2022 Winter Olympics

I think the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics shouldn't have been held because of COVID-19. But if they were going to run it, I was going to watch - as previously mentioned, I'm an Olympics junkie. Overall, it came off surprisingly well.

Short track speed skating is insane, it shouldn't be done. Interference is so common that staying in 5th position (of 5) and out of traffic would seem to have about a one in six chance of medalling. I mean - these people are going 50 km/h with 45 cm blades strapped on their feet and taking really tight turns on these extra long blades that weren't meant for it. They fall down, they knock each other over, they even occasionally injure others (or themselves). And of course they try to pass - at 50 km/h on tight corners with no space. And then they think they've won, but the race is reviewed by a judge who then disqualifies a couple people and promotes someone else (remember the person I mentioned who was fifth of five?).

But for all that - my god it's exciting. Especially when it's clean. Like say the 5000 metre men's relay. Canada, China, Korea, Italy, ROC. Five guys flying around the track (did I mention they're going 50 km/h?) ... and another 15 guys circling in the middle, waiting their turn. It's unbelievably chaotic. And yet ... there were no collisions, no crashes, and minimal interference - none in the top three. Watching the race was seriously exhilarating - not least, it's true, because Canada won gold. But it was beautifully executed by all participants and was hugely fun to watch. And I guess that's why they keep doing it.

Long track speed skating isn't as exciting, although I like it and watched a lot of it. Team pursuit and the mass start events were both a lot of fun. Which brings us to my new heroine: Isabelle Weidemann. The first time the CBC flashed up a photo of her I thought "oh, that's cute - her with her two daughters!" Nope - those are her team-mates. She's 188 cm, and they're both around 160 cm. She won Canada's first medal of the games, a bronze in the 3000 m individual event. She then got a silver in the 5000 m individual event, and finally capped it off with a gold in team pursuit with Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais (the two little ones). During that event the announcers pointed out that Weidemann is slow off the line, it's one of her trademarks. But once she gets going, she flies - and she did that when they needed her to. (In fact they were on track to lose to Japan by about 0.2 seconds ... when one of the Japanese skaters fell. Not a great way to win gold, but it can be argued that our team won because they stayed upright ... A spectacular performance either way.) So Weidemann leaves Beijing with a complete set of three medals, one in each colour, and no one was surprised that she was named the country's flag-bearer in the closing ceremonies.

I feel like I should mention curling. Particularly mixed doubles, which takes less time than a traditional curling match and is more exciting (to me). I was disappointed that Canada didn't win ... but then, there were the Italians to watch. Stefania Constantini and Amos Mosaner were spectacular. Undefeated in the round robin (nobody else managed that), they played beautifully right through to the gold medal.