Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 8:03 AM

PyeongChang Olympics: Day 1 – What Shall I Watch, What Shall I Say?

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Athletes will be competing in 102 events covering 15 sports over 16 days. But, even though I will be very indiscriminate in my viewing (on TV and the Internet), I will be very discriminating in my commenting. For example, Curling is one of my favorite sports to watch. But it’s hardly worthy of commentary.

Women’s 15km Skiathlon

To the uninitiated, Cross-Country Skiing might be to the Winter Olympics what Speed Walking is to the Summer Olympics. If such thinking has caused you to shun Cross Country, I urge you to give any of the events in this sport a try.

You will see Olympic skiers displaying such athleticism and stamina (including mental), they make Iron-Man triathletes look like mere weekend warriors. If nothing else, you will find the excited utterances of the color commentator for Cross-Country events, Chad Salmela, entertaining enough. Trust me, he’s even more entertaining than Football’s John Madden or Tennis’s John McEnroe.

This Skiathlon event is particularly exciting because it’s the only one that requires athletes to be proficient in both Classical and Freestyle techniques. (The details of each are not important. The best analogy I can think of is a race on water that requires athletes to be proficient at both rowing a boat and paddling a canoe.)

That said, I remember well seeing Charlotte Kalla of Sweden lose gold to perennial favorite Marit Bjorgen of Norway in Sochi four years ago.  Well, turnabout is fair play, because Kalla avenged that loss yesterday. Never mind that Bjorgen still upstaged her by becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian in history. This five-time Olympian has won six gold, four silver, and one bronze for a total haul of 11 medals.

  • Charlotte Kalla of Sweden won gold; Marit Bjorgen of Norway, silver; and Krista Parmakoski of Finland, bronze.

In addition to avenging that loss in Sochi, Kalla earned the distinction of winning the first gold medal of these Games.

Women’s 3000 Speedskating

The skating Dutchmen (too) swept four Speedskating events in Sochi, establishing that they are as dominant in Olympic Speedskating as the Jamaicans are in Olympic Sprinting. Well, they seem poised for a two-peat sweep of the same at these Games.

  • Carlijn Achtereekte of the Netherlands won gold; teammate Ireen Wust, silver; and teammate Antoinette De Jong, bronze.

Women’s Biathlon 7.5km Sprint

This event is even more challenging than the Skiathlon referenced above. It requires athletes to be proficient in both the gritty slog of Cross Country Skiing and the tantric skill of Rifle Shooting. No surprise, then, that I find it even more exciting to watch.

  • Laura Dahlmeier of Germany won gold; Marte Olsbu of Norway, silver; and Veronika Vitkova of the Czech Republic, bronze.

Men’s 1500m Short Track Speedskating

Short Track Speedskating is to South Korea what Basketball is to North America. That explains the jingoistic cheers that reverberated throughout this race. Sure enough, South Koreans seemed poised for gold and silver, until a crash left one of them in last place.

  • Hyojun Lim of South Korea won gold; Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, silver; and Semen Elistratov of (Banned) Russia, bronze.

This is the first medal of these Games for the host country. And, given the way the South Korean women performed in qualifying heats today, it won’t be the last.

MEDAL COUNT: Netherlands 4, Norway 4, Germany 2

Related commentaries:
Opening Ceremony

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