Tuesday 25 Oct 2016

Olympics 2014 Up-date
Bob Stark

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.

Henry Ford,
car maker

In order to win a gold medal in men's ice hockey it is imperative that you put pucks in the other team’s net. In order to win the gold medal in Dance Skating, it is, allegedly, important to put money in a competitor’s pocket.

Does anyone trust the judging in figure skating? No matter the competition, over the years, there has been more than one smelly incident. In the case of this year's pre-Olympic French report of collusion between the Rooskies and the Yanks, and then the perceived highway robbery on the ice, especially in the 'short program' of Dance Skating, it's hard not to agree that the whole thing looked rigged.

Well, there are voices on both sides of the argument. What the average Jane and Joe Average doesn't understand, according to many experts, is the subtle differences in technical technique versus artistic artistry displayed between the Canadian and American dance pairs.

To the naked eye, it sure looked like the Canadians wiped US butt in the short program, but finished in 2nd place. The conspiracy theorists were calling their bookies.

Nothing changed the next night; I called it a triple sow cow saw-off, after both pairs skated their long programs. In the end, the Yanks skated off with the Gold and Virtue and Moir bring home the Silver.

Keep in mind that the Yanks have beat the Canadians for the sixth straight time.

In the final analysis, to me what needs consideration is the staunchly tight-arse conservative IOC is the whole concept of Dance Skating. When a million or more eyes on the prize have the impression that the Canadians had been 'robbed' or at least underscored, ya gotta ask why that is the case. Well boys and girls if you're going to call it 'Dance' then the judging skewed to which pair is the best dance combo! Otherwise, what's the difference between Dance Skating and Pairs Skating?

It's time to lighten-up! One of the greatest figuring skating artists was Toller Cranston. Along with others of his generation, he changed the figure skating world. One of the results of that was an increase in audience response to the sport. Most of us wouldn't know a triple sow cow from farmer brown's Hershey cow. It don't mean a thing if it don't have that swing. I'm not saying everybody needs to skate to "42nd Street." Some of the more serious and more classical performances were quiet moving. That is what needs more heft in the judging. You don't have to eliminate the technical score, just put a tad more emphasis on the overall impact of the performance.

Speaking of the tight-arse IOC, the rules re not displaying any personal statements and so forth on your uniforms is cruel and unnecessary. There wouldn't be Halfpike skiing and snowboard events if it weren’t for Sarah Burke, who died doing the sport she loved. Are you, dear IOC, that cold-hearted that athletes can't wear some kind of insignia on their helmets or whatever openly honouring their heroes? Mercy and the mind boggles.

Let’s move on to hockey.

Where is Slovenia? The Slovenians men's hockey team defeated Austria to make it to the quarterfinals! Shut 'em out 4-0! This is 'The Mouse That Roared' come to life! They now get to face the Swedes who may be worried about another Belarus-like upset moment memory from 2002.

Well, well, speaking of the potential upsets! Check your maps again! Where's Latvia? It was Latvia 3 and Switzerland 1. How can that be?

Of course, everyone was thinking Canada would be facing the very dangerous Swiss, not the annoying, but underwhelming, Latvians.

Reconfigure. What planet am I on? Two teams heading to the quarterfinals nobody would have, reasonably speaking, predicted being there, especially the Slovenians.

Surely, we cannot expect either team to get to the semifinals, can we?

One thing Latvia has in its favour is Ted Nolan, NHL coach of the Buffalo Sabres. He's probably hoping that his NHL team owner can just buy this team and bring them back to Buffalo no matter the outcome against the Canadians.

Circle the wagons. What the Latvians will likely do; stand five players in front of their goalie and wait. Keep it close; get a break; win. What the Swedes should fear is a team that has no idea where it is!

Slovenia will be playing with a whole bunch of confidence and no pressure against a team that has had their share of injuries and while being top seed after the preliminary round hasn't been dominating. This could be very interesting, if the Swedes don't score early and often.

In the end, you must think Sweden and Canada will move on, but neither team can afford to take their opponent lightly.

Can you imagine the bru-ha-ha back home here, if "the best player in the world," and his pals blow this game!! What kind of non-matching multi-coloured sports coat will Don Cherry wear on his first Coach's Corner? It’s hard to picture Donald S in a black mourning suit. The skillful, but somewhat confused Rooskies, will meet the stable and surprising Finns.

The USA, the best team in the preliminary round, will play the Czechs who survived a strong comeback by Slovakia. Any upsets on the horizon. Well, the Rooskies would hate to lose on home turf and to Finland. A win by Finland would not be an upset, however; just ask Canada. This should be the game of the day.

The US should get by the Czechs, but that's certainly no gimme. The Czechs, criticized from day one for their coaching decisions, and despite a rather poor preliminary round, are starting to look like a potential competitor. The Yanks, on the other hand, are rested and ready to rock. In the end, US goaltending will make the difference.

On the women's side, as expected, it'll be the US vs Canada. Canada had a rough time against the Swiss, getting to the final against their archrival. Toss a coin. Better still bury that Loonie under centre ice and under each of your butts Canada.

Finally, maybe it's just the North American media but if the Olympics are non-discriminatory about medals and other placements, why do they show the standings with the top team being the leader in Gold Medals, not over-all Medals?

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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