“Putin” Out The Flame: Sochi 2014 Concludes—The Monday Morning Realist


Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Feb 23, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; A general view of fireworks as seen from Olympic Park following the closing ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Closing Ceremony has taken place. The flame has been extinguished. Athletes have left Russia and are returning back to either their home countries, or in the case of NHL players, back to their home teams.

As always, there are plenty of memorable performances (and controversies) around any Games. So without further ado, Realists, let’s look one more time at everything that did (and didn’t) happen in Sochi over the past couple of weeks.

Citius. Altius. Fortius.

Yes, we will get to Team USA in a bit, but there were other countries that, of course, participated—including host nation Russia.

The phrase “Let’s Win This for Mother Russia!” seemed to be a prevailing theme of these Games from the moment the Olympic Cauldron was lit two weeks ago. In the end, the final medal count went something like this:

Russia 33 (13 gold, 11 silver, 9 bronze)

Norway 26 (11 gold, 5 silver, 10 bronze)

Canada 25 (10 gold, 10 silver, 5 bronze)

United States 28 (9 gold, 7 silver, 10 bronze)

Netherlands 24 (8 gold, 7 silver, 9 bronze)

Germany 19 (8 gold, 6 silver, 5 bronze)

Switzerland 11 (6 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze)

Russia’s gold rush included two for bobsledder Aleksandr Zubkov, and two for the figure skating duo of Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov. In addition as far as snowboarding events are concerned, Vic Wild ended up finishing with two gold medals in snowboarding competitions.

Even worse for those that were watching with American red, white, and blue glasses, Vic Wild was once an American citizen. Take that, Colorado Springs!

Viktor Ahn also did his country proud by winning three golds and one silver in men’s short track speed skating. Plus, Team Russia also swept the men’s cross country 50 kilometer mass event.

In short, they won for Mother Russia. A lot of proud moments for Putin, in addition to material that can be shown on Russian Television, eh Realists?

The biggest disappointment for Team Russia, perhaps came in men’s hockey. Russia is one of the biggest hockey countries in the world, and given that these Games were in their home country, many expected them to at least finish with a bronze, if not silver.

The Russians didn’t even do that as they were eliminated by eventual bronze medalists Finland.

The last four Olympics dating back to the Beijing Games can be seen as successes for their respective home countries. In Beijing, the Chinese finished with the second most overall medals with 100 (only Team USA had more at 110, including Michael Phelps’ 8 for 8), but the most gold medals with 51.

In Vancouver, Team Canada wound up finishing third in the overall medal count with 26 (behind the USA’s 37 and Germany’s 30), but they won the most gold medals with 14, including golds in the men’s and women’s divisions of their signature sport—hockey.

Must anyone in the States mention how THAT happened…

For London 2012, those Summer Games were worthy of its home athletes achieving either damehood or knighthood. Andy Murray, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Heather Stanning, Helen Glover, Nicola Adams, and plenty of others on Team GB got its nation to third for overall medals with 65 and gold medals with 29. Only Team USA (104 overall, 46 gold), and China (88 overall, 38 gold) had more.

All things considered, those Olympics were, without a doubt, a huge success for Britain.

Russia is no different. That streak is expected to snap with Rio de Janeiro hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazil has never finished higher than 17th in the medal count. That was in 1980—in Moscow, ironically.

Now that this Realist is no longer looking at Moscow’s Red Square, how about we take some time to talk about the Maple Leafs.

Team Canada’s fortunes in the Olympics have been more worthy of the singing of its national anthem than the recent performance of Toronto’s hockey team. Once again, as was the case in Vancouver, Canada finished with gold in both men’s and women’s hockey. Team Canada defeated Sweden to win gold on the men’s side.

How mad is Canada about country—churches in Halifax, Nova Scotia were showing the gold medal game. Realists, there is a joke about prayers and Canadian hockey somewhere in this detail that this one will not touch. Canada gets an A rating from the Monday Morning Realist.

And must we mention how our friends North of the Border claimed gold on the women’s side. Team USA’s women were up 2-0 in the third period with merely three minutes to go. Even though hockey is Canada’s national pastime, no way the Americans would give up two goals in 3 minutes, right?


Uh…they did. Then, gave up a third in overtime. Team USA’s women’s hockey team, including Julie Chu, who was the American torchbearer at the closing ceremony in her final Olympic Games, settled for silver, but those silver medals had to feel like rust given the circumstances.

At least they medaled.

And, perhaps not as ballyhooed as the result in hockey, Canada’s men’s and women’s curling teams also each won gold medals. Jennifer Jones of Canada is being referred to by some as the “best ever” to participate in women’s curling.

 In addition, sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe won gold and silver, respectively, in women’s moguls.

Also, a controversy involving ice dancing medals (that heralded a memorable rant on Toronto’s CJCL-AM SportsNet 590 The Fan) still led to the ice dancing couple of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir winning silver. It is said that the result of their event was predetermined and that they had no chance of standing at the top of the podium with gold medals.

And, yes, Yuna Kim also participated in her last Olympics. It ended, somewhat, unceremoniously for her as she won a silver medal to Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova. This produced outrage in South Korea that felt that she was robbed and that the event was rigged. Sotnikova stumbled during her performance, and photoshoppers had a field day with it.

If Adelina Sotnikova has any dreams of competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, she better tread lightly. Those games are in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Something tells me that when those Olympics open, 2014 will feel like yesterday.

Stars and Strife?

Feb 22, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) reacts after receiving the gold medal in alpine skiing ladies slalom during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at the Medals Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

What can be said about Team USA’s performance at the Sochi Games? The Stars and Stripes went into Sochi with high hopes as it sent its largest contingency to an Olympic Winter Games in history. It, of course, is also fitting that they would send such a large contingency given that Sochi’s Winter Olympics were the largest in history with 12 new events being added to the program.

There was a huge Lindsey Vonn-shaped hole in Team USA’s plans given that she sat out these Games with a knee injury. As mentioned in the previous Realist, Hannah Kearney, a 27 year old from Vermont, had hoped to successfully defend her gold medal in women’s moguls from the Vancouver Games, but fell short. She finished with bronze behind Canada’s sisters Dufour-Lapointe and was immediately emotional about the bronze medal. She has since pledged to retire after the Olympics, but that could be up in the air.

She then added that she was happy to contribute to Team USA’s overall medal count.

But, Sage Kotsenburg did get Team USA started on the right foot (or should we say, skis) when in the snowboard slopestyle, he finished with a gold medal. This event was one of the twelve new ones added to the program. What Kotsenburg did for the men, Jamie Anderson did the equivalent for the women’s portion of the snowboard slopestyle. Julia Mancuso won bronze in women’s super G, but in women’s downhill finished eighth in an event that saw double gold medals awarded to Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin, and Slovenia’s Tina Maze.

What Vic Wild did in the snowboard halfpipe competition by winning two golds was what Shawn White was projected to do by many an Olympics pundit. Instead, Shawn White finished just outside of the podium with a fourth place finish. Another stunner for Team USA was when Chicago’s Shani Davis did not medal in speedskating’s 1000 meters. He won said event in 2006 in Torino and Vancouver in 2010.

Davis placed eighth.

But, the Americans would have one of its better moments at one Olympic event—men’s ski slopestyle (again, one of the twelve new events added to the Winter Olympics). It was all Stars & Stripes on the medal stand as Joss Christensen brought home gold. Gus Kenworthy won silver and Nick Goepper was awarded bronze.

Skeleton in Sochi turned out to be Pace’s place, unlike in Vancouver. Noelle Pikus-Pace returned to Olympic competition for one last shot at a medal and finished with a silver medal. She has now said she’ll retire.

Then, there was the T.J. Oshie shootout for Team USA against host nation Russia. Oshie was brought onto the hockey team specifically for shootout purposes due to international hockey rules. When Oshie won the shootout for Team USA 3-2, so many internet memes were made about him that it appeared he was being thought of as a new American hero.

So much for that, as we shall see later…

One day after we learned Oshie’s story, and got introduced to his girlfriend, Lauren Cosgrove, Bode Miller won bronze in the men’s super G. Andrew Weibrecht also won silver in the same event, but, of course, Miller was the marquee name that everyone was looking for.

What, unfairly in this Realist’s opinion, received even more attention than Miller’s win, was the fact that NBC reporter Christin Cooper badgered Miller with questions regarding his late brother Chelone. As was mentioned in the previous Realist, Cooper didn’t deserve flak for the first question, but when the interview clearly became more about his late sibling than his bronze performance, it went over the top.

Miller, himself, defended Cooper’s questioning on his Twitter account by saying that what she was doing was part of journalism, and that he had no problem with what was asked. He was simply caught up in the emotions of the moment, and the Olympics can be more emotional than your average, everyday sports.

Miller up to that point was in the throes of a disappointing Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and calls for him to step down from Olympic competition were growing louder that they could be heard in Sochi.

Then came the controversial ice dancing medal involving Meryl Davis and Charlie White, which, again, was reported to be predetermined according to French newspaper L’Equippe. Remember, this is the same newspaper that made us all look dumb when they dished the dirt on Lance Armstrong’s performance enhancing drug use long before any of us (myself included) in the States even gave the paper a chance. We figured that paper simply had a grudge since it was going after an American winning at their competition in the Tour de France.

So much for that. The Armstrong confession practically ended the Tour de France as a relevant sport.

Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton won bronze in men’s two man bobsledding. Men’s snowboard cross was postponed from Day 10 to Day 11, and it produced positive results with Alex Deibold winning bronze.

With no Apolo Anton Ohno, the men’s relay team in short track, led by J.R. Celski, won silver with Team Russia winning gold.

In giant slalom, Ted Ligety won gold. Lauryn Williams also won silver in bobsledding with Elana Myers.

One of the bright spots of the Americans’ time in Sochi was Mikaela Shiffrin as she won gold in women’s slalom as she became the youngest winner of a slalom medal in history. Already, she has her sights on the PyeongChang winter Olympics—in which she says she wants five gold medals.

And, of course, the performances of the hockey teams were well highlighted. While the USA did get a silver medal on the women’s side, despite being up 2-0 with three minutes to play in the third period, they got something. The men on the other hand seemed to lose their edge immediately when they found out they were playing for medals instead of simply just to advance to the medal stage.

Team USA’s men’s team were shutout in the medal round by Canada 1-0 (who scored its only goal from Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars) and by Finland 5-0.

In short, some will view Team USA’s performance as a disappointment given what happened with Lolo Jones, Shani Davis, Shawn White, and the hockey teams. But in an Olympics with no Lindsey Vonn and no Apolo Anton Ohno, it could have been much worse. Their showing in Sochi was not on the same level as it was in Vancouver, but it wasn’t a complete letdown either.

In short, fly the stars and stripes proudly. Americans everywhere ought to be smiling from sea to shining sea.

Sochi Problems: Russian Roulette?

Back to Russia, for a second Realists. But, not in terms of the Russian athletes—the Russian handling of the Olympic Games.

Sochi’s journey to the hosting of the Olympics started in the middle of the 2000’s. The year after the Torino 2006 Olympics occurred in Italy, Sochi, PyeongChang, and Salzburg, Austria all competed for the opportunity to be the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Sochi won, but PyeongChang was not left out in the cold. It would regroup and submit another bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics—and win.

The Sochi Games were the first time that the Olympics had taken place in Russia (or the Soviet Union) since 1980. That was of course the year United States President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Olympics due to the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan. The boycott turned out to be a black eye for the Olympic movement, and even integral in President Carter’s unsuccessful bid for reelection as president as he lost to Ronald Reagan.

Russia has rightfully received their share of criticism for their handling of the Olympic Games. For one, these Games turned out to be the most expensive in history, with $51 billion (US) spent on these Games. This was primarily because the Sochi bid included the construction of a brand new Olympic Park, with all of the ice-based events taking place in new arenas.

Sochi spent this money on the Fisht Olympic Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies (a stadium built on grounds that were once home to a genocide). Also, they built a new International Press Center and Main Broadcast Center, and Olympic Village.

The killing of stray dogs did not help the views of many who already harbored negative feelings about the Sochi Olympics. It seemed to confirm many that these Games were simply a way to stroke President Vladimir Putin’s ego more than anything else. Some athletes actually found stray dogs that were seen throughout Sochi and have pledged to adopt and take them home with them back to their countries.

The worst thing a country can do during an Olympics is openly start trouble with another country. After a Russian attack on Kiev, Ukraine occurred, it outraged the Ukrainian contingency to the Olympics so much that half of the athletes packed up their bags and headed home to their country. This, of course, is somewhat ironic given that the Games themselves were seen as a security risk.

One of the biggest issues involving the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games was that these were being held in a country that has some of the strictest laws against civil rights for gay individuals. Organizations in the LGBT community pledged full-fledged boycotts of the Olympics as well as of NBC, and other broadcasters and Olympic sponsors. Neither President Barack Obama, nor Vice President Joe Biden attended the Opening or Closing Ceremony. Nor did First Lady Michelle Obama or Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. Other world leaders also refused to attend in what was seen as an international repudiation of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

They did send openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King as part of the American delegation to Sochi, but she had no choice but to back out with less than a week to go prior to the Opening Ceremony. She had to attend to her ailing mother.

Sochi also received plenty of criticism for its building of facilities that were supposed to house athletes as well as media. The water that was coming out of the sinks in the bathrooms was not exactly clear. U.S. bobsledder Johnny Quinn was once stuck in his bathroom to the point where he had to bust a hole through the bathroom door in order to get out.

Then he got stuck in an elevator. Something tells this Realist that Quinn will not be an endorser of a future Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Plus, in terms of the media, they seemed to be happy that the Games have come to a close. There are already accounts of media cheering when the Olympics were declared to be “closed” by new International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Another huge criticism of the Sochi Games had to be that they were held in a country with an average February temperature of around 50 degrees. And, they had to pipe in fake snow to make sure that the alpine skiing events actually could take place. In 2010 at Vancouver, its Olympic organizers had to do the same thing when it piped in faux snow to its alpine skiing events in Whistler, British Columbia.

Honestly, during the course of the Olympic Winter Games, Atlanta, Georgia had more real snow than Sochi did.

Some onlookers actually gave Russia high marks for its organizing of the Winter Olympics and even said that it was one of the better organizing jobs that the event has seen in a while. When such money is being spent on the Olympic Winter Games, it better be well organized.

Sochi Send-Off

Feb 23, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Poking fun at the mishap at Opening Ceremonies, ceremonies producers delay the opening of the fifth Olympic ring during the closing ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The last events were completed, the last medals were awarded. But just as there can be no start to an Olympics without an Opening Ceremony, there can be no close to an Olympics without a Closing Ceremony.

As Sochi’s Opening Ceremony was unique in its own right, so were the Closing Ceremonies.

Many believe that the Olympics are a financial and logistical nightmare, and that they should be awarded permanently to Athens to avoid such problems. The issue with this nonsensical idea is that it would ruin the entire concept of an Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremony. Sometimes, the Opening and Closing Ceremony can be more of a highlight of the Games than many of the athletic events themselves.

The amount of time, money, and energy that gets put into these country-centric mega shows are exactly why the Olympics can never (and should never be) permanently relegated to one country or one city.

Prior to the Closing Ceremony, NBC aired a one-hour documentary that looked back at the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding incident. This on the heels of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that looked at the same issue. ESPN couldn’t get Kerrigan to do an interview for their 30 for 30, but the Peacock landed one for their Olympics special.

Also, speaking of NBC, it had Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth from Sunday Night Football broadcasting its coverage of the Closing Ceremony. The Realist figured that all that was needed was Carrie Underwood to do an intro, and this thing was basically a Sunday Night Football telecast disguised as a Closing Ceremony.

Apparently, NBC agreed…

“@Li495Akiem We WERE Waiting all Day for Sunday Night.”–@NBCOlympics on Twitter

Included in the Closing Ceremony was an occasion where Russia basically said to the world, “We flubbed up, and we’re not afraid to say that we did flub up!” Closing ceremony performers dressed in silver garments eventually converged to form four perfect Olympic rings. The one at the top right, featured performers clustered together, then expanding to morph into the fifth Olympic ring.

Sound familiar, Realists?

This was, of course, a reference to Sochi’s Olympic Rings fail in the Opening Ceremony when five snowflakes appeared that were supposed to morph into Olympic rings with fireworks emitting from all five.

Where were the fireworks from these Closing Ceremony performers, the Realist asks?

It was also reminiscent of the Closing Ceremony from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. During its Opening Ceremony, three of the four portions of its interior Olympic Cauldron appeared from beneath the ground at BC Place Stadium. The fourth then came up during the Closing Ceremony as if all of Canada was saying, “Hey! Look what we found!”

It also included the traditional reintroduction of the Olympics—more of a less formal version of the Parade of Nations from the Opening Ceremony. The torchbearer, again, for Team USA was Julie Chu. The athletes all came out to more modern music, which included a Russian-remixed version of the “Harlem Shake” (?!?!) and Daft Punk’s “One More Time”.

So, if we’ve learned anything from these Olympics, Realists, it’s that the robot helmet-wearing DJs known as Daft Punk have a huge fanbase in Russia.

Also, 1,000 schoolchildren from throughout Russia sang a Soviet-remixed version of their National Anthem.

The Russian Closing Ceremony also included various tributes to Russian culture, including its art, ballet, dance, and literature. No mention of its less than wholesome past, but we’ll let that digress for now.

This included the appearance of an upside down house (?!?!) and a large chandelier that looked like it was filched straight from The Kremlin in Moscow. The ballet group performed “Scheherezade” and 60 plus grand pianos performed Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2”.

Then, it transitioned to a bit that honored Russian literature and poetry.

Another traditional part of every Closing Ceremony is the lowering of the flag from the Olympic Stadium, and it being handed over to the next host city. Of course, that next host city is PyeongChang in 2018. Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, handed the flag to Lee Seok-Rai, PyeongChang’s mayor.

Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko then gave a speech in which he declared that the Olympic Games represented the face of a “New Russia—OUR Russia”. We’ll see about how the Olympics fundamentally change a country. China said its Games changed its country. So much for that.

The stray dogs and the gay population of Russia may have something different to say about Chernyshenko’s “New Russia” comments.

Thomas Bach, of course, also delivered a speech. As a deviation from previous IOC president Jacuqes Rogge who used to call every Olympics the “Best Olympics Ever”, Bach simply said that Sochi’s were the “Athlete’s Games”.

Tell that to Mr. Quinn, Bach.

Vladimir Pozner, who joined Al and Cris (“Al, Cris, and Vlad are the best on TV…?”) for Closing Ceremony coverage noted that the music played during the final moments of this Closing Ceremony was the same performed during the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. The Sochi Olympics mascots also make one more appearance before disappearing into the Russian wilderness once again.

Also, they were jumbo-sized just as they were in the Opening Ceremony. Don’t tell the Realist that Victor Conte is now giving performance enhancers to Olympic MASCOTS now!

What is a Closing Ceremony without fireworks? The final moments included a massive fireworks display that occurred inside Fisht Olympic Stadium, outside the stadium, as well as throughout the Olympic Park.

NBC’s coverage then closes with a collage of Olympic moments that occurred throughout the two weeks in Sochi.

In the meantime, Sochi is not finished. It still has to look forward to the Paralympic Games that will be aired in the United States on NBC and NBC Sports Network. As for the Olympics, themselves, the five ring (or four, if you are Russia) circus now moves to both Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and PyeongChang in 2018.

Rio: 6,955 Miles. PyeongChang: 4448 Miles.

Oct 22, 2013; Rio de Janiero, BRA; Christ the Redeemer statue on top of Corcovado mountain in Rio during the first world press briefing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

As Sochi is now in the history books, the page now turns to Rio and PyeongChang. Rio de Janeiro’s Olympics in 2016 will be the first time that the Games have been staged in a South American country—a huge sticking point of their bid for The Games. As evidenced by their victory, Rio’s sales pitch had IOC members wanting more and more and more.

Prior to the Olympics, Brazil will get a bit of a dress rehearsal later this year. This summer, it will be the host country for the world’s largest sports event for the world’s most popular sport. Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup, the last one that will be broadcasted on ABC and ESPN.

As for Rio’s Olympic story, it was very long. Rio bidded for the 2008 Summer Olympics that were eventually awarded to Beijing. Rio didn’t make the shortlist.

Rio also bidded for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but as opposed to Moscow, New York City, Paris, Madrid, and eventual winner London, it was not shortlisted again.

They tried again, hoping that the third time would be a charm. Again, its previous Olympic failures likely signified that it would not be shortlisted again in a field that included Baku, Doha, Chicago, Madrid, and Tokyo.

This time, Baku and Doha were the cities that did not make the Olympic shortlist and Rio did along with Madrid, Tokyo, and Chicago.

This time, the third time was the proverbial charm. Rio prevailed in an Olympic bidding process where Chicago, buoyed by the recent election of its favorite son in Barack Obama as president, was looked at as the odds-on-favorite. Instead, the Windy City from the USA was eliminated in the first round, stunning the supporters at Daley Plaza.

A few rounds later, it came down to Rio and Madrid, with the Brazilian city prevailing over the Spanish capital.

As far as athletes to watch go, it could be an interesting time for men’s basketball. Kobe Bryant will not return for the 2016 Olympics as he participated in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. LeBron James may not return either as he will also be in his early 30s. If the NBA still commits itself to the Olympic Games, we may be looking at a Team USA led by Kevin Durant.

Again, that’s if pros will still take part. There’s conversation that it may not be the case as basketball could be in the process of developing its own “World Cup”.

Could we see a return of Gabby Douglas? Gymnasts that have attempted to return for consecutive Olympics have rarely fared well in Olympic trials. Nastia Liukin tried to qualify for London 2012, but was unsuccessful.

And yes, there still could be a Michael Phelps sighting in Rio. In the Realist’s view, this is unadvisable. There’s no doubt that Ryan Lochte will make an appearance. Also, with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings out of the picture, the beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Jennifer Kessy are favorites to win gold on the beaches of Rio. They won silver when beach volleyball took place at Horse Guards Palace in London for 2012.

As for the next Winter Games, they will be in PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018. Similar to Rio, PyeongChang also was in a “third time’s a charm” scenario. PyeongChang lost the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver. They also beat Salzburg. Sochi them bested PyeongChang and Salzburg for the 2014 Games. PyeongChang defeated Annecy, France and Munich, Germany for the opportunity to be the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

South Korea is no stranger to being a host country for the Olympic Games. In 1988, the Summer Olympics that year were held in Seoul. It was also the first Olympics that allowed professional athletes to participate, thanks to the IOC voting yes for pros at an October 1986 conference. This made Olympic purists aghast, as they believed that amateurism is that the center of Olympic spirit.

Unfortunately, the after effects of Sochi may be felt four years from now in PyeongChang. Look no further than the NHL. With every Winter Olympic Games, there is always the concern that the league (meaning its 30 owners) will not allow its athletes to participate for their countries.

NHL players have been allowed to participate at every Winter Olympics since 1998 in Nagano, which signifies that the NHL has gradually come around on this issue more often. Of course, NBC wants NHL players in the Olympics given that it is the primary American broadcaster of the NHL. Canadian rights for the 2018 Olympics have not been awarded yet as CBC’s contract for the Games ends with Rio 2016.

John Tavares, a center for the New York Islanders, was injured as he was playing for Team Canada. This is exactly the concern every NHL team has with the Games. It’s also why MLB’s owners unfairly wouldn’t allow its players to participate in the Olympics if baseball were to be allowed back in.

Ironically, it’s why baseball was not allowed back in when the IOC voted to reintroduce wrestling (an original Olympic sport) back into the program when it was originally dropped.

Mikaela Shiffrin won one gold medal at the Sochi Games, and already she has her eyes on winning five in PyeongChang. And, it’s likely that those in South Korea may not forget the Adelina Sotnikova/Yuna Kim controversy.

Sochi’s Olympics were the most expensive in history, but there is already speculation that the money that PyeongChang will throw at its two week bash four years from now will top Sochi in terms of cost. Its Olympic Stadium will seat 50,000 spectators, but it will only be temporary and will be dismantled when the Olympics leave. The Ceremonies were to originally take place in Alpensia, but has been moved to an Olympic Park of Hoenggye. That area is in Pyeongchang County. A ski resort called in Gangneung is also under construction.

2016 is two years away and 2018 is four years from now. Until then, see you in Brazil and South Korea somewhere!