A Record Day
It seems that records are tumbling just days into the Beijing Games. Until yesterday, never had Australia won more than one medal on a single day at the Winter Olympics. With Tess Coady’s bronze in the slopestyle and Jakara Anthony’s gold in the moguls, Australia has a new record day.
New Zealand also made history, winning their first gold at a Winter Olympics. Australian born Kiwi Zoi Sadowski-Synnott broke through in the slopestyle, breaking Jamie Anderson’s strangehold on the event.
As the Olympics has evolved over time to find new audiences, so has the broadcasting of the Games. Instead of a small number of over the air TV channels carrying select coverage, rights holders tend to stream every event in action live, using the “world feed:.
For those wanting more dedicated experts on the action, or a neutral voice, the world feed is a superb option. For the failings of Seven’s TV action, the app has more than made up for it.
The Medal Events
There’s eight medals on offer today including the first of the figure skating medals and several other skating events.
Figure skating – Team event (1435 AEDT)
Team figure skating is a mixed affair. There are several entries by each team, in pairs and as individuals, across three days. The final stage is the women’s individual free skating component, with the pairs and (also paired) ice dance happening earlier in the day. Most nations have a a favoured component or two, mirroring their hopes in the individual events.
If you are a fan of figure skating, this is the event for you.
The Russians went in as favourites and hold a slender lead at the time of writing, with the USA within striking distance.
Watch rating: 2.5/5
Snowboarding – Men’s slopestyle (1554 AEDT)
After the women hucked up the course yesterday, the men have a shot at one of the most exciting events on the program. On the men’s side the field is very deep, with potential gold medalists scattered through the field. Nine different athletes have hit the podium in the three World Cup events so far, making it perhaps the most open event of the Olympics. The margin for error is tiny, with any mistake across the the six elements wiping a run.
Half of the dozen finalists come from North America, with both Canada and the US likely to hit the podium. Young Chinese rider Su Yiming was the surprise packet of the qualifying, going big throughout to qualify in first.
Watch rating: 5/5
Alpine skiing – Women’s giant slalom (1645 AEDT)
The alpine skiing has been hit by weather delays so far. If they can run the event, it should be an exciting affair to watch.
The giant slalom sits between the faster super-G and the more turn heavy slalom on the alpine program. For casual fans, it’s a fun watch, more technical than the speed events but less chaotic than the slalom. Most eyes will be on Mikaela Shiffrin, who is shooting to become the American with the most Alpine gold medals at Beijing.
Australian born Kiwi Alice Robinson has been rising through the ranks in recent years, and poses as a real medal threat.
Alpine events have been known to throw up a surprise or two however, and with two runs it could be anyone’s
Watch rating: 4/5
Speed skating – Women’s 1500m (1930 AEDT)
Fifteen pairs of skaters will rip around the Beijing track fighting for gold in the 1500m. Ireen Wurst is the defending champion, and the speed skater with the most medals in Olympic history. Wurst has a real shot at a sixth Olympic gold medal, and a third in this event.
But across the past three years results have been wide open, with the result potentially coming down to who is feeling it on the day.
Watch rating: 3/5
Biathlon – Women’s individual (2000 AEDT)
The biathlon is the only sport at these games which involves shooting, alongside cross country skiing. The biathlon blends the most dangerous element of the games with the least, but it doesn’t necessarily make for an exciting product. Historically, Norwegians and Germans have dominated the biathlon since the introduction of the discipline.
The women’s individual event sees Marte Olsbu Roiseland come in as the de rigueur Norwegian favourite. Also in contention are Sweden’s defending champion Hannah Öberg and her younger sister Elvira. No woman has ever won the event twice.
Watch rating: 2/5
Short track speed skating – Women’s 500m (2346 AEDT)
If long track is about form, then short track is all about fury. Things can get physical on the ice in short track, with positioning absolutely key to progressing through and eventually winning.
This brief and often chaotic sprint event is over in well under a minute. Qualified to the quarter finals, which start at 10.30pm AEDT, are any number of medal fancies. Canada’s Kim Boutin is the world record holder, Italy’s Arianna Fontana is the defending Olympic champion.
Perhaps the best formline is Suzanne Schulting from the Netherlands who came in as defending world champion and set an Olympic world record in qualifying. But in a three rounds of finals that last under two hours from beginning to end, anything could happen.
Watch rating: 4.5/5
Short track speed skating – Men’s 1000m (2358 AEDT)
Australia’s Brendan Corey is in amongst it as much as any of the chasing pack, with the 6th fastest time after finishing second in a fast heat. That was good enough for a national record in the event Stephen Bradbury made special to every Australian sport fan back in 2002. Corey is Canadian but switched to Australia two years ago via dual citizenship, after a concussion ruled him out of Canadian contention.
This his debut and he pushed top ten in the current World Cup season. On his day he may well be able to advance past the quarters.
Among the field of favourites are South Korea’s Hwang Dae-heon who set an Olympic record in the heats and also holds the world record. Hungary’s exquisitely named Shaolin Sándor Liu is the world champion, while Canada’s Pascal Dion won the world cup circuit.
Watch rating: 4.5/5
Ski jumping – Mixed team (2351 AEDT)
No, the athletes don’t jump at the same time in the mixed team ski jumping. Yes, that would be more fun.
Yes, they do fly a long damn way, even off the normal hill. Yes, there’s a lot of ski jumping at the Olympics.
This event is brand new to the Olympics, with Germany the defending World Champion. Each team has two male and two female athletes, with two rounds in the finals. All eight jumps are added together for the final score, with no scores dropped. That means that each member of the team has to deliver if they want to medal.
Watch rating: 2.5/5
Alternative medal tally
The Winter Olympics feature plenty of raw feats of being faster than everyone else, or being more precise with guns or sliding rocks, but it also features its share of athletic tests which can only be fairly judged via the scoring of neutral expert judges. Think of the classic figure skating, the spectacular aerial tricks on snowboard and skis, and the technicality of freestyle skiing events.
But what if the entire Winter Olympics consisted of these events?
Without many of the skiing-based events, all-time medal leader Norway drop down the rankings view and instead the Summer leaders of the USA and Russia (in its various incarnations) take over, with Canada third.
Australia, is a surprising entry at 12th, with all five gold medals post-Bradbury have all come in scored events, right up to Jakara Anthony’s moguls gold last night.