Monday, February 27, 2006

Yesterday morning, I think I witnessed some of the most beautiful sport I'd seen in years. It was hard to take sides, as both Finland and Sweden played gorgeously. Ultimately, we chose Sweden, as they were the underdogs and had cooler uniforms.

A few observations:

1.) I think it so funny that NBC would caption the players names with what NHL team they played on during the professional season. As it turned out, one Finn and one Swede who were teammates in the US ended up on opposing teams during the Olympics.

2.) Have always loved Finn names; they're so fun to pronounce. This love was reinforced in listening to the announcers trying to keep up with the game: Timonen gaining posession of the puck, passing it to Numminen who'd send it over to Olly Jokinen to shoot for the goal has such a music to it: called to mind the Doppler effect.

3.) Goalies apparently had to stay right in the crease for Olympic rules. In NHL they can travel more. This, apparently was a bit problematic for both goalies who were quite young and more used to the professional rules. Lunkvist, Sweden's goalie (and their answer to Tom Cruise? Not in terms of wacky philosophy or personal life but in looks), said later on that he'd not gotten into a groove with the new rules until 1/2 way through the previous game. Also interesting was how the officials were calling some icing penalties and not calling what seemed like obvious others.

4.) NHL rules changed a few years back from three 20 minute periods to four 15 minute ones in order to accomodate more commercials. I stopped going to pro games after this seemed as though I was spending more time waiting for the next Dunkin Donuts raffle that they'd use to kill time between plays (commercial breaks) than actually watching hockey. Am glad that they kept the 20 minute period structure for the Olympics.

5.) Was glad that Niitimaki was called MVP of the game. Lunkvist may have defended better this last time around, but the Finn goalie was quite formidable in his own right.

6.) The medal ceremony kind of depressed me. Why were the Finns so down in the mouth? Their performance had me on the edge of the seat, had my heart in my throat, had me nearly change who I was rooting for so many times it wasn't funny. The teamwork, the grace on the ice, even certain design elements on their uniforms (horizontal stripes vs vertical on their socks for example) were like so much visual poetry. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Personally, I blame the whole stupid Nike campaign of a couple Olympics ago which stated, "You don't win silver, you lose gold." Pathetic.

7.) Had to do some serious searching in order to find what the bronze medalist team was...the Czech republic, apparently. Since no Americans won, it apparently wasn't considered "of interest." We got to hear all about that loser who kept showing up to ski drunk because because he's "of local interest," but nothing at all on the local news regarding hockey. How provincial is that? Also makes you wonder what else isn't being reported because the media outlets don't consider it "of interest?" (Well, we know the answer to that one already.)

8.) The Swedes had that cuter'n a button accent going for them, but it was the Finns who really caught my eye. We all have our personal aesthetics, and I'm not afraid at all to describe mine. I am, after all, a fully-grown red-blooded American Woman. Hear me roar.

In all, a wonderful way to kill a couple hours. I wish I'd have caught more games, this was so much fun. Maybe next time around in Vancouver if I remember.

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