Other than the men’s hockey game between the United States and Russia, Saturday wasn’t one of the more exciting days on the Olympic schedule. Since that game started at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and was replayed again at 6 p.m., it wasn’t a part of NBC’s planned prime-time lineup. Somehow, we feel that plan likely will change.
The skeleton was fun, and not just because an American, Matt Antoine, won the bronze, the first skeleton medal for an American man since Jimmy Shea took gold 12 years ago in Salt Lake City. It was also fun because Alexander Tretiakov — the “Russian Rocket” — took the gold, and not just any gold. This one will be embedded with a piece of that meteor that flashed across Russia exactly one year ago today before exploding. The other gold medals awarded today will also get the anniversary embed. This will give NBC a chance to play a lot of meteor footage.
The network is going to need it. No American will bring home a meteor medal. Antoine’s bronze was the only U.S. medal of the day.
Austria’s Anna Fenninger gets a meteor medal after winning the super-G. Her countrywoman Nicole Hosp took the bronze, her second medal of these Games. Maria Hoefl-Riesch’s silver was the fourth medal of the German’s Olympic career.
Once again, the Americans were shut out in Alpine skiing. Halfway through the disciple, the United States has one medal, a bronze. That’s not helping NBC win hearts and minds.
The men’s 1,500-meter speedskating had an exciting finish, but it didn’t involve American Shani Davis, who finished a disappointing 11th. Instead, the surprise came from Zbigniew Brodka of Poland, who edged Koen Verweij of the Netherlands. Broken down to hundredths of a second, Brodka and Verweij were tied, but when the marks were taken to the thousand of a second, Brodka’s time was 1 minute 45.006; Verweij finished in 1:45.009. Canada’s Denny Morrison settled for the bronze.
Short-track speedskating seldom disappoints, whether it’s the crashing or the good human interest stories. Saturday, in the men’s 1,000, Viktor Ahn won gold for Russia. Not a great story in itself, but Ahn was winning medals for Korea in 2006 before becoming a Russian citizen. The victory made him first man to win four short track golds — and the first to win Winter Olympic gold medals for two unrelated countries.
“I spent the whole last eight years for this medal,” Ahn said through a translator, the AP reported. “That’s why I cried.”
Teammate Vladimir Grigorev became the oldest man to win a short track medal (31 years 191 days) in winning the silver. Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands took the bronze, earning the first short track Olympic medal for the Dutch.
Zhou Yang of China successfully defended the gold medal in the women’s 1,500. Korean Shim Suk-lee took the silver and Arianna Fontana of Italy the bronze. American Emily Scott was fifth.
Men’s ski jumping is also on the prime time bill of fare, although high winds canceled the trial runs. But the final went off and the gold went to Kamil Stoch of Poland. No Americans, but it’s still ski jumping, and people seem to like to watch lithe men flying through the air, especially in battering winds. At least, NBC fervently hopes so.
Analysis: The pros and cons of the hockey shootout