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Jenna Conter: Olympic speed and short-track savagery

Speed skating
Speed skating - 123RF Stock Photo

Tuesday morning brings with it our first casualty. That was dark, sorry, but our short track 500m speed skater, Marianne St-Gelais was disqualified from her quarter-final race Tuesday morning having been flagged for interference with Dutch racer Yara Van Kerkhof. Can’t imagine the disappointment of having your Olympic dreams taken from you over a judge-ruled technicality. But with those giant blades flying it’s not hard to see how anything flirting with the line between aggressive sportsmanship and near fatal carotid puncture justifies the strict nature of the safety first rules.

Clacking their way around the track nine times to make the 1,000m distance, the men took to the short track speed skating rink early Tuesday morning. Ripe with near elbows, slight butt grabs and tight turns, I’ve never noticed how aggressive these athletes can be. You’d never know from the near wandering nature of the starts – legs pushing laterally, casual forward folding with hands gracefully clasped behind them, during the early moments of these qualifying rounds you’d swear these guys were taking in a skate along a frozen pond.

And then they release the Kraken.

Jenna Conter
Jenna Conter

Hulking out as best one can in a spandex suit, the racing starts as the shoulders cut low and the personal space becomes irrelevant. Of course, as schizophrenically as it started, it ends with a pretty-princess toe point as they cross the line.

The individual events are one thing but the tag-team relay event takes this unique ice dance to a whole other level. The men’s 5,000m is 45 laps of proof that when push comes to shove, men can indeed get organized. In teams of four, one shift of four athletes compete at a time while their teammates mirror their efforts in the centre of the ice. Perfectly timing the exchanges, they give their colleagues a love tap in the form of an aggressive shove down the ice. Like human curling rocks.

Enjoy all the Armchair athleticism, follow the Games here.

While You Were Sleeping:

Canada’s Mixed Doubles Curling team bumped out Norway to earn their spot in the gold medal game with Switzerland.

Our Chicks with Sticks put Finland in their place with a solid 4-1 win… Let’s face it, we’re all just waiting for the Canada v. USA game but let’s all smile and nod together until then, OK?

By the time your coffee kicks in this morning, you’ll know if we have a medalist in women’s luge as our Alex Gough is giving German’s Natalie Geisenberger a serious run for her money. This would be Canada’s first Olympic medal in luge. No pressure.

The sprint classics for cross country skiing start up this morning. And I already checked… Mr. Tonga isn’t on the list. Guess he’s more of an endurance guy.

Ladies Half Pipe saw a sandwiched silver medal from the Chinese between two American athletes.

In the men’s, after the first qualification round, our Derek Livingston sits in 16th with Shaun White sitting in first – pause for no one’s shock and awe reaction.

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