February 16, 2002

Roller Derby on ice.: The speed skaters might not like that title, but today's wild and unpredictable races (with a massive wipe-out, multiple dqs, tied heats, and Australia's first Winter gold) make that monicker seem complete accurate.

posted by mkn to other at 10:14 PM - 23 comments

Is it me, or does this just seem like an ugly Olympics? At least, an ugly Olympics when it comes to ice.... the idea of the clear favorite not getting the gold because an also-ran knocked him over (and possibly injured him for the rest of the Olympics) while the guy in the back of the pack skates across for an easy gold, just seems contrary to the Olympic spirit. Ohno wouldn't have medalled at all if he hadn't been close enough to throw a skate across the line to snag silver. The rest of that article details other falls and spills, and that 5000 relay heat which had to be completely stopped and redone are just further examples of Athletes Gone Wild. Perhaps its a double edged sword; the fast ice that has led to so many new world records is also causing athletes to skate out of control.

posted by hincandenza at 10:29 PM on February 16, 2002

And what's with the Australian acting all happy, like he just won a gold medal (er, you know what I mean)? I mean really, dude- at least show a little contrition or humility, you only medalled because of a collision among the competent skaters.

posted by hincandenza at 10:33 PM on February 16, 2002

the short track races remind me a lot of NASCAR races at Bristol... It's not the fastest guy that wins, but the guy that gets lucky and stays out of trouble.

posted by gyc at 12:05 AM on February 17, 2002

More to the point, why didn't they rerun the race? In the men's 5000 relay I alluded to earlier, more than half way through a team wiped out, taking another team with it- and even though the handily leading USA team wasn't affected, the race was negated and everyone forced to rerun it from the beginning. Why not do it for this race, especially when the standings were clearly affected by this wipeout? Just doesn't make sense. A 90 second race, why the heck not rerun it? The fact that Ohno is from Seattle, like myself, has no bearing on my feelings in this issue. :)

posted by hincandenza at 12:50 AM on February 17, 2002

I think they restarted the relay because 1) it was rather early into the race; and 2) the Korean skater needed medical attention, so the medics had to get onto the ice (the skater was taken off in a stretcher). The men's final was right at the end though, so it wouldn't have made much sense to re-race the whole thing. I have a feeling tommorrow's races are going to be just as wild, especially with the relay finals.

posted by mkn at 12:57 AM on February 17, 2002

I think the Olympics will finally become completely tv-friendly when competitors start issuing WWF-style callouts to each other. "You think you're so tough at the biathalon? Wait till I get these skis on and go hog wild on youuuuuuuu!" Oh yeah.

posted by owillis at 01:10 AM on February 17, 2002

hincandenza - i totally agree. the ioc is a crock of shit! ohno was unequivocally robbed in the 1000m short track. the worst part is that he may be out for his next 3 events because of a laceration on his leg. and that freaking australian. oooh, i wanted to slap that snide expression off of his face. he's the 5th best skater in the world and wins the gold off of a travesty, then acts like he deserved it by staying out on the ice. my innocence has been lost this olympic games. the olympics are supposed to be scrupulously fair because they have no pull or preference who wins, but after this and the canadian/russian debacle, i'm not so sure that the scales aren't tipped.

posted by catatonic at 01:14 AM on February 17, 2002

In order for Ohno to be robbed, someone had to rob him. To my unschooled eye, it looked like an unintentional accident in a sport that seems designed for last-minute jostling and crashes. The short track circle is tighter than a tetherball court.

posted by rcade at 07:27 AM on February 17, 2002

The South Korean guy freaking form tackled him. As he was going down, he did a reach-around on Ohno and pulled him down.

posted by catatonic at 05:54 PM on February 17, 2002

catatonic said: my innocence has been lost this olympic games. the olympics are supposed to be scrupulously fair because they have no pull or preference who wins, but after this and the canadian/russian debacle, i'm not so sure that the scales aren't tipped. You really think the scales are tipped in short track skating? What the collision and wipeout were staged to eliminate Ohno from the race so the Australian could win? If there is any country with less political clout than the Aussie's in the Winter Olympics I can't think of them. I think the NASCAR analogy is appropriate. Part of short track racing is controlling the other skaters around you. It is isn't just finishing first. You have to deny them the opportunity to pass, or even to think that they can, by cutting off the angles, forcing space, swinging your arms, etc.. As for losing your innocence in this Olympics, I would just point out that your innocence was probably an illusion anyway. My favorite Olympic fraud was Bab-Sprague (U.S. Synchronized Swimming) getting to steal a gold medal due to a typing error by a judge that the judge acknowledged and tried to get corrected right away. The gold eventually went to rightful owner but B.S. didn't get demoted to a Silver. However, there isn't an Olympic games without fraud or controversy or an Olympic federation that doesn't encourage or condone cheating.

posted by srboisvert at 10:05 AM on February 18, 2002

Really this was just part of the sport. Ohno knows that and was gracious on the medal stand. Other things gone wrong at the Olympics (figure skating) were potentially cheating. This was just part of the sport. The Chinese guy violated the rules with his initial contact with Ohno and was disqualified. The rest was legal. My question for those complaining about the Austrailian is would you be upset if Ohno happened to be in his position and won the gold?

posted by srw12 at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2002

This is a silly dispute, I'm certainly not a short-track speed skater but I suspect one of the essential qualities is Staying On Your Skates. The Australian did that better than anyone else in the race, thus he wins the gold medal. It's not the fastest guy that wins, but the guy that gets lucky and stays out of trouble. sorry, gyc, I missed your post, which says it better than I did, well you all get to read it anyway. Accept my wisdom!

posted by pastepotpete at 01:34 PM on February 18, 2002

PastePotPete - Give me a fucking break. You must not have watched the race. The Aussie was in 5th place 20 yards from the finish. That means he's the 5th best, not the best. He didn't do better than 4 other people, he just benefited from a travesty. Anybody can see that Ohno got royally screwed. How hard would it be to run the race over again? The judges fell asleep at the wheel, and he got robbed of a GOLD MEDAL that he should have won. And Sprague must have been before my time, btw.

posted by catatonic at 04:52 PM on February 18, 2002

I'd say Bradbury deserves the gold because, based on the skaters' comments and actions described in the linked article, collisions are part of the sport and the winner is the one that crosses the finish line first. Ohno said, "I never, ever, ever take a race for granted until I cross the finish line." Ohno and Turcotte both dragged themselves across the line to claim the silver and bronze medals--why would they do this unless the collision is part of the sport? Ahn Hyun-Soo was also knocked down in the collision--wouldn't he deserve the silver if he'd dragged himself across the line before Ohno? The only way Ohno deserves to win is if he's the first one across, not because he was the favorite or because he was in first place at the time of the crash. Even though he was in first, he was close enough to collide with three other skaters in a collision that was caused when one of them was making a move to pass, so his lead wasn't big enough to ensure he would win, and we don't know that he would have won if the crash didn't happen. I agree that Bradbury should be extremely modest and contrite considering how he got the gold. But since the skaters themselves accept the results, he deserves the medal.

posted by kirkaracha at 05:36 PM on February 18, 2002

The Aussie was in 5th place 20 yards from the finish. That means he's the 5th best, not the best. He didn't do better than 4 other people, he just benefited from a travesty. No, no, no, no, no. Believe me, if you think the figure skating controversy was something, imagine what would have happened if they decided to re-run this race as you're suggesting after the race had been completed. Whatever parallel universe you may live in, we were both watching the 1000m race not the 985m race. Bradbury crossed the finish line first completing 1000m faster than anybody else in the race. You want to re-run the race because Ohno got a bad break? Only once? Let's just keep running it until Ohno wins. PS Here's Steven Bradbury being contrite. I don't think he should be that contrite meself. He just won Australia's first gold medal in the Winter Olympics. If some incredible tragedy had similarly benefited the Nepalese cross-country skier, they'd make an NBC Movie of the Week about it.

posted by pastepotpete at 08:03 PM on February 18, 2002

Yes, yes, blah, blah, blah. First of all, Bradbury was the only one to stay on the ice as if he deserved the medal. He was the one gang-raped and pulled down yards from the line. Ohno is a stand up guy, and I would expect him to say as much. You must not have been watching it or you would have heard the announcers say it is not uncommon for them to re-race if it is deemed necessary. If getting fucking tackled doesn't qualify them restarting the race, then I would say that's a travesty.

posted by catatonic at 08:53 PM on February 18, 2002

Check that -- He (Bradbury) was not the one gang-raped and pulled down yards for the line.

posted by catatonic at 08:55 PM on February 18, 2002

FWIW, here is Dan Patrick's surprisingly positive take on the whole thing. Basically, he says the whining of Sale, Peltier, and others is fairly pathetic, and that Ohno's 'I just won the silver medal- what's to complain about?' is what the Olypmics should be about. I agree completely.

posted by tieguy at 09:41 PM on February 18, 2002

I totally agree, now that it's over and done with. Ohno is definitely my favorite athlete in these Olympics. He seems like a real stand-up guy (kid).

posted by catatonic at 11:04 PM on February 18, 2002

After the hullabaloo with one of his teammates on the relay accusing him of cheating, I'm glad he came out of this with such aplomb. And I'll admit, while I defended the gold medal performance of Sale and Pelletier, I gotta say I like Apolo's style with accepting the silver so much that it makes the S/P thing look truly embarrassing for the Olympics as a whole -- the entire event, theatrics, bad judging, collusion, whatever -- I just don't want to see them paraded about anymore. But parade Apolo up the yin-yang after that classy attitude shown. He knows it's part of the sport and he's accepted it; he knows his performance was gold medal caliber and that's enough for him. The silver was just icing on the cake. However, maybe it's a bit different because he has so many opportunities to win gold, and the pairs figure skaters only have the one shot. How different does that make one's Olympic experience -- participating in one single event or a combination of several events? It's kind of like music competitions (a bad analogy, but it's all I could come up with) -- if you play piano, you're pretty much relegated to a solo or possibly a duet. However, if you sing, you can do any number of different performances -- solo, duet, trio, on up to the larger ensembles. That's the only way I got a bunch of awards. Do I remember any one single award? Nope. What was my point? I forget. Damn. I thought I had something going there. However, I will save someone the effort : "This one time, at band camp..."

posted by evixir at 01:38 AM on February 19, 2002

Catatonic, if you're still paying attention to Olympic announcers , you've got bigger problems than a distorted sense of fair play.

posted by pastepotpete at 01:35 PM on February 19, 2002

Well, I guess you're an expert in Speed Skating. You must have grown up in South Korea, right? And yes, I pay attention to announcers because I don't know all of the rules. But I didn't need an announcer to tell me that Ohno was (for the umpteenth fucking time) tackled.

posted by catatonic at 06:48 PM on February 19, 2002

Ohno has been getting deaththreats too.

posted by catatonic at 04:56 PM on February 21, 2002

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