Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fearless endurance pt. 2

America has become enamored with Lindsey Vonn for downhill skiing, and all eyes will be one her this Olympics. Similar to Michael Phelps, Vonn's golden looks and dominance in the sport has the broadcasters salivating. Although Swiss golden boy Carlo Janka is anticipated to break the Swiss losing streak in the men's category he still lacks the intimidation factor that Vonn has to perfection. Not since Austrian Hermann Maier has an skier dominated such a field.

"Entering every downhill as the overwhelming favorite allows her to ski a more relaxed race while others force mistakes or take risks to keep pace. Lindsey can win at 90% and has proven able to make a few mistakes and still cruise to victory, while her rivals must ski flawlessly to even contend. Without having to risk as much, she reduces the number of errors she makes in comparison to her competition."
- NBC Christin Cooper

Alpine Skiing is split into five possible gold medal categories, Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Super Combined. If you're wondering what the difference is, it's all a matter of distance, turns, etc.. etc.. I won't even bore you with the details. Unfortunately Vancouver has been hit with a streak of rather warm weather not to mention the amount of rain, maybe we'll see a few surprises?

As big as downhill skiing is let's be honest, not as many people know or care about skiing as much as Figure Skating. Argue with me all you want, but skiing is usually for the privileged and wealthy, whereas figure skating offers a more intimate experience for all those watching at home. Dance, acrobatics, endurance, costumes, music, and especially antagonist diva behaviour (both women and men) are all elements that add a special spice to the sport. (Not to mention humour... Blades of Glory anyone?)

Unfortunately America no longer has a lovely young frontrunner like Sasha Cohen this year, and Russia looks to continue their dominance in both pairs and the men's title. I haven't watched skating for years, the last time I remember it Nancy Kerrigan lost to a young Ukranian ballerina Oksana Baiul, and Tanya Harding fell into obscurity. The figure skating world has changed since then, and it's quite apparent that the Nagano Winter Olympics was the precursor to the Asian dominance in the sport. Names like Kim Yu-Na, Mao Asada, Miki Ando, Nobunari Oda and Daisuke Takahasi are now household names, and their near flawless performances are going to be the ones to beat.

All this talk about winning is further proof that second place won't get you anywhere. If they want to continue making millions selling cellphones and cereal you can't bring home anything less than a golden smile. Let's hope they can rise to the challenge.