Viewers certainly got their share of thrills and, especially, spills watching the women’s downhill at Whistler yesterday. Both Anja Paerson of Sweden and Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin suffered bad falls in the course’s final and biggest jump—called Hot Air—near the finish line. Paerson bruised her left calf, but, amazingly, Gisin walked away unscathed. Atle Skaardal, the women’s race director, is promising to slow things down before the women’s super-combined today and the super-G on Saturday by lowering the Hot Air jump. “I think (the course) was acceptable, for sure.
The Americans ruled the podium in a women’s downhill that lived up to Olympic expectations for excitement.
Lindsey Vonn, showing little ill effects from a shin injury that last week cast her medal hopes in doubt, charged the rough and highly technical Whistler track under sunny skies, laying down a spectacular run to claim her first gold with apparent ease. Only teammate Julia Mancuso—whose run was equally electrifying, came close, .56 seconds out. Austrian Elisabeth Goergl was a distant third, 1.46 seconds behind Vonn.
CBS broadcast 13 hours of the 1960 Squaw Olympics, the first Winter Games to be televised in the U.S. NBC plans 835 hours of coverage of the 2010 Games—entirely in high def. Then again, ground-level imagery is being shot for those computer applications that provide street views of an area, complete with the very 2010 warning signs sprinkled around Whistler: “There is a chance that you could be caught on camera while adjacent to this area. Please choose another place to locate yourself if this concerns you.”
The fact that snow needed to be trucked in to augment meager conditions is not news. Nor is it newsworthy that straw bales topped with a skin of snow were used to help shape some courses in this temperate climate. But the chatter that rats and mice could be seen falling from straw bales being airlifted in by helicopter is just too good of a Canadian tale to ignore.
Two days of weather delays only raised our anticipation of the men's Olympic downhill. Our inability to watch it live and meager coverage of the race in primetime—compounded by real-time spoilers—squashed the excitement. Ski racing fans across the country are voicing their disappointment. Where do you stand?
We waited patiently while Whistler's fickle weather wreaked havoc on the Dave Murray downhill course, forcing organizers to postpone the men's race for two days. We spent the weekend glued to our TVs and soaked in the magic that unfolded at Cypress Mountain. We collectively celebrated the victories of American Hannah Kearney and Canadian Alex Bilodeau in the freestyle moguls events.
Remember that scary movie we told you about, the one where a group of rascally kids gets stuck on a chairlift, and then night falls and wolves start howling and terror surely ensues? Yeah, well, maybe we shouldn't have been so flippant about the whole thing. A German snowboarder got stranded on a chairlift in the Austrian Alps last weekend, and had to burn cash to stave off hypothermia.
What is it about the Winter Olympics and eating? The 2002 Salt Lake Olympics signature dish was French Fries and Fry Sauce (one part ketchup, two parts mayo). Well, say hello to The Japadog. American hotdogs smothered with Japanese condiments, Japadogs are served up in style from two handcarts in Vancouver and are poised to become the dish of the moment.
Does a bronze medal spell redemption? Does a first-place finish in Monday’s training run mean Lindsey Vonn is sufficiently recovered from her painful shin injury in advance of Wednesday women’s downhill. And is the notorious Whistler weather finally about to give race organizers a break? Yes, we think, on all three.
This is why we watch the Olympics. Yeah, the stakes are high and the competition is amazing, but the real catch are those tearjerker stories. So far, there has been no better sob story than Canada's. Our neighbors up north are wizards in the winter sports, yet in neither of the two previous Olympics held in Canada—Montreal in '76 and Calgary in '88—has a homegrown Canadian won gold on native soil.