I watched the men's and women's moguls events in freestyle skiing, which I'd never really seen before, but I thought it was awesome. There was a lot of pressure on Jenn Heil, Canadian competitor in the women's moguls, to take the gold since it would be the first gold medal won by a Canadian on Canadian soil. She was edged out by Hannah Kearney of the United States, and while I was disappointed for Heil and Canada, I was happy for both Kearney and Heil because they were both amazing.
Then I watched the men's moguls event. As with many Olympic events, they do two rounds. I was watching during the first round, at which point there weren't even any clear medal contenders, and I saw Alexandre Bilodeau of Canada get up to do his run, and the commentators mentioned how Bilodeau was inspired by his older brother who has cerebral palsy. I was very touched by that, and I said to myself, "I hope he wins it; I hope he's the one to win Canada's first home gold." Long story short, he did it! And I called it, which made it even cooler.
That same day, Day 2, Sunday the 14th, Johnny Spillane was the first American to win a medal in the Nordic Combined, which I never remember having seen before (it is ski jumping and cross-country racing, which seems a bit random to me, but what do I know?). That was really cool, and then it was also cool that the guy who won the gold grew up in France and competes for France but was born in the U.S.
Within the last few days, Apolo Ohno has won his seventh career Olympic medal, making him the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian in history. And, apparently, he has two more events left. So far he's won silver and bronze, and it would be nice to see him get to bring home the complete set, but his place in history is assured.
You know, my perception has always been that the U.S. is a fairly dominant presence in both the summer and winter games, so I've been surprised by how often I've heard people report that this is the first U.S. medal in this or that event. We're currently leading the medal count, but this is actually the first time in a long time that we have. I heard somebody say once how many Olympics it had been since we had led the medal count, but I forgot what they said. In all-time standings, we're second behind Norway; they have 290 and we have 237. In 1988, we only won six medals, which is as many as we won in two days of the Vancouver Olympics.
I watched some of snowboarding's women's halfpipe on Thursday waiting for the men's figure skating final, and it was nice to see Torah Bright of Australia take the gold. I'd seen a feature on her and found her and her brother/coach to be charming in an understated way, but I also think she has the best name ever, plus a smile to match it. I've only seen clips of Shaun White on the men's side, but he's one of those folks who has charisma like gravity, and he takes such obvious joy and pleasure in competing that it's hard, if not impossible, to not like him. He did make it a little easier during the medal ceremony, when he apparently couldn't stand still for two minutes or however long it takes to play our national anthem. On the other hand, it was only disrespectful to us, not to some other country. Moreover, he said something in response to the death of the Georgian luger that really touched me; I'm paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect of "at the Olympics we're all family."
Obviously the men's figure skating has been both a highlight and a lowlight for me, and I, like most people, have been focusing on the gold and silver medalists, but it was also great to see Daisuke Takahashi take the bronze, the first Japanese figure skater to win an Olympic medal in the men's competition. Now I only wish he had placed a little higher.
Last night I watched some of the ice dancing original dance, and at that time I watched Virtue and Moir of Canada, currently the leaders. Their dance was phenomenal, and I'd really like to see them take the gold. Of course, I wouldn't be disappointed if Davis and White or Belbin and Agosto from the U.S. were to take the gold, either. One of the commentators mentioned the possibility of a North American sweep in ice dancing, and that would suit me just fine.