Sunday, January 25, 2015

XXIII Olympic Winter Games, Pyeongchang 2018 (Preface)

Fifteen "disciplines" across seven "sports," are scheduled to award medals across an still-to-be-determined number of "events" at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9-25, 2018:

-- alpine skiing,
-- cross-country skiing,
-- ski jumping,
-- Nordic combined skiing,
-- freestyle skiing,
-- snowboard,
-- biathlon,
-- bobsleigh,
-- skeleton,
-- luge,
-- speed skating,
-- figure skating,
-- short-track skating,
-- ice hockey and
-- curling.

Comments flow!

Previous reports:

-- I Olympic Winter Games, Chamonix 1924
-- II Olympic Winter Games, Saint Moritz 1928

-- VIII Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley 1960
-- XII Olympic Winter Games, Innsbruck 1976
-- XVII Olympic Winter Games, Lillehammer 1994
-- XXII Olympic Winter Games, Sochi 2014


  1. Fair warning ... I'm officially becoming a bobsleigh fan!

  2. One of the great things about bobsleigh (and winter sports, by and large) is that its competitions take place in my early morning hours, so I can follow live before women and work take over my day.

    1. This is an excellent point that I had forgotten.

  3. I'm only starting to figure out what's going on in this sport, but, at the moment, we've got going the second and final heat of a four-man bobsleigh race at the seventh of eight Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour events this 2014-15 season.

  4. This race is at Igls, Austria. It's the track that was used for bobsleigh in the 1964 and '76 Winter Olympics. It turns out that, kind of like golf courses and not like football fields, bobsleigh tracks vary in length from race to race, and this Igls track is the shortest on the World Cup circuit.

  5. As they say in the bobsleigh game about this track, I've come to learn from the commentators on the fantastic International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation YouTube channel, “where you start is where you finish.” What they mean is that, because the track is so short, you've got to get off to a really great start on your run because things are over so quickly that you don't have much opportunity to make up time downstream. This makes sense, right?

  6. This track is probably so short because it's the first artificial, refrigerated track built for the Winter Olympics. So when the team in Igls was playing beat the clock to get something good thrown up in time for Jim McKay and Innsbruck 1964, they probably cut a meter here and a meter there to get the thing done.

    1. This is all really great. I forgot I was thinking about any of this stuff two years ago. My last two years have been a blur.

  7. Anyway, this track does not lend itself to a terrific finish for the top American team, which is piloted by our old friend Steven Holcomb. Holcomb has switched out his "push man" this season, and coordination among the team remains a work in progress. So the M.O. for Holcomb's teams (particularly the two-man) this season has been hustling to make up time with savvy steering after sluggish starts--not ideal at Igls.

  8. After Heat 1 of the four-man here, Holcomb's team is tied for sixth. His second run will be coming up in, I'm thinking, about 15 minutes on the YouTube channel.

  9. The story of this race is the Latvians. It's no shocker that the Oskars Melbārdis team is in first place after Heat 1. This guy has been so dominant this season that the YouTube dude just said that his sled could crash and be dragged off the finish line in Heat 2 and still clinch the World Cup season championship in four-man.

  10. Melbārdis, a 26-year-old from Valmiera, Latvia, was the silver-medal winner in four-man bobsleigh at Sochi 2014. He could be dominant for several years and Olympics ahead.

  11. The YouTube guys have noted the enthusiastic "Latvian bobbing army" that has been growing from race to race around the World Cup circuit this season, and at the start of each broadcast we always get a shot of a crazed crowd of Latvians in mittens and sock caps waving their giant red-and-white-striped flag.

  12. Here's Holcomb. It's not going well.

  13. It appears to me that the best that Holcomb's team can finish now is T9.

  14. These were from the previous World Cup race (not this one at Igls), but I scraped together some comments from the true believers at the YouTube page last weekend that will give you a sense of the competitive landscape in bobsleigh:

    very bad that NOR have track, but not normal bob sleight team … But still Jamaica gets one team … the france team have no money... Loic Costerg is a woodcutter and wwhen the season is over,he's gone to work in forest to earning his salary … Norway has Lillehamer Olympic track. … Jamaica funded their sochi run thru crowdsourcing … the French federation does not give professional contract with bobbers... and Loic buy his own bob and his own runners ... imagine that the Germans, Americans , Canadians and Latvians were forced to go to work at the plant all year and go for competitions by not touching any salary ... that's what happens in France … our bobsleigh team relies heavily on sponsors. The states cannot afford to pay for everything either … Only Russian team has 100% state support and Germans too … That's the problems with this sport. The countries remember about their athletes only when the Olympic games are nearing. … except for us =) … As for this track, Dukurs said that he could smell weed coming from track workers. That's why it sucks. … Monaco is using either German or Swiss sled. … so far no other countries are using cities sleds … Citius was a Swiss project with the technical University and is closely related with swiss sliding -don't think they give away their sleds … Looks like the Koreans made the in some laboratory … after the Olympics they probably will vanish … just too expensive to bring a Team to US and Europe … Japan has a track, Korea will have one. Asian cup is not that far away … Cheaper for Australians to participate in Asian cup … But then the winter olympics are going to be held in Either Kazaskstan or China in 2022 ...

  15. OK, a Swiss team just had some kind of run that John Morgan described as an "Innsbruck special ... the kind of run this track is notorious for." I don't know what that means, but they're second with three sleds to go--two German teams and Melbārdis.

  16. The first German team is now in first.

  17. OK, this second German team just came in second, so now we've got Germans celebrating against Germans. The snow is a factor, apparently. Here's Melbārdis ...

  18. Worst result on the season for Melbārdis this season in four-man is third.

  19. And there you go. Cut to the gleeful Latvians. Melbārdis wins.

  20. OK, so long from Igls. The last World Cup race of the season is in Sochi, so we will pray to have a report for you from Russia with love next early Sunday morning.

  21. I should point out that the Sochi 2014 medalists in four-man bobsled were Russia (Alexandr Zubkov) for gold, Latvia (Melbārdis) for silver and the United States (Holcomb) for bronze. The two-man medalists were Russia (Zubkov) for gold, Switzerland (Beat Hefti) and the United States (Holcomb) for bronze. Zubkov has retired, so these two golds would seem to be up for grabs at Pyeongchang 2018.

    In the 2014-15 World Cup rankings, Latvia/Melbārdis leads in both four- and two-man. German teams occupy second and third place in the four-man rankings; Switzerland/Hefti and a German team are second and third in two-man. The United States/Holcomb are eighth and sixth, respectively, in the season rankings. Holcomb is back in Sochi for the final race of this season, and we will hope for happy news from the weekend.

  22. Replies
    1. I guess I ended up not watching the Sochi race.

  23. YEAH!

    Elana Meyers Taylor of Oceanside, California--at the Winterberg Hochsauerland track in Germany--has just become the first U.S. woman to win a bobsleigh world championship. She won bronze at Vancouver 2010 and silver at Sochi 2014, and now she's No. 1 in the world.

  24. OK, it appears that the organizing people got together in June 2015 and locked down the number of medal events per discipline:

    -- Alpine skiing, 11 events
    -- Biathlon, 11
    -- Bobsleigh, three
    -- Cross-country skiing, 12
    -- Curling, three
    -- Figure skating, five
    -- Freestyle skiing, 10
    -- Ice hockey, two
    -- Luge, four
    -- Nordic combined, three
    -- Short track speed skating, eight
    -- Skeleton, two
    -- Ski jumping, four
    -- Snowboarding, 10
    -- Speed skating, 14

  25. The four luge events, again, are to be men's singles, women's singles, doubles (men or women) and team relay. Germany swept the golds at Sochi 2014, and the only U.S. medal among the 12 awarded was a bronze that went to Erin Hamlin of Remsen, New York, in women's singles.

    I got to watch the NBC Sports Network tape-delay broadcast this afternoon of this weekend's 2017 FIL World Luge Championships in Innsbruck, and Hamlin took silver in the women's singles. She also was part of a silver-medal-winning U.S. team-relay entry. And, they do men's and women's "sprint" events in the World Championships, and Hamlin won the gold in that. Anyway, all of this seems very, very good, and the HP Twitter desk this afternoon began following @ErinHamlin for the purposes of getting all fired up (ready to go!) for Pyeongchang 2018.

  26. Now here's the other thing we need to know about luge, going into next year ...

  27. Indeed, this season's men's luging star has been a 20-year-old stud from Russia, Roman Repilov. He is leading the season's points standings, and he finished second this weekend--to an Austrian sliding on his home ice. I imagine Repilov/Loch and Russia/Germany will be a lot of the luge talk at Pyeongchang 2018.

  28. And top American man in World Championships singles was No. 15 Tucker West. He won a couple of World Cup races earlier this season, and he entered this weekend ranked fifth on the season. I imagine we'll be seeing Tucker and his dad in studio with Bob Costas or Mary Carillo or somebody next winter, so I've put in a request to join the "Team Tucker" Facebook group on behalf of the HP to get us ready.

  29. At Sochi 2014, the Olympic medalists were Canada gold, Great Britain silver and Sweden bronze in men's and Canada gold, Sweden silver and Great Britain bronze in women's. Team USA finished ninth in men's and 10th (of 10) in women's.

  30. Since then, the men's world championships have gone to Norway in 2014, Sweden in 2015 and Canada in 2016. The women's have all gone to Switzerland.

  31. Shuster's rink has represented the United States at the last two men's world championships, finishing fifth in 2015 and third last year. That third place was the best for a U.S. rink since 2007, and no U.S. team has finished better than thirds at the worlds since 1981.

  32. The 2017 world tournament is April 1-9 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. First, we have the national tournament, Feb. 11-18 in Everett, Washington. One would think success in the latter would lead to a berth in the former, and there is a connection. But Shuster's rink finished third at the 2016 nationals and still got to go to last year's worlds, so I don't follow exactly how it works. Here's a sentence from a 2015 press release announcing Everett as host for the 2017 national tournament: "The National Championships are the final opportunity for teams to earn points toward becoming Team USA for subsequent world championships. The 2017 Nationals will be a stepping stone to the 2017 world events in China and Canada that year."

  33. So maybe it's some kind of season-long points deal, or maybe it comes down to which among the top teams can actually scape together the dough and get the time off to make the trip to worlds. I don't know. But, whatever, the Shuster rink is scheduled to compete in Washington next week, and the HP's Pyeongchang 2018 desk plans to follow keep an eye on this week to see if we can figure out what's what.

  34. Speaking of the Olympics next February, there are scheduled to be three curling events at Pyeongchang 2018: men's, women's and the new mixed doubles competition. The United States took bronze at the 2016 mixed-doubles championship, behind Russia and then China. The 2015 top three were Hungary, Sweden and then Norway, so it appears that curling event is still figuring itself out in advance of its Olympics debut.

  35. The women's world championship, by the way, is scheduled for March 18-26, in Beijing. The mixed-doubles tournament is to take place in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, but I don't know when. Last year's was in April.

  36. I really, really like NBC Sports Network. It's like ABC Wide World of Sports and early ESPN in terms of taped-delay telecasts of obscure sports from around the world; plus, they're always showing the Olympic rings or talking about Pyeongchang 2018 in those great NBC hushed tones that I love.

  37. So within each event, I'm thinking 10 points per gold, five points per silver and one point per bronze. In alpine skiing at Sochi 2014, that would've added up to ...

    1. Austria 52 points
    2. United States 27
    3. Switzerland 21
    4. Slovenia 20
    5. Germany 16
    6. Normway 12
    T7. France 6
    T7. Italy 6
    9. Croatia 5
    10. Canada 1

    That's 166 total points awarded. And, percentagewise, that's ...

    1. Austria 0.31325301204819
    2. United States 0.16265060240964
    3. Switzerland 0.12650602409639
    4. Slovenia 0.12048192771084
    5. Germany 0.09638554216867
    6. Normway 0.07228915662651
    T7. France 0.03614457831325
    T7. Italy 0.03614457831325
    9. Croatia 0.03012048192771
    10. Canada 0.00602409638554

    Oh, sure, this is going to totally catch on.

  38. So, then, what we have to do is take, say, 1,000 possible E-BOP points (for any Olympics), divide by the number of disciplines staged at the given games and then multiply that number by the teams' percentages within a disciplines.

  39. There were 15 disciplines at Sochi 2014. So, the alpine-skiing E-BOPs at Sochi 2014 (1,000 divided by 15, multiplied by discipline percentage) would be ...

    1. Austria 20.883534136546
    2. United States 10.843373493976
    3. Switzerland 8.43373493975933
    4. Slovenia 8.032128514056
    5. Germany 6.42570281124467
    6. Norway 4.819277108434
    T7. France 2.40963855421667
    T7. Italy 2.40963855421667
    9. Croatia 2.008032128514
    10. Canada 0.40160642570267

  40. Somebody who knows how to use Excel could probably drop that into a spreadsheet, but I did those with the calculator application on my MacBook. Sorry if I entered numbers incorrectly.

  41. Anyway, that's the idea. NBC Sports Network at the moment is showing the men's super combined event from the World Alpine Ski Championships. This event took place somewhere beautiful earlier today, I think.

  42. Here were the men's combined medalists at Sochi 2014 ...

    Gold: Sandro Viletta, Switzerland
    Silver: Ivica Kostelic, Croatia
    Bronze: Christof Innerhofer, Italy

    The top American in this event was Bode Miller, in sixth, but he’s doing the tape-delay color commentary for NBC Sports Network today.

  43. So none of these guys made the podium in the world championships today. I'm uncertain whether any of them competed, in fact. Guys from Switzerland finished first and third, and a guy from Austria finished second.

    This big competition (at Saint Moritz, Switzerland) continues all this week. So far, Switzerland has three gold medals, one silver and two bronze, while Austria has a gold and two silvers and bronze each. The United States has one bronze, and I'm pretty sure Dan Hicks just said Lindsey Vonn won that one.

  44. I guess I need to start putting these reports into new Pyeongchang 2018 (2017) posts.

  45. John Shuster will be leading the Team USA men's curling team at the Winter Olympics again in February. Shuster's rink won the trials in Omaha, Nebraska, and on NBC Sports Network last night, and a burst of both blazing and glowing mentions of U.S. curling's most polarizing figure lit up the Twitterverse (a little) as Shuster threw the last rock for a 7-5 win in the winner-goes-to-Pyeongchang final.

  46. This will be the fourth-straight Olympics for ball-capped Shuster, who has trimmed down some since you probably last saw him. Shuster's weight loss made its way into several of the NBC-official Tweets about his win Saturday night, so I predict this is going to be a thing in the network's Pyeongchang 2018 coverage. I could totally see a last-hour-of-Today appearance for Shuster in February, in which he does a little curling primer and talks sensible portions with Kathie Lee or whomever.

  47. There was some genuine dread that bubbled up with Shuster's once-, twice-, three-, four-times-a-lady Olympics berth, as though he has been foisted upon us via some plot concocted by the meainstream media, the United Nations and President Obama. I, however, am ready to cheer for my main man from Chisholm and Duluth, Minnesota, and hope for the best in Pyeongchang.

  48. I got excited about curling several Olympics ago and participated in some demo at a skating rink in Raleigh one afternoon, but it's not like I gathered up a troop of middle-aged guys to move north and train to challenge for the right to represent the good ol' USA. And it's not like Obama got embarrassed with Team USA's lack of curling medals in the last few Olympics and opened a bunch of state-sponsored curling facilities around the country and launched a USSR-style juniors program to make sure we identify and groom the nation's most curling-gifted athletes for South Korea.

    No, instead, the people in our country who actually live around and care about curling have had a bunch of tournaments while the rest of us were not paying attention, and John Shuster's rink won those tournaments and the right to go to the Olympics. Team Shuster has shown itself to be the best team in all of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington, basically, and so it gets to be Team USA. That's how it works. I will root for Team USA, and I look forwark to watching them on TV in February.

    1. I thankful I took this position, but, seriously, what's up with my spelling?