Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, I made quite a few predictions. Some ended up being laughably wrong, some tragically wrong, but I did get one thing right, which happened to be the most important (and easiest to guess):
Canada won the gold medal.
That’s two straight Olympics. 11 Canadian men now have two gold medals in ice hockey in the span of four years. Two consecutive Winter Olympic Games that Canada has been the odds-on favorite to win gold, and both times have they delivered. Canada has been spared of the heartbreak endured by the Russians, Americans, Finns, Swedes, Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, Slovenians, Norwegians, Latvians, Swiss, Germans, and Belarusians, most of whom haven’t even seen a medal in the previous two Olympics, let alone a gold, let alone fucking two golds.
Four years after suffering heartbreak at the hands of Team Canada in the gold medal game of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, all America wanted was another shot.
We got it, and it went wide.
I began my plea for belief by asking Americans to abandon reason, foresight, and logic because reasonable, logical foresight led to the conclusion that Canada would win. I used reasonable, logical foresight when I predicted Canada would win gold.
Throughout the game, the Canadians were faster than the Americans. Canada’s passing was crisp, while the US had trouble connecting tape to tape. For most of the second period, the Americans looked like they were just trying to keep up, while Canada dictated play with a textbook offensive zone cycle that exhausted America’s defenders and opened up plenty of room for Canada’s big, speedy forwards.
Every four years, the NHL suspends play for a couple weeks in February to allow players to participate in the Winter Olympics. There has been much debate over whether to continue this practice or bar players from traveling to the Olympics, but 2014, at least, will continue to feature NHL talent.
In fact, all 12 participating countries – Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States – have at least one NHLer on their roster. Some, like the US and Canada, are entirely comprised of NHL players; Sweden’s roster has only one player that isn’t currently playing in the NHL, while teams like Russia, the Czech Republic, and Finland have a fairly even balance of NHL players and those from European leagues like the KHL, Liiga, Elitserien, and Extraliga. Some of the lesser-known squads like Austria, Latvia, and Slovenia simply don’t have enough NHL players to fill a roster and, by necessity, are filled with players from their own professional leagues.
Every four years the world bears witness to an athletic event that is synonymous with excellence. The unrivaled showcase of the greatest competitors the human race has to offer. With every event, spectators from around the world hold their breath as the men and women wearing the colors of their homeland chase the promise of eternal glory. Then two years later the Winter Olympics happen and everyone is semi-interested but mostly confused.
“Wait is this a sport or are they just filming them
skiing to the event?”