Friday, March 5, 2010

girls gone gold - vancouver edition.

OK, so two years ago, I actually achieved daily blogging coverage of the girl-against-girl action of the Beijing Summer Olympics. I don't remember how I found time to do it, but I do remember being extremely exhausted by the time the closing ceremonies came around.

I *love* the Olympics. So by last weekend's closing ceremonies, I was still exhausted from staying up late every night with my guy Bob Costas [side note to Costas: Let a little grey into the hair, man. It's past time, it looks good - distinguished, authoritative - on men, and it will help distract from the work you've had done around your eyes and the frozen-eyebrow botox effect you've got going on.], catching up with all the day's medal-centric agonies and ecstasies. But because I've been slogging (slacking + blogging), I hadn't a single post to show for all my TV time.

But I just can't let all the amazing women of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics go without some official kudos from a blog they'll likely never read, but a girl who thinks they're the total bomb, just the same.

So five days later, here's my quick list of a dozen+ women Olympians who stood out like crimson maple leaves in the snow ...

Shelley-Ann Brown, Kaillie Humphries, Heather Moyse, Helen Upperton - The Canadian women bobsledders achieved a 1-2 finish in two-woman bobsleigh, with Humphries and Moyse winning the gold and Brown and Upperton coming in second for the silver. But the women's real Olympic spirit shone through in the way they rose above the cutthroat competition involved in securing a Canadian Olympic bobsleigh spot. Rather than holding grudges, they held onto each other, goofily indulging an interviewer's request for a few bars of the Black-Eyed Peas song "I Gotta Feeling." They definitely had one, so why not??

Clara Hughes - The first woman ever to win multiple medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympics, Hughes won a bronze medal in the 5,000-meter speed skating competition ... to add to the gold she won in the same race in Turin, the silver she won in the team pursuit there, the bronze she won in the 5,000 in Salt Lake City, and the two cycling bronze medals she won in Atlanta. This was the 37yo Canadian's final Olympics.

Hannah Kearney - The 23yo moguls skier won the U.S. Olympic team's first Vancouver gold, upsetting homegirl/defending Olympic and current world champion Jennifer Heil of Canada, who won the silver.

Anastazia Kuzmina - Kuzmina became the first Slovakian ever to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics when she completed the 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprint in 19 minutes, 55.6 seconds. She missed one shot, but sped around the 150-meter penalty loop fast enough to make up for it. It was the 25yo's first Olympic games, where she also won a silver in the 10-kilometer biathlon pursuit.

Kristie Moore - Almost six months pregnant, 30yo Moore was just an alternate for the Canadian women's curling team, but she got a little ice time during the Canadians' 6-2 win over Sweden. Moore is only the second athlete ever known to be pregnant during Olympic competition - 90 years ago, Swedish figure skater Magda Julin won a gold medal at the Antwerp games while in her first trimester. The modern-day Swedes ultimately swept off with the gold, but with a silver medal to show for it, Moore has a magnificanet memory for her child's baby book.

Maria Riesch - 25yo German skier Riesch won two gold medals in Vancouver, including one in the slalom. Her younger sister, Susanne, was also a contender for the medal stand following the first slalom run, but crashed and earned a "did not finish" for the race. When Maria completed her race, rather than celebrating her victory, she immediately went to embrace her devastated sister. "This is the greatest day of my life and, at the same time, my sister's world is falling apart," said sister Maria. "I just felt so sorry for her, I had to console her."

Joannie Rochette - Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette [above] was the embodiment of Olympic heroism during the Vancouver games. The 23yo's mother, Therese, suffered a fatal heart attack in Vancouver just 60 hours prior to her daughter's competition. Rochette harnessed her grief to perform her short and long programs amazingly, both she and her homeland crowd brimming with emotion. She won the bronze and the hearts of millions worldwide.

Angela Ruggiero - The 30yo captain of the U.S. women's hockey team not only led her girls to a silver medal in Vancouver, but helped the team win the gold in Nagano (1998), another silver in Salt Lake City (2002) and a bronze in Turin (2006). The U.S. women's ultimate loss to Canada was Ruggiero's final Olympic tournament, but as a recently elected member of the International Olympic Committee, she'll be connected with the Olympic games for the next eight years.

Shannon Szabados - Szabados made the difference for the Canadian women's hockey team as they took their third Olympic gold over their arch-rival, the Americans. Named goalie of the tournament, the 23yo Szabodos made 28 saves during the game. Paired with Marie-Philip Poulin's two goals, Szabados' shutout equaled gold for the hometown team.

Hannah Teter - The snowboarder won a silver in Vancouver to go with her gold in Turin, but her athletic ability isn't the only thing about Teter that reaches above and beyond her 23 years. Teter is a unique and generous soul, contributing her prize money to charity, selling syrup to support a Kenyan village, peddling panties to raise funds for Haiti, and planning to live off of 100% solar and wind power once she returns to her cozy Vermont yurt.

Lindsay Vonn - Despite an injured shin and utter busts in three of her five skiing events, Sports Illustrated cover girl Vonn became the first American woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in downhill. She bronzed later in the Super-G, but seeing the 25yo's sobbing jag of relief + disbelief + overwhelming joy as she embraced her husband/coach following her golden run was an Olympic moment to remember.

Kim Yu-Na - The South Koreans don't call her The Queen for nothing. Kim reigned supreme over her figure-skating competitors, winning the gold by more than 23 points and shattering her own world record by over 18 points. South Korea's first non-speedskating Winter Olympics medal-winner, 19yo Kim will no doubt retain her royal nickname and her status as her home country's most popular athlete.

Hall of Shame:
Women's Ski Jumping - Wondering why we never witnessed the women's ski jumping event? Don't blame NBC; it never happened. Apparently, women can do high-impact snow-skiing events like aerials and ski cross, but according to Olympic organizers, they essentially just aren't good enough or there aren't enough world-class women ski jumpers to justify an event at the games.

Yet last year, women had their own event at the Nordic World Ski Championship. Hmmm ...

Come on, seriously? It's 2010. You guys have got four more years to quit playing gender games with the Olympic games and move into the 21st century.

See you in Sochi.

image source: associated press

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