Sochi Chronicles: Part ONE

The 22nd Winter Games: SOCHI 2014

The SOCHI Chronicles 2014

Some people love events like the Olympics and others don’t care…I love the the Winter Olympics. Those of us who love the games have favourite events. My favourite events are: HOCKEY[big shocker there right?], the moguls event in skiing, ice dance and the half-pipe snow-boarding event. As we all know the NHL is on a break for the next few weeks and during that time my blog will be taking a closer look at the Olympics. Worry not, we shall return to the regularly scheduled NHL posts when the Olympics come to an end BUT in the meantime its going to be Olympic focus.

First impressions change the way we perceive people and events. There has been a lot of drama surrounding the 2014 Olympics from the terrorist threats, to interesting hotel accommodations that suggested that perhaps Sochi was not yet ready for the Winter games. Throw all the drama out the window…the torch was lit and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter games have begun!

As is the case with all of the Olympics the world was treated to an opening ceremony which paid tribute to the host country. In true Olympic fashion it was quite a spectacle showcasing Russia’s history. When Vancouver hosted the games in 2010, it was absolute magic took over the city and the same seems to have happened to Sochi. The opening ceremony was just the beginning of the adventure that will be the 22nd Winter Games. Athletes from all over the world have arrived and are prepared compete for the gold, silver and bronze medals.

Let the GAMES BEGIN! In 2010, it took a few days for Canada to get on the podium but they finished by picking up 26 medals including 14 GOLD medals. How would that total compare to their 2014 endeavor?

It didn’t take very long this time around for Canada to set its mark on the Sochi podium. The first day finished with Mark McMorris picking up Canada’s FIRST medal of the games in the SLOPE-STYLE SNOWBOARDING event DESPITE having a broken rib.

After his triumph, McMorris had this to say: “To get on the podium is just a dream come true. I can’t explain this. I’ve just been through a roller coaster over these last few weeks.”

Mark McMorris celebrating his BRONZE medal performance in the Slope Style event.

Mark McMorris celebrating his BRONZE medal performance in the Slope Style event.

Congratulations to #McRIB for owning the podium!

Make room on that Podium McMorris, you’ve got company!

The Women’s Moguls event was the very event that started the medal magic in Vancouver. This year 2 Canadians made it into the final 6 to contend for the medals…the Dufour-Lapointe sisters Chloe and Justine along with the heavily favoured USA’s Hannah Kearney. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters had been consistent all day long on the moguls and gave their VERY best in their final run of the day.

Justine said that she was going to roar and roar she did with her performance that gave her the number one ranking and her sister was not far behind as Chloe earned the number two spot.

1-2 punch or the double double effect! Chloe & Justine moments after they solidified their SILVER & GOLD moments.

1-2 punch or the double double effect! Chloe & Justine moments after they solidified their SILVER & GOLD performances.

Dufour-LapointeMedals

Celebrating their GOLD & SILVER Mogul Magic with their OLYMPIC MEDALS!

“I had this fighter inside of me, and I thought, ‘You’re a fighter, you’re a tiger.… This is my moment. This is my day. And I will own that moment for myself and I will ski for myself.’ This is what I said going down.” -Olympic Moguls GOLD Medalist, Justine Dufour-Lapointe

Congratulations Justine & Chloe on your incredible feat!

For the first time the Olympics have implemented a TEAM figure skating event. Each country would have ONE competitor in each discipline of the sport. Representing Canada in the TEAM event included: Patrick Chan, Kevin Reynolds, Kaetlyn Osmond, Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford, Kirsten Moore-Tower, Dylan Moscovitch, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Canada earned the SILVER medal in the inaugural Olympic team Figure Skating event.

Canada earned the SILVER medal in the inaugural Olympic team Figure Skating event.

Congratulations to all the skaters and best of luck to all of them as they look for success in their individual disciplines.

Charles Hamelin won two golds in the 2010 games but his start in Vancouver was not what he hoped for and he looked to improve upon that in Sochi. Improve he did in his opening event of the games: the short track 1500m speed skating event. In 2010 he finished 7th overall in the 1500m BUT this time he made his mark with a FIRST place finish!

Charles Hamelin started in the lead and finished in the LEAD to win GOLD.

Charles Hamelin started in the lead and finished in the LEAD to win GOLD in the short track 1500m speed skating event.

Congratulations Charles on your first medal of the games and best of luck in your final three events!

The Men’s Moguls event came with high expectations: Alexandre Bilodeau came into the 2014 Olympic games ready to defend his 2010 title…would he be the FIRST male to WIN back to back titles? Would there be more than ONE Canadian to land on the podium? 3 Canadians made it into the final 6 to compete for the medals. Alex Bilodeau had struggled in one of the earlier rounds BUT his FINAL run was absolute PERFECTION:

Would that perfect run BE enough to secure his 2nd GOLD medal in the moguls? His teammates both had individually great final runs as well BUT neither were able to catch Alex. Mikael Kingsbury secured the SILVER medal while Marc-Antoine Gagnon finished in 4th [nearly had the 3rd spot].

For the second time at the 2014 Olympic Games, Canada finished in the top two spots in the MOGULS competition.

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Kingsbury & Bilodeau celebrating their SILVER & GOLD medal victories in the MOGULS! #MogulsMoguls #OneTwoPunch #DoubleDouble

After Bilodeau completed the feat of winning back to back GOLD medals in the MOGULS, he had nothing but praise for his competitor, Kingsbury. -“It’s a great feeling, but I need to first of all thank all my colleagues, I was the third to go, there were two other Canadians after me, every day they push me in training and that’s why I got my best skiing tonight. That’s why I’m the best skier I have ever been right now and the guy that finished second, he is going to win everything after I have gone.”

Alex Bilodeau celebrating his GOLD medal performance with his biggest hero & supporter, his brother Frederic.

Alex Bilodeau celebrating his GOLD medal performance with his biggest hero & supporter, his brother Frederic.

His brother Frederic means everything to him. “It was amazing. My brother is my everyday inspiration. Like I say all the time, if he had the life that I have lived he would be a three-time Olympic champion.” -TWO TIME MOGULS GOLD Medalist, Alex Bilodeau

Canada’s Medal Count [As of February 10th, 2014]- 7 MEDALS: 3 GOLD, 3 SILVER, and 1 BRONZE.

The Women’s Hockey Team is undefeated in their first two preliminary games and will take on the USA team in their third game of the preliminary round robin. As it always is between these two, it’s going to be one heck of a match up and both teams will put their best game on the ice. This game will act as a potential preview of a gold medal show down and BOTH will want the final score to be their own victory. Look out for Finland and Russia, though as BOTH are playing some great hockey and look to challenge the juggernauts of Canada and the USA teams.

The Men’s Hockey preliminary games will begin later this week giving everyone a better idea of how each team stacks up against each other and how the NHL players will impact their respective teams.

Look out folks because we are in for TWO great hockey tournaments featuring some of the best players (men & women) to ever play the game.

The games have JUST begun and there is a lot of joy and heartbreak yet to come as the games continue to unfold. History will be made with each feat that is accomplished by each nation.

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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OLYMPIC DREAMING…

The Olympics are drawing ever closer every day as athletes are announced for their respective teams and sports…BUT none cause the endless debates like that of the hockey rosters.

Will they or won’t they announce the players who SHOULD be locks or who we deem has earned a spot? Will the rosters reflect the best players in the NHL given that the players were officially given permission to partake in the games if they were called upon by their countries? Will there be standout players from other leagues? Will some players that “should have been” named to the Olympic rosters be left off?

In answer to all of the above questions: YES, YES, YES and YES. The NHL is full of talent from all around the globe AND every roster has been debated ad nauseum from the moment the 2014 Olympics were on the horizon, and will continued to be debated until the final buzzer of the gold medal game [and probably beyond as the 2018 games sneak up on us and everyone will have opinion how to improve the rosters that were named for the impending games in February].

The Canucks will be sending 7 regulars from their lineup to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games in February. For these 7 Canucks [& many other players league wide], the Olympic dream is becoming a reality when they put their country pride on the line.

ROBERTO LUONGO & DAN HAMHUIS will both be sporting the maple leaf in red & white when they represent CANADA at the 2014 SOCHI games in February.

ROBERTO LUONGO & DAN HAMHUIS will both be sporting the maple leaf in red & white when they represent CANADA at the 2014 SOCHI games in February.

Roberto Luongo being named to Team Canada should come as no surprise to anyone, he has international experience AND he was after all a BIG part of 2010 GOLD MEDAL team. For all the critics out there, let’s take a closer look at Roberto’s resume in the last four years.

Going back to the start of the 2010-2011 season Roberto Luongo has posted a very respectable 94-45-24 overall record and 14 shutouts in 163 games played.

2010-2011: 38-15-7. *4 shutouts. *0.928 SV %. *2.11 GAA. [Career best numbers]

2011-2012: 31-14-8. *5 shutouts. *0.919 SV%. *2.41 GAA.

2012-2013:    9-6-3.  *2 shutouts. *0.907 SV%. *2.56 GAA.

2013-2014: 16-10-6. *3 shutouts. *0.922 SV%  *2.22 GAA. ***We’ve only just passed the 1/2 mark & Luongo could still catch his career best numbers in SV% & GAA that he posted in the 2010-2011 season! 

It’s hard to believe that despite all the drama that Luongo has endured, his consistency has hardly wavered in his on ice play. People didn’t think that he’d be a game changer in the 2010 games but I remind you of his SAVE on Demitra in the last minute of the Slovakia game that secured Canada’s place in the GOLD medal game…that my friends was a game changer…that stop was the difference between bronze and gold qualification. Playing in the Olympics will only serve to raise Luongo’s game to another level.

Dan Hamhuis will be representing Canada and perhaps that surprise a lot of people yes? True Hamhuis struggled to start the season and it wasn’t always pretty to watch BUT in the last 6 weeks with the injuries piling up on the back end, Hamhuis has been called upon to help solidify the blueline [he leads the team in the +/- category with +12! That’s impressive considering that Edler who has only played 27 games mind you, is at -12].

Most people tend to forget that he represented Canada in the 2013 World Championship and played impeccably well defensively on the same BIG ice that will be required in the SOCHI games. His experience on the big ice will only serve to help Hamhuis thrive on the Olympic stage. The Olympics are going to be a great experience for Hamhuis to learn from moving forward.

Ryan Kesler will represent the USA in the 2014 SOCHI Winter Games in February!

Ryan Kesler will represent the USA in the 2014 SOCHI Winter Games in February!

Ryan Kesler has had an interesting 4 years since his 2010 silver medal performance to say the least! He started on a high posting career highs and winning the 2011 Selke trophy before being dogged by injuries 2 years in a row before finally being able to play 100% healthy as this current season began. In the last 4 years, Kesler has accumulated 164 points [84 goals, 86 assists] in 221 games played.

He seems to have rediscovered his determination that he lost when he was overcome with the injury bug.Torts has a lot to do with Kesler finding his game again. When Ryan Kesler in 100% healthy he is almost always a game changer on your roster. He will be an asset to team USA.

Alexander Edler, Henrik and Daniel Sedin will represent Sweden at the 2014 SOCHI Winter Games in February.

Alexander Edler, Henrik and Daniel Sedin will represent Sweden at the 2014 SOCHI Winter Games in February.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be representing Sweden at the Olympics for the 3rd time when they go Sochi. They come to the team with an incredible amount of experience both in the NHL and on the international stage. In the spring of 2013 they won the GOLD medal at the World Championship. In the last 4 years the Sedins have combined for 508 points [149 goals, 359 assists], back to back Art Ross Trophies, 1 Ted Lindsay award, 1 Hart trophy and mesmerizing the league with their ridiculous chemistry that Canucks fans are lucky to watch every night. The Sedins will be able to utilize their sedinery ways with the assistance of the likes of Zetterberg and Kronwall!

Alexander Edler will also be representing Sweden as he makes his Olympic debut [Edler was also a part of the 2013 GOLD medal World Championship team]. Edler when 100% healthy which he will be prior to the Olympics, is an asset to the blueline from his shot blocking, big hits, defensive play and timely scoring [& oh yes he can score in the shootout!].

All three of these players will be an asset to team Sweden in Sochi as they look to find the formula that made the team successful in Turin.

Yannick Weber will  represent Switzerland at the 2014 SOCHI Winter Games in February.

Yannick Weber will represent Switzerland at the 2014 SOCHI Winter Games in February.

Yannick Weber perhaps does not have the most NHL experience BUT he will be representing Switzerland for the SECOND time as he debuted with his home country in the 2010 Olympics. Weber has been very solid for the Canucks since being recalled from the farm team [due to the injury bug that hit the defense!]. His shot from the point can be lethal when unleashed.

Olympic dreaming…will soon be reality for Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhuis, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alexander Edler and Yannick Weber. The 2014 Sochi Winter Games are drawing near and will draw the attention of the world as we all hold our collective breath waiting for the puck to drop. Every country will be vying for gold BUT only ONE can walk away with coveted prize of hockey gold.

Are you ready?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.