The Daily Bongo
2014 Winter Olympics: Sochi
Sunday, February 23, 2014 -- Evening
Good-bye SochiThe Sochi Olympics ended today. The games were fairly interesting, and I spend many an hour watching sports. Unfortunately, NBC didn't do a very good job of providing a mix of sports. However, the Olympics went off without a hitch. There were no acts of terrorism. The water turned out to be okay. Even though the some athletes complained about the conditions of the half-pipe and slalom course, other athletes managed to do just fine, thank you, on the same courses. All in all, it was a good Winter Olympics.
Same Story, Different VenuePittsburgh Penguins fans experienced deja vu when they when watched Friday and Saturday's USA men's hockey games. With Dan Bylsma as coach, the team moved to a stubborn defense strategy, which was doomed to failure since the team had not scored any points. So as anxious fans watched, Bylsma kept the team on the straight and true. The team lost 1-0 to Canada, relegating the US to the bronze medal match against Finland. Not to worry! Let's keep to the defense pattern that doesn't work, and that resulted in the US losing the bronze medal to Finland 5-0. What had happened to the high offense, scoring demon that was Team USA in the earlier rounds? Playing when it counts is what happened. Don't get me wrong. Bylsma is a good coach when it comes to the regular season. When it comes to winning playoffs or meaningful games, the guy is a dud. Yeah, I know, he won the Stanley Cup after coaching the Pens only one month. But what does that tell you? As most, if not all, hockey analysts will tell you, Bylsma and the team just stuck to the Michel Therrien strategy. The team did not want to play for Therrien anymore, but that doesn't mean the guy didn't know how to win. Bylsma gets credit for that, and then in succeeding years, with a stellar team, he underperforms in the playoffs. And Bylsma underperformed in the medal rounds, when it counted, for Team USA. As players commented after the game, they were frustrated. They felt Finland, in particular, was playing as the USA should have played. Heck no! All I have to say is that as a Pens fan, I've learned that when it counts, Bylsma loses. Now maybe more people will see that too.
Finland got the bronze, and in this morning's gold medal game, Canada bested Sweden, 3-0, to win gold.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 -- Evening
Men's Olympic HockeyThe Men's hockey competition at the Olympics has been quite entertaining this year. The USA team has been doing really well. On Saturday, the US played Russia, and with the help of TJ Oshie in the shootout, the US won. Oshie got a ton of Twitter followers and publicity. The rules in Olympic hockey state that after the first three shooters, the team can continue to play the same player. Oshie was great, and he he really seemed to have Sergei Bobrovsky's number. All I have to say is Go USA!
Meanwhile the Russians seem to be having problems scoring. I heard some hockey analysts say that it's because the Russian defensemen aren't moving out of the defensive zone. Seems they have been having issues with the big ice, so it comes down to the Russians usually playing five on three in the offensive zone. Tomorrow, well, starting at 3:00 a.m., the quarterfinals start. Sweden will be playing Slovinia, Finland will be playing Russia, Canadian will be playing Latvia, and the US will be playing the Czech Republic. We have some pretty good hockey to watch this week.
Thursday, February 13, 2014 -- Evening
SkeletonThe folks who participate in skeleton competitions at the Olympics are one crazy bunch. The competitions were being shows this morning when I woke up, and you have to admire someone who runs with a tiny sled, then flings himself/herself on it to go flying down the ice track head first. Arms are tightly held to the sides of the body. The athletes control the sled with movements of the head and shoulders as they barrel down the track at speeds close to 90 mph!! Wow, right? The coolest thing about skeleton are the athletes' helmets. Most of them have really cool ones, like Katie Uhlaender's above, which are faces looking down the track. I like her eagle because it is so symbolic of her country. After today's competition, Uhlaender is in fourth place, but there are still two more heats to be run tomorrow before the winners are awarded their medals.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 -- Evening
Norwegian Curling Team
I love curling. Yeah, I only watch during the Olympics, but I enjoy it every time. This Olympics, I'm loving the stylish pants that the male Norwegian curling team wears. It makes the viewing even more entertaining! When I was a young child, I had a pair of pants eerily similar to the Dixie style in the pictures above. My favorite on the curling teams is Dixie, with Rosemaling Black a close second.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 -- Afternoon
Aging of a Half-PiperYou know it had to happen. Everyone who is young becomes the dreaded mature person. In this case, it's Shaun White. White, who earned the nickname the Flying Tomato because of his flowing auburn locks. White charged onto the scene when he won the gold medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. He went on to get gold in Vancouver in 2010. Now it is eight years from Turin, and White is eight years older. Gone is the young teen to be replaced by the mature short-haired adult. The adult who turned down a chance to participate in slopestyle competition because the course wasn't very good. Some critics said that White was scared, but I don't think he was. He was just being a thoughtful mature person.
Well, today was the halfpipe competition: the competition that White was putting all his eggs into. White didn't a good job today. He wound up finishing just out the medals in fourth place. The gold medalist was 25 (Iouri Podladtchikov), but the silver went to a 15 year old (Ayumu Hirano), and the bronze to an 18 year old (Taku Hiraoka). There's no dishonor in the aging process. Halfpipe, slopestyle, and other X Games like events are for the young. It's not that 27 is old. Heaven forbid! However, it is outside the realm of foolhardiness. So good for you, Shaun White, for trying!
Sunday, February 9, 2014 -- Evening
What the Heck??!?!?!?I have seen the most ridiculous competition ever in this Winter Olympics: team figure skating. Over the past few days, teams made up of ice dancers, pair skaters, and individuals from men's and women's individual skating, have been competing as a team to score points for a medal. Different groupings from each country participated, and I have to admit the whole was just plain dumb. Russia wound up getting the gold, Canada the silver, and the US the bronze. Why did I think it was so stupid? Because it's really doesn't add anything to the sport than a total of the medals for the individual competitions. I guess the powers that be think that we are all so desperate for more figure skating, and this was a way to give us more of the same. I'd rather see more biathlon or speed skating. Heck, I'd rather see more of any of the other competitions going on in Sochi. With this competition garnering more TV air time, something else loses out.
Friday, February 7, 2014 -- Late Evening
Sochi Opening CeremonyThe Sochi Winter Olympics officially started with the Opening Ceremony today. There was some team figure skating action going on Thursday, but I really didn't count that. The televised show on NBC started with a video of a little girl dreaming of things Russian, while going through the Cyrillic alphabet. My personal favorite was using one of the letters for Albert Einstein, who was definitely NOT Russian. Then entrance of the athletes was cool because a map of the country was digitally displayed on the ground as the athletes entered through the stadium tunnel. Unfortunately, NBC switched to closeups of the athletes, so it was hard to see the country display. I always liked the entrance of the athletes because of the colorful official outfits for each team. So many of the countries had day-glo outfits. Once the USA athletes came out in their flag jackets, the NBC cameras focused on them to the exclusion of the countries that immediately followed. Shaun White looks so different with short hair, than with his long locks. He looks more like an adult. I'm not sure that I like the USA jackets. The flag effect looks cheesy to my eyes. Overall the visuals and animatronics in the Opening Ceremony were brilliant and quite captivating. Now onto the Games!
Thursday, February 6, 2014 -- Afternoon
Don't Drink the Water!There has been a ton of controversy as the Winter Olympics drew near. This year, it's in Sochi, a resort area of Russia, located on the Black Sea, and on the border between Georgia/Abkhazia and Russia. That was the start of the problem. Terrorists have been making threats and committing acts of terror that make many concerned about the safety of the athletes. This week, the news media travelled to Sochi to prepare for the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow. Well, imagine the cries of surprise when the media found that for the most part the media hotels were practically uninhabitable. The water was a dark yellow, and the reporters were warned that it was dangerous to wash in, let alone drink. Notes were left by toilets telling the bathroom user to deposit used toilet paper in waste baskets instead of flushing it. This really puts two black eyes on Vladimir Putin's face, but do you think he cares that his country is viewed as such a hell hole? It makes sense when you hear that alcoholism is rampant in the country; you have to drink vodka because the water isn't safe!
As Garry Kasparov has commented on via Twitter, the journalists and Western media will leave after two weeks, and the Russian population will be left with the mess that is the oppressive dictatorship of Putin.