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Discussion: Winter Olympics

in: Orienteering; General

Feb 9, 2018 9:30 PM # 
What have you seen at the Olympics that seems memorable? So far, my favorite Olympic moments were the Tarasove, Morozov pairs short program performance. The beauty and skill of that high, arching throw at about 1:05 was enough to bring tears to the eyes.

How long will it be before ski-O is an Olympic sport? Compared with many of these winter events, I think ski-O could be presented on TV in a very interesting manner...maybe more so than foot-O.
Feb 9, 2018 9:58 PM # 
I saw that the US Teams' uniform does not try to look like the American Flag as it did in 2014. If I see one more US team uniform that incorporates stars and stripes.... ;-)
Feb 9, 2018 10:58 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Which uniform?

Team USA has a bunch of different uniforms, depending on sport. For example the US snowboarding team's uniforms look like NASA spacesuits.

(I'm guessing you're talking about the PRL opening ceremony outfits, though)

Feb 10, 2018 4:11 AM # 
Is the Winter Olympic on? Its been high 30s most days here now for weeks.
Feb 11, 2018 1:18 AM # 
Aha space suits
Feb 12, 2018 2:11 AM # 
Love the space suits! Fresh and original. No stars and stripes motif. US teams far and wide, please take note... its time for a new tradition.
Feb 12, 2018 3:16 PM # 
Simen Hegstad Krueger's (Norway) performance in the men's "skiathalon" (15K classic; 15K freestyle) was amazing. He was involved in a crash right at the start, and lost quite a bit of time. But amazing athleticism and the magic of Norwegian ski wax made it possible for him to come back and win.
Feb 12, 2018 3:54 PM # 
I can't believe Norway swept the mens podium in that race. They are so the New York Yankees / New England Patriots of nordic skiing.
Feb 13, 2018 11:31 PM # 
Pink Socks:
the magic of Norwegian ski wax

I don't ski, so can someone explain in layman's terms how ski wax works, and how important it is for these races? Are there waxing strategies and do they change based on snow conditions and race courses? And who calls the shots on waxing, the athletes, coaches, or race officials? Are certain types of wax (and/or techniques) that are banned?
Feb 14, 2018 12:13 AM # 
For cross country skiing there are two kinds of wax that serve two purposes: one to glide and one to grip. skate and classic techniques both need glide wax, while only the classic technique needs grip wax. Basically, in order to glide a ski will melt a thin film of water between the base of the ski and the snow as lubrication. If this film is too thick then capillary action will produce a sort of suction effect, and if it's too thin then there's no real lubrication. The different glide waxes have different properties that produce this perfect amount of friction in different snow conditions. Usually a harder was is used when the snow is colder, drier, or older, and a softer wax is used when the snow is wetter, fresh, or in warm air conditions.

I'm not as sure about the grip wax, but it needs to grip the snow when the skier "kicks" their ski to propel them forward. The skis have a camber that normally raises the mid section above the snow, and when the skier kicks this section is pressed down into the snow. The grip wax is applied here. There's another perfect goldilocks zone with grip wax and snow conditions, where either the wax will stick too much and you're dragging your skis, or it won't stick enough and you can't kick.

No idea about regulations for waxing. Usually, especially at the olympics, each team has a team of wax technicians that test out different wax combinations to find which works best, and do all the waxing for the team.

Some links with more info
Feb 14, 2018 2:50 AM # 
I think typically the wax tech team narrow it down but at the highest level (like the Olympics) there might be a choice of wax variations on a few different sets of skis and ultimately the athlete chooses which one feels best for them.

Anything goes, nothing is banned. At some competitions (like national team trials), waxing protocols are implemented so all skis are prepared exactly the same. That way the trials are about the skiers, not their wax techs. Because some waxes are very expensive, I have seen informal agreements among all the coaches for no one to use the really expensive stuff so it maintains an even playing field for those who might not have the budget for very expensive waxes (and saves money for those can). But that is at more regional competitions where everyone knows each other - don't think it would fly at high level international competitions!
Feb 14, 2018 3:47 AM # 
Very, yes, the first two, and no.

Wax is so complicated and important that it has essentially obliterated my interest in Nordic skiing (and when I do it, I just use the liquid shoe polish wax). To add to what the others said, some of the best waxes are also pretty toxic (respirators required when applying them).
Feb 14, 2018 4:01 AM # 
Really JJ? Obliterated your interest in watching or skiing itself?
I had better not bring up the concept of ski selection then...
Feb 14, 2018 4:58 AM # 
Obliterated my interest in doing it. I never really had any interest in watching other people do sports. (And if I did watch skiing, I wouldn't use the liqu... never mind.)

When I do ski, I use whatever cast-off junk I can find in my garage. The skis that I skate with came from my brother, who says that they would be nearly impossible to use for that purpose. I do it anyway. But not often.
Feb 14, 2018 5:09 AM # 
Although supposedly there is a good reason for the grey crotch patch on the USA speedskating uniforms, could anything be more ugly? I think I would prefer stars and stripes to this :-)
Feb 14, 2018 8:19 PM # 
There is a story on the New York Times today about Norwegian ski wax and the technicians that apply it... Tough Job: Norway’s Ski Wax Chief Is Only Noticed When He Fails
Feb 15, 2018 12:03 AM # 
I see that not only does the Norwegian team have 30 wax techs (as they call them) working out of 7 cabins, the Norwegians also brought along a couple of 2,000 lb. stone grinding machines so they can change the structure of the ski bases.
Feb 15, 2018 1:44 AM # 
So far, the snowboarder Shan White was really amazing with his last try - so he got the gold medal :)
Feb 16, 2018 1:56 AM # 
I like to watch the winners expression--actually all the medalist expression. Sometimes it is pure joy---as it should be. But sometimes---it seems to be more a sense of relief.

Last night it appeared (to me anyway), that Mikaela Shiffrin broke down when she won. My sense was it was from relief -- and not joy.
Feb 17, 2018 10:27 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Ester Ledecká's expression was quite a bit different: confusion!

"I really don’t know what happened. This must be some mistake, they’re going to switch the time for some others... we didn’t understand.”

A snowboarder borrows some skis and wins a gold medal!
Feb 18, 2018 1:58 AM # 
Love Mikaela, but Ester's win, and reaction, was priceless.
Feb 18, 2018 2:13 AM # 
Yes, the coverage of that race was so funny - they had finished covering all the people they thought were contenders and essentially crowned the winner, moved on to other sports, but then cut back to the race again to show Ester's run! So amazing.
Feb 18, 2018 4:52 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Yeah, we were watching it live on NBC last night when they showed the Super G, announced the Austrian as the winner, went to figure skating, and then broke in and went back to replay Ledecka's run with non-live commentary from the NBC crew.

This morning, I went back and re-watched the Super G coverage in the NBC app, and they have different commentators that do the whole race (as opposed to Bode Miller who obviously had to come back in and talk about Ledecka's run after-the-fact). The actual live commentary was way better. They both went nutso at the finish!
Feb 21, 2018 10:34 AM # 
Amazing! Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins just made history by winning an Olympic gold medal in team sprint, the first ever Olympic medal for American women in cross country skiing.
Feb 21, 2018 4:59 PM # 
That is amazing!

Interesting article about Mikaela Shiffrin and why she brought 35 pairs of skis to the Olympics. Apparently half of her usual quiver of 70 pairs that she travels with. Her poor wax technician!
Feb 21, 2018 5:40 PM # 
That's great. Maybe now X-C will get some prime time coverage--instead of watching Lindsay Vonn's training runs.
Feb 21, 2018 5:44 PM # 
And I only have about three compasses... though maybe another is hanging around somewhere.
Feb 22, 2018 1:55 AM # 
Women's team sprint is the best race ever. Jesse showing pure guts, and Kikken showing you are never too old. Ahead of Sweden and Norway!
Feb 22, 2018 3:37 AM # 
Fabulous race! And great interviews after. Also loved the reaction of the women from the other teams - hugs and very sincere looking smiles - with Marit B. saying that it was good for the sport to have a different country win, that it wasn't good for it to always be Norway and Sweden!

There has been some pretty amazing biathlon, too.
Feb 22, 2018 10:33 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I watched the team sprints, both the Men and Women, and I was extremely happy that the US ladies finally got a medal and that it was a Gold.

When Norway can't win, the second-best result is that somebody we like can beat Sweden. :-)
Feb 22, 2018 2:37 PM # 
Well don't feel left out Terje; Kikkan Randall is from Anchorage, where she's coached by Erik Flora, the son of Berit Flora, a Norwegian, and Sam Flora, an old high school friend of mine.

Berit and Sam stayed with us in Chicago last winter, after the American Birkebeiner was cancelled for lack of snow. And they couldn't stop talking about Erik, and the potential of the US XC team. It's been great watching the Flora's dreams become reality.
Feb 23, 2018 3:04 PM # 
One example of why I am against orienteering being in or associated with the Olympics.
Feb 24, 2018 5:58 AM # 
Ester was the first woman to compete in two different winter Olympic sports - and won gold in both!
Feb 24, 2018 11:12 PM # 
Back to cross country and ski waxing: This morning I watched the last 10K of the men's 50K classic, which is when conditions were changing with snow having started to fall (fresh snow means better grip and worse glide). The difference between gold and silver is that the last time through the start/finish area, the winning Finn changed his skis, while the Russian he was trailing tried to break away. With his improved glide, the Finn quickly caught up and then was much faster on the downhill/flat just before the finish despite having trouble getting into a full tuck, winning by more than 18 seconds. They didn't show it, but it seemed no one in the chase pack (then essentially racing for bronze) changed skis at that point - I expect none of them would have wanted to lose the drafting benefit of skiing in the pack, but with the Canadian in 4th and Norwegian in 5th missing the bronze by 6 seconds, perhaps switching skis similarly would have been the bronze medal winning strategy.
Feb 25, 2018 12:41 AM # 
The bigger difference for Alex Harvey (CAN) not being on the podium is (very,very likely) Russian doping. #BanRussia
Feb 25, 2018 6:15 AM # 
They were allowed to change skis twice. Iivo struggled with his second skis for long to save his third skis to the last decissive loop. Are you they had that option still left, but did not use it?
Feb 25, 2018 1:05 PM # 
The second place Russian definitely had the option to change skis near the end and didn't do so. The camera didn't show the chase pack going through the start/finish area and the Canadian broadcasters didn't comment about a ski change in the case of the chase pack. The camera just showed the chase pack together before and after. The change in conditions seemed to be late in the event, but, yes, if any of the skiers had already changed skis twice, they would have been unable to do so the last time through.
Feb 25, 2018 4:33 PM # 
Perhaps the Olympic skiers could use some ski-O training, especially the Austrian woman who went the wrong way today whilst in second place.
Feb 26, 2018 1:19 AM # 
I heard the announcers talk about waxing during the snowboard cross, too - so it isn't just Nordic skiing. And although the wax clearly can impact results, the athletes still have a bigger impact - or everyone from the same country would have the same result, right? Not to discount the waxing, it clearly matters.

Bobsled is possibly (probably?) even more equipment dependent.

And to all those dopey news folks who asked how Stadlober could have taken a wrong turn - have they never experienced oxygen debt???

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