20 February 2006

Winter Olympics catchup

BerlinBear avatarAfter a couple of days off over the weekend, it's time for The Capital Letter to catch up on what has happened in Turin at the Winter Olympics in the last couple of days. As ever, I'll be paying particular attention to how the Germans got on. And boy, did they ever have a good weekend, picking up medals left, right and centre.

Specifically, the German team netted two gold medals, three silver and two bronze. Not bad for a couple of days' work, I reckon.

Here are the medals they picked up:

Men's 2 man bobsled:
Gold - pilot Andre Lange and brakeman Kevin Kuske blitzed the field, despite Kuske's near wipeout in the second run, almost falling off the back of the sled after the start. You can see the video here. They qualify for photo of the day. [Source: ZDF]

Women's biathlon: Gold and Silver - Kati Wilhelm easily won the 10km pursuit, followed home by my personal favourite Martina Glagow, who picked up her second silver of these games. (This one, though, she won under her own steam, rather than being promoted from third after Pyleva's drug scandal). In a slightly odd development, Wilhelm was given a thoroughbred stallion for her efforts by stud owner Thomas Mayer. She has now won three Olypic gold medals.

Men's biathlon: Bronze - Sven Fischer, who had already picked up a gold medal in the 10km sprint, boosted his account with third in the 12.5km pursuit, behind
Vincent Defrasne of France, and Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Men's cross-country skiing: Silver - the men's relay team of
Andreas Schlütter, Jens Filbrich, Rene Sommerfeldt and Tobias Angerer fought hard to hang on to silver, behind the Italian team and just ahead of the Swedes. Quote of the weekend went to Rene Sommerfeldt, who told an interviewer after the event:
"I puked my guts out, in the truest sense of the word."
Thanks Rene. TMI.

Women's cross-country skiing: Silver - the women's relay team of
Steffi Böhler, Claudia Künzel, Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Viola Bauer also snuck home into second place ahead of the Italian team. The Russians took out the gold medal.

Women's speed-skating: Bronze - though she had been touted as a gold medal favourite in the 1000m event, Anni Friesinger had to settle for third place behind yet another flying Dutchwoman, Marianne Timmer and Canadian Cindy Classen. The fact that 6 hundredths of a second separated the three medalists, seems to have been something of a consolation for Friesinger (and the German media). She seemed pretty pleased with the result, actually.

So, not a bad haul then. It certainly seems to be enough to satisfy the media wolves' lust for precious metal - for now. In fact, Germany is now leading the medal table and is on course to win a record number of medals. The premier of the German state (Bundesland) of Thüringen is crowing, because athletes from his state have won more gold medals than the entire Chinese team. Thüringen has a population of around 2.4 million, versus China's 1.2 billion. Still, even Thüringen can't compete with those Estonians.

The German TV channel ARD has predicted 14 gold medals for the German team at this Olympics. I was a little more circumspect, predicting 11 golds in the tipping competition I entered. Just for the record, and so that you can't claim I made it up post factum if I turn out to be right, my overall prediction before the Games began was:
11 gold + 18 silver + 9 bronze = 38 medals
That 18 silvers is starting to look a tad optimistic, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, Alexander Herr, the grumpy ski-jumper I posted about a few days ago, was sent home for his outburst. Good call, I reckon. And in much bigger, more scandalous news, the Austrian cross-country skiing team is in trouble in a possible doping scandal. It's complicated and shrouded in intrigue, involving the appearance in Turin of a banned coach, late-night raids, a car accident, withdrawal from events etc etc etc. The plot thickens. BBC Sport has the details.

After all that, here's the medal table as it stands half way through the 10th day of competition. Source, as ever, is the official Olympics website torino2006.org

2United StatesUnited States74213
3Russian Fed.Russian Fed.62513
18Czech RepublicCzech Republic0202
19Great BritainGreat Britain0101

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