USA may lose Sochi Medal Count after Disappointing Hockey Loss

us-olympic-medal-count-sochiOver the past few days, it’s been tough to keep track of who’s on top in the Sochi Games’ medal count. With a blaze of events finishing up both while we’re all sleeping and awake, The Netherlands, United States, Norway, Canada and Russia have been at or hovering around the top. Russia’s rebounded after a sluggish start to grab the top spot with 29 medals, versus second-place United States’ 27 medals so far.

Of course, these two may fall from the top within the next few hours of this being written the way that things are going. And things are getting very tight with less than 10 of the original 98 events left to conclude.

If the USA wants to make up ground on Russia and claim the medal count, they’re going to have some work to do in the remaining few events. They took a major hit earlier today after losing the third-place hockey game to Finland by a score of 5-0. This was a demoralizing loss since America could’ve inched closer to Russia by beating Finland and winning a bronze medal.

This definitely wasn’t to be, though, as the Finns controlled the game from start to finish, taking a 2-0 lead into the third period. The last period is when the floodgates opened as Finland tacked on three more goals against a battered US squad.

The gold medal hockey game will be decided by Sweden and Canada tomorrow, the latter of which, we mentioned, is still in the hunt for the most medals. Many think that Canada could make a late run since they’re guaranteed a hockey medal and have a strong chance to pick up more in the men’s long-track speedskating pursuit, four-man bobsled and snowboard parallel slalom. Of course, they have 24 medals, so they’ve got some major ground to make up.

Norway certainly can’t be counted out of the discussion either because they have 26 medals and the opportunity to get more in the biathlon and cross country events. The US will also be trying to overtake Russia, with their defending champion four-man bobsled team chasing a gold medal again. Meanwhile, the host country is hoping to hold on to their lead and maybe add another medal or two over the closing days. Here’s a quick look at the medal count as the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games wind down:

1. Russia: 11 golds, 10 silvers, 8 bronzes
2. United States: 9 golds, 7 silvers, 11 bronzes
3. Norway: 11 golds, 5 silvers, 10 bronzes
4. Canada: 9 golds, 10 silvers, 5 bronzes
5. The Netherlands: 8 golds, 7 silvers, 9 bronzes

Andrew Weibrecht, Bode Miller medal for US in Sochi Super-G

bode-miller-sochi-olympic-gamesUp until yesterday, the US men’s Alpine skiing team wasn’t exactly doing too great at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. They finished both the Downhill and Super Combined events without a medal, which was extremely disappointing. However, the American skiing team did make up for their earlier disappointments by doing quite well in the Super-G.

Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud may have won the super-G with a flawless run, but the US duo of Andrew Weibrecht and Bode Miller grabbed second and third place, respectively. With his bronze medal, Miller (36) became the oldest Alpine skier to win an Olympic medal, and the first US skier to medal at three different Winter Games.

As for Weibrecht (a.k.a. “War Horse”), he was actually .20 seconds ahead of Jansrud after the first three splits. However, a sluggish bottom combined with Jansrud’s amazing final run knocked Weibrecht down to the silver medal position.

Going back to Miller, he was a favorite going into the Downhill event, but only mustered an eighth-place finish. And despite grabbing a silver in the Vancouver Games Super-G, he wasn’t even among the top 10 favorites this year. However, Miller atoned for his Downhill disappointment by collecting a bronze in the Sochi Super-G.

“I made mistakes and the snow is really difficult,” he said after taking third. “It just peels away from you. I tried to build pressure on the first couple turns but it’s really steep there. Coming off the first pitch I thought I was in good shape but the snow is so soft on the flat part of the last part.”

With his latest bronze medal, Bode Miller now has six career Olympic medals, as you can see below:

2002 Salt Lake City Games: silver in Giant Slalom, silver in Super Combined
2010 Vancouver Games: silver in Super-G, bronze in Downhill
2014 Sochi Games: bronze in Downhill

Elite Snowboarder Danny Davis angry over Sochi Halfpipe Conditions

danny-davis-sochi-olympicsWe’ve already heard plenty about the bizarre and sometimes third-world-country conditions at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Hotel rooms with no hot water, double toilets in stalls and endless stray dogs are just the beginning of the conditions that media members and athletes alike have been baffled over. But what American snowboarder Danny Davis recently complained about has nothing to do with hotel rooms or wandering dogs…

No, Davis is upset over what he perceives to be appalling conditions on the Sochi halfpipe course. His beef is with the halfpipe’s flat bottom, or rather the ground area in between the 22-foot walls on each side. He says that the flat bottom is bumpy and full of powdery snow, which makes it both difficult and dangerous for the athletes to perform their best. “It’s the Olympics. It should be flawless,” he said. “What a lame showcase of snowboarding, and what a lame way to treat the athletes.”

danny-davis-sochi-olympics-1The IOC has since postponed Monday morning’s halfpipe in an effort to work on salvaging the course. The big problem is that temperatures in Sochi have reached the 50s, which means that it’s tough to reshape the snow and keep it flattened out. Earlier, snowboarders voiced complaints about the pipe’s vertical edges and these were reshaped to fit Olympic standards. However, many riders think that this may have impacted the flat bottom.

From a betting standpoint, these problems and warm temperatures (by Winter Olympics standards) definitely throw a wrench in things. This is especially the case when you consider that many online sportsbooks have given Shaun White astronomically large odds of winning the gold at 1-2. Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov is the next closest favorite at 5-1 odds of winning, while Davis closely follows him at 6-1 odds.

But with as down as Davis is about the pipe, you may want to hold off before taking him at 6-1 odds. “The IOC probably didn’t want to pay the right guys to do it,” he said. “I’m pretty sure what they’re focused on is keeping as much money in their hands as possible. That’s the shame of it all. All these kids, myself included, worked very hard to get here. And then the pipe is just no fun and boring and (expletive). Halfpipe is super fun, but riding a crappy pipe and having to perform in it is the worst.”

Hopefully everything gets ironed out with the flat bottom before the competition officially begins on Tuesday.

Shaun White is Huge Betting Favorite in 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

shaun-white-sochi-big-favoriteWe at GTBets have seen our fair share of big favorites across the sports world. But saying that Shaun White is a big favorite in the 2014 Winter Olympics halfpipe event is almost an understatement.

Some online sportsbooks are listing the winter sports legend as a 1-2 favorite to win the gold medal. You rarely see an individual given these kind of odds on a betting line. And the whole situation is even crazier when you consider that his next closest competition, Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov, carries distant 5-1 odds.

There’s good reason why White is such an overwhelming favorite in the halfpipe at Sochi: he was only beaten once in this event during the entire season. Furthermore, he’s captured the last two halfpipe Olympic gold medals, taking first in the 2006 Turin Games and another first in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

As for the guy who beat White this season, Greg Bretz, he only did so because White hurt his ankle and finished second. Even still, Bretz is worth some consideration because his odds are listed at 33-1. So if you’re looking for a decent low-risk, high-payoff bet, this isn’t a bad proposition.

shaun-white-sochi-big-favorite-1Going back to White, the San Diego, California native spent most of his early years skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding. He befriended skateboarding legend Tony Hawk at a local skatepark and got some good coaching from his older friend. Hawk is a big reason why White was able to become a professional skateboarder by age 17. He’s since won five medals at the X Games, taking golds in the 2007 and ’11 “Vert” event.

White is much better known for his snowboarding skills these days. He’s earned 13 gold medals in the Winter X Games along with three silvers and two bronzes. From 2003-2006, he managed to win four straight Slopestyle events, before finally losing to Andreas Wiig and Teddy Flandreau in 2007.

As for his latest Olympic appearance, in Vancouver in 2010, White captured an easy victory in the halfpipe. During his second run, he tallied a score of 48.4, which isn’t far off the perfect score of 50.0. His next closest competitor scored a 45.0, which was 3.4 points behind White.

Jamaican Bobsled Team qualifies and raises Funds for Sochi Winter Olympics

jamaica-bobsled-teamWhen the subject of Jamaica and the Olympics comes up, the first thing that most people think about is their sprinting prowess, which has produced greats like Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Strangely enough, Jamaica’s bobsled team is not totally irrelevant on the Olympic scene either. Thanks to the 1993 film Cool Runnings and a catchy soundtrack, the world learned some interesting half-truths about how a warm-weather country like Jamaica can still compete in Winter Olympic sports.

This year, they’ll be sending their first bobsledding team to the Winter Olympics since 2002. And it certainly wasn’t easy because Jamaica had to go beyond just qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Unlike more privileged countries such as the United States, this Caribbean nation doesn’t have a bottomless coffer of funds for Olympic athletes. As Jamaican bobsled pilot Winston Watts said, they needed money to fly to Sochi and get their equipment to Russia as well. So the formerly retired Watts, who self-funded much of the team’s costs up until 2002, embarked on a quest to raise at least $80,000 for the trip.

His prayers were quickly answered when Jamaican Olympic officials and the Sochi Organizing Committee said that they could cover most of the expenses. Watts and the team got lots more money from fundraising sites like CrowdTilt ($122,000), Dogecoin ($30,000) and Indiegogo ($40,000). Thanks to all of the extra money, Jamaica’s Olympic bobsled team will have lots of cash left over for future Olympic events too.

Those who’ll be comprising the team consist of Watts, brakeman Marvin Dixon, backup Wayne Blackwood, coach Thomas Samuel and mission chief Chris Stokes. The latter is quite an interesting story because Stokes was on the 1988 Jamaican Olympic team that went to Calgary and served as the inspiration for Cool Runnings.

The movie is loosely based on the real story, with fictional two-time Olympic gold medal winner Irv Blizter (John Candy) serving as the coach. Blizter was disgraced after cheating in the 1972 Winter Olympics and moved to Jamaica to hide out. When approached by two athletes about forming a bobsled team, the trio recruits two more athletes and they set out to raise money for the trip to Calgary.

In the real story, there was no disgraced American coach leading the team, and members of other national teams didn’t treat the Jamaicans with disrespect either. Instead, the coach was reputable 5-time US champion Howard Siler, and several other teams actually lent equipment to Siler and the Jamaican athletes.

Another highly fictional part from the movie is the ending scene, where, after the team crashes, they pick up the sled and carry it across the finish line. In reality, a track crew pushed the sled across the finish line following the accident. You can check out a trailer of the film below: