In the Winter Olympics it’s U-S-A
Saturday, February 8, 2014
The XXII Winter Olympics from Sochi got started with a bang for the American team. After the winner was announced in the snowboarding slopestyle competition, the Russian arena was rockin’ to the chants of U-S-A, U-S-A!
When U.S. snowboarding favorite Shaun White dropped out of this event to focus on the halfpipe competition, Canadians Max Parrot and Sebastien Toutant criticized the two-time gold medalist by claiming he was withdrawing because he knew he couldn’t win. After the big talk from the Canadian snowboard team, American Sage Kotsenburg promptly grabbed the Olympic gold medal! Canadian Mark McMorris earned the bronze medal behind silver medalist Staale Sandbech of Norway.
So begins the winter athletic event and international spectacle that will have billions of viewers from around the world watching speed skating, downhill skiing, figure skating and every other winter sport imaginable – including some, such as curling, which very few of us can call a “sport.” The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat will be on full display through the closing celebration on February 23rd and this is the perfect time to grab the Gordo’s and get immersed in the activities from the comfort and warmth of your couch.
Why You Need Lots of Gordo’s for the Olympics
Before giving you a peek of the most interesting contest of the XXII Winter Olympics, let’s talk a little about the most important part of these watching parties – the food! Watching these athletes compete, usually in the freezing cold weather, will be made much easier with some stick-to-your-ribs snacks. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong having a few dozen containers of Gordo’s Cheese Dip ready for the games.
Here are some ideas to keep your Olympic spirit burning brightly:
A Quick Look at Some of the Winter Olympic Games and Athletes
Since the Winter Olympics only come around every four years, and the typical U.S. sports fan knows more about touchdowns than a halfpipes, your friends at Gordo’s have put together a brief overview of some of the most interesting competitions in these Olympics.
This event enjoys the benefit of simplicity because there are no judges (with hard-to-pronounce names) to give us their opinions. There’s little in the way of the subjective in Alpine (downhill) skiing. It’s a pure meritocracy—the fastest skier wins. End of story.
There are five different events for both men and women, divided into two broad categories. The technical events, the slalom and giant slalom, require competitors to maneuver through a series of gates on their way down the mountain.
Alpine skiing is fast and furious and there is usually a tenth of a second’s difference between the top finishers. With an injury eliminating Lindsey Vonn from the women’s competition, Mikaela Shiffrin has become the nation’s best chance to be a breakout skiing star in Sochi.
On the men’s side, Ted Ligety and Bode Miller will attempt to recapture past glory. But keep an eye on Alexis Pinturault. In his first Olympic appearance, the 22-year-old Frenchman is expected to make his mark on the sport and could win medals in several events.
Best watching strategy: These races go fast so keep the Gordo’s and the chips in front of you at all times and snack up between races.
The biathlon combines two seemingly incompatible sports—skiing and target shooting. Target shooting, even at just 50 meters, requires superb breathing control and a steady heartbeat. This shooting is made more difficult because the competitors are shooting AFTER intensely skiing across the countryside.
Using longer and thinner skis than typically seen in other Olympic skiing events and toting .22-caliber rifles on their backs, skiers must travel distances of up to 20 kilometers, periodically knocking down targets from the standing or prone position.
Norwegian star Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, at 40 the veteran of five Olympic Games, hopes to lead his homeland to the medal stand. His countrywoman Tora Berger is expected to battle Russian Olga Zaitseva for the gold in women’s competition. Tim Burke is America’s best chance for a medal. He won a silver medal in the World Cup last year, the first medal for an American in 26 years.
Best watching strategy: This event is slow and steady, so you have time to grab a beverage and some Gordo’s-prepared snacks between the shots.
Who doesn’t like the bobsled competition? Four big guys use all of their strength to get the sled rolling, jump in and hope for the best! The driver steers the sled with rings attached to nylon cords that, in turn, connect to the contraption’s front runners. Everyone else just serves as added mass, hanging on for dear life.
Three events make up the bobsled program: a two-man competition, a four-man competition and a two-woman competition. Olympic bobsled contests are decided by the combined time of four runs over the course of two days. The team with the lowest total time is the winner.
Stephen Holcomb, the first American driver to win a gold medal in 62 years at the 2010 Games, is back in both the four-man and two-man races. On the women’s side, driver Elana Meyers is expected to battle Canadian Kaillie Humphries for top honors. However all eyes will be on former track star Lolo Jones, who hopes to win a coveted Olympic medal.
Best watching strategy: These babies move fast so hold on to your Gordo’s and chips until they pass the finish line.
The events in this competition are grueling. Cross-country skiing is divided between the classical and freestyle methods. The 12 races that constitute the Olympic program are divided equally between them. In the skiathlon, both techniques come into play. Half the 30-kilometer race is contested using the classical technique. Then, with the clock running, athletes change into freestyle equipment and race to the finish using the “skating” technique.
In addition to these long tests of endurance, there are also two sprints in Olympic competition, with speeds reaching up to 20 km per hour. In the individual sprint, competitors who qualify in a timed race with 15-second intervals compete in a series of elimination heats around a short loop.
Kikkan Randall, the World Cup champion in the individual sprint, has a chance to become the first American woman to ever medal in the Olympic Games. Marit Bjoergen is the most decorated skier in Norwegian history with 12 World Cup and seven Olympic medals. She’s looking to add four more in Sochi in a variety of events. On the men’s side, Bjoergen’s countryman Petter Northug and Switzerland’s Dario Cologna are expected to battle for supremacy.
Best watching strategy: It’s slow and steady on this event and that’s the best way to eat your Gordo’s too!
Can we all agree that curling is one of the silliest “athletic” events in the history of sports? While there MUST be some skill involved and some athleticism, it’s not apparent to anyone but the people who compete in this sport. Therefore, this is a good event to go get some more beer and Gordo’s at the grocery store.
Part sport and part art, figure skating is one of the favorite competitions in the Olympics. In the elegance of its presentation the athletics are sometime forgotten. Men and women perform for a panel of nine judges and each jump and flourish is scrutinized for the smallest flaws.
The figure skating program is divided into four events—men’s and women’s singles, mixed pairs and ice dancing. There will also be a new team competition this year. All of the disciplines involve a short program and a free program.
The women’s competition may come down, as it did four years ago, to a battle between South Korea’s Yuna Kim and Japan’s Mao Asada. Ice dancing will also earn the spotlight as Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir once again duel Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White for Olympic gold. The two teams share both a training rink and coaches.
Best watching strategy: Develop a dipping game for these events. Each time the skaters make some amazing jump and the crowd OOOHHs and AHHHs, everyone gets to take a big dip of Gordo’s. Any time someone falls, everyone takes a big gulp of whatever we’re drinking!
The X-games have changed freestyle skiing. There will be 10 events in the broad category of freestyle skiing. These are the hotdoggers and daredevils, the skiers often in it for style points as much as they are ruthless competition.
In the moguls, the skiing is about both speed and style. While speed is a factor in the scoring, controlled turns and jumping technique make up the bulk of the scores. Aerialists are like gymnasts on skis, often reaching up to five stories in height on their incredible jumps. Speed and technique don’t count. Sticking the landing and pulling off some serious in-air contortions pay big judging dividends.
American David Wise is expected to take home gold in the halfpipe, where he’s been dominant in X Games competition.In the aerials, China has come to the fore, with teammates Qi Guangpu and Jia Zongyang expected to battle for the top spot on the men’s side, while Xu Mengtao is a promising prospect who may challenge established women stars. Hannah Kearney and Heather McPhie are the most likely medal hopefuls among the American women. The two are among the best in the world in the moguls, where Kearney is the defending champion.
Best watching strategy: These events are so much fun, you’ll want to keep the Gordo’s and chips in front of you so you don’t miss a trick.
That’s Not All Folks
Believe it or not, that’s only about half of the competitions in the Sochi Winter Olympics! In the next issue of News From the Big Dipper we’ll give you the lowdown on Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordic Combined, Short Track, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, (more on) Snowboarding and Speedskating.
In the meantime enjoy the Winter Olympics and don’t forget the Gordo’s!