Watch to watch: The last few Olympic days

BEIJING, CHINA, JANUARY 1, 2022: Background for winter olympic game in Beijing, China, 2022. Red pictogram of all sports in background

by Mike Brock, special correspondent to The Expositor

BEIJING—With only five or six days left in the Olympic Games from Beijing, it’s all downhill from here, right? No, no, no… in fact, the downhill is already done—the men’s downhill raced more than a week ago, and the women’s downhill just finished up yesterday.  Some things haven’t quite worked out the way that we hosers would have liked. The Mixed Curling Team was steamrolled by the young Italians, who thankfully steamrolled everyone else, too, on their way to the Gold. Two of the Great White North’s great hopes in Speed Skating were unable to come away with a medal. Ted Jan-Bloeman wasn’t able to defend his title in the 10000 metres, while Laurent Dubreuil, the defending World Champion who had been on the podium for EVERY World Cup race this season, finished 4th,   

There have been a few happy, shiny moments for Canadian fans, though. Max Parrot  (Gold) and Mark McMorris (Bronze) both winning medals in Snowboard Slopestyle, for instance. Or, Isabelle Weidemann with TWO more pieces of hardware on her Speed Skating resume. And, most importantly, not only did the Canadian Team shock the ski jumping world with a bronze medal in the new mixed team event, MANY of you watched it.

Lots of excitement this past week for all kinds of sports fans, and the best is yet to come. The rest of the Olympics will unfold on the ice rinks, ice pads, ice tracks, the ovals, and, well, I guess there are a few events that still need a hill to go down.  

Here’s what to look for the rest of the way..

Wednesday, February 16

• Short Track: Women’s 1500m Semi-Final, 7:15 pm (ET)

Not one, but TWO solid chances here.  Both Kim Boutin and Courtney Sarault were a part of the relay team that finished just off the podium last weekend in the 3000m relay.  So they’ll be hungry.  Maybe even angry.  In fact, they’ll likely be more than a little “Hangry.”  Hangriness has been scientifically proven to help in the pursuit of speed skating gold medals.  

• Short Track: Men’s 5000 Semi-Final, 7:32pm (ET)

Likely the last Olympic appearance for one of Canada’s flag bearers, Charles Hamelin, who has been a part of the history of this event for the last two decades.  Silver in 2006, Gold in 2010, 6th in 2014 and Bronze in Pyeongchang.  The “old” man on the squad, though, is still relevant, and the squad is ranked No. 1 in the world right now.  If you like driving in Toronto traffic in freezing rain, then this is the event for you!

• Curling: Men – Canada vs. Great Britain, 8 pm (ET)

The Round Robin comes to for the men curlers, and Brad Gushue’s squad should be playing for a spot in the medal round, which starts tomorrow.  So, hurry hard to the TV, and let the excitement sweep you away.  Unless you’re a hack.  There are about two and a half more dad jokes about curling I could throw right now but I won’t.  For the sake of you, the reader.

Thursday, February 17

Not going to jinx anything, so I will definitely not say that the Canadian men will be playing the semi-final tonight.  At 11 pm.  So, nothing about the hockey semi-finals starting this evening.  Here’s what else is on Thursday, though.

• Freestyle Skiing: Women – Ski Cross, 2:10 am (ET)

Marielle Thompson won Gold in Sochi in this event and Britt Phelan came second in Pyeongchang.  Both medallists have been injured in the last few years—surprise,  surprise, skiers who bodycheck each other the whole way down the mountain get hurt—but Canadians will definitely have a chance to have a view from the podium again. 

• Figure Skating: Women’s Free Program,5am(ET)

There was enough drama in the Women’s Figure skating event before the athlete even hit the ice, but Canada’s Madeline Schizas—who turned 19 on Valentine’s Day—is hoping to stay above the fray and still be in the hunt. She performed well in the Team Event, but it might be a little early for her to make an impact in the Individual event.  

• Freestyle Skiing: Women Halfpipe, 8:30 pm (ET)

Another crazy sport, and another sport that Canadians are quite good at. Coincidence? No chance.  Canada’s Cassie Sharpe won gold in Pyeongchang.  She suffered a bad injury early in 2021 and hasn’t hit the podium on the World Cup circuit, but she’ll be ready to make a statement. Rachel Karker used to be a ballet dancer, but now she’s one of the best halfpipers in the world.

Friday, February 18

• Curling: Men – Bronze, 1:05 am (ET)

Mathematically, there is a chance Canada is playing in this one…but we’re hoping that Gushue is in the other game.

• Freestyle Skiing: Men – Ski Cross, 2:10 am (ET)

Canada’s Brady Leman took home the gold from Pyeongchang after finishing 4th four years before that in Sochi. That means that, if my math is good, he will come negative 4th.  My math isn’t very good, but my optimism is high and my hopes are true that Brady and his teammates bring home some medals again.

• Speed Skating : Men – 1000m, 3:30 am (ET)

If you were to compare this event to a summer sport, it would be the 200m in athletics.  But the track and field athletes don’t have 14-inch swords strapped to their feet. Anyone else noticing a bit of a theme with the Winter Olympics? It incorporates everything that we’re brought up to be aware of:  ice, sharp objects, danger, sticks, ski jumpers…

• Biathlon: Men – 15km Mass Start, 4 am (ET)

Not many international biathletes know what the Canadian national anthem sounds like. And that won’t change with this year’s event. But, it’s an event that Canadians should be good at, and are definitely improving.

• Alpine Skiing: Mixed – Parallel, 10:47 pm(ET)

This event debuted at Pyeongchang, and I don’t know anything about it. BUT, it should be a good warm-up for everything that’s going to be happening on SATURDAY! 

Saturday, February 19

No more joking around. This is it, right here. All I want to do is make sure that you stock up on treats, plug in your blanket, and cancel all calls. The last few days of the Olympics are usually jam-packed with good viewing for sport fans.  

Here are the events I’ll be looking for on the final full day of competition: 

• Curling: Men – Final, 1:05 am (ET)

• Speed Skating : Men – Mass Start, 4 am (ET)

• Figure Skating: Paris – Free Skate, 6 am (ET)

• Curling: Women – Bronze Medal , 7:05 am (ET)

• Hockey, Men – Bronze Medal, 8:10 am (ET)

• Bobsleigh: Two-Woman, 8:30 am (ET)

• Curling: Women –  Gold Medal, 8:05 pm (ET)

• Speed Skating : Four-Man, 8:30 pm (ET)

• Hockey: Men – Final, 11:10 pm(ET)

For a lot of these athletes, it’s the end of the road.  But for some, it’s just the beginning. A prologue to a collection of stories yet to be written. Do you know that there was a time that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir didn’t have Olympic medals? Or that snowboarding was just an annoyance for skiers on chairlifts around the world and not one of the most popular OLYMPIC sports around the world? The stories that we experience through sports, and the athletes who live them, are what it’s all about.  I hope that you’ve been able to learn, enjoy, get inspired over these last few weeks.  I’ll have a couple of wrap stories, including “My Favourite Olympic Moments.”