Wednesday, February 26, 2014

American Idol Season 13: The Top 13..... This is Me!

Dexter Roberts sang Aw Naw by Chris Young-- Loved this song choice for him. It did seem like he was having trouble hearing and perhaps that's why the pitch wasn't as perfect as it could have been. Keith said he needs to figure out how to make it a Dexter Roberts performance, Jenn felt the same and added that he really got the crowd going, but the song's key wasn't in the sweet spot of his voice. Harry thought that the ear monitor may have caused him to sing out of tune.
Score: 7

Malaya Watson sang Runaway Baby by Bruno Mars-- I was underwhelmed by the performance. I love that song, and I loved her personality, but the vocal lacked for me big time. She was mumbling a lot. Jenn loved her personality and song choice, but didn't think it was her best vocal. Harry thought she seemed nervous, and Keith didn't think she was on top of the song.
Score: 5

Kristen O'Connor sang Beautiful Disaster by Kelly Clarkson-- I felt like she was out of tune, and I still don't understand why the judges chose her for the wild card. Harry thought she was out of tune. Keith liked her song selection. Jennifer said something that made no sense, she told all the contestants to not think but to think.
Score: 4

Ben Briley sang Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash-- I need to admit something. I didn't really know Ben Briley before this performance, and so I didn't think he belonged in the top 13. Seeing him tonight proved to me that he belongs here. I loved the performance, loved his voice, and loved the way he changed it up. Keith said he has true artistry and not to ever compromise that. Jennifer liked the way he picked up the tempo and Harry agreed and then called it the best performance of the night so far. Harry admired the fact that he chose a Johnny Cash song.
Score: 9

CJ Harris sang Radio by Darius Rucker-- I didn't care much for the song choice because it did nothing to show off his vocals. It was out of tune too. I don't know what's going on. Jennifer liked the energy of the performance. Harry loves the "cry" in CJ's voice, but thought the song choice was just okay. Keith thought it was a good song choice, and liked the swagger.
Score: 6

MK Nobillette sang Satisfaction by Allen Stone-- The song choice was weird, this was probably my least favorite performance of the night so far. I didn't hear a lot of range in her vocals, she sounded very monotone throughout the performance. Harry commented on how different she looked without makeup. Keith thinks she has already grown since her audition city to now. I am still trying to figure out if he said she looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Jenn thought this performance showed a different side of her, and she loved it. Really judges?
Score: 4

Majesty Rose sang Tightrope by Janelle Monae-- Majesty is "her majesty" tonight because she is my favorite girl so far. Her song choice was awesome, and it was a difficult song, and she did it so well. I loved her vocals, she has that old school R&B style. Keith liked her song choice. Jenn said there is no one else like her, and she had a great performance. Harry said my favorite thing about you is the mystery and he called it terrific.
Score: 9

Jena Irene sang The Scientist by Coldplay-- This performance was a mixed bag for me. There were times when Jena was shining and there were times when I felt like it was almost off key, and she was pushing vocally. Jenn liked all the different dynamics in her voice, and called her a powerhouse. She felt that she pulled it off. Harry said she makes good choices on a preexisting melody. He felt like her choices drive the harmony. Keith said lean into the song and own it.
Score: 7

Alex Preston sang A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz-- I liked Alex's performance tonight because it had so much sincerity and I love the tone of his voice. Like Keith and Jenn, I was completely pulled into him, I was basically hanging on each word, and there was a part of me that wanted to know what he did vocally before he actually did it. Harry thought the performance was introspective. Keith disagreed a little bit with Harry and thought that it pulled him in. Jenn said she agreed with Keith and was very caught up in the mood that he created and the emotion.
Score: 8

Jessica Meuse sang The Crow and The Butterfly by Shinedown-- Jessica is someone I have been interested in since her audition, and I am a fan of her raspy tone. Certainly, it lends itself to a rock style, but she could sing almost anything. Keith liked her bold but cool song choice, he found the rasp in her voice appealing. Jenn said it was her favorite vocal performance of the night so far, and told her to relax onstage more. Harry liked hearing this different side of her, and thought she did a nice job.
Score: 8

Emily Piriz sang Glitter in the Air by Pink-- I like Emily, and I thought her vocal was stunning. My only criticism is that it was almost too perfect, and I wanted that edge that Keith was talking about in his comment. Jenn thought she did a beautiful job of taking on this song and liked her pitch and said she was gushing. Harry said it was great and she sang the melody well and conveyed the emotion well. Keith said it was a beautiful vocal performance, one of his favorites of the night. But he told her not to forget to bring the edge.
Score: 9

Sam Woolf sang Unwell by Matchbox 20-- I enjoyed Sam's onstage presence, he seems really comfortable on stage and with his instrument. I do like his vocals and how he made the song his own. I do think it was a shred too slow for my liking, had he picked the tempo up a little, I think he would have gained more interest. Harry thinks the lyric is important in that song, but wished the vocal was more messed up. I am unsure what that means. Keith thought the tempo was slow. Jennifer wants him to believe more in his abilities.
Score: 7

Caleb Johnson sang Pressure and Time by Rival Sons-- Caleb's performance was so authentic and it really took me back to when Bo Bice was on American Idol. I love having a true rock singer on the show who just bleeds rock. Caleb's vocals are the real deal, the song was perfect for him, and he is someone who could be up on a stage now and recording albums. Keith said you are so retro, but be sure to put a twist on that. Harry said if Rival Sons ever needed a singer, you'd have that gig. Keith and Jenn gave him a standing ovation.
Score: 10

Bottom 3 Prediction: Malaya Watson, MK Nobillette, Kristen O'Connor.... guy most likely to be in the bottom three... CJ Harris

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Voice Blind Auditions Season Six: Night Two

Night two of the blind auditions Season 6 continues.... I have put videos for my favorites of the night.

**4 Chair Turn** Delvin Choice sang A Song for You by Donny Hathaway-- Blake, Adam, and Shakira turned around immediately. Usher waited until absolutely the last minute to turn around, and I am sure glad he did. Delvin deserved a four chair turn. Adam and Shakira actually stood up during his performance. Delvin's voice is so full and rich and amazing, and I am hoping that he picks Adam cause Adam steered him in the right direction back in season five when he told him that he had to pick a different song, at the time he picked Closer by Neyo.
Delvin chooses Adam

Madilyn Paige sang Titanium by David Guetta and Sia-- Usher turns, then Shakira. Madilyn's voice is so pure but so big, and she's only 16. Madilyn said she picked Usher because he would help her get to where she needs to be and he would stand by her all the way.
Madilyn chooses Usher

Noah Lis sang Me and Mrs. Jones-- I actually thought no one was going to turn around, but Adam and Blake turned around at the last minute. Adam and Blake battled it out and where Adam thought Noah needed to refine his vocals, Blake thought he needed to dirty it up a little bit. Blake also discussed his love for crooners and Dean Martin. I am with Blake on this, Noah was trying to make the performance too perfect.
Noah chooses Blake

Keith Shuskie sang Somewhere Only We Know by Keane-- No one turned around. I liked Keith's personality, but the vocals were a little bit sloppy. Usher asked him who his musical influences are and he cited Queen. You could hear that in his vocal, and I hope he does come back like Usher suggested.

Deja Hall sang True Colors by Cyndi Lauper-- Blake and Shakira turned at the same time near the beginning and Usher turned at the end. She's only 16! I definitely thought she was older. She has great control in her voice. Blake said she could win this whole show, but not with Usher or Shakira. Blake also exclaims that he wants to adopt Deja. Usher said she was courageous for choosing that song. Despite all that.....
Deja chooses Shakira

**4 Chair Turn** Cary Laine sang Better Dig Two by The Band Perry-- I loved Cary; the grit in her voice is simply awesome. The song suited her so well too, it wasn't just about her vocals, but her attitude. Adam turned for her first and it was almost immediately, followed by Blake and Shakira, and lastly Usher. She deserved the four chair turn. Adam leads her to his chair and has her sit down. The judges proceed to fight over her. I think Usher is convinced she is going to choose Blake and therefore he kind of gives up, but Adam doesn't. Shakira barely even fights for her. Her son thinks she is going to choose Blake. Am I the only person who thinks she is going to choose Adam?
Cary chooses Adam

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Top 13 on American Idol Season 13 Revealed

I've been wanting to write this blog post since last Thursday when the top 13 were announced, but I had to give myself a few days to be more thoughtful and less emotional.

Who should have been in the top 13 and wasn't: Malcolm Allen, George Lovett, and Bria Anai

Who shouldn't have made the top 13: MK Nobilette, Kristen O'Connor, CJ Harris (on a bad day)

Everyone who said this was the year of the girl, I have news for you. The girls are going to have to bring it because Malcolm and George who were left out of the top 13 could have won the whole thing.

I didn't get the point of the judges choosing a top 30 (well 31, we voted if Ben Briley or Neco Star should go through). There was no point for the viewer. They chose 16 male and 15 female singers. Then during "rush week", on live TV, the judges chose 10 male and 10 female singers to sing and 5 of each never even had the chance to sing a full song from start to finish for America. I did not like the idea of that.

I enjoy all the judges; however, I felt Harry was way too harsh during all of rush week. He acted as though none of these young people deserved to even be there. I understand that he probably sees a lot of potential in many of them, but giving out a few compliments every once in a while wouldn't hurt. I honestly feel that Harry's particularly harsh comments contributed to Malcolm and George not making the top 13.

As for Bria, I think the judges just made a massive error. Kristen O'Connor was in no way better than Bria. Bria needed to be refined, but she was a diamond in the rough.

I've focused on the negative up to this point, so now I would like to sing the praises of those contestants who more than deserved to make it into the final 13. Alex Preston reminds me so much of John Mayer, I love his authenticity, and he can play a mean guitar. I love the country guy-- Dexter Roberts, there's something about him that is so blue collar, but yet, he can really sing. My hope is he doesn't get caught up in the image part of things cause I like him the way he is. Love the two rockers in this group, Jessica Meuse and Caleb Johnson, those are two who I have loved since their first auditions, and I could see them in the group of finalists. Sam Woolf is someone else who is so talented and when you look at him, it seems unlikely, but I just enjoy how he is so different than everyone else. If Malaya Watson and Majesty Rose can pull it together and be consistent, these are two ladies who could be extremely popular with America. They both have great qualities to their voices.

America's Top 13 

  • Malaya Watson
  • Ben Briley
  • Emily Piriz
  • Alex Preston
  • Jessica Meuse
  • Dexter Roberts
  • Caleb Johnson
  • Majesty Rose
  • MK Nobilette
  • Sam Woolf
  • Jena Irene – Wild Card
  • Kristen O’Connor – Wild Card
  • CJ Harris – Wild Card
My Top 13

  • Malcolm Allen
  • George Lovett
  • Bria Anai
  • Malaya Watson
  • Majesty Rose
  • Jessica Meuse
  • Caleb Johnson
  • Alex Preston
  • Dexter Roberts
  • Sam Woolf
  • Jena Irene 
  • CJ Harris
  • Emily Piriz

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 16 and 17

For the last time....

The Results:

Speedskating: Ladies' Team Pursuit

1. Netherlands, 2:58.05 Olympic Record
2. Poland, 3:05.55
3. Russian Federation, 2:59.73

Speedskating: Men's Team Pursuit

1. Netherlands, 3:37.71 Olympic Record
2. Korea, 3:40.85
3. Poland, 3:41.94

Alpine Skiing: Men's Slalom

1. Mario Matt, Austria, total time: 1:41.84
2. Marcel Hirscher, Austria, total time: 1:42.12
3. Henrik Kristoffersen, Norway, total time: 1:42.67

Bobsled: 4 Man

1. Russian Federation: Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov, Alexey Voevoda, Alexander Zubkov, total time: 3:40.60
2. Latvia: Daumants Dreiskens, Oskars Melbardis, Janis Strenga, Arvis Vilkaste, total time: 3:40.69
3. USA: Christopher Fogt, Steven Holcomb, Steven Langton, Curtis Tomasevicz, total time: 3:40.99

Men's Hockey

1. Canada
2. Sweden
3. Finland

Look who got her medal today...... Mikaela Shiffrin

My recap....

Some things have become certain in these Olympics. The Dutch are great speedskaters, the Canadians dominate hockey. Russia proved to be warm and welcoming hosts, but they also were forces to be reckoned as competitors within the various events of these games. The Americans seemed to dominate many of the newer events like snowboarding, and overall, we had an impressive team this time around. They didn't live up to the hype in sports like speedskating, short track, and alpine skiing where they were expected to win far more medals. However there were many firsts and surprises. Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the first US ice dancers to win Olympic gold. Bode Miller became the oldest to win an alpine skiing medal and Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest to win gold in the same sport. Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson were the first gold medalists in the new snowboarding event, slopestyle, and both were members of Team USA. Some members of Team USA returned to prove that they still have it. Julia Mancuso added a bronze to her arsenal of medals. Noelle Pikus Pace won the medal that had alluded her for her entire career in skeleton. Bode Miller proved age is not a factor when you have the talent, and Mikaela Shiffrin proved similar.

Some members of Team USA had stories I will never ever forget--- bobsled's Steven Holcomb, Lauryn Williams and Lolo Jones, snowboardings Alex Deibold, figure skating's Jeremy Abbot, speedskating's Shani Davis, and short track's JR Celski.  

There were inspirational stories of athletes from other countries as well.---

Russia's figure skating team exhibited fight and poise. They were the comeback kids of these Olympics. Plushenko returned and exited in grand fashion. Yulia Lipnitskaya's personality proves she will be around for a while, perhaps, a force to be reckoned with in 2018. Adelina Sotnikova reigned as queen when others threatened a space that she had her eyes set on since childhood.

Victor An, formerly representing Korea represented the Russian Federation, his new home, a country that accepted him and recognized his talent and allowed him to make a come back following what many believed were injuries that would be career ending.

Zbigniew Brodka from Poland was probably the least likely to win a speedskating medal, and not only overcame the odds but beat the best in the process.

Tatiana Voloszhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia had different partners before they had each other, but something said they were destined for gold together. It was written, they became legends like so many before them.

There are so many more stories and not enough time and thought to tell them all. Each Olympic Games that I watch takes me back to my childhood. I think the first Games I remember is 1992 in Barcelona. To me, the Games don't just represent competition, they represent so many other things. They represent the joy of victory; the sadness of defeat. They represent years of practice, determination, and discipline. There is an element about the Games which is so beautiful and that is the coming together of nations from all over the world, even if only, for a little over two weeks, every two years. The Games represent humanity and the best in people. We could only wish, hope, and dream that the human race could always come together as they do so faithfully for an Olympiad.

    Farewell Sochi! from Sochi 2014 website

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 15

We had to wait fifteen days for the first gold in alpine skiing at the Sochi Games as Team USA but it was well worth the wait. Mikaela Shiffrin lived up to the hype, and at only 18 years of age, won the gold in Women's Slalom. She also became the youngest ever to win Olympic gold in slalom. After a near fall at the top of the hill, she regrouped to win a deserved gold.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Women's Slalom

1. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA, total time: 1:44.54
2. Marlies Schild, Austria, total time: 1:45.07
3. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, total time: 1:45.37

    photo from Sochi 2014 website

Plenty of action at the Iceberg on Friday....

Victor An  picked up his fourth and fifth medals in Sochi, two more golds to add to two golds and a bronze medal. The Russian athlete has now won a record six gold medals in short track. His eight medals in total matches the record of US skater Apolo Anton Ohno.

The Results:

Short Track: Men's 500 m

1. Victor An, Russian Federation, 41.312
2. Daijing Wu, China, 41.516
3. Charle Cournoyer, Canada, 41.617

Short Track: Men's 5,000 m Relay

1. Russian Federation, 6:42.100 Olympic Record
2. USA, 6:42.371
3. China, 6:48.341

Short Track: Ladies' 1,000 m

1. Seung Hi Park, Korea, 1:30.761
2. Kexin Fan, China, 1:30.811
3. Suk Hee Shim, Korea, 1:31.027

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 14

I can't say I agree with the outcome. It's a statement that could be made about the outcome of the ladies' figure skating event as well as the women's hockey competition.

I have heard so many people today talking about the outcome of the women's hockey competition, and I know Team USA is sad or upset about not winning the gold and losing in a shoot out to Canada, but you have to be proud of yourself for winning silver. You don't think Bode Miller or Julia Mancuso are pleased with the bronze medals they won? Arguably, those medals may mean more to them than others because of how late in their careers they earned them. Team USA should consider how much women's hockey has grown in the past few years: leaps and bounds. Also to consider is how many young girls are inspired by this and will make their own Olympic dreams and goals.

The Results:

Women's Hockey

1. Canada
2. USA
3. Switzerland

In ladies' figure skating, Queen Yuna still reigns supreme in Korea but at these Sochi Games, the new Queen is Adelina Sotnikova from Russia. She's the young lady we least expected but the win was well deserved. Many people say that Sotnikova doesn't have the artistry of Yuna Kim but what she does know well is the technical aspect of figure skating. Initially, I was angry that Kim finished in second, somehow I felt that the home country had to be behind this dethroning, but when you break down the two programs, I understand the placements. I understand why Sotnikova won; I think she was lucky and I think she had the skate of her life. Who knows if she will ever skate that well again, the stars were aligned that night just for her. I don't think Kim felt bad about winning silver. She should have a great sense of pride and who knows what could happen in four years time when the Games are in Korea, we could see her come back and compete for a third Olympic medal. For Carolina Kostner of Italy, that games was all about redemption and the finale of a long career. What was different about Kostner this time, she skated for the pure job of it. And at the end of the day, perhaps her lesson is the most poignant of all. Maybe the most successful athletes are the ones who do it less for the money and more for the joy of playing the sport. They do it for the competition, the adrenaline rush; they're loyal, disciplined, and they have heart.

The Results:

Figure Skating: Ladies'

1. Adelina Sotnikova, Russian Federation, free skate: 149.95, total: 224.59
2. Yuna Kim, Korea, free skate: 144.19, total: 219.11
3. Carolina Kostner, Italy, free skate: 142.61, total: 216.73

4. Gracie Gold, USA, free skate: 136.90, total: 205.53
5. Yulia Lipnitskaya, Russian Federation, free skate: 135.34, total: 200.57
7. Ashley Wagner, USA, free skate: 127.99, total: 193.20
9. Polina Edmunds, USA, free skate: 122.21, total: 183.25

There was one gold medal for the US on day 14, and that came from Maddie Bowman in the new event, the ski half pipe.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Ladies' Ski Half Pipe

1. Maddie Bowman, USA, run one: 85.80, run two: 89.00, best: 89.00
2. Marie Martinod, France, run one: 84.80, run two: 85.40, best: 85.40
3. Ayana Onozuka, Japan, run one: 79.00, run two: 83.20, best: 83.20

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 13

Hard work, perseverance, and consistence pays off. On day 13 of competition at Sochi several members of Team USA proved it--- Ted Ligety, two teams from the Women's Bobsled Team, and three ladies from the US Figure Skating Team.

    from Sochi 2014 website

At the age of 29, Ted Ligety won the second gold medal of his career in giant slalom. It came eight years after winning his first in Torino in the combined. Ligety says he hasn't ruled out coming back in four years in Korea and hopes to continue skiing even after that. He talked about what sets him apart from his competitors, he said he skis sharp turns that put him almost parallel to the snow. I don't know how he manages to stay on his feet, but Ligety's method hasn't let him down.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Men's Giant Slalom

1. Ted Ligety, USA, total time: 2:45.59
2. Steve Missillier, France, total time: 2:45.77
3. Alexis Pinturault, France, total time: 2:45.93

    from Sochi 2014 website

Lauryn Williams became the first woman in modern Olympics to win a medal in both the Summer and Winter Games. She won a silver in women's bobsled partnered with Elana Meyers, a gold medal from London 2012 as a member of the 4x100m relay, and in 2004 in Sydney, where she won the silver medal in the 100m. Meyers and Williams actually led after three out of four races, but team Canada overtook them.

The Results:

Bobsled: Two Women

1. Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Canada, total time: 3:50.61
2. Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams, USA, total time: 3:50.71
3. Aja Evans and Jamie Greubel, USA, total time: 3:51.61

Lastly, probably the most sought after ticket at these games, the ladies figure skating event began last night with the short program. Team USA has three entrants, all in medal contention after night one of two nights of competition. Gracie Gold stands in fourth place and Ashley Wagner is in sixth place, both will skate in the last group on Thursday night in the long program (also called free skate). Polina Edmunds, 15 years old, and in her first Olympics is in seventh place. However, the young woman in first place is of absolutely no surprise to me, Yuna Kim of Korea at age 24 skated a strong short program solidifying her dominance in the sport in her legendary status in Korea. In four years, the Games will be held in her home country, and whether she skates or not I have no doubt she will be a major part of those Games.

The Standings:

Figure Skating: Ladies Short Program

1. Yuna Kim, Korea, 74.92
2. Adelina Sotnikova, Russian Federation, 74.64
3. Carolina Kostner, Italy, 74.12
4. Gracie Gold, USA, 68.63
5. Yulia Lipnitskaya, Russian Federation, 65.23
6. Ashley Wagner, USA, 65.21
7. Polina Edmunds, USA, 61.04

    from NBC Olympics website (Yuna Kim and Gracie Gold)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 12

Not a super exciting day in Sochi. For the first time during this Winter Games, I saw snow! What was fun today was watching some of these new events like ski halfpipe. The US assembled a strong team in four young men: Aaron Blunck, Lyman Currier, favorite to win the gold Torin Yater Wallace, and gold medal winner David Wise. Wise is 23, lives in Reno, Nevada, is married, and has a two and a half year old daughter. Wise suggests this is not the norm for someone in his sport, but why be normal when you can be yourself? Wise is a youth leader at his church but he's also won the past three X Games in his event. Winning the gold seems to be the perfect way to acknowledge an amazing career so far.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Men's Ski Halfpipe

1. David Wise, USA, run one: 92.00, run  two: 3.40, best: 92.00
2. Mike Riddle, Canada, run one: 71.40, run two: 90.60, best: 90.60
3. Kevin Rolland, France, run one: 88.60, run two: 29.80, best: 88.60

7. Aaron Blunck, USA, run one: 68.60/ 79.40
**Lyman Currier and Torin Yater Wallace finished out of the final 12.

Not too long ago, Alex Deibold was a wax technician. He waxed the snowboards of athletes like himself. Now he can count himself a bronze medalist in the Olympic Games. The gold medalist Pierre Vaultier was wearing a knee brace because of an ACL injury, and yet, still came away a champion. He talked about how his injury didn't seem to hurt as much with the gold. Nikolay Olyunin proved to Russia that snowboarding is important; he was a major underdog in all this. Favorite to win once again was Nate Holland who didn't make it out of qualifying after he caught too much air on a jump.

The Results:

Snowboard: Men's Snowboard Cross

1. Pierre Vaultier, France
2. Nikolay Olyunin, Russian Federation
3. Alex Deibold, USA

Tina Maze won her second gold of these Games, she won today in the giant slalom, her weakest of five events, and she won last week in the downhill. What Maze probably hasn't even thought about is the fact that one of her biggest rivals, Lindsey Vonn, is absent from these games. Well, maybe she does realize cause she's winning easier than before.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Women's Giant Slalom

1. Tina Maze, Slovenia, total time: 2:36.87
2. Anna Fenninger, Austria, total time: 2:36.94
3. Viktoria Rebensburg, Germany, total time: 2:37.14

5. Mikaela Shiffer, USA, 2:37.37 <--- lindsey="" next="" p="" the="" vonn="">
Another sweep by the Netherlands in speedskating....

The Results:

Speedskating: Men's 10,000 m

1. Jorrit Bergsma, Netherlands, 12:44.45 Olympic Record
2. Sven Kramer, Netherlands, 12:49.02
3. Bob De Jong, Netherlands, 13:07.19

Look who got their medals today....

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 11

Destiny and dream fulfilled for Davis and White at the Iceberg Monday night. Their free program to music based on the story of “Scheherazade,” was nothing short of perfection. Every move was so expressive, the unison and synchronicity was on point. They were so focused  Virtue and Moir did have a moment, but it wasn't enough to top Davis and White who's focus, determination, and passion were palpable, and the favorites going into these Olympics. Both duos should feel pleased with their performances, and despite the controversy arising now, I feel that Davis and White won fair and square.

So what exactly is this arising controversy? Well, a day later, Virtue and Moir are speaking out and saying that as of 2012, they don't feel their coach Marina Zoueva has been there for them. They also mentioned that they feel Marina's attention shifted more to Davis and White. When asked about why she chose to attend the US National Championships in 2013 over the Canadian Championships, she replied that she coaches more US Teams. Zoueva also coaches the Shibutani siblings. More to come as this story unfolds.

    from NBC Olympics website

The Results:

Figure Skating: Ice Dance Finals

1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, USA, free program: 116.63, total: 195.52
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada, free program: 114.66, total: 190.99
3. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, Russian Federation, free program: 110.44, total: 183.48

8. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, USA, free program: 99.18, total: 164.64
9. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, USA, free program: 90.70, total: 155.17

    Getty Images

The US Team won their first medal in 2 man bobsled since 1952, and the Russians, winless in the last three years found their speed and won gold at home.

The Results:

Bobsleigh: 2 Man

1. Alexey Voevoda and Alexander Zubkov, Russian Federation, 3:45.39
2. Alex Baumann and Beat Hefti, Switzerland, 3:46.05
3. Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton, USA, 3:46.27

Eighteen year old Mac Bohonnon was supposed to be at home in the US in an AP math class, instead he was over in Sochi at the Olympic Games competing in men's aerials. Not only was Mac competitive with athletes who had significantly more experience than him, but he finished in the top five. In a sport that is so unpredictable and where he was the lone American entrant in the event, he proved he has a long career ahead of him. Further proof of aerial's unpredictability--- the defending champion was out in the qualifying round. The new gold medalist had 24 points over the second place finisher because the risky move he did turned out to be spectacular.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Men's Aerials

1. Anton Kushnir, Belarus, 134.50
2. David Morris, Australia, 110.41
3. Zongyang Jia, China, 95.06

5. Mac Bohonnon

Ski Jumping: Team Event

1. Germany, 1041.1
2. Austria, 1038.4
3. Japan, 1024.9

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 10

Disappointment, redemption, and dominance were the themes of Day 10 at Sochi.

Lindsey Jacobellis failed to earn the gold she has been chasing for three Olympics now in Snowboard Cross. Initially, Jacobellis had the best time in qualifying, but things slowly but surely went downhill. In the semifinals, she misjudged a turn, went too fast, and lost her balance, sliding into the middle of the course. That was the end of Jacobellis's Olympics in Sochi. At 28, her Olympic appearances haven't improved, 2nd, 5th, and today, 7th. This is heartbreaking considering the fact that Lindsey came back from two knee surgeries in 2012. She makes it happen when it counts, but she wasn't been able to pull it together today.

The Results:

Snowboard: Ladies' Snowboard Cross

1. Eva Samkova, Czech Republic
2. Dominique Maltais, Canada
3. Chloe Trespeuch, France

4. Faye Gulini, USA
7. Lindsey Jacobellis, USA

Kjetil Jansrud won the fourth consecutive gold for Norway in the Super G. Perhaps more surprising than Bode's bronze--- one, Andrew Weibrecht winning the silver. Weibrecht is the guy who doesn't win World Championships but he will come to the Olympics and win silver. Two, is that Bode and Jan Hudec of Canada tied for bronze and the fact that it was Jan Hudec is another surprising factor. Bode is now the oldest alpine skier to medal at an Olympic Games at 36.

For Bode Miller, today's run in the super g was not only one of redemption but of sheer determination and a tribute from one brother to another. Last April, Bode lost his brother to a seizure. The 29 year old was a snowboarder and had hopes of making it to the Olympics like his brother. After Bode bounced back with a solid run in the super g and tied for a bronze medal, he became overcome with emotion and looked up to the sky and then looked down and began to cry. It was almost like this medal was for his brother or because of him.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Men's Super G

1. Kjetil Jansrud, Norway, 1:18.14
2. Andrew Weibrecht, USA, 1:18.44
3. Jan Hudec, Canada, 1:18.67
3. Bode Miller, USA, 1:18.67

In Sochi, speedskating has become less exciting to watch. Perhaps it's because the viewer can almost predict who is going to land on the podium. The majority of the medals won by Netherlands at this Games have been in speedskating. Last night was no exception. Do you find the fact that they are dominating this sport boring? Ter Mors, the gold medalist did skate an Olympic record time and she dethroned reigning gold medalist Ireen Wust (a two time medalist at the games already, now three).

The Results:

Speedskating: Ladies' 1,500 m

1. Jorien Ter Mors, Netherlands, 1:53.51 Olympic Record
2. Ireen Wust, Netherlands, 1:54.09
3. Lotte Van Beek, Netherlands, 1:54.54

7. Heather Richardson, USA, 1:57.60

One of the events I have been most excited about for over a year now is the ice dancing competition. The top two pairs in the world, reigning World Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the US train in Detroit and Vancouver gold medalist Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada train in Detroit, together, and under the same coach. They've watched each others every move and now it all comes down to a couple of skates on Olympic ice in Sochi. Davis and White have already announced that at 27 and 26 respectively, they will retire after these Games. Virtue and Moir, 24 and 26 have not shared their intentions. The favorites for gold are Davis and White, the silver would then be a lock for Virtue and Moir, and the battle for bronze is a total toss up between several teams.

The Results after the Short Program:

Ice Dance Short Program:

1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, USA, 78.89 (highest short program score ever)
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada, 76.33
3. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, Russian Federation, 73.04
4. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, France, 72.78
5. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, Russian Federation, 69.97

Read more about Meryl and Charlie's Journey-- HERE

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 9

The controversy all started yesterday when the US Speedskating and Short Track team said they would be ditching their Olympic suits from Under Armour in favor of old suits that they wore for qualifying and Worlds. Thus far, the US team has been shut out of medals in these Games; Saturday was no exception. There were three more events-- in short track the ladies' 1,500 m and the men's 1,000 m and in speedskating the men's 1,500 m. The highest any American finished was Emily Scott in the ladies' event and she was in fifth place. So the big question continues, what is going on with the US Team in short track and speedskating? Shani Davis? Brian Hansen? JR Celski? Emily Scott? Heather Richardson? This is probably not just the biggest surprise of day nine, but one of the biggest surprises of this entire Games.

    from NBC Olympics website

For Shani Davis, the disappointment continues as the 1,500 was the event he wanted the most. Brodka and Davis were actually paired and the big shock was that Brodka came out the winner, the first gold for Poland in speedskating. Shocking.

    from website

Victor An added to his hardware at this Olympics, he had a bronze and added a gold. Victor An continued his dominance in short track and helped the Russian's to go one and two in the 1,000 m. Arianna Fontana is also now a two time medalist at this Games adding a bronze medal to go with her silver; Denny Morrison did the same.

The Netherlands continued to add to their medal count at the rink at this Olympics, on Saturday they added a silver medal and a bronze.

Yang Zhou repeated her medal in the 1,500 where she also won gold in Vancouver four years ago.

The Results:

Short Track: Ladies' 1,500 m

1. Yang Zhou, China, 2:19.140
2. Suk Hee Shim, Korea, 2:19.239
3. Arianna Fontana, Italy, 2:19.146

5. Emily Scott, USA, 2:39.436

Short Track: Men's 1,000 m

1. Victor An, Russian Federation, 1:25.325
2. Vladimir Grigorev, Russian Federation, 1:25.399
3. Sjinkie Knegt, Netherlands, 1:25.611

Speedskating: Men's 1,500 m

1. Zbigniew Brodka, Poland, 1:45.006
2. Koen Verweij, Netherlands, 1:45.009
3. Denny Morrison, Canada, 1:45.22

7. Brian Hansen, USA, 1:45.59
11. Shani Davis, USA, 1:45.98

In Skeleton, the US team added a bronze medal when Matthew Antoine had the best runs of his career.

The Results:

Skeleton: Men's

1. Alexander Tretiakov, Russian Federation, total time: 3:44.29
2. Martins Dukurs, Latvia, total time: 3:45.10
3. Matthew Antoine, USA, total time: 3:47.26

Eight appears to be the magic number for Julia Mancuso, so far the only US medalist in skiing thus far at these Games. She finished third in the women's super combined slalom, but then finished eighth on Wednesday in the women's downhill and today she finished eighth in the women's super g. Atop the podium was first time winner and Olympic medalist Anna Fenninger of Austria. Hoefl Reisch or Germany and Hosp of Austria added to the medal count at these Games.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Women's Super G

1. Anna Fenninger, Austria, 1:25.52
2. Maria Hoelf Reisch, Germany, 1:26.07
3. Nicole Hosp, Austria, 1:26.18

8. Julia Mancuso, USA, 1:27.04

    from Sochi 2014 website

About one week ago, Kamil Stoch from Poland won a gold in ski jumping for the men's normal hill, today he repeated with a gold, this time in the men's large hill. He didn't expect a win, but it happened. He is only the third athlete to win double jumping golds in the same Winter Games. Kasai who won a silver medal has competed in his 7th Olympics at the age of 41, 20 years after winning a silver medal in Lillehammer in team competition. Peter Prevc won silver in the normal hill and picked up a bronze today, so there is real dominance in this sport.

The Results:

Ski Jumping: Men's Large Hill Individual

1. Kamil Stoch, Poland, total: 278.7
2. Noriaki Kasai, Japan, total: 277.4
3. Peter Prevc, Slovenia, total: 274.8

    from NBC Olympics website

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 8

Friday, day eight may not have had lots of activity but yesterday's events were no doubt epic! For the first time in 12 years, the US team medaled in skeleton. Japan won it's first Olympic gold in men's figure skating. Bode Miller was once again shut out of a medal in this Olympics, this time in the men's super combined slalom.

At only 19, Yuzuru Hanyu is the second youngest man to win the gold medal in men's figure skating. He is also Japan's first man to win a gold in the sport. In the short program, he made history, earning over 100 points for his program. This is perhaps what carried him to a sound victory from Canada's Patrick Chan. Chan was looking to break Canada's curse and win the first gold in men's figure skating. The irony in all of this is that Brian Orser, from Canada, silver medalist, and part of this curse coaches Hanyu in Toronto. Despite the fact that Hanyu fell two times in his long program, it was enough to bring him a victory. It also didn't help that Patrick Chan had a luckluster long program. Third place could have gone to several men--- In contention, American Jason Brown, two additional men from the Japanese team Daisuke Takahashi and Tatsuki Machida, and Javier Fernandez of Spain. But it was Denis Ten of Kazakhstan who took the bronze medal. It must also be said that American Jeremy Abbott skated a breathtaking long program. It was an amazing end to a journey that started out bumpy but left the 27 year old with a bronze medal in the team event and able to walk away with his head held high.

The Results:

Figure Skating: Men's

1. Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan, short: 101.45, free: 178.64, total: 280.09
2. Patrick Chan, Canada, short: 97.52, free: 178.10, total: 275.62
3. Denis Ten, Kazakhstan, short: 84.06, free: 171.04, total: 255.10

9. Jason Brown, USA, short: 86.00, free: 152.37, total: 238.37
12. Jeremy Abbott, short: 72.58, free: 160.12, total: 232.70

Noelle Pikus Pace capped a career with a silver medal that she called, "good as gold". An excited Pikus Pace jumped into the stands to greet her husband and children waiting in the stands. In 2005, her leg was shattered by a bobsled denying her a medal in 2006 in Torino. A mistake cost her the bronze in Vancouver. And four years later, she can walk away with a dream realized. Her husband said that Noelle coming out of retirement was all worth it.

The Results:

Skeleton: Women's

1. Elizabeth Yarnold, Great Britain, total time: 3:52.89
2. Noelle Pikus Pace, USA, total time: 3:53.86
3. Elena Nikitina, Russian Federation, total time: 3:54.30

4. Katie Uhlaender, USA, total time: 3:54.34

Bode Miller came up short again in his second event of these Games, the super combined slalom. This was a gold medal event for him in Vancouver. American Ted Ligety was the 2013 World Champion in this event and also came up short. It's been an odd games; to put things in perspective, Sandro Viletta of Switzerland who ended up winning the gold has never won a World Cup super combined. Kostelic of Croatia won a fourth career silver medal. Christof Innerhofer of Italy won bronze, following up in a silver that he won in downhill. Both men were grateful for their silver and bronze medals and felt pleased.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Men's Super Combined Slalom

1. Sandro Viletta, Switzerland, 2:45.20
2. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia, 2:45.54
3. Christof Innerhofer, Italy, 2:45.67

6. Bode Miller, USA, 2:46.60
11. Jarded Goldberg, USA, 2:47.29
12. Ted Ligety, USA, 2:47.39

Finally, in aerials, US team favorite, Emily Cook, in her final Olympics failed to make it into the finals of the event. She couldn't land her jumps. I watched the event and it seemed like more people fell after their jumps than landed.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Ladies' Aerials

1. Alla Tsuper, Belarus, 98.01
2. Mengtao Xu, China, 83.50
3. Lydia Lassila, Australia, 72.12

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 7

Day 7 in Sochi was full of action and the unexpected.

The US men completed the sweep in freestyle skiing's slopestyle event. This is the third time in Winter Olympic history that Team USA has completed a sweep. The great thing about each of these young men is that there's something special about each of them. Josh Christensen, the gold medalist, dedicated his medal to his late father. Silver medalist Gus Kenworthy wants to adopt some stray dogs from Sochi and bring them back to Colorado with him. Finally, bronze medalist, Nick Goepper, almost didn't make it to Sochi. Years ago when he became interested in the sport he had to work and raise his own money to train and pay for equipment. His parents couldn't afford the sport, so Nick shoveled neighbors' driveways.
Of his win today, “The stars lined up for me,” Christensen said.

                                            Gus Kenworthy and stray pup

    AP Photo

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Men's Ski Slopestyle

1. Josh Christensen, USA, run one: 95.80, run two: 93.80, best: 95.80
2. Gus Kenworthy, USA, run one: 31.00, run two: 93.60, best: 93.60
3. Nicholas Goepper, USA, run one: 92.40, run two: 61.80, best: 92.40

In short track today, the ladies' 500 m took place and atop the podium was Jianrou Li from China and then in speedskating, the ladies' 1,000 m took place and atop the podium was Hong Zhang from China. One thing is for certain at the Sochi games, thus far, the US Team has not fared well. They have not even earned one medal. Surprising for a team that's been so dominant in the past. The Netherlands continued to rack up medals adding two more in speedskating, including a second medal for Ireen West who already won a gold and a second for Margot Boer who already won a bronze.

The Results:

Short Track: Ladies' 500 m

1. Jianrou Li, China, 45.263
2. Arianna Fontana, Italy, 51.250
3. Seung Hi Park, Korea, 54.207

Speedskating: Ladies' 1,000 m

1. Hong Zhang, China, 1:14.02
2. Ireen Wust, Netherlands, 1:14.69
3. Margot Boer, Netherlands, 1:14.90

Martin Fourcade of France won a second gold medal today in biathlon for the Men's Individual 20 km, only three days after winning his first gold in the 12.5 km Pursuit. What's even more notable is that at one point in today's event he almost lost his balance and fell, but Fourcade battled through it, and proves he's tough competition in biathlon. At only 25 years of age, he has many more years left in him. The US had one of their highest finishes ever in biathlon.

The Results:

Biathlon: Men's Individual 20 km

1. Martin Fourcade, France, 49:31.7
2. Erik Lesser, Germany, 49:43.9
3. Evgeniy Garanichev, Russian Federation, 50:06.2

8. Lowell Bailey, USA, 50:57.4

Perhaps the marquee event of these games, many would argue, is figure skating. Tonight, the men skated their short programs and took a step towards determining who would be the men's Olympic champion. Of course, all this would not go down without some drama. Just before the event would start, Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the competition saying that he would in fact retire. Plushenko had a rough practice yesterday and fell several times while attempting triple axels. Plushenko has been plagued by injury throughout the years, having around 12 surgeries for his knees and back.

US front runner Jeremy Abbott took a hard fall during his short program and he sits in 15th place. Nineteen year old Jason Brown who many saw as a longshot for the American team sits in 6th place in medal contention. Many have called his long program perfection so that's what I am hoping for when he skates tomorrow.

The Standings, after the Short Program:


1. Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan, 101.45
2. Patrick Chan, Canada, 97.52
3. Javier Fernandez, Spain, 86.98
4. Daisuke Takahashi, Japan, 86.40
5. Peter Liebers, Germany, 86.04
6. Jason Brown, USA, 86.00
7. Brian Joubert, France, 85.84

    Farewell Evgeni........ thank you for so many breathtaking performances, for lots of drama, and for                 wonderful memories.

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 6

Apologies for being late with day 6, but it was a day of competition that in some ways was full of disappointments but in other ways filled with beauty and joy.

For Julia Mancuso of the US, adding to the medal count in the women's downhill was out of the question. Four years ago in Vancouver, Tina Maze of Slovenia finished 18th in this same event, in Sochi, her mind was on gold. one of two gold medalists, Dominique Gisin from Switzerland also skied in the downhill four years ago, the result--- she didn't even finish. Tara Gut from Switzerland is the newcomer of the group, at 22 years of age, Sochi is her first Olympics, and an opportunity to make her mark. This is alpine skiing's downhill: unpredictable and exciting.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Women's Downhill

1. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1:41.57
1. Dominique Gisin, Switzerland, 1:41.57
3. Lara Gut, Switzerland, 1:41.67

8. Julia Mancuso, USA, 1:42.56

For Shani Davis of the US, the third time was not a charm, Davis was looking for a 3-peat in the men's 1,000 m, but it was not to be. Davis said his best wasn't good enough today. This event was further proof that the Netherlands has a team that is near impossible to beat with Stefan Groothuis picking up gold. Michael Mulder of the Netherlands became the first athlete at the games to win two medals. He won gold in the 500 m on Monday. Davis finished in eighth and looks to medal in the 1,500.

The Results:

Speedskating: Men's 1,000 m

1. Stefan Groothuis, Netherlands, 1:08/39
2. Denny Morrison, Canada, 1:08.43
3. Michel Mulder, Netherlands, 1:08.74

8. Shani Davis, USA, 1:09.12
9. Brian Hansen, USA, 1:09.21

Women's Hockey continues with preliminary rounds, Finland beat Switzerland 4-3 and Canada beat the US 3-2 in a match up that we will probably see again.

I had so much fun watching the ladies' half pipe. This is an event that US ladies dominate, along with an Australian named Torah Bright. One could say that this event showcased a passing of the torch. Kelly Clark (age 30), gold medalist in 2002 in Salt Lake City took bronze, 2010 Vancouver gold medalist Torah Bright (age 27) took silver, and a girl who almost didn't even make the finals, Kaitlyn Farrington (age 24) of the US took gold in Sochi. Hannah Teter (age 27), who was the gold medalist in Torino finished in 4th place this time around. Clearly, this is a close knit group.

The Results:

Snowboarding: The Ladies' Halfpipe

1. Kaitlyn Farrington, USA, run one: 85.75, run two: 91.75, best: 91.75
2. Torah Bright, Australia, run one: 58.25, run two: 91.50, best: 91.50
3. Kelly Clark, USA, run one: 48.25, run two: 90.75, best 90.75

4. Hannah Teter, USA, run one: 90.50, run two: 26.75, best: 90.50

The Russians regained the spot that has been their destiny since the 1964 Games. Gold. After winning 12 straight Olympic gold medals in pairs, the Russians didn't even make the podium in Vancouver in 2010. This was devastating for a country in which Figure Skating holds such deep tradition, particularly in the pairs event. Wednesday night, February 12, 2014 was perhaps one of the most beautiful long programs that I have seen since I was child watching figure skating. Their throws were massive, their spins were synchronized, and the emotion not only filled the room but as I sat at home in front of the TV I was affected bu this pair and the passion they displayed. They've been together for less than four years, but they skate as though they've been together forever. At 27 and 30, I cannot wait to see Tatiana and Maxim's next chapter.

The Results:

Figure Skating: Pairs Finals

1. Tatiana Voloszhar and Maxim Trankov, Russian Federation, short program: 84.17, free program: 152.69, total: 236.86
2. Ksenia Stoblova and Fedor Klimov, Russian Federation, short program: 75.21, free program: 143.47, total: 218.68
3. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Germany, short program: 79.64, free program: 136.14, total: 215.78

4. Qing Pan and Jian Tong, China, short program: 73.30, free program: 136.58, total: 209.88
9. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, USA, short program: 67.44, free program: 120.38, total: 187.82

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 5

The competition at the Olympics has been nothing short of fierce. The usually dominant US team has completely lived up to a remark that skier Bode Miller made. This team has won, "well earned medals". Day five was no exception to that. The US picked up two medals, a silver by 20 year old Devin Logan in freestyle skiing and a bronze by 27 year old Erin Hamlin in luge. You may be thinking, wasn't Shaun White competing in the half pipe today? He did, and he finished in fourth. A sad result for such a legendary figure in the sport of snowboarding. Despite the result, White should be proud of himself. He's done something that few have done and he's a role model for young people all over the world, not just here in the US.

I'm not trying to be a poor sport or anything like that, but one must wonder whether or not the weather conditions played a factor in White not performing as he usually does. Bode Miller talked about how soft the snow was earlier this week. Snowboarder Hannah Teter said the halfpipe conditions were terrible. The halfpipe itself was not smooth and the end of it was flat and slushy as a result of tepid temperatures. Some also brought up the steepness of the halfpipe. Did someone with the nickname "ipod" really deserve to win? I guess we will never know. Maybe the the X Games can shed some light on that.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Ladies' Ski Slopestyle

1. Dara Howell Canada, run one: 94.20, run two: 48.40, best: 94.20
2. Devin Logan USA, run one: 85.40, run two: 30.00, best: 85.40
3. Kim Lamarre Canada, run one: 15.00, run two: 85.00, best: 85.00

Luge: Women's Single

1. Natalie Geisenberger Germany, 50.189
2. Tatjana Huefner Germany, 50.279
3. Erin Hamlin USA, 50.348

Snowboarding: Men's Halfpipe

1. Iouri Podladtchikov Switzerland, run one: 86.50, run two: 94.75, best: 94.75
2. Ayumu Hirano Japan, run one: 90.75, run two: 93.50, best: 93.50
3. Taku Hiraoka Japan, run one: 45.50, run two: 92.25, best: 92.25

4. Shaun White USA, run one: 35.00, run two: 90.25, best: 90.25

Watch Shaun White's journey to Sochi here

                      Despite a tough loss and finishing in fourth, Shaun White continues to smile.
                      photo from NBC Olympics website

24 year old Lee Sang Hwa defended her gold medal from the Vancouver 2010 games in speedskating's
500 m. What's more than that is she set a new Olympic record. Lee is the third speedskater after Bonnie Blair (USA) and Catriona le May Doan (Canada) to win multiple Olympic gold medals in the 500m. Bonnie Blair is the only one to have done it three times.

The Results: 

Speedskating: Ladies' 500 m

1. Sang Hwa Lee South Korea, 74.70 Olympic Record
2. Olga Fatkulina Russian Federation, 75.06
3. Margot Boer Netherlands, 75.48

    photo from NBC Olympics website

In figure skating, the pairs short program took place, and surprisingly, the results were not surprising at all. Just about everything was as it should be. The Russian pair of Volosozhar and Trankov are in first place posting the highest pairs short program score ever. Savchneko and Szolkowy of Germany earned second place for their Pink Panther routine. The other Russian pair of Stolbova and Klimov rounded out the top three. Vancouver silver medalists from China Pang and Tong were in fourth place.

The Results:

After the short program.... Pairs

1. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov Russian Federation, 84.17
2. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy Germany, 79.64
3. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov Russian Federation, 75.21
4. Qing Pang and Jian Tong China, 73.30
5. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford Canada, 72.21
6. Kirsten Moore Towers and Dylan Moscovitch Canada, 70.92
season best for the Americans....
9. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir USA, 67.44

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 4

Day 4 was Julia Mancuso's day. She won what Bode Miller called, "a hard earned" bronze and Picabo Street said she "rocked". Mancuso became the U.S.'s most decorated Alpine Skier competing in three Olympic Games and winning four medals. Mancuso hasn't trained much in slalom this year, but working in her favor were the warmer weather conditions and the soft snow, similar to the conditions she trains in in California. Talk about good company, Mancuso joins Bonnie Blair and Apolo Ohno as the only Americans to medal at three Winter Games. She sited her grandfather who died a year ago as her inspiration for this Games because he so closely followed her skiing career. Gold Medalist Hoelf Reisch  of Germany (friend of Lindsay Vonn's) could win up to five medals at this Games.

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Women's Super Combined Slalom

1. Maria Hoelf Reisch Germany, 2:34.62
2. Nicole Hosp Austria, 2:35.02
3. Julia Mancuso USA, 2:35.15

The US Women's Ice Hockey team is all business as they soundly beat Switzerland 9-0!

Exciting night on the short track tonight as the Men's 1,500 m medalists were determined. The US team did have hope with J.R. Celski, but he finished just off the podium in fourth place. He made the rookie mistake of not moving up soon enough. By the time he started to move up, he couldn't dig himself out of fourth place because he didn't have any more time. For gold medalist Charles Hamelin, this was his weakest race, so I must wonder what his strong races look like. Lastly, Victor An earned Russia their first medal in short track.

The Results:

Short Track: Men's 1,500 m

1. Charles Hamelin Canada, 2:14.985
2. Tianya Han China, 2:15.055
3. Victor An Russian Federation, 2:15.062

4. J.R. Celski USA 2:15.624

What surprised me on day four? The Netherlands did it again, they swept another speedskating event. Even more than one country sweeping yet another event, this time around, twin brothers ended up on the podium winning gold and bronze in the Men's 500 m. If you'll recall on day two, two Canadian sisters, the Dufour Lapointe's made it atop the podium in freestyle skiing winning gold and silver. Apparently, sibling rivalry has taken on a whole new meaning.

photo from

The Results:

Speedskating: Men's 500 m

1. Michel Mulder Netherlands, race one: 34.63, race two: 34.67, total: 69.312
2. Jan Smeekens Netherlands, race one: 34.59, race two: 34.72, total: 69.324
3. Ronald Mulder Netherlands, race one: 34.969, race two: 34.49, total: 69.46

Another country that continued to dominate a discipline was Canada in moguls, I already mentioned that the Dufour Lapointe's went gold and silver in the Women's Moguls. Today, two Canadian men won gold and silver in Men's Moguls. Although they are not blood, they are friends. What's more is that gold medalist Alex Bilodeau was the defending Champion from Vancouver and he dug deep and did it again.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Men's Moguls

1. Alex Bilodeau Canada, Score: 26.31
2. Mikael Kingsbury Canada, Score: 24.71
3. Alexandr Smyshlyaev Russian Federation, Score: 24.34

photo from                                    

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 3

Day 3 was slightly controversial, but I do enjoy how the medals went to all different countries. What is becoming clear is that certain countries dominate in certain sports. For example, the Dutch are cleaning up in the longer distance speedskating events. Americans clearly enjoy snowboarding and clearly they are good at it. The Russians continue to impress in figure skating as they have for many years now. In a sport that they almost solely dominated, they have risen to dominance again. What is absolutely no surprise to me is how the Olympic Games continue to bring the world together.

Here are the highlights from Day 3....

Let's get the Ladies' Hockey results out of the way first, Sweden beat Japan, 1-0 and Russia beat Germany soundly, 4-1.

In Ski Jumping, men's normal hill individual winner from Vancouver Simon Ammann from Switzerland did not repeat, not even close. In fact, he finished way back in 17th place, a disappointing event for Ammann. This story should be about the gold medalist though, and the truth is that Kamil Stoch of team Poland woke up on Sunday morning with a temperature and a bad headache and ended the day an Olympic champion. When looking at the past year's results, it's not surprising that Stoch won gold as he took first in four World Cup Events this season.

The Results:

Ski Jumping:  Men's Normal Hill Individual

1. Kamil Stoch Poland, 278.0
2. Peter Prevc Slovenia, 265.3
3. Anders Bardal Norway, 264.1

She completed the American sweep for the snowboarding's new event, slopestyle, at 23 Jamie Anderson is at the top of her game, and only stands to improve from here with many viable years left in the sport. Anderson's first run of two wasn't great, but that's the thing about Jamie Anderson, when she knows what she needs to do to win, she goes out there and makes it happen. Of note, 33 year old Jenny Jones from Great Britain finished in third, the former maid at a ski resort is a veteran in this young sport. There was also a scare when newcomer from the Czech Republic Sarka Pacochova wiped out on her 2nd run and hit her head so hard that her helmet cracked in half.

The Results:

Snowboarding: Ladies' Slopestyle

1. Jamie Anderson USA,  1st run: 80.75 (2), 2nd run: 95.25 (1), best: 95.25
2. Enni Rukajarvi Finland, 1st run: 73.75 (4), 2nd run: 92.50 (2), best: 92.50
3. Jenny Jones Great Britain, 1st run: 73.00 (5), 2nd run: 87.25 (3), best: 87.25

photo: NBC Olympics website                                                    

The disappointment was all over Bode Miller's face after he took what was supposed to be a winning run. After the event he spoke to one of the reporters and said, "it just didn't go my way today". Miller will need to deal with that defeat though as he is scheduled to compete in at least two other events in these games. Who wasn't disappointed? Matthias Mayer from Austria at the age of 23 who has never won a major competition and his father, Helmut, won a silver in Super G at the 1988 Calgary Games. Christof Innerhofer from Italy who has been dealing with back problems took silver, the first medal for Italy in this event since 1976. And finally, Jansrud of Norway who had some serious knee issues at last year's World Championships. 

The Results:

Alpine Skiing: Men's Downhill

1. Matthias Mayer Austria, 2:06.23
2. Christof Innerhofer Italy, 2:06.29
3. Kjetil Jansrud Norway, 2:06.33

5. Travis Ganong USA, 2:06.64
8. Bode Miller USA, 2:06.75  

photo: Christophe Ena/Associated Press

In the first time Figure Skating Team Event, it was only fitting that host country Russia, a country consistently dominant in in the sport won the gold. Canada surprised by picking up the silver, and the USA provided perhaps the biggest surprise of all winning a bronze. Many thought Japan was the favorite for the bronze medal leaving the US shut out of a medal in the team event. However, it was the extraordinary two dance programs from Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the odds on favorites to win the gold in Ice Dance. It was Ashley Wagner's solid, yet sexy short and Gracie Gold's impressive Olympic Debut that gave the team a well deserved, hard fought for bronze. 

Make no mistake of it though, Russia earned their gold fair and square. Evgeny Plushenko at 31 truly possessed the heart and strength of a champion. To come back after countless injuries and after three years off the world stage proves his talent is the real thing. He won the men's short as well as the long program. I've learned though to never count Plushenko out over the years, I've also learned to expect nothing less of him than the best.  So perhaps what was even more impressive was the debut of 15 year old Yulia Lipnitskaya wearing a red coat in the long program as she skated to the theme song from Schindler's List, and not only was it technically strong but it was emotionally moving. The Russian ice dance pair, although no Davis and White, achieved a personal best in the free dance. As for the Russian pair of Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, they are like the many Russian pairs of the past, passionate and dominant. I definitely see them as the favorites for gold in the individual event. This total team effort is something I am going to call, "Russian gold". 

The Results: 

Figure Skating: Team Event

1. Russia: Ekaterina Bobrova, Elena Ilinykh, Nikita Katsalapov, Fedor Klimov, Yulia Lipnitskaya, Evgeny Plyushchenko, Dmitri Soloviev, Ksenia Stolbova, Maxim Trankov, Tatiana Volosozhar 
2. Canada: Patrick Chan, Meagan Duhamel, Scott Moir, Kirsten Moore Towers, Dylan Moscovitch, Kaetlyn Osmond, Eric Radford, Kevin Reynolds, Tessa Virtue
3. USA: Jeremy Abbott, Jason Brown, Marissa Castelli, Meryl Davis, Gracie Gold, Simon Shnapir, Ashley Wagner, Charlie White 

Russia's first Gold! 

photo: NBC Olympics website

What surprised me most on day 3? The 40 somethings at this Olympics continue to dominate! Are they giving hope to athletes everywhere who think their careers are over? Germany speedskater Claudia Pechstein at age 41 just missed the medal podium finishing in 4th place in the Ladies' 3,000 m. Something else happened though, in luge, men's single, two men, Demchenko and Zoeggeler, made it onto the podium at the ages of 42 and 40 respectively and won silver and bronze medals. If anything it gives hope to the 24 year old gold medalist, Felix Loch, that perhaps he could be around for another four Olympics potentially. 

The Results:

Speedskating: Ladies' 3,000 m

1. Irene Wust Netherlands, 4:00.34
2. Martina Sablikova Czech Republic, 4:01.95
3. Olga Graf Russian Federation, 4:03.47

4. Claudia Pechstein Germany, 4:05.26

Luge: Men's Single

1. Felix Loch Germany, 51.764
2. Albert Demchenko Russian Federation, 51.852
3. Amin Zoeggeler Italy, 51.994

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014: Day 2

Sochi, Russia has been impressive thus far, but what has been the most impressive has been the athletes themselves.

Here are the highlights from Day 2..... 

American, Sage Kotsenburg, 20 years old was the first Team USA medalist of Sochi, and his medal was gold, and to top it all off, he won it in the new snowboarding event of Slopestyle. Although I didn't appreciate Sage's style as much as I liked Canadian Mark McMorris's style, I do appreciate him grabbing a medal for Team USA!

The Results:

Snowboarding: Men's Slopestyle

1. Sage Kotsenburg USA 1st run: 93.50 (1), 2nd run: 83.25 (5), best: 93.50
2. Staale Sandbech Norway 1st run: 27.00 (11), 2nd run: 91.75 (1), best: 91.75
3. Mark McMorris Canada 1st run: 33.75 (9), 2nd run: 88.75 (2), best: 88.75

The Dutch were dominant in the Men's 5,000 m speedskating event, they swept the podium. Many are asking whether or not Sven Kramer is one of the best of all time. He isn't one of the best of all time, but an argument could be made that he is one of the best at this distance and the 10,000 m. Kramer set an Olympic record, and retained his title from four years ago in Vancouver.

The Results:

Speedskating: Men's 5,000 m

1. Sven Kramer The Netherlands, 6:10.76 Olympic Record
2. Jan Blokhuijsen The Netherlands, 6:15.71
3. Jorrit Bergsma The Netherlands, 6:16.66

In Women's Hockey, the US women won their first game against Finland, 3-1

Reigning US Ladies' Moguls Champ Hannah Kearney made it back on the podium four years later, but it wasn't the result she hoped for. On her final run, Kearney hit too much air on her first jump and lost too much time; she ended up with a bronze. Not the result Kearney was hoping for as this was believed to be her last Olympics at the age of 27, and she wanted to end her career on top. After the results were announced, she was clearly upset and she wanted to go back out and fight but announced that this would indeed her last Olympics and then she turned away from the camera and sobbed. Two of the three Dufour Lapointe sisters made it on to the podium but it was 19 year Justine who took it all and became the youngest freestyle skier to win gold, and at 22 Chloe took silver.

The Results:

Freestyle Skiing: Ladies' Moguls

1. Justin Dufour Lapointe Canada, 22.44
2. Chloe Dufour Lapointe Canada, 21.66
3. Hannah Kearney USA, 21.49

What most surprised me today? Well, it's actually from Thursday night.... I was so surprised to see Evegeni Plushenko at the age of 31 back and skating in amazing form for the Russian Federation. In the team event, not only is he the clear leader but Russia is leading the way with Canada and USA hot on their trail. The US ice dancing team and defending World Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White won their round with a confident short program. US women's team member Ashley Wagner had a sexy short program, but yet ended up in 4th place, as a 15 year old Russian took first for the ladies.

Today what surprised me was that at the age of 40, Ole Bjoerndalen overtook a younger group of competitors and won the gold in Biathlon in the Men's 10k Sprint. Bjoerndalen now has a total of 12 medals which equals an all time record. This is his seventh gold and goes along with his four silvers and one bronze! Bjorn Daehlie, also from Norway has collected 12 medals in his Olympic cross country career as well. Wow! 

The Results:

Biathlon: Men's Sprint 10 km

1. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen Norway, 24:33.5
2. Dominik Landertinger Austria, 24:34.8
3. Jaroslav Soukup Czech Republic, 24:39.2

photos are taken from the official website of the Sochi Games!