Olympics recap: The Dutch dominate speed skating, the Americans go empty-handed
In an attempt to soften the blow of the US losing every event on Saturday, NBC spent much of its primetime coverage on non-competition videos. The first was a story about an American paralympic swimmer, Jessica Tatiana Long, meeting her Russian birth parents for the first time. A story that NBC felt couldn’t be told without clips of Anastasia. (Makes sense to me.)
Olympic Stud of the Day: We were treated to the final round of speed skating at Wij Zijn de Kampioenen Skating Center, which is what they’ve renamed Adler Arena now that the Dutch own it. Team Nederland put the last jewel in their gold crown today, when both of the men’s and women’s teams won the team pursuit events in record-breaking times. This means they’ve won 8 of 12 golds in speed skating. Basically all the gold, more gold than any one country has ever won in speedskating. Tonight every speed skater will be forced to wear clogs around Olympic Village. So obviously, this whole crew wins Olympic Stud of the Day. How does one say “you got served” in Dutch?
After getting clog-stomped, we had a brief interlude of Bob Costas interviewing Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee. Bach admitted there were some “hiccups” with accommodations for journalists and also skated right over the question of Russia’s human rights troubles. “We are not a supranational government,” he said. “We have to make sure that the principles of the Olympic charter apply in the Olympic games. We are sending a message to the world.” He didn’t specify what message the Olympics are sending. I heard: “Date a Canadian snowboarder with dimples.” But maybe I wasn’t listening carefully enough…or maybe I just stopped listening after Mark McMorris went home.
Figure Skating Gala: Instead of showing the U.S. men’s hockey team lose the bronze medal to Finland in a 5-0 shut out, NBC gave us the Figure Skating Gala. Hosted by Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir — dressed in the fanciest Elvis-impersonating-a-Geisha costume I’ve ever seen.
Gracie Gold skated to “All That Jazz,” making it clear that Chicago was meant to be an Ice Capades show. Johnny: “She’s a Velma.”
Yuna Kim, the women’s silver medalist, did a gorgeous routine to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” but she chose the Avril Lavigne version. (What?!) Water couldn’t look more fluid than she does on the ice. “She will always be Queen Yuna,” said Tara.
The women’s gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova did a flag dance. Will Ferrell did it better.
And the royal couple of ice dancing skated a perfectly lovely routine. Really what else can you say about Meryl Davis and Charlie White? Perfectly lovely.
Men’s Slalom was stacked by the Austrians: Gold went to Mario Matt and silver to Marcel Hirscher. Matt explained his thinking before the run: “I just talked to myself and said ‘make good skiing.’ ” Totally, bro. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen took bronze. My man Ted Ligety, the day after winning the grand slalom, didn’t even finish his second run. He just threw in the towel halfway down. Granted, so did a bunch of other competitors. I mean, whatevs, he still has one of the best commercials of the Games.
Four-man Bobsledding happened tonight. It was…I…It wasn’t Cool Runnings. But it was pretty dramatic. We saw one of those scary crashes like John Candy described: “Your bones don’t break in a bobsled. They shatter.”
Below is some grim-looking footage, but don’t worry, all of the Canadians were okay!
We also heard some of American Steve Holcomb’s backstory. The team captain tried to commit suicide in 2008 when he developed a blinding eye condition. But he pulled through after a surgery and managed to win gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Russia came first, Latvia second, and Germany third, and the U.S. fourth. [To clarify, this was in Saturday’s heats. Not a medal round.]
Sunday is the final day of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. As it stands now, Russia leads the medal count, followed by the U.S., Norway, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany.