36 Things I Loved About The 2014 Winter Olympics

1. The beautiful snow-capped mountains that could be clearly seen during all the daytime skiing events.  Breathtaking.

2. The fact that the mayor of Sochi, Russia is named Anatoly Pakhomov.  Yes, he has “homo” in his last name.  Oh, the irony.

3. All the kind athletes who adopted those abandoned stray dogs.  I’m not a pooch fan by any means but this was lovely.  These critters will now enjoy happy lives.

4. Canadian Gilmore Junio’s decision to give up his spot in the mens’ 1000 metre long track speed skating competition to teammate Denny Morrison.  Morrison should’ve qualified at a pre-Olympics event but because he fell just a short distance from the finish line, he missed the cut.  Thanks to a coach’s suggestion, Junio offered Morrison his spot in the Olympics.  Morrison ended up winning Silver.  He also secured a Bronze in the 1500 metres.  Both medals were his first individual achievements in the Olympics.

5. The Canada vs. US womens’ hockey final.  The Canadians were extremely fortunate to win their fourth consecutive gold medal in an absolute thriller of a finish.  It was the most entertaining game of the entire Olympics.

6. There were no terrorist attacks, despite widespread fears and the ongoing crisis in nearby Ukraine.

7. Canadian cross country coach Justin Wadsworth offering a new ski to Russian Anton Gafarovski who was struggling to finish the semifinals of the mens’ free sprint with a broken one.  (He had a couple of bad falls earlier in the race.)  Gafarovski was the last competitor in the event and thanks to the sweet gesture by Wadsworth he was able to cross the finish line.

8. That mysterious Russian guy at the medal ceremonies who pronounced Canada “Cahn-ah-dee” in his native tongue.  I can’t stop imitating him.

9. The three French-Canadian Dufour-Lapointe sisters, two of whom won the top two spots in female moguls.  Sigh.

10. The excellent CBC segment on three Canadian male figure skaters and their historic struggles at the Olympics.  Hearing first-person accounts from Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko and Brian Orser many years after their famous Gold medal disappointments was sobering, enlightening and increased my respect for all three men.  Patrick Chan now knows how they all feel.

11. Swiss hockey player Luca Cunti.  Somewhere in America, Howard Stern is giggling.

12. The Russian fan who wore a makeshift miniature podium on his head at a ski jumping event.

13. Jennifer Jones and her amazing curling team.  The Manitoba native led her squad to Canada’s first Gold medal in female curling in 16 years.  And they did it without losing a game.  Awesome.  More sighing.

14. The US mens’ hockey team didn’t score a single goal in their last two games of the tournament.

15. French-Canadian Charles Hamelin and Marianne St. Gelais are not only still romantically involved, they both won medals in short track speed skating.  Hamelin won a Gold in the mens’ 1500 metre individual final and St. Gelais earned a Silver with three teammates (Jessica Hewitt, Valerie Maltais, Marie-Eve Drolet) in the womens’ 3000 metre team relay.  Sweet.

16. Canadian Snowboarder Mark McMorris won a Bronze in the first-ever mens’ slopestyle with a broken rib.

17. 41-year-old Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai finally made it back to the podium 20 years after his first Olympic games in 1994.  He won an individual Silver on the large hill and a Bronze in the team event.  And yes, he’ll be back in 2018.  It will mark his eight consecutive Winter Olympic appearance.  Astounding.

18. 43-year-old Teemu Selanne’s memorable final performance for Finland in the Bronze medal hockey game.  The longtime Anaheim Duck scored two goals (one of them a clever backhand) to help his team skunk America 5-0 in his last Olympic appearance.  There were plenty of hugs to go around.

19. Canadian Jan Hudec ended his country’s 20-year medal slump in alpine skiing.  He shared a Bronze with Bode Miller in the mens’ Super-G.

20. Womens’ ski jumping finally debuted.  What took the IOC so long?

21. The introduction of slopehill and slopestyle.  Good Lord, these men and women are gutsy and supremely talented.  Exciting events.

22. The camaraderie between all the freestyle skiers and snowboarders at the bottom of the hill.  Really nice to see.

23. Goaltender Carey Price’s overall performance for Canada’s male hockey team.  If only he played that well for the Habs, my Dad wouldn’t rag on him so much.

24. Those astoundingly beautiful female curlers.  Swoon.

25. Mogul skier Alexandre Bilodeau, female bobsledders Kaillie Humphries & Heather Moyse, and the mens and womens hockey teams all repeated as Olympic champions for Canada after winning Gold in Vancouver four years ago.  Amazing.

26. The electronic projections on Fisht Olympic Stadium’s roof.  So cool.

27. Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis’ outstanding performance in the mens quarterfinal game against Canada.  He made 55 saves.  Canada won a squeaker 2-1.

28. NBC’s fascinating 20-year anniversary retrospective of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding story that led to the famous showdown at the Lillehammer Olympics.  I never fully appreciated what Kerrigan went through until I watched this special.  She is a remarkably gracious and empathetic human being, a far more sympathetic figure than the self-victimizing Harding who still denies the important role she played in her own needless downfall.

29. Canadian Skeleton racer John Fairbairn’s brain helmet.  Nifty.

30. Canada’s encouraging progress in luge.  Three fourth place finishes overall.  Our best ever.  Will we finally make the podium in 2018?  Let’s hope so.

31. Ron MacLean’s prime time segments with Clara Hughes and Adam Van Koeverden.  Despite taking place in the middle of the night in Russia, the discussions about athlete depression and inspirational Olympic stories were most welcome.

32. The Russian singers who sang Daft Punk’s Get Lucky during the Opening Ceremonies.

33. Those notes of encouragement Canadian athletes sent to each other for inspiration.  Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse’s written message to the womens’ hockey team led the squad to write one of their own for their male counterparts.  They proved effective.  For the second Olympics in a row, Canada was unbeatable in hockey.

34. The crowd reactions at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and businesses across the Great White North after goals were scored and victories were attained by the mens and womens’ national hockey teams in the semis and gold medal games.  Too bad they weren’t in Sochi.

35. Ron MacLean’s revealing interview with Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse.  The story of how they made peace after a major falling out makes their second Gold performance all the more impressive.

36. Canada’s overall medal count:  10 Golds, 10 Silvers, 5 Bronze.  Our second best tally ever.  We had 26 in Vancouver (14 of which were Gold).  Lots to be proud of in 2014.  Looking forward to 2018.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 24, 2014
3:21 a.m.

Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 3:21 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Winter Olympics provided plenty of drama of its own.  When it was all over, I reflected on what I loved and hated about the […]

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