February 23, 2006


Figure 1

Canadian medal prediction, 2006

Figure 1 — Updated probability distribution for Canada's 2006 winter Olympic medal total (click to enlarge). Prediction is based on the probability assessment here, updated as events are decided. The probability has already been updated to account for the outcome of the men's curling and men's hockey, as well.

The prediction at the end of Day 13 stands at 23.0±1.3.

Let me make a confession: I do not find all winter Olympic sports equally enthralling. But talking about which winter sports you don't like is pretty dull, so I'll leave that to other people. Instead, let's go back to Day 12. It was a lot more fun.

Short Track

I wanted to make a comment about the women's short track speed skating relay on Day 12. The final was contested by Korea, Canada, China, and Italy. The race was action-packed, with plenty of contact and some aggressive skating by Canada. The Koreans finished first, Canada second, and China third. The Italians hung tough through most of the race, but over the last few laps they dropped away and finished well back in fourth place.

Or did they? Shortly after the conclusion of the race, the Chinese were disqualified for making illegal contact with the Canadians. And at that point, the Italian fans and athletes exploded in celebration.

Seamus from citius altius fortius said that the Italians actually made an appeal for the disqualification; I didn't see that part. But I sure noticed the celebration:

The Azzurri-clad Italian team leapt for joy when the final standings were posted. The crowd serenaded the four skaters with chants of "Italia! Italia!"

Indeed, it was quite a scene, flags waving, skaters jumping, and crowd chanting. Now, I don't have any problem with celebrating a bronze medal performance. In fact, I don't have any problem with celebrating a fourth-place performance. I wish I saw more of that! I don't even object to asking for a disqualification based on a foul that did not affect your performance in any way. Hey, the rules are the rules, and they should apply to everybody.

The Italian team should feel proud of what they accomplished. But there's something unseemly about that vigorous celebration, in my mind. It was clearly only about the medal. They didn't find anything to celebrate in their performance when they thought they had finished fourth, after all. A post-race decision by the officials just should not change your mood that dramatically.

Cross Country

Chandra Crawford is the first Canadian athlete to completely surprise me at the 2006 winter Olympics. Although I predicted that Canada had a good chance at a medal in the women's sprint, I did not expect Crawford to be involved. And in fact, her gold-medal performance looked … well, easy.

Canada's new status as a contender in cross country skiing is pretty remarkable, as well. Crawford becomes the third Canadian woman at these Games, and the third North American woman ever to win a medal in cross country skiing.

Speed Skating

Seamus has called Cindy Klassen's win in the women's 1500 m his "performance of the games." I don't have too much to add, except to point out the splits. In contrast with Enrico Fabris in the men's race, Klassen was second at 300 m, first after 700 m, first after 1100 m, and first at the finish. That strategy has not been a successful one at the Turin oval so far, which makes Klassen's race even more remarkable.

Hockey Post-Mortem

There will be tens of thousands of words written about the failure of the Canadian men's hockey team at these Olympics. I could add a few thousand of my own, but I am not sure that I have anything original or very informed to say. In this, I am only a fan. There are very few things in sports that can still make me feel joy or despair; the Canadian Olympic hockey team is one of them.

Very Canadian of You

Speaking of sports and national identity, see if you can name that country:

________ newspapers turned against their Olympic team on Thursday after another string of disappointments pushed the Nordic country toward their worst Winter Games in 18 years.

No comments: