Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

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Olympic Showdown on Ice

There are only three sports in which I've been a participant in some way that makes me think I can comment all that meaningfully: Baseball (North Yuba Little League champion, 1979), Soccer (AYSO Region 150 champion, 1980; also a referee that same season and following summer), and gridiron American Football (Sutter Union High School Huskies statistician, 1982-85). So I don't know anything about ice hockey except as someone who watches it and now and then attends a Sharks game. But the final for the gold medal in men's ice hockey between Finland and Sweden has got to go down as a classic match, I think.

Finland had not lost a game in the Olympic tournament and had been dominant the whole time, including shutting out Russia in the semifinal, while Sweden had been far less dominant , but battled back to make it to the final. The two countries have a historic rivalry said to equal or exceed any other, like the Giants-Dodgers or Manchester United-Man City rivalries in other sports. Teemu Selanne of Finland (formerly of the Sharks but most recently of the Mighty Ducks) was quoted as telling a story that in his youth, playing outdoors, they'd form up teams, and he'd call his side the Finnish national team an the other (whose players didn't care much for it) the Swedish team, playing for the gold medal.

So both teams came to the ice with a lot of anticipation and energy, and it showed, as they played a hard, energetic game for the full sixty minutes, including a frantic turn near the end as Finland pulled their goalkeeper desperately trying to score the tying goal but came up short. Sweden celebrates with a 3-2 victory.

Apparently they presented the Czech Republic their bronze medals yesterday when they defeated Russia 3-0, so today's medal ceremony was only the silver for Finland and gold for Sweden. The Finns looked pretty somber as they accepted their silver medals, as I'm sure they mostly considered it a loss, not an achievement. (See my comments elsewhere about trying to find a way to make the silver medal in a tournament game more meaningful.)

The games are mostly over as I write this, although of course I won't get to see the very end until this evening's Closing Ceremony coverage. I'm sorry to hear so few people here in the USA watched it, and the bashing the Olympics took on Fox Sports Radio yesterday was irritating, especially as it reinforces the idea that anyone who doesn't get a gold medal is a loser and winning at all costs is the only important thing.
Tags: hockey, olympics
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