2014 Olympics wrap-up — Final report from Sochi

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Welcome to the third and final Winter Olympics report from Sochi, Russia. We wrap up the final events that occurred during the week, including a disputed upset in one of the marquee events of the Winter Olympics.

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Kim Yu-na

Controversy surrounds silver for South Korea’s Kim Yu-na

17-year-old Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova upset South Korea’s Kim Yu-na to win the gold medal in women’s figure skating. Despite the monumental pressure to perform on the biggest stage, Kim and Sotnikova put on the performance of their skating careers. Both skaters were perfect in their routine, but the judges determined that the Russian figure skater’s program was more technically difficult and thus awarded her the top score. With the close result came controversy as some fans of the popular South Korean skater were complaining of a fix. In fact, a petition on Change.org has more than 1.7 million signatures demanding an investigation of the judging. Certainly, having the Russian skater edging out Kim in front of her home country is a great boost for the host country. But, it also could be seen as suspicious.

Kim took the silver medal in stride. The gold medal winner from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver critiqued her own performance at Sochi, stating that maybe motivation was a problem. In 2010, Kim said she “could die for gold in the Olympics.” Here, she did not feel the same.

Women’s figure skating is one of the premier events at the Winter Olympics. For such scrutiny, judging is subjective and while one judge may see one thing, another can see it another way. The good news is that Kim seemed unwavered by the judges and shrugged off the loss of the medal. Certainly, this will give Kim more hunger to be ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Kim, who is just 23 years old, is adored by South Koreans and was the most popular subject on social media in the country after her performance. Kim thanked her fans for their support. One can only imagine what support she will have in 2018 in her home country.

Chu leads U.S. Team in closing ceremonies

U.S. hockey member Julie Chu may have ended her Olympic career with a silver medal, but she was chosen by her peers as the bearer of the U.S. flag in the closing ceremonies. Chu was the veteran leader of the U.S. team and came just a minute away from winning the gold medal against Canada.

As you may know, with the U.S. team up 2-0 late in the last period of the gold medal game, Canada came up with two quick goals to tie the score before the end of regulation. Canada scored a goal in overtime to win the gold. Chu gathered her team before the medal ceremony to offer support and encouragement going forward. The loss had to have been a kick in the stomach for Chu, as she has been denied the gold medal in all four of her Olympics. Regardless, she will be remembered as one of the most highly decorated Olympians in women’s hockey history with four medals (three silvers, one bronze).

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J.R. Celski (Photo by Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)

Celski wins silver in short track team event

Federal Way’s J.R. Celski won a silver medal as part of the U.S. short track speed skating team in the 5,000-meter relay. The silver medal improves upon the team’s bronze medal performance in 2010. Celski was on that team as well. Celski did not win an individual medal in these games — unlike the bronze he won in the 1,500 meters in Vancouver — but at the age of 23, it’s likely he has another Olympics in him in 2018.

Japan’s hockey team wins hearts of Olympics, not medals

While the Japanese hockey team did not win any medals in the Sochi Olympics, their surprisingly close losses during their games were considered moral victories for the team. Given the nickname, “Smile Japan,” the team was an unexpected qualifier to play at the Olympics.

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Alex and Maia Shibutani (Photo by Luu CC)

Despite losing, they made the most of the games. During one of their practices, the team spent some time goofing around and taking pictures of one another. Unlike other bigger Olympic programs, members of the team held down regular 9 to 5 jobs, while training at night and on weekends. So, while we look at medal counts at the end of the Olympics, we must also think of athletes like the Japanese women’s team that exude the Olympic spirit of playing for each other and enjoying the moment.

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Madison Chock and Evan Bates (Photo by Luu CC)

How did API U.S. athletes do at Sochi?

At the beginning of the games, we gave you a rundown of some of the APIs that were competing in Sochi. Here is a list of the athletes and how they did:

Madison Chock – Chock and her partner Evan Bates finished 8th in the short and free dance competitions in the Ice Dance Figure Skating competition.

Alex and Maia Shibutani – The brother/sister duo competed in the same competition as Chock and Bates. They finished just behind them in 9th place. Although Chock and the Shibutanis did not medal, their teammates Meryl Davis and Charlie White dazzled the crowd and received the highest scores of the overall competition in grabbing the gold medal. They became the first Americans to win the gold in ice dancing.

Felicia Zhang – Zhang and her partner Nathan Bartholomew finished 12th in pairs Figure Skating in Sochi. Despite not placing, Zhang told the media that she was satisfied with their performance, as the field was stacked with more experienced duos. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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