Olympics Recap: Oshie shines in Sochi, but Shani Davis does not
The biggest win for the United States on Feb. 15 was unfortunately not for a medal. Hockey fans got to watch the game of their life as the U.S. faced off against Russia, resulting in basically another Miracle. Except our eye candy was upgraded from Patrick O’Brian Dempsey to T.J. Oshie. The only other American win was a bronze medal in men’s skeleton. As expected, the Europeans cleaned up in ski-jumping and super-G. But Team USA suffered another crippling loss in speed skating, and one that we couldn’t blame on the suits. Conspiracy theories may now commence.
Let’s start on a good note and introduce the Olympic Stud(s) of the Day: USA hockey players T.J. Oshie (forward) and Jonathan Quick (goalie). These two single-handedly orchestrated the win for the Americans. Yes, Oshie is getting a ton of press for being the newest hockey hero, but if Quickie hadn’t been blocking pucks like a fiend, then we’d have lost way before the eighth round of a shootout.
Here’s Quick taking a breather before another Russian comes barreling at him. Quick, 28, is from Milford, Connecticut and plays for the LA Kings. He likes steak and his favorite show is Seinfeld.
Now Oshie gives his signature smile before firing off another shot at the poor Russian goalie. Oshie, 27, is from Warroad, Minnesota and plays for the St. Louis Blues. What do you know? He also likes steak and his favorite show is Seinfeld. Hockey players are such simple souls.
This game was a real nail-biter. When it ended 2-2, we moved into a gut-wrenching shootout. One player from each team ended up taking responsibility for all the final shots: Oshie for the Americans and ex-New Jersey Devils player Ilya Kovalchuk for the Russians. Like circling sharks they would sway across the ice, gaining momentum before closing in for the kill with a shot that can move up to 100 miles per hour. Seven times they tied, whether it was with a miss or a hit. Finally, after 10 minutes of nauseating tension, Quick (who absolutely lives up to his name) blocked Kovalchuk and Oshie sunk one on the Russians.
“It felt like the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals, and maybe even ratchet that up a bit,” said Al Michaels, who was the announcer on the “miracle” game at the 1980 Olympics. “The emotion was tremendous.” (Repeat: This is the guy that said, “Do you believe in miracles?” at the actual Lake Placid match.) But emotions could run a lot higher in the future, since there is a possibility that Russia and the USA could meet again in next week’s finals. Looking forward to that!
Hotties and Heartbreak during Men’s Skeleton: Men’s Skeleton really brought the sex appeal with an amazing introduction video by NBC. We met the top 5 bachelors — I mean medal contenders — as each of them warmed up for the competition. Martins Dukurs, who has won the last three world cups of skeleton-ing, was getting in a few butt kicks to loosen up. Nice, but I wasn’t melting yet. Next came Russian Alexander Tretjyakov, whose glaring blue-green eyes peeked out from behind a fur cap. Sex me up.
Then it was high knee kicks with Matt Antoine — pretty much the definition of tall, dark, and handsome. His legs moved so fast that I couldn’t even capture them in a photo. Nimble and limber.
But the real heart-stealer was John Daly, the red-headed All-American dreamboat. He actually winked at the camera. Swoon.
Daly’s infectious positivity made it all the more heartbreaking when he was knocked out of the running for a medal on his last go. Right before he went, he said that his plan was to “throw caution to the wind” (I wish you were whispering that into my ear) and give it all that he has. He must have been a little overzealous because his sled slipped out of the groves right at the beginning, and that cost him enough speed that he didn’t even make the Top 10. The silver lining was that his teammate Matt Antoine managed to win bronze, which was a big deal since an American hadn’t won a medal in skeleton since 2002. The “Russian Rocket” Alexander Tretjyakov (his nickname, not mine) won gold by a longshot and Dukurs took silver for Latvia.
Disaster at the Women’s Super-G: It was an ugly scene at the women’s super-G. The skiers were getting slayed by the mixed snow and ice conditions on the course, and one jump threw many off the run completely. Seven of the first eight racers didn’t even complete the course. In the end, 24-year-old Anna Fenninger of Austria took the top spot, winning her first Olympic medal. The silver went to Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and the bronze to another Austrian, Nicole Hosp. The highlight of this segment, though, was spending a few minutes watching Fenninger nobly struggle to explain her dream of saving the cheetahs in Africa. “I want to go to Africa…and see what it’s like…and save the cheetahs,” she said, thinking hard about her English. NBC gathered some great footage that looked like a spoof on Born Free.
This also brings us to our Top Five Fashion Moments of the Day:
1. Anna Fenninger’s exquisite cheetah body suit.
2. The Slovenia coaches’ outfits at the men’s ski jump: crochet mittens and matching hats with a zig-zag motif in neon.
3. Jonathan Quick’s helmet: part 300 and part Dungeons & Dragons,but whatever works.
4. Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai’s body suit. Obviously an homage to Kill Bill. Definitely explains how he won silver in the men’s individual large hill jump at 41.
5. Polish speed skater Zbigniew Brodka’s Olympic rings buzz cut. Is it aerodynamic?
Surprises at the 1500m speed skate: That stoked hooligan above, Zbigniew Brodka, took the gold medal for the 1500 meter speed skate, the first ever gold for Poland in this event. He beat Koen Verweij of the Netherlands by 0.003 seconds, a call so close that the judges had to review the footage. Third place went to Canadian Denny Morrison. The Americans suffered an embarrassing loss. Shani Davis, who was expected to win big again at the Olympics this year, didn’t even break into the Top 10. Many of the athletes, including Davis, blamed the high-tech speed suits that were designed by Under Armour and Lockheed Martin. But I find it hard to buy that: The skaters went back to using their World Cup outfits, but they were still hammered by the competition.
Russians dominate at 1,000m: The strangest story to come out of Saturday was that of Viktor Ahn, the gold medalist in men’s 1,000m. Ahn, a native Korean, is considered one of the best short track skaters alive. He won three gold medals for South Korea in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. But in 2008, he was struck down by a knee injury and abandoned by the Koreans for the 2010 Olympics. So in a totally unexpected twist, he accepted an offer of citizenship from the Russians and switched allegiance. The Koreans are probably kicking themselves now because — 12 years after his first Olympic games in 2002 — he took the gold. When he finished, he fell to the ice and kissed it. The whole switching countries thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I have to admit that seeing how dedicated he was to this sport made me admire him. The silver went to his teammate, Vladimir Grigorev, pushing the Russians into first place in the medal count, followed by the Netherlands, USA, Norway, Germany, and Canada.