Top Ten Sochi Moments
February 24, 2014

I've done it. All the hard work and training has paid off. You have no idea how many hours I have spent on the couch getting ready for this. I admit it wasn't a medal winning performance, but I endured, and that's what it's all about. I didn't look at my time, I don't exactly know the score, but I think I got in about 100 hours of coverage of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games.

In full disclosure, I am still running a little behind, and haven't watched the closing ceremonies yet, so my Olympic flame is still burning. I did, however, watch all of NBC's prime time coverage, all of the network weekend programming, and most of the weekday afternoon offerings (taped of course), several hockey games and one curling match. Having a job and all, I had to forgo the late night hours, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices. It's also nice that you can fast-forward through the commercials. Relying mostly on memory, rather than cautious note taking, the following are what I think are the Top 10 events in the Sochi games of 2014...

#10 Russia wins team figure skating: The games started out with a wow, when the self-confident Evgeni Plushenko threw down his performance in the inaugural team event. He wouldn't be able to come back and skate his individual event, but the table had been set. If Plushenko didn't bring the Russian house down, the ice dancing pair of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalopov did.

#9 Noelle Pikus-Pace wins Bobsled silver: We got acquainted with her quite well during her run. The married mother of two from Utah, coming back from injury, with husband, sister, and six year-old daughter rooting her on. American women did not win gold in any of the sliding sports, but medaled in all of them, including silver and bronze in bobsled.

#8 Bode's bronze: Ted Ligety (Men's Giant Slalom) and Mikaela Shiffrin (Women's Slalom) each won gold for Team USA in Alpine Skiing, but Miller's tie for third in the Super-G will be more memorable because, well, because he's Bode Miller. The 36 year-old is the most decorated American skiier, and picked up his only medal of the games in that event. What will also be memorable is his post-race interview with NBC's Christin Cooper. It was fine that she asked Miller about his recently-deceased brother and got him to be emotional, but even though Miller said later that he didn't have a problem with it, it seemed like Cooper wouldn't let it go until Miler broke down, which he did.

#7 Biathlon breakdown: You had to watch NBC's afternoon coverage to see the event which combines cross country skiing with rifle shooting, but the sport is fascinating. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to be watching Monday Night Biathlon, or Biathlon Tonight—two weeks every four years is quite enough. But even if you only watch that often, you know the name Ole Einar Bjorndahlen. The 40 year-old Norwegian was on the verge of his 14th medal through the third leg of the men's relay, but the anchor skier had a horrible shooting session, and Norway finished out of the medals. Russia, though, would come from behind and win their only Biathlon gold of the games, in front of their crazed crowd.

#6 USA gets third in luge: Sliding down a track on a toboggan-like sled with no brakes has been an Olympic sport for 50 years, and before this month began, the United States had won a total of zero singles medals in it—men or women. Upstate New York's Erin Hamlin put an end to that in Sochi. In the sport that is timed to the thousandth of a second, Hamlin clinched the first US medal by almost a half-second over Alex Gough of Canada. The United States does have two silver medals and two bronze in doubles races.

#5 Dutch dominance at the track: Something went clearly wrong for Americans in speed skating. Maybe it was the new suits, maybe it was skating at sea level, but whatever it was, the Netherlands certainly didn't have a problem. Holland House was partying every night at the Olympic village. The Netherlands totaled 23 medals in the sport—eight of them gold.

#4 USA podium sweep: It was the Olympic Winter X Games for the United States. Six of Team USA's gold medals came in either snowboarding or freestyle skiing. The crowning moment for the Americans was in Men's Ski Slopestyle with a medals sweep. Joss Christensen took gold, Gus Kenworthy silver, and Nick Goepper earned bronze. If these Olympics were any indication, it may not be too many more Olympiads before you have to stay up late to watch stuff like men's downhill, or women's Super-G.

#3 US shootout hockey win over Russians: It was only a preliminary round hockey game but T.J. Oshie's shootout goal and win over Russia was the most entertaining hockey game of the entire tournament. No one in the world had any idea at the time that neither team would win a medal, and it's still impossible to believe now that the Olympics are over. Canada beat the U.S. 1-0 in the semifinals, and went on to win gold, Sweden took silver, and Finland defeated Russia and the United States back-to-back to get bronze.

#2 Canada tops USA for women's gold: My boss is a big hockey fan, so it was okay that we watched this game live at work. Team USA was up 2-0 with 3:30 to go. We were wondering if the Canadians would pull their goalie for an extra attacker down two. Just like that, Canada scored. Down 2-1, we knew the goaltender was coming out. The Americans came so close to scoring an empty-netter to ice it, but the extra skater resulted in a game-tying goal for the Candians. A 15-minute intermission before overtime, but in the first 90 seconds or so of the extra period, you knew the game wasn't going to last much longer. Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored the tying goal, put the biscuit in the basket at the 8:10 mark of OT, giving Canada their fourth straight women's hockey gold.

#1 Russia gets first ladies figure skating gold: This list, as do the Winter Olympics, starts and ends with figure skating. Let's face it, guys, it is the marquee event. I mean, there's no hockey gala now, is there? Adelina Sotnikova definitely outskated South Korea's Yuna Kim, but there seemed to be a little controversy about the scores. Kim's program looked more artistic, but it didn't have much in the way of jumps in the second half to rack up points. Italy's Carolina Kostner, who had finished ninth and 16th in previous Olympics, got the bronze. No medals for the American ladies, but although they have not been mentioned previously in this list, the most famous Americans to come out of these games will be Ice Dancing Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

On to baseball: Just in time, the Olympics end and spring training begins. The Dodgers and Time Warner Cable launch their new channel tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 7pm, and will televise most of LA's Spring Training games, beginning Wednesday against Arizona. If you're like me and are not in Los Angeles, you don't have to wait long to see a ball game. WGN has the Cubs vs Diamondbacks Thursday at noon.

Mom update: Went to see her this weekend. She looks okay. She's lost weight, and still isn't walking well enough to go home. She got to go home for three hours Friday, but couldn't get down the hall by herself, even with a walker. I'm disappointed in her effort, though. She needs to work harder at therapy. Hopefully she got that message.

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