Morning links, Day 15
One last Olympic weekend. The links:
The Canadian women, after playing a couple of in-camera exhibition games to keep sharp during these Olympics, won the gold in a tight one against the U.S. From Paul Hunter's report:
Twice after checking into the athletes’ village, they sneaked out under the guise of going to “the aquarium.”
Instead, the women played exhibition games against the Vancouver North West Giants, one of the country’s top major midget teams, winning one and losing one against the teenaged boys. They went once the night before opening ceremonies and again after the preliminary games, three outings they waltzed through by a cumulative score of 41-2.
Word never leaked out, so single-minded and united were the women in their purpose.
“We had to stay sharp,” said coach Melody Davidson. “We were winning 18-0, 13-1. We needed to stay sharp.”
But a couple of things are bugging the IOC. First, Jacques Rogge, who drops in on these gold medal women's finals once every four years or so, was hinting yesterday that the field has to get deeper. Or else. As Cam Cole notes in the Vancouver Sun, they're almost too good, these two teams – or more accurately, the rest of the world has remained too far behind:
After hearing IOC president Jacques Rogge's words of warning Thursday — coming, pointedly, on the morning of the championship game — you could not watch the sport's fiercest battle unfold without wondering how many more of these predictable climaxes to anti-climactic Olympic tournaments will be tolerated before the IOC throws up its hands and tosses women's hockey on the same discard pile that cost women's softball its place in the five-ring circus after the 2008 Beijing Games.
And oh, about that victory celebration – beer, champagne and cigars, at centre ice a half hour after the game – the IOC is none too pleased about that, as well:
Steve Keough, a spokesman for the Canadian Olympic Committee, said the COC had not provided the alcohol nor initiated the party.
"In terms of the actual celebration, it's not exactly something uncommon in Canada," he said, referring to raucous locker-room celebrations that are a tradition in some professional team sports.
"If these athletes were of legal age, then it's not something that's against the law," he said. "We can understand there's a lot of sensitivity around celebrations."
Joannie Rochette finished up the most trying week of her life last night with class, dignity and a bronze medal around her neck. From Rosie DiManno's report:
This was a different Rochette than the skater whose career has been documented by national and international media for the past half-dozen years. Where once she was emotionally fragile, her cluttered mind often overtaking muscle-memory so that stumbles occurred in front of judges, the body torqued by psychological stress, Rochette has suddenly evolved into a skater of internal resilience and external poise.
But, oh, what a horrible way to arrive at this competitive composure: The discovery that, residing in her soul all along was this tough cookie who could rise to the Olympic challenge in what has been the worst week of her life.
As for the overwhelming winner, Yu-Na Kim, the most telling quote of the night probably came from skating analyst Jamie McGrigor, in Phil Hersh's Chicago Tribune report: "If this was track and field, we just watched an eight-second 100 metres."
As for Brian Orser, the coach who trains Kim out of Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, the cameras caught him doing aerobics along with her as he followed her along. Here's Orser's assessment, from Cam Cole's Vancouver Sun column:
"She didn't miss a step, from what I could see from my side. She was skating with her heart. I just wanted her to have an Olympic moment. I wanted it to be Olympic and not cautious, not hold back, just go out and embrace the space, and the Olympic Games."