Crawl Across the Ocean

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Torino Wrap-Up

Final Standings (medal total and breakdown in brackets):

1. Germany 12.4% (29 - 11/12/6)
2. Canada 12.1% (24 - 7/10/7)
3. Austria 9.8% (23 - 9/7/7)
4. U.S.A. 9.3% (25 - 9/9/7)
5. Swizerland 8.0% (14 - 5/4/5)
6. Russia 7.3% (22 - 8/6/8)
7. Norway 6.6% (19 - 2/8/9)
8. Sweden 6.3% (14 - 7/2/5)
9. Finland 5.3% (9 - 0/6/3)
10. China 3.7% (11 - 2/4/5)
11. Italy 3.5% (11 - 5/0/6)
12. South Korea 3.4% (11 - 6/3/2)
13. France 2.2% (9 - 3/2/4)
14. Holland 1.6% (9 - 3/2/4)
15. Czech Republic 1.4% (4 - 1/2/1)

See this post for an explanation of how the percentages are computed.

Pretty much no matter how you look at it, this was Canada's best ever Winter Olympics, even outdoing our 7 medal performance at Lake Placid in 1932.

Some random thoughts:

To put Canada's 13 fourth place finishes in perspective, take a look at the medal standings and note that no single country managed 13 first, second or third place finishes. It bodes well for Vancouver, at any rate.

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Credit to the Canadian Women's Hockey Team - the fate of the once unbeatable Americans shows how evitable the Canadian dominance really was. Critics of the Canadian team for winning by too much or of Women's Hockey for not being competitive enough might want to consider this blurb from the official description of the Oslo Olympics (1952), "Canada won the ice hockey tournament for the fifth time, bringing their cumulative Olympic record to 37 wins, 1 loss and 3 ties. In those 41 games they scored 403 goals while conceding only 34."

(for the historically minded who realize that Oslo was the 6th Winter Olympics - the one hockey gold not won by the Canadians up to that point was won by Great Britain in 1936, who fielded a 12 man team which featured 10 players who lived in Canada.)

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For the not-so-historically minded, here's a triumphalist CBC piece on Canada as 'an Olympic powerhouse'. Says the author, "For the first time in a long time, Americans feel Canadians breathing down their necks."

Maybe a long time in dog years, but not in Olympiad years. True, the Americans beat us in the last Olympics, which were, after all, held in America, but Canada outmedalled the Americans 15-13 in Nagano, the games before Salt Lake. Canada tied the Americans in medals 13-13 at Lillehammer in 1994 (albeit the Americans had more of the shiny medals). And at Albertville in 1992, the Americans outmedalled us 11-7, a solid win but hardly a walkover. So I'd say the Americans are pretty used to our footsteps when it comes to the Winter games.

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Official bilingualism generally seems like a reasonable enough policy to me but I think that the only time it actually provides me with any tangible benefits is during the Olympics. As always, Radio-Canada provides the best coverage going, although the CBC did a decent job as well. As an added bonus on Radio-Canada, I can't tell what the announcers are saying. As a further added bonus, their announcers don't talk as much during the performances. I especially liked the guy doing the figure skating for them, from whom little more was heard during a skate than a hushed 'formidable!' or two after the jumps.

NBC took it's usual imperial approach to the Olympics, refusing to make anything more than token concessions to the actual schedule of events. Also as usual, when they did deign to provide coverage of an event they had the best graphics and gadgets. For example, their speedskating time counter which showed the skaters gaining and losing time vs. the leader was pretty cool.

I get down on CBC for being too Canada-centric, but the Americans still have them beat for home country focus. Particularly humourous was the final of the short track men's relay when the NBC cameras all but ignored the back and forth battle for the Gold between Canada and South Korea, choosing instead to focus on the all important battle between the Americans and Italians for third. Maybe CBC would pull the same stunts if they had their own cameras, I hope not.

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Some other notable performances: Cindy Klassen of course. Brad Gushue's rink curled two of the best games I've seen in a while to make both the semi-final and final games look easy. Jennifer Heil started the team rolling with a great opening day win. Chandra Crawford and the South Korean short track team both proved the value of developing a simple but effective strategy and sticking to it, over and over again. The men's Skeleton team, for coming as close as Canada ever has to a sweep of the podium. Clara Hughes set some history in the women's 5000, and also proved that she understood pacing better than the various network commentators who wrote her off at various stages of the race. And finally, the Norwegian coach, Bjornar Hakensmoen who gave Sara Renner a pole when her own broke during the team sprint in Cross-Country. A noble thing to do at any time, but especially so considering who ended up coming 4th in the race - the Norwegian team.

It was a fun couple of weeks.

2 Comments:

  • she understood pacing better than the various network commentators who wrote her off at various stages of the race

    true, but if i hear one more anti-catriona lemay doan rant from my dad, im pretty much going to have to write the cbc and tell them they are disrupting his bed rest and jeopardizing my sanity.

    By Blogger angela, at 2:09 AM  

  • Angela, what does your dad have against Catriona Lemay Doan?

    By Anonymous Deanna, at 1:05 PM  

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