Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sochi Olympic Sojourns I : The Team Event

It’s almost HERE AGAIN!!!!!

Can it be that four years has passed since we all gathered together via NBC and cheered on the 2010 Olympians in Vancouver? Based on all the tweets and other updates coming from Sochi, it must be so.

And here is the NBC Olympics Viewers Guide (2014 edition) to further back that up.

Here at State of the Skate, the hope is to update the blog around 8 times over the next 2 ½ weeks (with today’s post counting as Olympic update #1). As with Vancouver, I plan to do some stuff for the every-four-years fans as well as the die-hard regulars, though it’ll be in more condensed form this time. So if you’ve got friends, family, office mates, or people at your daughter’s dance class that are looking to you to find out whatever happened to Evan, or Evgeni, or even Michelle... or you’re dog-tired of trying to explain why Meryl and Charlie are the U.S.’s best chance for figure skating gold this time out... point them here!

But first up this time around is something new to ALL of us, at least in an Olympic format. So let’s talk Team Figure Skating... here are the needs-to-know as I see them:

1) The best/only comparison I can think of is the team competition for Olympic gymnastics: different countries (in this case, ten) select athletes from their team to execute different portions of the competition, with the best overall scores winning the medals. Of course there are differences, the largest being that 1) the teams are co-ed with skating, and 2) in lieu of different apparatus skating has the short and long programs of different disciplines (Ladies, Men, Pairs, Dance).

2) There are places to go for explanations of this “new” event beyond what NBC provides on-air... IceNetwork has this to offer, for instance. But if you’re confused even after doing your own research, take heart.... a lot of people are! We’ll probably need at least a day or so of viewing to sort it all out.

3) The 10 teams competing in Team Figure Skating this year are (in alphabetical order): Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, and USA. All teams will participate in Round 1 (Short Programs/Short Dance), with the top five point-getters advancing to Round 2 (Free Skates/Free Dance).

4) If you were thinking, perhaps, that Team Figure Skating was about teams of skaters taking the ice as a group and then skating a complex routine together... sorry. That is known as synchronized skating... a sport which, unlike its sister synchronized swimming, does not have Olympic status. Not yet, anyway. (They are trying to change that...)

5) All programs seen during the team event will also be seen during the individual events—in other words, no one is doing a “special” program just for team competition. However, depending on what team you’re talking about, this may be your best chance to see some of them in prime time.

As an aside: I, myself, am not crazy about this creation of an event. As I first alluded to in this tongue-in-cheek post that I did back in 2011, this is the brainchild of ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta—a man who, I believe, cares little about the athletes and lots about his Bottom Line. I worry not only about the chance that skaters could get needlessly injured in a secondary competitive event, but about the possibility of over-exposure of a sport that is already struggling to hold on to the viewers it once had.

But it’s here, at least for Sochi, so it’s time to accept its presence and hope for the best. My predictions?

Canada, France, Japan, Russia, USA for the finals... and...

GOLD: Russia
SILVER: Canada
BRONZE: USA

Remember, the Team Event starts Thursday 2/6 at 10:30 AM on NBCOlympics.com, with highlights coming in prime time Thursday night!

I will be live-tweeting as much as I can... follow me on Twitter @KLBSt8ofSk8.

Look for the next blog update sometime late on Friday! 

1 comment:

sara.raju said...

I have to say I agree that the Team Event could really turn people off to skating, especially if they aren't diehards. But, I kind of look at it as a gift to diehard skating fans, we get to see more skating! And I think the fact that skaters are probably going to be switched out for FS/FD portions means that injury is unlikely. I'm intrigued if not necessarily excited, and I'll have my eyes glued to the screen.