shiffrin)

OVERNIGHT

2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, Switzerland-Japan (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

🥇5:10 a.m.: Biathlon, women’s 10k pursuit (NBCSN; Susan Dunklee)
6:05 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles semifinal 2
🥇7 a.m.: Biathlon, men’s 12.5k pursuit (Lowell Bailey)
🥇7 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s moguls final
⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸7:30 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s 1,500 meters (Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe)
🥇7:50 a.m.: Ski jumping, women’s final (Sarah Hendrickson)

Mon/Tues, Feb. 12-13 – Day 4

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, mixed doubles, bronze medal game
⭐⭐✖🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸8 p.m.: Snowboarding, women’s halfpipe final (NBC; Chloe Kim)
9:30 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s combined, downhill (NBC)
✖11 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s halfpipe qualifying (NBC; Shaun White)

OVERNIGHT

🥇1 a.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s combined, slalom (NBC)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, Canada-Finland (NBCSN)
3:30 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s and women’s sprint qualifying (Jessie Diggins, Kikkan Randall)

EARLY MORNING 

5 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, heats in women’s 500 meters, men’s 1,000 meters and men’s relay
🥇🇺🇸5:30 a.m.: Luge, women’s final two runs (Summer Britcher, Erin Hamlin)
6 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s and women’s sprint heats (NBCSN)
⭐🥇🇺🇸6 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 1,500 meters (Shani Davis)
🥇6:05 a.m.: Curling, mixed doubles gold medal game
🇺🇸7:10 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, USA-“Russia” (NBCSN)
🥇7:11 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s 500-meter final
⭐🥇🇺🇸7:25 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, women’s sprint final (Diggins, Randall)
🥇7:34 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s sprint final

Tues/Wed, Feb. 13-14 – Day 5

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-South Korea (first game)
8 p.m.: Figure skating, pairs short program (NBC/NBCSN)
8:15 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s slalom, run 1 (NBC; Mikaela Shiffrin)
⭐✖🥇🇺🇸8:30 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s halfpipe final (NBC; Shaun White)
⭐⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸11:45 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s slalom, run 2 (NBC; Mikaela Shiffrin)

OVERNIGHT

🇺🇸12:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-Japan (first game)
1 a.m.: Nordic combined, normal hill ski jump
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, Japan-South Korea (USA Network)
🥇3:45 a.m.: Nordic combined, normal hill 10k race (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸5 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s 1,000 meters (NBCSN; Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe)
🥇6:05 a.m.: Biathlon, women’s 15k individual (Susan Dunklee)
🥇6:20 a.m.: Luge, doubles
⭐🇺🇸7:10 a.m.: Hockey, men’s, USA-Slovenia (NBCSN; debut for non-NHL team)

Wed/Thurs, Feb. 14-15 – Day 6

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-Britain
🥇8:30 p.m.: Figure skating, pairs free skate (NBC/NBCSN)
🥇9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s super-G (NBC; Andrew Weibrecht)
⭐⭐🇺🇸10:10 p.m.: Hockey, women’s, USA-Canada (NBCSN)
✖11:30 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s snowboardcross, heats

OVERNIGHT

12:05 a.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Italy
✖🥇12:45 a.m.: Snowboarding, men’s snowboardcross, final (NBC)
🥇🇺🇸1:30 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, women’s 10k individual (Jessie Diggins)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, one men’s and one women’s game (NBCSN/USA Network)

EARLY MORNING 

🥇6 a.m.: Biathlon, men’s 20k individual (Lowell Bailey)
🥇6 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 10,000 meters (no USA)
6:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-Switzerland
7:10 a.m.: Hockey, two men’s games (NBCSN/USA Network)
🥇7:30 a.m.: Luge, team relay

Thurs/Fri, Feb. 15-16 – Day 7

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Sweden
🥇7:30 p.m.: Skeleton, men’s final two runs (NBC; Matt Antoine)
8 p.m.: Figure skating, men’s short program (NBC/NBCSN; Nathan Chen)
10:10 p.m.: Hockey, men’s, USA-Slovakia (CNBC)
✖🥇🇺🇸10:15 p.m.: Snowboarding, women’s snowboardcross, heats and final (NBC; Lindsey Jacobellis)

OVERNIGHT

🥇1 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s 15k individual (NBCSN)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, men’s, “Russia”-Slovenia (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

✖🥇6 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s aerials
🥇6 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s 5,000 meters
6:05 a.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Denmark
7:10 a.m.: Hockey, two men’s games (NBCSN/USA Network)

Fri/Sat, Feb. 16-17 – Day 8

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-“Russia”
🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸8 p.m.: Figure skating, men’s free skate (NBC/NBCSN; Nathan Chen)
🥇9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s super-G (NBC; Lindsey Freaking Vonn)
10 p.m.: Hockey, women’s, quarterfinal 1 (CNBC)
✖🥇🇺🇸11 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s slopestyle final (NBC; Maggie Voisin)

OVERNIGHT

2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s, quarterfinal 2 (USA Network)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, men’s, South Korea-Switzerland (NBCSN)
🥇4:30 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, women’s 4x5k relay
5 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s 1,500-meter and men’s 1,000-meter heats

EARLY MORNING 

6:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-Canada
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, women’s 12k mass start (Susan Dunklee)
🥇6:20 a.m.: Skeleton, women’s final two runs
⭐⭐🇺🇸7:10 a.m.: Hockey, men’s, USA-“Russia” (NBCSN; last group-stage game)
🥇7:11 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s 1,500-meter final
🥇7:26 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s 1,000-meter final
🥇7:30 a.m.: Ski jumping, men’s large hill final

Sat/Sun, Feb. 17-18 – Day 9

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Japan
8 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s giant slalom, run 1 (NBC)
✖8 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s slopestyle qualifying (NBCSN)
✖🥇11:15 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s slopestyle final (NBC)

OVERNIGHT

🥇11:45 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s giant slalom, run 2 (NBC; Ted Ligety)
🥇1:15 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s 4x10k relay
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, men’s, Czech Republic-Switzerland (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

✖🥇6 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s aerials final
⭐6:05 a.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Norway (fancy pants)
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, men’s 15k mass start (Lowell Bailey)
🥇6:56 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s 500 meters (Erin Jackson)
7:10 a.m.: Hockey, two men’s games (NBCSN, USA Network)

Sun/Mon, Feb. 18-19 – Day 10

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-Denmark
✖7:30 p.m.: Snowboarding, women’s big air qualifying
8 p.m.: Figure skating, ice dance short program (NBC/NBCSN; Shib Sibs)
✖8 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s halfpipe qualifying (NBC; Maddie Bowman, 2 more contenders)

OVERNIGHT

⭐11:10 p.m.: Hockey, women’s semifinal 1 (NBCSN)
12:05 a.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Canada

EARLY MORNING 

6:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-China
🥇6:15 a.m.: Bobsled, two-man final two runs (in memory of Steven Holcomb)
🥇6:53 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 500 meters
⭐7:10 a.m.: Hockey, women’s semifinal 2 (NBCSN)
🥇7:30 a.m.: Ski jumping, men’s team

Mon/Tues, Feb. 19-20 – Day 11

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, men’s, four games (no USA)
⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸8 p.m: Figure skating, ice dance free dance (NBC/NBCSN; Shib Sibs)
✖🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸8:30 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s halfpipe final (NBCSN; Maddie Bowman, more)
10:10 p.m.: Hockey, men’s playoff 1 (NBCSN)
✖11 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s halfpipe qualifying (NBC)

OVERNIGHT

12:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-South Korea
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, men’s playoff 2 (NBCSN)
5 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s 500 meters and women’s 1,000 meters heats
5 a.m.: Nordic combined, large hill ski jump

EARLY MORNING 

6:05 a.m.: Curling: men’s, USA-Switzerland
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, mixed relay
🥇6:33 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s relay final (no USA)
7:10 a.m.: Hockey, men’s playoff 3 and 4 (NBCSN / USA Network)
🥇7:45 a.m.: Nordic combined, large hill 10k race

Tues/Wed, Feb. 20-21 – Day 12

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, women’s, four games (no USA)
✖7:30 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s big air qualifying (NBC)
8 p.m.: Figure skating, women’s short program (NBC/NBCSN; Mirai Nagasu)
⭐⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s downhill (NBC; Lindsey Freaking Vonn)
10 p.m.: Hockey, men’s quarterfinal 1 (CNBC)
✖11:15 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s skicross heats

OVERNIGHT

12:05 a.m.: Curling, men’s, USA-Britain
✖🥇12:35 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s skicross final
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, women’s bronze medal game (USA Network)
2:40 a.m.: Hockey, men’s quarterfinal 2 (NBCSN)
3 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s and women’s team sprint semifinals

EARLY MORNING 

⭐🥇🥇🇺🇸5 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s and women’s team sprint finals (Diggins/Stephen)
6:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s, USA-Sweden
⭐🥇6:40 a.m.: Bobsled, women’s final two runs (Elana Meyers Taylor)
7:10 a.m.: Hockey, men’s quarterfinal 3 and 4 (NBCSN / USA Network)
🥇🥇7:52 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s and women’s team pursuit finals

Wed/Thurs, Feb. 21-22 – Day 13

PRIME TIME

7:05 p.m.: Curling, men’s and women’s tiebreakers
8:15 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s slalom run 1 (NBC)
✖🥇9:30 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, men’s halfpipe final (NBC; possible U.S. sweep)
⭐⭐⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸11:10 p.m.: Hockey, women’s gold medal game (NBCSN)

OVERNIGHT

🥇11:45 p.m.: Alpine skiing, men’s slalom run 2 (Marcel Hirscher)
2:30 a.m.: Nordic combined, team ski jump (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

5 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s 500-meter and women’s 1,000-meter heats
🥇5:20 a.m.: Nordic combined, team relay (NBCSN)
6:05 a.m.: Curling, men’s semifinals
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, women’s 4x6k relay (NBCSN)
🥇6:18 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s 500-meter final
🥇6:30 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, women’s 1,000-meter final
🥇7:03 a.m.: Short-track speedskating, men’s relay final

Thurs/Fri, Feb. 22-23 – Day 14

PRIME TIME

✖🥇7:30 a.m.: Snowboarding, women’s big air final (NBC)
⭐🥇8 a.m.: Figure skating, women’s free skate (NBC/NBCSN; Mirai Nagasu)
9 a.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s combined downhill run (NBC; Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Freaking Vonn)
✖11:15 p.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s skicross heats

OVERNIGHT

⭐🥇🇺🇸🇺🇸12:30 a.m.: Alpine skiing, women’s combined slalom run (NBC; Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Freaking Vonn)
✖🥇12:35 a.m.: Freestyle skiing, women’s skicross final (NBC)
1:35 a.m.: Curling, men’s bronze medal match
⭐2:40 a.m.: Hockey, men’s semifinal 1 (NBCSN)

EARLY MORNING 

🥇5 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s 1,000 meters (NBCSN; Shani Davis)
6:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s semifinals
🥇6:15 a.m.: Biathlon, men’s 4×7.5k relay
⭐7:10 a.m.: Hockey, men’s semifinal 2 (NBCSN)

Fri/Sat, Feb. 23-24 – Day 15

PRIME TIME

✖🥇8 p.m.: Snowboarding, men’s big air final (NBC)
🥇🇺🇸9 p.m.: Alpine skiing, team event (NBC; Olympic debut)
🥇🥇10 p.m.: Snowboarding, parallel giant slalom heats and final (NBC)

OVERNIGHT

🥇12 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, men’s 50k mass start (NBCSN)
⭐🥇1:35 a.m.: Curling, men’s gold medal game

EARLY MORNING 

6:05 a.m.: Curling, women’s bronze medal game
7:10 a.m.: Hockey, men’s bronze medal game (NBCSN)
🥇7:30 a.m.: Speedskating, men’s mass start
🥇8 a.m.: Speedskating, women’s mass start

Sat/Sun, Feb. 24-25 – Day 16

PRIME TIME

⭐🥇7:05 p.m.: Curling, women’s gold medal game (NBCSN)
7:30 p.m.: Figure skating, exhibition gala (NBC)
⭐🥇7:30 p.m.: Bobsled, four-man final two runs (NBC; in memory of Steven Holcomb)
⭐⭐🥇11:10 p.m.: Hockey, men’s gold medal game (NBCSN)

OVERNIGHT

🥇1:15 a.m.: Cross-country skiing, women’s 30k mass start (NBCSN; joined in progress?)

EARLY MORNING 

6 a.m.: Closing Ceremony (natural sound only)

(NBC will show the Closing Ceremony with full commentary at 8 p.m., wrapping up their coverage.)

Curling: Huge win for U.S. Olympic hopeful

Yes, it’s already curling season. In fact, we’re less than two months away from the Olympic Trials, set for Nov. 11-18.

Curling isn’t the most predictable sport in the world, but the four-team (or five, pending an appeal by Todd Birr) men’s competition has a clear favorite. John Shuster has been the skip in the last two Olympics after taking bronze on Pete Fenson’s team in 2006. His current team — Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner — has qualified for the World Championships three straight years and done no worse than fifth, making the playoffs each of the last two years and the tiebreaker the year before that. They sometimes have wayward results in World Curling Tour events, and Shuster has a slim lead over Heath McCormick in the Order of Merit, but they tend to put it together when needed.

The women’s competition has only three skips competing, but a good case could be made for all three. All are young-ish and relatively inexperienced in major championships. Cory Christensen is the youngest skip, finishing second in the 2016 World Juniors. Nina Roth got the ticket to last year’s Worlds and took a respectable fifth.

But maybe we have a favorite now?

Jamie Sinclair won the Shorty Jenkins Classic this weekend, defeating all six Canadian teams she faced, including seventh-ranked Allison Flaxey and perennial contender Krista McCarville. That win was worth 41.791 Order of Merit points (no, I don’t understand the math involved, either), the biggest one-event total I could find for a U.S. curler over the past 14 months.

Curling is erratically streamed — ESPN3 picks up TSN’s Canadian coverage on occasion — but Team Sinclair is trying to get its games out live this season.

 

 

Presenting the Perpetual Medal Count

How are each country’s Olympic athletes trending in World Championship and other competition? Glad you asked.

As it stands now, U.S. athletes are doing quite well, tracking a good bit ahead of how they finished in Rio 2016. So are Russian, Australian, Chinese and French athletes. British athletes, on the other hand, are falling rapidly.

pmc20170802

What does this mean?

Check out the Perpetual Medal Count, which adds up each country’s performance in Olympic events through all relevant World Championships. Each country starts with its medal count from the Rio Olympics, then gains or loses medals depending on how its athletes do in those events. In the chart above, the Rio medal count is on the left, and the Perpetual Medal Count on the right, with a plus/minus category at far right.

So if there’s been no relevant competition thus far (as in archery, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, mountain bike, road cycling, equestrian, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, women’s handball, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby sevens, sailing, shooting, tennis, some volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling, and — until next week — track and field), the medals are still in the hands in the countries that won them in 2016.

Here’s how things stack up in some of the events that have been contested so far:

Track cycling: A huge 10-medal loss for Great Britain, which dominated in Rio and barely missed a shutout in worlds. Australia gained four.

Diving: More losses for the USA (-3) and Britain (-2); big gain for Russia (+4).

Swimming: Believe it or not, the USA broke even — 33 medals in 2016, 33 medals in Olympic events (including open water) in 2017. Add the new Olympic events, and the USA gets two more. The other major countries also came close to matching their Rio totals.

And the new events throughout the Games give the USA a huge boost — 15 medals total, though it’s tough to tell whether the skateboarding competition for the Olympics will resemble any other competition.

This will be updated every couple of weeks while we still have a lot of World Championships going on, then more sporadically in 2018, then picking up again in 2019.

Next up: the winter version.

What I’m watching: July 21-31

Friday, July 21

6:10 a.m.: Water polo, men’s Worlds, USA-Russia, NBC Sports online

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Sweden-Russia, ESPN3

2 p.m.: Track and field, Diamond League Monaco, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Germany-Italy, ESPN3

11:30 p.m.: Australian rules football, Essendon-North Melbourne, FS2

Saturday, July 22

7:30 a.m.: Tour de France, time trial, NBCSN

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Iceland-Switzerland, ESPN3

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, France-Austria, ESPN3

3:30 p.m.: NWSL, Chicago-Orlando, Lifetime

4 p.m.: MLS, Minnesota-NY Red Bulls, ESPN

6 p.m.: UFC Fight Night, Fox

10 p.m.: Gold Cup semifinal, USA-Costa Rica, FS1

Sunday, July 23

Ongoing: Golf, British Open, NBC

9:30 a.m.: Field hockey, Women’s World League semifinal final, USA-Germany, ESPN3

2 p.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, England-Spain, ESPN3

6:30 p.m.: MLS, Vancouver-Portland, FS1

Monday, July 24

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Belgium-Netherlands, ESPN3

Tuesday, July 25

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, Russia-Germany or maybe Sweden-Italy, ESPN3

Wednesday, July 26

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

7:30 p.m.: International Champions Cup, Barcelona-Manchester United, ESPN2

9:30 p.m.: Gold Cup final (might include the USA, might not), FS1

Thursday, July 27

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, first day of third Test, ESPN3

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017, no idea which game, ESPN3

10 p.m.: Women’s soccer, USA-Australia, ESPN

Friday, July 28

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, second day of third Test, ESPN3

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

2 p.m.: Cricket, T20, Sussex-Middlesex, ESPN3

Saturday, July 29

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, third day of third Test, ESPN3

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

2 p.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBC

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

10 p.m.: MLS, Los Angeles-Seattle, ESPN

11 p.m.: Darts, Las Vegas Masters, FS1

Sunday, July 30

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, fourth day of third Test, ESPN3

8 a.m.: Formula One, Hungarian GP, NBCSN

11:30 a.m.: Swimming, World Championships, NBCSN

11:45 a.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

2 p.m.: MLS, Toronto-NYCFC, ESPN

2:30 p.m.: Women’s Euro 2017 quarterfinal, ESPN3

5 p.m.: BMX, World Championships, NBC Sports online

8 p.m.: Women’s soccer, USA-Brazil, ESPN2

Monday, July 31

6 a.m.: Cricket, England-South Africa, fifth day of third Test, ESPN3

There’s also cricket and cornhole. Yes, cornhole. And Battle of the Network Stars.

(All times ET. Olympic Channel events are pending a dispute with my cable/Internet company, which rhymes with “horizon.”)

USA Hockey vs. U.S. Soccer: Quick comparison

With the U.S. women’s hockey team (and possibly the men’s team as well) on the verge of striking through the World Championships, this seems like a good time to compare USA Hockey to U.S. Soccer.

Which … isn’t easy. You can compare each organization’s Form 990s, as I’ve done in the chart below, but one line item might not equal another line item. I get a headache just thinking about lawyers arguing the definition of “program service revenue” and so forth.

One key difference: When U.S. Soccer lists its highest-paid employees, you’ll find coaches and players. Not at USA Hockey.

Viewed historically, that makes sense. Before MLS, U.S. Soccer paid its men’s players to be part of the national team. Today, they get substantial World Cup bonuses that can easily put their names in the 990 forms. USA Hockey’s men get paid well in the NHL, and there has been no need to pay them more. The women’s team is arguing now that its players need professional salaries, and they’re not going to get them from pro club play just yet.

So the next question is obvious: Can USA Hockey afford it? Again, I’m not enough of an accountant to say no, but the budget outlined here suggests they’d need some more revenue.

Which raises the next question: Can USA Hockey attract sponsors to pay the players? USA Track and Field, included for sake of another comparison, has plenty of sponsorship money.

And one totally unrelated question: Is USA Hockey spending an absurd amount of money on website hosting? They list one registration contractor (Neural Planet, $212,198), one web host (TST Media/NGIN, $158,440) and one “programming, support and hosting” contractor (The Active Network, $180,250). I didn’t see similar listings for USSF and USA Track and Field, but could they be spending just as much money on in-house employees doing roughly the same thing?

[gview file=”http://www.sportsmyriad.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Fed-form-990s-Share.pdf”%5D

If you prefer to see it as a Google Sheet, click here.

Sources (transcribed, not scraped, so any transcription errors are mine):

News for soccer and Oly fans (including NWSL) trying to cut the cord

Earlier this month, the A+E networks — including new NWSL home Lifetime — joined the beta test for Hulu’s live TV service.

The big news today is the addition of NBC cable networks, though not NBC itself. The stories don’t specifically mention NBC Sports Network, because a lot of people who write about TV don’t watch sports, which I’ve always found odd. (Seriously — several of the stories make a big deal about Comedy Central, which most of us are watching on YouTube these days, and they don’t go into detail about actual live programming that we might want to watch as it’s happening. Even Awful Announcing talks about missing out on NBC and Comedy Central without mentioning NBC Sports Network, haven for diverse sports such as the Premier League, NASCAR and bidding on cars.)

YouTube already has a few sports networks for its planned launch.

The most comprehensive chart comparing the existing streaming services (Sling, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now) is at CNET. Then check Business Insider for some good details focusing on sports and adding Hulu and YouTube.

For the handful of networks that appeal most to soccer and Olympic sports fans, I’ve taken a table-maker for a test drive here:

[attc id=4]