2.15.2011

Maybe Yes and Maybe No


Olympic and international history was made today, but like the majority of the start of these games, the day is not complete without some controversy.

Day 4: 15 February - International History

In alpine skiing, the men's downhill took place.  When all was said and done, the time margin between the three medalists became the closest in the history of the event in any previous Winter Olympics.  Swizterland's Didier Défago won gold with a time of 1:54.31.  Silver wasn't too far behind, seeing the silver medal go to Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway just .07 seconds later (1:54.38).  Bode Miller of the USA rounded up the medals with bronze and a time of 1:54.40, just .02 seconds behind silver, .09 behind gold.  I think it was safe to say that it was a photo finish.


Keeping to the theme of a pair of skis on feet, cross-country skiing occurred.  In women's 10 kilometre freestyle, Charlotte Kalla of Sweden took gold with a time of 24:58.4.  Estonia's Kristina Smigun-Vähi received silver after crossing the finish line with a silver time of 25:05.0.  Marit Bjorgen of Norway concluded the medals with a time of 25:14.3.  In the men's 15 kilometre freestyle, Switzerland's Dario Cologna became the first Swiss to win gold in cross-country skiing at the Winter Olympics with a golden time of 33:36.3.  Italy and Pietro Piller Cottrer jumped up on the silver podium with a 34:00.9 finish and Lukás Bauer of the Czech Republic rounded up the medals with a time of 34:12.0.


We move from a pair of panels of wood on foot to just one - snowboarding, men's snowboard cross.  After finishing first in his heat and the quaterfinals, and finishing second in the semifinals, USA's Seth Wescott took the gold.  Wescott was followed by Canada's very own Mike Robertson, who took silver, and Tony Ramoin of France, who took bronze.

Enough with wood on the feet!  We now move on to the rinks. The first of four figure skating events (pair skating) concluded on the fourth day of competition and figure skating history was recorded and witnessed.  First, the medalists.  Gold was taken by the Chinese pair of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo with a total score of 216.57.  Silver was claimed by another pair of Chinese, Pang Qing and Tong Jian, with a score of 213.31.  The medals were completed with the bronze going to the German couple of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy and their score of 210.60.  Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo's total point score set a new world record and their short program score (76.66) also set a new world record.  The other pair of Chinese (Pang Qing and Tong Jian) set a new record for the free skate score, with 141.81.  Other than the Chinese surprising many by taking the gold and silver, this was the first time since 1960 that a Russian pair didn't win the gold!  One of the best skating programs in the world failing to medal was a shocker to many.

The final event to be mentioned is the men's 500 metre speed skating event, where controversy ensued.  Before things are muddled by the ugly, let's review who received the gorgeous medals.  South Korea's Mo Tae Bum received gold after finishing the race with a time of 69.82.  Japan's Keiichiro Nagashima (69.98) and Joji Kato (70.01) collected silver and gold respectively.  Tae Bum's gold became the first ever gold medal for South Korea outside of short-track speed skating.

Now the controversy.  The ice resurfacing machines (let's call them Zambonis [despite them not being Zambonis]) malfunctioned.  Even the reserved machine wasn't good enough, leaving the ice too rough.  Shani Davis (USA) withdrew from this event over concern that it was getting too late and it was too dangerous for competition.  An emergency Zamboni was called in from Calgary to make the ice at the Richmond Oval as smooth as ever and controveries died down after the men's 500 event.

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