It is day 15 of the 2018 Winter Olympics and I am so done with winter olympics. All the best events are behind us, all that’s left are a bunch of new events that no one has ever heard of plus, ugh, more bobsledding, I can’t handle having to listen to Bode Miller’s droning monotone for ONE MORE NIGHT, those awful speed skating uniforms are making me feel violated in a #METOO kinda way, my fingers are quivering, my eyes are growing dim, … MUST PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN, MUST ENDURE JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE INANE SPORTS COMMENTARY, THE ONLY REAL COMPETITION IS YOURSELF, ODELL.
Alright. I can do this.
Yay more bobsledding with no medals yay.
Tonight is the first two of four runs for the four-man bobsled event, and I’m trying to care — after all, this is the only event in which I share a very little bit of genetic material with one of the competitors in this entire Olympics (that I am aware of). And yet, I don’t care. I very much don’t care.
Is it impressive that these men are hurtling down the track at 88 miles per hour? Sure, of course. Do I have any idea what those three guys in the back of the sled are doing? No, I do not. Is there a lot of screaming which at first is entertaining but then becomes just as repetitive and boring as everything else? God, yes. Is bobsledding, like downhill skiing, just the same thing over and over again but with different colored uniforms and finishes that differ from one another by a matter of hundredths of seconds? YEP. Does that make for interesting television? NOPE.
Some points from the competition:
- The South Koreans find themselves in second place, surprising everyone, including our announcers who are all but saying, “Wait, they’re not Teutonic ‘roid monsters, how can this be happening?”
- The Canadian driver, Justin Kripps, lost his grandmother two days before his two-man bobsled competition, but he kept the news to himself until after he won gold, so now every bobsledder’s grandmothers better watch their backs.
- In a short video package, we learn what it is that the three other dudes in the back of the sleigh do, and it is basically: “stay down.”
- Team USA’s Justin Olsen arrived in South Korea and promptly had to get an appendectomy, so that sucks.
- After two runs, Team Cousin comes in 9th, but that’s still better than (one of) Team Latvia and Team France, SO EAT ICE, LATVIA AND FRANCE. TEAM COU-SIN! TEAM COU-SIN! TEAM COU-SIN!
And then we are given a video memorial for Steve Holcomb, the Team USA bobsledder who won gold in 2010 in four-man bobsleigh, the first gold medal for America in that event in 48 years. He passed away from an accidental overdose in May, shocking the bobsledding community, as Holcomb was apparently a big teddy bear of a man who gave great hugs and whom everyone, even his competitors, loved. And now I’m crying? Why am I crying? I DIDN’T KNOW STEVE HOLCOMB — I MEAN, I KINDA REMEMBER HIM FROM 2010, BUT I DIDN’T KNOW HIM PERSONALLY — SO WHY AM I CRYING, GOD DAMMIT.
Anyway, after two runs, Germany is in first and third, South Korea is in second, Canada is in fourth and Team Cousin, who is the fastest American team, has no chance in hell of medaling.
Next up: Men’s 1000m Speed Skate, in which only one Team USA skater, Joey Mantia, even has a shot. And for a hot minute there, he has the gold! But he is quickly eclipsed by South Korean skater Kim Tae-yun, and then Norway’s Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen beats both of them, and then in the last of the races, the Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis beats everyone’s time for the gold, pushing Joey Mantia down to the worst place in any Olympic’s competition: fourth.
- Team USA’s Shani Davis — who is 35 YEARS OLD, and who won the gold in 2006 and 2010, and also who set the world record time, a time that hasn’t been broken since it was set 9 years ago, WHICH IS REALLY PRETTY FUCKING AMAZING — he also competes, and comes in 7th which considering he’s been competing in the Olympics for 12 damn years is pretty impressive.
Also, too, the man is fooooine.
- Two years ago, Norway’s Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen suffered a HORRIFIC NIGHTMARE injury in which a skate sliced part of his calf off. That is not an exaggeration, he cut this damn leg off. Google “Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen injury” at your own risk.
- In the last race, the Dutch skater causes a false start … somehow. His arm moves too much? I literally have NO IDEA what I’m supposed to be seeing, but that’s why I’m not a line judge.
- I also learn that if there is a second false start, BOTH SKATERS ARE DISQUALIFIED. This seems like a hot pile of bullshit.
- Also, the Dutch skater that caused all the trouble with the false start, he wins the gold and he has a very cute son.
- Did I mention that I got all choked up thinking about Shani Davis and how this is most certainly his last event in his last Olympics? Because that may or may not be a thing that actually happened. BACK OFF, I AM STILL A LITTLE FRAGILE FROM THAT STEVE HOLCOMB TRIBUTE.
- I have previously found speed skating less exciting than short track because it’s less chaotic, less messy, less dramatic. However, watching this particular race, I came to have a new appreciation for the very mental element of this event. Unlike short track, in which you are competing directly with a bunch of people, and the race is what it is — you can see who you need to beat, you can push yourself to give that extra if you need it; in speed skating, so much of the race is in the skater’s head. Yes, you have that other skater in the lane next to you, but really you are competing against the ghosts of the previous skaters, and the potential of the skaters who haven’t competed yet. It’s as much in the intellect as it is in the thighs. Count me converted (as long as I don’t have to endure a bunch of qualifiers and as long as Shani Davis comes back).
We then join the third and final round of Men’s Snowboarding Big Air, a new Olympic event. The way it works is each snowboarder has three runs, but they have to do at least two different tricks. Their two best scores are then added together.
And I want to love this event — it has everything that I love: big spectacular twisties and flippies and spinnies; the potential for horrific crashes; a giant run that I can’t imagine climbing to the top of much less fling myself off of; and doofy snowboarding bros, including America’s current favorite doofy snowboarding bro and creative curser, Red Gerard.
However, I did not love watching this event for two reasons — one real, one extremely petty:
- As noted, we join the event in the third and final round which means that the competitors are GOING FOR IT. This should be extremely exciting — and it kinda is, the tricks are spectacular — but no one seems capable of sticking their landings, which disqualifies the runs. Apparently, everyone played it safe-ish in the first two runs (which we did not see), enough to put down scores, so in the third run, they were all like, “FUCK IT, I’MMA GONNA GO FOR THE TRIPLE TRIPLE CORK TWIST LIFT GRABBY 1400 FLIPPY QUAD, AND IF I DON’T MAKE IT, YOLO OR WHATEVER THE KIDS ARE SAYING THESE DAYS THAT ESSENTIALLY MEANS ‘YOLO.'” And as result, the whole thing lacks drama. The top three when we check in on the competition are the top three who medal, yawn.
- Ivanka Trump is in attendance.
HEY, FUCK YOU, PRINCESS IVANKA. FUCK YOU AND YOUR WHOLE FUCKING FAMILY.
Things I enjoyed about this event:
- When Team USA’s Kyle Mack won silver (Canada’s Sebastien Toutant won gold; Billy Morgan wins bronze), Red Gerard, who also competed but came in fifth, congratulated him thusly:
Foolish gold for Teammanship to Red Gerard. I KNOW THAT’S NOT A WORD, SHUT UP. ALSO, TOO, FUCK OFF, IVANKA.
Next, Mixed Team Alpine Skiing, another new Olympic event. In this slalom competition, each team has two female competitors and two male competitors and at each level, there are four races — obviously lady versus lady, man versus man, because otherwise would be ridiculous, duh.
By the time we drop into the competition, Team USA has already been eliminated, not that there was anyone on it that you would recognize. When all is said and done, Switzerland wins gold; Austria takes silver and Norway wins bronze.
Bullet points because I can’t be bothered to write “and then the French skier goes around the gates, and beats the Italian skier around the gates” for an hour’s worth of racing:
- It turns out the best slalom skiers aren’t necessarily used in this event, but instead the tallest skiers? The track is short and fast and so instead of this being a “ski around the gate as fast as you can event,” it’s a “punch the gate in the face and ski over it event”? And the taller you are, the easier it is to punch the gate in the face? And so Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhäusern, at 6’7″, is the best at punching the gate in the face, which helps his team win gold.
- This is easily the best skiing event: it’s fast; it’s obvious who the winners are; there’s punching. All skiing events could definitely use more punching.
And some final bits of business to take care of:
- The final of Men’s Curling took place at 3 a.m. CST and Team USA’s group of middle-aged dads won gold, marking the first time America’s taken gold in this particular event. Mr. T was their biggest fan (and called them before the match), Kirstie Alley, not so much.
- Meanwhile, in Women’s Curling, the South Korean team made it to the gold medal competition. That’s not the interesting part, the interesting part is that they all have breakfast-related nicknames? For some reason?
- The Germans beat Canada — CANADA — to advance to the Men’s gold medal competition. It’s so shocking, the German Foreign Office put out this warning to Germans traveling in Canada:
- Mike Tirico interviews Mikaela Shiffrin who admitted that she was bratty about the weather-induced schedule changes, blaming them for her not winning more events. But then she took a second and was like “OH WAIT A MINUTE, I WON A GOLD AND A SILVER MEDAL IN THE OLYMPICS, WHAT AM I BEING SUCH A BABY ABOUT?”
- Still no sign of Mary Carrillo. Did you notice that she went missing around the same time that the North Korean delegation returned home? RELEASE HER FROM YOUR GULAG, KIM JONG-UN. I NEED MY DEEP DIVE INVESTIGATION INTO KIMCHEE, KIM JONG-UN.
Alright my little 고양이, we only have one more night of Sports to get through, and really, it’s not much: the final four-man bobsled runs and the figure skating gala, which is just basically ice capades. WE CAN DO THIS. THE END IS IN SIGHT.