Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Update (Day 6)

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In every Olympics, there are certain events that are premier events where everyone wants to see the results.

The summer games have the track events, specifically the 100m sprint where the fastest people in the world are determined.

In the winter games, there is the Olympic Hockey tournament as it has been one of the most important international tournaments for years.

Much of the attention brought to that tournament came when the NHL agreed to take a break in the middle of the season to allow their players to participate.

This created the only tournament where the best players in the world were all eligible to play and so it became a true determination of the best team in the world.

The players all looked to grab an Olympic gold as a major accomplishment and fans did anything they could to watch the games and see if their team could take the win.

As has been reported for the last few years the 2018 Olympics were going to be the first in two decades to see the NHL players left out.

The NHL, IOC and IIHF could not come to an agreement to send NHL players and that left a lot of teams with their entire rosters staying in North America.

It wasn’t a popular decision by the league as the players wanted to go and the fans wanted to see the best players in the tournament.

Many fans were disappointed and reserved the men’s tournament to being terrible hockey with no stars to watch.

Although the best players in the world would not be there the fact that they weren’t there might have had the opposite effect than many thought.

Yes, it might not be a best-on-best tournament but the teams in the tournament this year are far closer in talent than in previous Olympics.

In the Olympic games with NHL players, the possibility of winning was pretty limited to a handful of teams.

Canada and USA would make their teams with essentially a list of NHL all-stars while teams like Finland, Russia and Sweden would have a healthy dose of NHL talent filling in the gaps with talent from domestic leagues like the KHL or Liiga.

Going down the list the teams involved would essentially have one or two big names while the rest of the roster filled out with smaller domestic players.

It essentially gave smaller teams no chance of actually playing for a medal and although the level of hockey between those big teams was great the level of hockey when the big teams faced the smaller teams was terrible.

This year the big teams and the smaller teams were all taking players from about the same area with most of the players coming from European leagues.

The level between the teams was not going to be the same this time around and for international hockey fans that was going to mean a tighter tournament.

When the men’s tournament opened up on Day 5 the world saw what the difference was going to be when two favourites fell quickly.wolympic-sidebarolympics-sidebar

The Americans were a team made up of European players and former NHL players but they still couldn’t take a win against the Slovenians whose only star player, Anze Kopitar, is in Los Angeles.

The Olympic Athletes from Russia were clear favourites as they were a team that could pull all of their players form the second biggest and second best league behind the NHL.

A team of KHL all-stars that including former NHL superstars like Pavel Datsyuk were assumed to be the favourites to take it all.

Yet like the Americans, they fell to the Slovakians in another shocking surprise to start the tournament.

That left the other massive team in Canada who opened their tournament on Day 6 hoping not to fall into the same pitfalls that their rivals had a day earlier.

A motivated Canadian team full of athletes who never thought their Olympic dreams were ever going to come true took on the Swiss.

They made it known that they were here to compete as they took a big 5-1 win against the Swiss and began the tournament as one of the few favourites to do what was expected.

That is the way the tournament is going to run this year as the talent gap is simply not as big as it has been in the past.

That could make every game an interesting one as the Americans and Russians will likely still be favourites but the shock of the first games has made everyone aware.

The big teams will try to avoid the upsets and prove that even without the superstars they are the best nations in the game as the tournament continues on.

 

The Canadian Story:

Redemption

In 2014 the Canadian luge team came up just short of winning the first luge medal in Canadian history and then were briefly put into the history books. The Russian team that finished ahead of them had their medal stripped giving the Canadians bronze until the decision was overturned weeks before the 2018 games. This year the tea of Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith left no doubt taking silver in the relay event to add to the medal count.

Coming Through

It was never going to be easy as Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford had to take on some very talented pairs skating duos. They were in the mix from the start but there were no guarantees in the free skate until mistakes were made by some of the biggest duos. Those mistakes and a fantastic free skate helped the pair to a bronze medal in the pairs figure skating event, which will likely be their last international event ever.

Breaking Records

It took an Olympic record effort but Canada found their way back to the top of the podium in figure skating breaking the stranglehold of the Dutch. Ted-Jan Bloemen broke the Olympic record in the 10,000m event to take home the gold medal, his second medal of the games so far. The win helped Canada get a full collection of medals on Day 6 adding to the gold medal total.

Struggling on the Big Stage

Rachel Homan and her rink were utterly dominant through the last curling season winning everything there is to win. That run helped her rink earn their spot in the Olympics as the Canadian representatives. It also provided a lot of pressure as they are expected to win and so far that pressure has seemed to affect her on the biggest stage after dropping her first two games of the Olympic tournament.

Taking their Shot

The Women’s hockey tournament has always been one where there are really only two teams competing for gold. Canada and the USA have traded wins in big tournaments for decades and when they play it is the best of women’s hockey. They faced off for another chapter of the rivalry in the final game of the round robin and it was another close one with the Canadians taking the 2-1 win. It likely won’t be the last time these two face off though and the next time could be for gold.

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