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17 Days of Glory
By Sally Haase
24, 2014

               Another Olympic Games is in the history books and for all the worry
surrounding the 2014 Sochi games, it all went off without a hitch.  At first there was
some talk about the United States boycotting the games because Russia offered
asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, then there were calls for a boycott about
Russia’s civil rights policies, then there was the huge worry of a possible terrorist
attack during the run of the games.  Thankfully, there were no boycotts by the United
States or other countries, no one got arrested for speaking out against Russia’s
laws, and the terrorists were kept out; allowing the focus, as it should be, on the
athletes.  Here are some of my most memorable moments, some good, some not,
from the Sochi games.

1.            The producers of the opening and closing ceremonies have a sense of
humor.  During the opening ceremony, there were five computer generated
snowflakes that expanded out to create the Olympic rings, but the fifth snowflake
refused to open, making it the only noticeable glitch during the spectacular opening
ceremony.  During the closing ceremony there were human snowflakes expanding
to make the Olympic rings, the fifth snowflake had a little trouble expanding until it
eventually did, drawing laughter and applause from the crowd.

2.            The Netherlands speed skating team.  Of the 24 total medals won by the
Dutch, 23 were for speed skating creating a new king of the ice.  On the opposite
end of the spectrum, the United States had a terrible showing on the speed skating
track, Shani Davis failed to medal and J R Celski managed one in the team relay,
the team switched body suits thinking that the discomfort with the new suits was the
problem, it wasn’t.  Whether the problem was the suits, coaching or the high altitude
or a combination of the three, Team USA needs to figure it out and get speed
skating back on track.

3.            The resurgence of Russian and US figure skating.  After both had a poor
showing in 2010, both came back with force.  Russia came out swinging with the
first of its kind team event with Evgeny Plyushchenko skating in his fourth Olympics
and helping lead the Russian team to gold.  The team event was also the debut of
15 years old sensation Yulia Lipnitskaya, who dazzled the home crowd with her
spins and Gumby-like flexibility.  Lipnitskaya was the front runner to take home the
gold in the ladies event, but fell victim to falls in both her short program and free
skate. Her teammate Adelina Sotnikova came out of nowhere to win the gold,
stopping Yuna Kim’s possible gold medal repeat. And you know it’s not an
Olympics unless we have some sort of figure skating controversy and it happened
once again in the ladies program.  Sotnikova had a more difficult program therefore
had more chances to earn points, giving her the win.  Kim’s performance may have
been more pleasing to the eye for some, but it was not as difficult.  And for those of
you saying nasty things about Sotnikova, knock it off.  You cannot fault the skater for
what was in the hands of the judges.  She may be an ice water in her veins figure
skater, but she is still a teenage girl and those words can have a lasting effect on

The United States took home two medals in figure skating with the team bronze and
gold for the first time for ice dancing for Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Davis and
White along with Gracie Gold pretty much carried the team to its bronze finish.  The
ladies program featured three USA women, Gold, Ashley Wagner, and Polina
Edmunds; all three finished top ten with Gold in fourth, Wagner in seventh and
Edmunds in ninth.  The men have another exciting teenager in Jason Brown, 2018
is shaping up to be a good year for US figure skating provided Brown, Edmunds
and Gold all stay healthy and continue to improve.

4.            Mikaela Shiffrin: Shiffrin became the youngest alpine skier to win a medal
and it was gold in the slalom.  Things got a little scary on her second run when she
nearly lost control of her skis, but Shiffrin got back on track by blazing through the
rest of the slalom.  If Shiffrin is already this good at 18, imagine how great she will
be in 2018.

5.            Lauryn Williams: Before Williams won the silver in the two women bobsled,
there were only four other Olympians to win medals of any color in the winter and
Summer games.  Williams entered the record books as the fifth in these games.  
Her 2014 silver medal will look good with her 2004 silver.  

6.            Hockey: First off the United States and Russia played in an instant classic
that had nothing on the line.  But the atmosphere was like a gold medal game.  The
game was won in the eighth shootout round by the United States and it left a lot of
hockey fans hoping for a rematch between these two teams in the gold medal
game.  It was not meant to be, Russia got knocked out before the medal rounds and
the US lost the bronze medal game to Finland.  The US and Canadian women put
on one heck of a show in the gold medal game, the US had the game until 74
seconds away from victory when Canada tied it up and won in overtime.  The US
women can hold their heads high about their silver medal victory; they fought until
the bitter end.

Right now the NHL is dragging its feet on committing to the 2018 Olympics and
maybe they need to go back to college players, the best of the best college players
will be in the NHL soon, why not give them some good international experience and
at least the college players will play like they have something to prove.

There you have it, it was a wonderful 17 days full of great athletes, new stars and
lots of high flying action.  
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