Socially Acceptable Nationalism

Two — and only two — events on the docket.  There’s the men’s 50k in cross-country.  There may be a debate about who the fittest men on the planet are — competitive swimmers and water polo players, marathoners, triathaloners, etc.  But these guys are in the conversation.  It’s somewhat of a pity, however, that watching XC on the teevee is like watching paint dry.  The exception to this, however, is the last three or four kilometers, in which there is invariably three or four guys making a mad dash for the line, together.  So something to scan through at least.

And then there’s the hockey game.  Canada has always played on the edge of total disaster (losing 5:3 a week ago to the U.S. Americans, damn near blowing a 3:0 lead against Slovakia in the semis.)  If anything, this has juiced the game this afternoon — 1500 ET on the Mothership, live to all time zones (including perhaps Hawaii)– up north.  And God knows NBC has pimped this game relentlessly in the last 48 hours.

For Team USA-USA-USA, Patrick Kane had himself a breakout performance against the Finns on Friday.  (This, to be honest, is not totally impressive — I could have had a breakout performance, the way Kippy was playing in net.)  He hadn’t had a good performance before then.  So he may be peaking at the right time.  Also watch Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski — who have been having a whale of a tournament.  And then there’s Ryan Miller, who’s stood on his head for the last two weeks (a .954% save percentage, and a 1.04 goals-against average — that’s a pretty damned good run).

Should be a hell of a game.  I will be splitting time between here and the commentary playpen/game-thread on the Blackhawks’ fan blog, Second City Hockey (d/b/a Sec 326 Bureau Chief).  Join me there, and here.  (Forgive the slow-speed on Second City Hockey — there’ll probably be over 700 comments unless they break the thread into periods.)

Full analysis of everything tomorrow.  Enjoy the game — seriously, it is Appointment TV.

Yesterday was madness.  Work / firewall at work prevented me from watching USA v Finland in real-time.  And so I imposed on the workmates what I referred to as the Cone of Silence.  Trouble was that I — not being a person who has ever watched an episode of Get Smart — had no idea that the Cone of Silence was totally useless.  And thus rumors about a decent start began to trickle through.  And yet…. I was all the same uttlerly dumbfounded at the 6-spot Team USA-USA-USA laid on the Finnish squad in the first period.  (The boys are simply not that overpowering.)

Still: this was the whole Olympics in the Internet Age wrapped up in a nutshell — total insulation from news as it happens is literally impossible.  Which makes the question of who will pick up the teevee contract for 2014 forward somewhat curious.  Rumors are that its down to Fox (FX, Fox News, Fox Business (sorry — they won’t be around for much longer) and tons of regional cable sports nets that can be commandeered) and ABC/ESPN (ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes).  But in four years, the internet will probably be able to throw snow or chlorine-infused water right through your screen.  Steve Jobs is working on it right freaking now.  It’ll be like Smell-O-Vision, only messier.  (The implications for viewers of teh pron will of course be staggering.)  So: prestige v total irrelevance — place your bets!

Anyway: the balance of the Games are all prologue to USA v Canada II — The Reckoning — on Sunday afternoon.  Competing for interest today?  The big fellas on the track for four-man bobsled, men’s slalom, and speed skating pursuit (more hardware for U.S. Americans is assured).  The gold medal game of men’s curling (Canada v Norway and their fancy pants) is over on CNBC at 1800 ET.  Slovakia and Finland go for bronze at 2200 ET on MSNBC.  And the exhibition gala for figure skating — which means only that figure skating finds a way to be even more useless.

Well, we’re down to the last weekend — at last.  We are done with the figure skating.  (Admittedly, last night’s show was pretty damned good.  But still: NO MORE FIGURE SKATING.)

A quick check of the medal count shows USA-USA-USA with 8/12/12 for 32 total, for the lead.  Zee Germans are a very efficient second with 8/11/7 for 26, followed by Norway (7/6/6 — 19), Canada City (8/6/3 — 17), and the Fightin’ Putins (3/4/6 — 13).  Looks like U.S. Americans are a pretty safe bet for grabbing the overall W.

But Canada’s got a solid shot at taking the most gold medals.  They’ve got two shots at curling gold (including tomorrow afternoon for the ladies — 1800 ET on CNBC), and of course men’s hockey — following on from a comprehensive victory for the wimmin last night.

Speaking of the fellas — tomorrow’s semifinal between USA and Finland is a legit reason to bust out of work for a few hours (1500 ET on the Mothership — live, coast-to-coast, in a stunning act of sanity).  Canada and Slovakia go later (2100 ET on CNBC, after curling).

Elsewhere, one last go-around for Lindsey Vonn (goodbye Shin of Destiny, hello Fickle Finger of OW OW OW) and Apolo Ohno in these games, and perhaps ever.  And the big fellas of four-man bobsled get their first runs in tomorrow, with the final on Saturday.

(Private to Manchu — stay strong, brother.)

This is Angela Ruggiero.  You don’t know her, but she’s a college graduate, and an American citizen!  (Quote courtesy of Slap Shot — best movie involving Sport ever made.)  Anyways: she’s up for a gold medal (her fourth Olympics, her fourth medal — which is pretty good) in women’s hockey.  Game is this afternoon — USA v Canada (again?) at 1800 (ET) over on MSNBC.  These two teams were and are kinda sorta the best teams in the women’s draw.  Observe:

USA wins — 12:1 (China), 13:0 (Rooskies), 6:0 (Finland), 9:1 (Sweden).

Canada wins — 18:0 (Slovakia), 10:1 (Switzerland), 13:1 (Sweden), 5:0 (Finland).

Yikes.  (In other news, Angela just got elected to the International Olympic Committee, which is nice.)

Meanwhile, there’s the ladies’ free skate tonight, as well as more jumping and skiing and whatnot.  Curling semis as well, with China v Sweden and Canada v Switzerland for the women, and Norway v Switzerland and Canada v Sweden for the fellas.

But also: Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso don’t like each other very much.  Noted.

So, earlier today, USA-USA-USA beat Switzerland in a nerve 2:0 win.  Good to see the back of the Swiss team — they’ve been stubborn.  At present, Canada City is beating the mother-loving shit out of the Rooskies — CAN 4:1 RUS after one. 

The finale of women’s bobsled tonight, as well as more short-track madness and (on tape) giant slalom for the wimmin.  Beyond that — not a whole heck of a lot.  Things are certainly winding down, it seems.

The menu includes the knockout round in men’s hockey, including (at 1930 ET) Canada v Germany.  A win for Canada sets up a likely quarterfinal against Russia.  And thus it will come to pass that either the Canadians (Sid the Kid and 22 other rock stars of the sport) or the Russkies (the jaw-dropping Ovechkin, Malkin et al) will go home with a big fat nothing out of this.  If you had that before the tourney started, you should get into a $500 per entry March Madness pool or something.  (Noted: to the surprise of absolutely nobody…  yes, yes — USA v Canada for the womens’ gold on Thursday.  Mark it down.)

U.S. Americans have a shot at a nordic combined medal.  Bode Miller (greedy little bastard that he is) is looking for Medal No. 4.  Bobsled, along with ski cross, for the wimmin.  And speaking of wimmin — oh dear, ladies’ short program tomorrow.  Only two days left for figure skating to interfere with actual Sport.  Works for me.

Beyond the ice dancing finals, there really is not that much on the docket today.  Which is a good thing, because yesterday was nuts.  Not the least reason why is that USA-USA-USA v Canada game.  That lived up to the billing.  A positively frenetic game.

And it isn’t over for USA Hockey.  The wimmin positively embarassed Sweden in the semifinal this afternoon, 9 to 1.  Canada v Finland right about now on CNBC.  Right now, CAN 3:0 FIN in the late second period.  If that holds up, it will be USA v Canada — another headline matchup… this time, for hardware.

So some time for evaluation.  And the Canadians finally own up to the fact that — no — they will not top the medal table, notwithstanding their fancy-shmancy slogan.  “Yes We Can” is in a run for its money against “Own The Podium” as the worst empty saying since “Mission Accomplished.”

Meanwhile: Bode Freaking Miller has a matched set of medals to take home to New Hampshaah.  Maybe this will make him into something less than a prick.  Time will tell.