Updated Feb 15, 2010 - 3:54 pm
Heinrich: First weekend overview
Before we get into what is going on Monday and what I'll be paying attention to in the evening, let's look back at a pretty good weekend in Vancouver.
Opening Ceremonies - Extremely loud applause for the people of Canadians First Nations (what we in America call Native Americans).
They were introduced to start the ceremonies, and then proceeded to dance for the next hour and a half. Love that they did the parade of nations first, before all song and dance.
I was completely blindsided, however, by the lack of funny hats and the increase in funny pants. When did John Daly and Ian Poulter decide to dress Olympians? It was remarkable. I didn't expect it at all. Overall fantastic opening ceremonies, the floor and the graphics on it were amazing, until one arm of the Olympic torch didn't rise and LeMay Doan was stuck standing there holding her torch in the air. But overall everything went great and looked amazing.
A few faces very familiar to the Valley were there at the end of the ceremonies to light the torch. Steve Nash, who grew up in the Vancouver area, stood on stage with Canada's biggest National hero, Wayne Gretzky, to help light the Olympic flame. I am sure most people in the Phoenix area wouldn't let Gretzky light a candle in their bathroom right now. Nash also carried the torch through the streets of the city during the torch relay. Great to see Nash get that kind of recognition. And, not surprisingly, he was giving the assist to Gretzky to light the final torch.
I was a little saddened that Alanis Morissette didn't make an appearance. All the great Canadian singers and no Morissette cameo. I guess I'll have to just go to Starbucks for my angry Canadian pop rock.
Saturday the games really got underway with the first medals being awarded. Canada fell just short of their first gold medal on home soil ever when Hannah Kearney (USA) turned in and amazing run on Ladies Freestyle Moguls to take the gold. Jennifer Heil (CAN) got the silver, but after Saturday Canada was still without a gold medal. Short track Speedskating gave probably the most exciting events of the evening as Apolo Ohno won a silver medal in his third Olympiad. When is Apolo going to give up on the beatnik facial hair movement coming back? Here he is in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Has that ever been cool outside of Seattle coffee bars where people are reading rhythm poetry?
Sunday was a historic day for both the Americans and the Canadians. The USA got its first ever medal in the Nordic Combined in what was easily the most exciting event of the day. That last three hundred yards had four athletes sprinting toward the finish, including two Americans. They all finished within a second and a half of each other. The USA ended up second and fourth with Johnny Spillane bringing home the Silver. The Canadians finally got off the snide when Alexandre Bilodeau did what Jennifer Heil failed to do the night before and won gold in freestyle moguls. Congratulations to the Canadians, who now have a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. Apparently there was also some figure skating, but I don't watch sports in which judges have all the power and have been known to cheat.
Monday sees the start of snowboarding at the X-games, oh sorry, I mean Olympics. I do love how the Olympics won't even acknowledge they have taken so much from the X-games. Snowboard cross does get going with the men's event. This is by far the best event of the evening. I know what you are thinking, "but there is cross country 15k", but I'm here to tell you bypass the leisure skiing and tune into snowboard cross. I will guarantee you a few things here: there will be two or three big crashes and at least one tight finish; there will be no hour and forty minute delays for a pot hole. (How does NASCAR screw up their premier event like that. If any other sport messed up that bad in their signature event players might just stop playing. It's a good thing I don't watch NASCAR.) For those of you who might like it, the pairs free skate is tonight in prime time. Watch out for the Ukraine duo who's music and outfits last night looked like they were competing in the Space Olympics. Click here for the Olympic Schedule.
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