The 2014 Winter Olympics are here, and they’re in Russia. Shit would get weird in a major city like Moscow or St. Petersburg, but this is in Sochi. Shit’s gonna get really weird. Shit got weird before events started.
— Stacy St. Clair (@StacyStClair) February 4, 2014
Before the actual preview, here are some facts about Sochi, all via Wikitravel.
“Travel to Sochi is considered by the US Department of State to be DANGEROUS due to a spillover of violence from the ongoing tensions in the caucuses.”
Sochi (Cо́чи) “is one of the southernmost places of Russia.”
It’s located on the Black Sea.
It’s nine hours ahead of EST.
“Sochi is often called the unofficial ‘Summer Capital’ of Russia, or the Black Sea Pearl. This is the country’s biggest and busiest summer sea resort.”
“Maybe the most famous non-politician foreign visitor of Sochi was Bono, who was invited to spend some time at President Medvedev’s residence in 2010.”
“Another paradox of Sochi is that the city, always associated in national mentality with south, palms and hot climate, won the 2014 Winter Olympic bid. This phenomenon will be probably never understood by Russians completely: every place in the country has a real winter, but Sochi?”
“Surpisingly, Russia is the 11th-largest wine producer in the world. 60% of all Russian wine is manufactured in Krasnodar Krai. In Sochi and around there is possible to buy many kinds of this drink, starting from home-made and market-sold wine in no-brand plastic bottles (looks dangerous, but is spoken to be the best one).”
“There is a saying in Russia: “Nights are dark in Sochi” (“В городе Сочи темные ночи”), and this can be explained as that anyone or anything can get lost in the city.”
Who Will Win The Most Gold Medals?
That’s all you care about, you greedy American bastards! (Myself included.) But, shocking news: The United States are NOT the favorites here.
Here are the over/unders for number of gold medals, via Pinnacle:
1. Norway (11.5)
2. US (10.5)
3. Germany (10.5)
4. Russia (10.5)
5. Canada (9.5)
6. South Korea (5.5)
7. Austria (5.5)
The rest are at 3.5 or below and have no worth outside the game of Risk.
THE PICK: NORWAY. Sorry, America.
The Top 10 Events, Ranked
I’ve already addressed why people who don’t like hockey should shut up. But if that wasn’t enough for you, realize that Olympic Hockey is the NHL on steroids. It’s significantly better than an already awesome product, and it’s the only major American sport to have real competition in the Olympics. This isn’t basketball, where the options are either expected gold or massive embarrassment. The US are capable underdogs. A Gold Medal would be unexpected, yet it’s attainable. And people would go fucking nuts.
– Olympic hockey is played in a bigger rink than the NHL. Thus: More-open play, more goals and more skill.
– Olympic hockey is very competitive. This is not basketball. There are seven very good teams (Canada, Russia, USA, Sweden, Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia). The tournament consists largely of NHL players.
– The last Olympics was fucking insane, especially for fans of Team USA.
– It’s the sport with the single elimination and the teams and the shit that actually makes sense to us stupid Americans.
If you like sports and don’t like Olympic Hockey, you probably just put a vodka-filled tampon up your anus and lost brain function. I’ll cut you slack.
OLYMPIC HOCKEY IS FUCKING AWESOME
alright i’ll shut up
It’s like hockey, minus most of the excitement! It reminds me of handball, in the sense that you’d never watch it regularly, but it’s really fucking addicting for a few-day stretch. Also, SEX.
Everybody thinks snowboarding is cool, because snowboarders have long hair and wear skater shoes, and you know Shaun White’s name.
6. Ski Jumping
Basically flying. Points off for not allowing skiers to dunk a basketball at the bottom.
7. Figure Skating
You can actually name some historical participants (Kristi Yamaguchi! Michelle Kwan!), and it is aesthetically pleasing and it will make you “ooh” and probably even “aah.”
It’s like bobsled, except that you’re on your stomach, and the name is the coolest in all of sports, besides Frisbee. (Say Frisbee 5 times in a row and tell me you didn’t smile.)
But, no Jamaica. No Lolo Jones.
Russian Vodka Digression
While on the topic of rankings, did you know: Russia has “shot bars,” places open all day that basically serve just vodka? Real Russian people go there in the morning on the way to work, take a shot out of a massive shot glass, and chase their smooth delicacy with either a strange fish sandwich or a lemon. True story. Also costs like $1.50, even in St. Petersburg. And it’s smooth as a baby’s bottom, but much more alcoholic.
In Russia, you don’t mix vodka. Ever. If anything, vodka mix you.
Here’s what you need to know about Olympic hockey. The Canadians are the best and deepest team on paper and are the deserved favorites. But the Russians might have even more firepower (Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk), and have last year’s Vezina Trophy winner (Officer) Sergei BOBROVSKY! in net.
Canada is stronger on defense, but with home ice, the Russians are my pick. I am not confident in this pick. Both teams are exceptional.
But… there are five other good teams in the tournament. One of them, yes, in the US. We are very good at hockey, but a clear rung below Canada and Russia. Jonathan Quick was the best goalie in hockey not long ago, but he’s been banged up this year and may no longer be that huge advantage we need. Ryan Miller, who led the Americans to an impressive silver medal in 2010, will also be in the mix. If one of them gets hot, Team USA has a chance to win it all again. Both are capable.
Sweden is amazing. They have Henrik Lundqvist in net, the Sedin twins up front, a Silfverberg and like seven “ssons.” They’re pretty stacked on offense, but not at Russia’s level. And they’ve got a solid, mobile group of defensemen, but they’re definitely below Canada in that regard, and they lack TRUE GRIT. They are Swedes, indeed.
Finland is a bit weaker… but they have 97-year-old freak Teemu Selanne, and have two of the best goalies in hockey in Tuukka Rask and Antti Niemi. In a tournament setting… having the hot goalie often trumps overall talent. They need Mikko Koivu to return from injury.
The Czech Republic is reaaaaally good, led by Jaromir Jagr, who somehow is one of the best players in the NHL this year despite being 107 years old. His Devils teammate Patrik Elias is virtually the same age and almost as good. But their goaltending, with Ondrej Pavelec… is a bit weak. And they have another 109 year old who isn’t even in the NHL anymore, Petr Nedved.
Slovakia is better than you’d think, led by Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara. But they’re likely missing Marian Gaborik. One Marian may not be enough. They do have Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, though, who’s good enough to take things over.
Slovenia sucks. Norway sucks. Latvia sucks. Austria sucks. Switzerland mostly sucks but has Jonas Hiller in net.
Gold Medal: Russia
Silver Medal: Canada
Bronze Medal: Slovakia
The One MUST-WATCH
The GOLD ZONE Channel
The Gold Zone is a real thing, and it’s basically the NFL Red Zone channel, for the Olympics. It sounds like the greatest thing ever and I plan to watch it at virtually all times. It’s not on TV, though, sadly.
Via Sports Illustrated:
That would be Gold Zone, which is a streaming channel on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app. [To get Gold Zone, you must be an authenticated cable, satellite, and telco subscribers and register via NBCOlympics.com] The channel will provide more than 100 hours of hosted whip-around coverage of the most popular live action from the Sochi Games. It will stream 7 a.m.-3 p.m. ET on most days (For more info, check out the Sports Video Group writeup of it). “We are stealing a little bit of what the Red Zone is for the NFL, a whip-around show bringing you from event to event, live look-ins and analysis,” said Rick Cordella, the general manager of digital media for the NBC Sports Group. “It’s serving the fan that doesn’t necessarily know where to go. It’s saying, ‘This is important now, take a look what’s happening.'”
NAMES TO WATCH
Here are some of the coolest names at Sochi.
Eva VRABCOVA-NYVLTOVA (It’s her birthday today!)
Apostolos ANGELIS Apostle Angel.
Jules BONNAIRE The French get more delicate boners and call them BONNAIRES.
Vladislav BYKANOV. Vladislav is the most underrated name out there.
David CHODOUNSKY. I’m sure we can all relate to an American Chode.
Peter CROOK. CAN’T TRUST THIS GUY IMO.
Kalev ERMITS. Not a frog.
Ann Kristin Aafedt FLATLAND. So many names. So few hills.
Georgi GEORGIEV. Not from Georgia.
NOTE: I stopped at “J,” because this list would have never ended if I had reached “Z.”
WOMEN TO WATCH
The Mary Sue has a list of 15 female Winter Olympians you should know. Get to know them.
This was an extremely tough call. But the winner is: Sergey VOLKOV.
Obligatory Russian Unibrow Picture
Obligatory Slovenian Moustache Picture
Thing To Be Grateful For
You can watch on TV, at home, in America.
“We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall, and then leave the room for the whole day,” he said.
Well, that seems like very bad behavior by the hotel guests, and shouldn’t be — wait a second, they’ve got surveillance video of the showers?
Enjoy the Olympics. Tell your new bride to follow me on Twitter.