"Great Winter Olympics"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018

There is no better programing on TV than the Winter Games.

I am a big fan of the Olympics -- summer or winter. My partner Pat and I are both former athletes, and we totally relate to the dedication and effort that goes into the performances we are privileged to view.

We watch every chance we get and as I begin to write my column, men's curling is on. Great Britain vs. Canada. If you ever had the opportunity to play or watch the event you know how much skill is needed. The competitors are just amazing.

The curling teams were appalled about charges of doping against the Russian who won bronze in mixed doubles competition. Russia was banned from the Pyeonchang games because of doping at the 2017 Sochi games. They were allowed to compete only as, "Olympic Athletes from Russia," in the current games.

All the curling competitors agreed it's of no benefit to dope in curling because it is a game of finesse. Many believe it may have been accidental. The World Curling Federation rules state, "A true curler would prefer to lose than win unfairly."

Racing on ice with skates takes precise balance just to stay upright. The women's hockey team did just that, displaying that they are just as skilled as the men. What exciting games for hockey fans both teams provided. And they have more games to play, so stay tuned.

Watching the snowboarding events (they call them half-pipe and slopestyle) was a thrill a minute. The events have only been around since 1998, but have gained many fans. Shaun White alone has rocketed the sport to dazzling heights. A little like his tricks. As I watched, I wondered, as I'm sure most people did, how do they do that? All of White's many fans were thrilled to see him win the gold in the half-pipe and also have the distinction of being awarded the 100th gold medal the U.S. has ever won.

The luge slider's brought many viewers to their feet, cheering them on, as the sleds flashed by. The double luge event was even more exciting as two riders were packed upon one sled. Although luge has been an Olympic event since the 60s, the U.S. did not begin competing seriously until 1980. The luge team relay event may have been the most exciting of all competitions as those sleds just flew down the course.

We used to think Bobsleds were fast -- and they still are. We recall when the Jamaican's first entered a team in 1988 and went on to become very famous. The movie, "Cool Runnings" ensured them a spot in the history books, even though they crashed and never medaled in the event. They qualified with a team in 2014 for the Sochi games, and this year they have a woman's two-person team competing with a sled purchased by a beer company after their coach quit and took the sled with her.

Two women from Nigeria arrived at the games representing the first men's or women's team from that country to compete in the winter events. They practiced in Houston, Texas using a wooden sled and are happy just that they qualified.

All of the Alpine skiing events were thrilling, but they were impacted by the fierce winds that blew across the region causing delays and alterations to distances. The U.S. had a gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin in the giant slalom and all eyes will be on Lindsey Vonn as she tries for a comeback in the downhill event.

Figure Skating was a very popular event at these winter games and the U.S. had multiple competitors. The first married couple since 1988, Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, skated on Valentine's Day and provided the romance seekers a delightfully wonderful performance. The pair's skaters gave the illusion of floating just above the ice. The team with a 6'6" man and 5'1" women presented an odd appearance but they did quite well.

The men's single figure skating event was all abuzz when Nathan Chan (re-named Nathan Quad by the announcer) fell during his first team appearance and only placed 17th in the standings. He was a portrait of resilience as he came back in his free skate to land five quads and jump from 17th to fifth place -- quite the trip.

The quads are breathtaking to watch, and painful if missed. Way long ago I spent a number of hours on the ice, most often in a sprawled position. These memories make me admire the Olympians ability to recover from poor performances and go right back out and try to do better.

Not all the participants were disappointed about not taking a medal. They display intense pride to just be representing their countries in the Olympics. They seemed out of place, but there were indoor track and field events and boxing, which were not nearly as exciting as the outdoor competition.

The Olympics will continue until the weekend when this column appears. I won't be able to provide all the final tallies, but sure hope many of you tuned in as I did to see how it all wound up. Just four years ago, thanks to Russia losing medals due to doping, we finished first overall with 28, which is less than Norway has right now. There is talk that the U.S. will have its poorest showing at the winter games in over 20 years. Those darn Norwegians -- just kidding, they are superb. I predict we will pass France and the Netherlands and wind up fourth, which will be OK.

I'm laying my pen aside but hanging on tight to the remote as I continue to watch the final events of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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