Sometimes the Winter Olympics can look a little odd.
Men's semifinal hockey match, women's slalom and more.
Even though the team still hasn't won a medal in Sochi, they're not blaming the suits
Seriously, the suits aren’t the problem.
U.S. Speedskating has extended its partnership with Under Armour for another eight years, the two announced Friday, despite initial questions as to whether Under Armour’s uniforms were the reason the U.S. speedskating team still has not managed to medal during the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“U.S. Speedskating remains extremely grateful to have such a supportive partner and to have access to Under Armour’s game-changing innovations, which have helped propel countless athletes around the world to championship results,” U.S. Speedskating Mike Plant said in a statement. “The length and scope of this agreement send a strong signal about Under Armour’s commitment to our athletes and will best position them to skate with confidence and a competitive edge well into the future.”
While the U.S. team won four medals in the 2010 Winter Olympics, the team has flopped at Sochi this year. After the first six events (in which no American had even placed in the top five), the Americans switched their suits from the newer model to the older model they wore at the World Cup in Japan. Both versions were manufactured by Under Armour.
Under Armour and U.S. Speedskating had touted the new suits as the fastest in the sport prior to the Olympics. The new suits had venting in the back that was meant to help skaters cut through the air. The U.S. speedskaters purposely didn’t wear the new suits at the World Cup so as not to give away their secret weapon, according to ESPN. But some sports reporters have suggested that the new vents were actually creating drag, keeping the U.S. skaters from the podium.
The switch back hasn’t seemed to help. Even after the change, no U.S. athlete has managed to win a medal in speedskating.
And the video has gone viral
Updated at 4:15 p.m.: Various news outlets are reporting that the United States Luge Association has confirmed to Inside Edition that the video is a stunt organized by Jimmy Kimmel and that the athlete, Kate Hansen, will Skype with the late-night host.
Athletes and journalists at the Winter Olympics in Sochi have been complaining about everything from two toilets in a bathroom stall to discolored water. Now, Kate Hansen of the U.S. Olympic Luge team has uploaded a YouTube video of “an intruder” outside of her dorm room. “I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi,” she writes on her YouTube page. The video has gone viral, racking up more than 700,000 views and more than 2,000 retweets.
But because Sochi is known for stray dogs roaming the streets, it is more likely Hansen saw one of those.
PHOTOS: The Stray Dogs of Sochi
Two entire countries held their breath as the ladies figure skating event unfolded at the Iceberg Palace
Four years ago, it was Yuna Kim who carried the weight of a nation’s hopes on her slim shoulders as she glided onto Olympic ice for the first time, hoping to bring back Korea’s first ever gold in the event. She had set a record in the short program, and her country expected nothing less with her free skate.
At the Iceberg Skating Palace on Thursday, it was Yulia Lipnitskaya who felt that enormous burden. Except Lipnitskaya was skating in her homeland, and it must have felt as if she were dragging an entire entourage with her onto the ice. With the highly touted Russian men’s hockey team out of the medal rounds for the third straight Olympic Games, all Russian hopes had shifted to the 15-year old who captured her nation’s heart with two inspired skates in the inaugural team event. Four minutes, and the overnight sensation ended up in fifth place after a fall and a stumble on a jump.
Rising to the top, however, was her teammate Adelina Sotnikova, 17, the Russian national champion who has in recent weeks been overshadowed by her younger counterpart. Sotnikova proved that experience does pay when she outscored the 15-year old in the short program to finish second, and skated a nearly flawless free routine to capture gold. Sotniknova becomes the first Olympic ladies’ champion from Russia.
Kim’s bid to become only the second ladies’ skater to repeat as back-to-back Olympic champion—Katarina Witt of Germany was the first after winning in 1984 and 1988—fell short under the new scoring system. Not the same technical skater she was four years ago, Kim’s program wasn’t packed with the difficulty needed to outscore Sotnikova; Kim performed six triple jumps to Sotnikova’s seven, and did not receive the highest level of difficulty for other elements as the Russian did. Aware that the competition was tougher this time around, Kim downplayed her chances coming into Sochi, calling this Games a “vacation” compared to the preparations she made before Vancouver. In the past four years, Kim left her coach, Brian Orser in Canada and returned to Korea to train with her childhood mentor, and has balanced the demands of being a national star—in Seoul, she appears in ads for everything from coffee to electronics and cosmetics—with training.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner, a veteran of the sport who was competing in her third Games, skated a mesmerizing routine to Bolero to redeem her disappointing history at the Olympics. In 2006, a favorite for a medal in her home country, she placed ninth, and in 2010 finished 16th after disastrous performances. At 27, Kostner finally has an Olympic medal, a bronze.
Even more unforgettable, however, was the performance from Japan’s Mao Asada, the Olympic silver medalist from 2010, who skated from 16th place after the short program. Asada is the only woman attempting the triple axel—she made history four years ago by landing two in her free program—but fell on that jump during the short program. The mistake cost her valuable points—just a day later, she landed a defiant triple axel and skated a flawless free program but couldn’t make up the points to reach the podium.
American Gracie Gold fell on her triple flip and failed to live up her name—this time—finishing fourth, but established herself as a contender in another four years.
The real question is what kind of beer we’re talking about here
President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that they’ve bet each other a case of beer for each game as the U.S. and Canada face off in the Olympic Women’s Hockey finals this week.
Neither of the presidents, who announced their wager on Twitter, indicated just what kind of beer was on the line, though Harper did specify Canadian beer. So if the U.S. women emerge victorious, be on the lookout for Labatt Blue empties littering the White House lawn.
Figure skating, nordic combined skiing and more from the 15th day of the Sochi Olympics.
Figure skating, nordic combined skiing and more from the 15th day of the Sochi Olympics.
What’s fueling the American women’s hockey players in their quest for gold?
Canada may hold the hockey title, but on Thursday the U.S. women’s team will put up a serious fight for the gold medal. It will be the fourth time the rival teams have battled it out on Olympic ice. After earning a bronze in 2006, the U.S. suffered a disappointing loss to Canada in 2010 in Vancouver. After that, they got serious about winning Olympic gold–and that included reinventing not just their training, but also what they ate.
“They were working with a lot of products – recovery drinks, and a lot of bars,” says Alicia Kendig, sport dietician for the U.S. Olympic Committee who was assigned to work with the team on the players’ nutrition needs. “I wanted them to start thinking basic, to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. I wanted them to think of their food intake as a way to recover and fuel their activity – and that it didn’t have to come in a bottle or a wrapper.” Given their short burst of play and their indoor training environment, Kendig focused on giving the athletes foods that kept their energy up and protected them from stiffening up on the bench.
Here’s what she added to the players’ diets to get them to the gold medal game:
Beans and Lean Meats
Blood tests showed that about 20% to 30% of the players had low levels of serum ferratin, a stored form of iron. Iron is critical for bringing oxygen to cells and muscles; it produces the hemoglobin in red blood cells that binds to oxygen and ferries it to cells throughout the body. Iron also produces myoglobin, which feeds hard-working muscles with the oxygen they need.
Dropping below recommended levels of iron, which for the average woman range from 15 to 18 mg per day, can lead to fatigue, overall weakness and decreased immune function (which can make you more susceptible to colds and infections).
So Kendig, who prefers to get players to eat their nutrients rather than stock up with supplements, keeps the hockey team’s menus filled with high iron foods such as lentils, spinach, meats, and pumpkin seeds.
MORE: Russian Men’s Hockey Team Crashes Out of Olympics
Fish and Leafy Greens
Like most Americans, the women hockey players had slightly low levels of vitamin D. Because they train indoors, and play a winter sport, about 40% had lower than recommended levels. While the skin can make adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, the hockey players don’t spend much time outdoors in the winter. So Kendig focuses on adding rich sources of D to their diet, from dark leafy greens like spinach and kale to salmon, cheese, and eggs.
A childhood favorite, it’s also a go-to beverage for elite athletes. Milk contains whey protein, which is a form of protein that the body absorbs quickly, and sugar from the chocolate. “For recovery, you need the combination of protein and sugar,” says Kendig, who has it ready for the players when they come off the ice. “As soon as they see it, they want to drink it.”
This amino acid is actually made by the body, but in recent years elite athletes have turned to it as a way to speed up their recovery. Kendig says the American hockey players experimented with the supplement this season, but only about half a dozen continue to take it since many don’t like its taste, and others don’t like the idea of using supplements.
For its fans, beta alanine can keep muscles from getting stiff and sore between bouts of exercise, when lactic acid released by tired muscles starts to build up. Hockey players are especially vulnerable to the effects of lactic acid, since they skate in 45-second to one-minute sessions, then spend several minutes on the bench.
So far, Kendig’s changes seem to be doing the trick; with the U.S. women just one game away from a guaranteed medal, she hopes her message spreads to more elite athletes, not just Olympians. “A lot of athletes train to eat, but they should be eating to train,” she says. “That’s the whole purpose of food.”
Russian men's ice hockey team crash out.
Russian men’s ice hockey team crash out.
Russian figure skating star Yulia Lipnitskaya fell on her triple flip, which cost her an automatic one point deduction and lowered her technical score for the jump before Japan’s Mao Asada also took a spill leaving her in sixteenth place
The marquee event of Winter Olympics skating, the ladies’ event, got off to a dramatic start Wednesday as overnight sensation Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia went head-to-head with the reigning Olympic champion, Queen Yuna Kim of Korea.
In the confrontation between experience and exuberance, years and youth, experience proved the victor. Kim, who has only skated at two events this season due to injury, took to the ice in Sochi and floated through her program as if no time had passed since her record-setting, gold-medal winning routines in Vancouver four years ago. Earning 74.92 points for a quiet, lyrical program set to Send In the Clowns, the Korean wooed the judges with her trademark presentation, outscoring the 15-year-old Lipnitskaya on skating skills, transitions and timing.
Lipnitskaya, skating hours after the Russian men’s hockey team failed to earn a spot in the medal round, finally showed some of the strain from the international and national attention she received following her stellar skating in the team event. She fell on her triple flip, which cost her an automatic one point deduction and lowered her technical score for the jump. Showing her age, the teen couldn’t hide her disappointment, refusing to look up in the kiss and cry when her scores came up.
Her teammate, Adelina Sotnikova, who before Lipnitskaya stole the stage was Russia’s rising star, emerged from the younger teen’s shadow to plant herself in second with an inspired skate to Bizet’s Haanera.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner, who at 27 is among the oldest competitors in the field, enthralled with a balletic performance to Ave Maria to finish in a surprise third place.
But perhaps the biggest shock of the night came from Japan’s Mao Asada, the silver medalist from Vancouver and the only woman performing a triple axel. Asada, who made history in 2010 as the first woman to land two of the forward-take off jumps in Olympic competition, hasn’t landed one this season, and continued the streak in Sochi. Her fall, and turning another triple jump into a double, cost her precious points; she finished 16th among the 30 skaters.
Americans Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds and all skated clean programs to finish fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively, which puts them in good position to move on to the podium. Gold was slightly more tentative than she was at nationals, and admitted to being more nervous about skating the short program, which contains eight required elements, than the free program.