Monday, February 24, 2014

Athlete Profile: I-Pod

Considered a bit of a long-shot but also considered one of Shaun Whites biggest competitor, Iouri Podladtchikov, I-Pod, dethroned the 2 time gold medalist, Shaun White, at the 2014 Sochi games.  While I-Pod was helped by 2 uncharacteristically sloppy runs from the 2 time champ, I-Pod put his stamp on the Olympic's and his gold medal run with his signature YOLO flip. While Shaun White followed with his own version of the YOLO flip, Shaun Whites rendition was not as big in volume nor clean in execution as I-Pod. But I-Pod is a Shaun White fan and seemed more honored to beat the defending champ more than anything. I-Pod is of Russian decent but changed the country he was competing for 3 years ago to Switzerland.

"TODAY Sochi." TODAY. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Athlete Profile: Tina Maze

Tina Maze made her stamp on the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a gold in Giant Slalom for Slovenia. Maze has long been in the shadows of US Olympic skier, Lindsey Vonn but in 2014, perhaps because of Vonn's absence, Maze emerged with a gold medal for Slovenia  Maze's win was even more impressive due to the conditions in which she skied, rainy and wet. So much so that her celebration after winning the gold was borderline swimming in the slush.  Tina Maze's run also ruined the Olympic debut of Mikaela Shiffrin, the 18 year old skiing prodigy.  Maze's giant slalom gold medal marks her second of the Olympics and has helped her earn the title of greatest Slovenian Skier of all time.

"Tina Maze Wins Second Sochi Gold in Giant Slalom under Tough Conditions." Guardian News and Media, 18 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Athlete Profile: Ryan Callahan

The current Captain of the New York Rangers, Ryan Callahan, has developed into a key role player for the United States hockey team.  The United States hockey team has been able to garner success through strong special teams play and Ryan Callahan has been one of the best penalty killers for the US squad. While Ryan Callahan has not been the most efficient offensive player, his energy, shot blocking and defensive penalty killing has been a spark for the American team and will be a necessary aspect of their game against the Canadians and possibly in the gold medal game.

"Capt. Callahan On WFAN: U.S. Ready For Epic Showdown With Canada." CBS New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Athlete Profile: Patrick Kane

Team USA forward and 2 time Stanley Cup champion, Patrick Kane, knows about pressure and even more, performing in those moments.  But these Olympic were different for the Buffalo native as he was held to just 4 points in 6 games, all of which were assists.  But Kane is not pointing any fingers and takes the brunt of the responsability for his lack of production and team USA's lack of success stating "I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough to help the team win a medal. 
Obviously, I was expected to do a lot more. When you come over 
here and put up zero goals and four assists in six games, that’s not the numbers you want to see. Definitely disappointing.’’ As a leader of the USA hockey team, Kane will likely be back on the team in four years hopes to lead the team to greater success then in the 2014 Sochi games.

"Hawks Star Patrick Kane Looking to Put 'disappointing' Olympics behind." - Chicago Sun-Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Athlete Profile: Mikaela Shiffrin

18 year old "Phenom" (Bode Miller's adjective) Mikaela Shiffrin is Alpine Skiing's brightest young star. Shiffrin won her first Olympic gold in the Women's Slalom for the USA last friday and became the youngest woman ever to win a gold in Alpine skiing.  But Shiffrin's philosophy about success does not hinge around results but rather progress. Shiffrin entered the Olympics knowing she was capable of medaling but simply wanted the chance to improve. The road to gold medal in the women's Slalom would prove to be a tough challenge despite Shiffrin's nearly flawless first run; a close call and an almost  disqualifying wipeout forced Mikaela to finish her second run with nearly 20 perfect turns which she was able to do to earn her gold medal.    

Pennington, Bill. "In Slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin Zips to Bottom and Reaches the Pinnacle."The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Athlete Profile: Ted Ligety

The 29 year old, 2006 Giant Slalom gold medal winner and 3 time world champion, Ted Ligety, is now the 2014 Giant Slalom gold medal winner.  After being a favorite for 3 medals in the 2014 olympics, Ted Ligety had finished outside the top 10 in his first 2 events. Ligety was also shut out of a medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. But in the Giant Slalom, Ligety's best event, the gold medal favorite came through in a big way, easily taking the gold after a brilliant first run put him in first place and his second run solidified his win. Ligety expressed the importance of his win and the impact that it had after his disappointing finish in Vancouver stating, "I’ve been answering questions about Vancouver for four years.”

Pennington, Bill. "Ted Ligety Extends Reign With Giant Slalom Win." The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Athlete Profile: Teemu Selanne

In his 6th Olympics and at 43 years old, Finland native, Teemu Selanne is the 2014 Olympic hockey MVP.  Selanne's professional career started in the NHL over 21 years ago when Selanne scored 76 goals in 84 games as a rookie. Since his breakout season, Selanne has been a premier NHL scorer every year he has been in the league.  The player unofficially known as the "Finnish Flash" currently plays for the Anaheim Ducks and is the Captain for the Finnish Olympic hockey team. In his 6 Olympics, Selanne has been just as productive as he has been for the various NHL teams he has played for, scoring 24 goals and 43 points in 37 career Olympic contests. His production and leadership for team Finland helped them to a bronze medal in the 2014 Olympic games with a 5-0 win over the United States, a game in which Selanne scored twice. 

"Teemu Selanne Is the 2014 Winter Olympics MVP." ProHockeyTalk. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.   

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Athlete Profile: Ryan Miller

While Ryan Miller lead the US Olympic hockey team to a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and was the MVP of those Olympics, miller currently finds himself in a new role in 2014 for team USA, backup. Despite Millers work for the 2010 team, Jonathan Quick, goalie for the LA Kings, has earned the starting role for the US olympic team for the Sochi games. Even with a reduced role, Miller has embodied the Olympic spirit and has become the ultimate team player in supporting the new US goalie.  "I want this team to succeed, and I've been seeing things within the game that are different from the NHL, and we've been playing pretty much strictly NHL-style hockey for a long time," Miller said. Miller has been a veteran presence on a young US team and has helped Quick on the ice and in the film room along with imparting his knowledge and experience.  With Quick starting and Miller serving as a uniquely capable and qualified backup, the US attack will start in goal. 

Espn, Scott Burnside Via. "Ryan Miller Is Ready and Standing by." ABC News. ABC News Network, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Athlete Profile: Kevin Pearce

In 2009 Kevin Pearce was a Snowboard half-pipe gold medal hopeful for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics until a horrific crash during a training run left him in a coma and critical condition for 26 days. Pearce suffered a severe brain injury leaving him with permanent vision and memory loss. Before Pearce's crash, he was the only snowboarder to beat Shaun White in both the slopestyle and half-pipe events making him the odds-on favorite to dethrone the king of snowboarding. Fast foward to today, with his horrific crash more than four years removed, Kevin Pearce will finally have the chance to go to the Olympics, but not as a competitor. Pearce will attend the 2014 Olympics in Sochi as a spectator. While Pearce has taken to the slopes on his snowboard since the crash, he is not allowed to compete in snowboarding competitions of any kind due to the condition that his brain is still in nearly five years later. Despite that, Pearce's story and determination since his career ending crash has been inspirational. Pearce's creation of the "love your brain" foundation helps countless victims of severe brain injuries cope with the countless setbacks they encounter in their attempted returns to normalcy. Pearce continues to battle vision loss and memory loss along with numerous other complications since his crash but has made remarkable strides and embodies the determination of a true Olympian.

"Snowboarder Kevin Pearce Finally Heads to Olympics." N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Athlete Profile: Shani Davis

Shani Davis, a member of the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Unites States speedskating team, already has his name in the Olympics record books and is looking to add it to a few more records at the upcoming Sochi games. Davis solidified his name in the record books in 2006 as the first African-American to win gold at the winter Olympics and is now looking to become the first athlete to win gold in three straight winter Olympics. He shares the same goal as Shaun White, also a 2006 and 2010 gold medal winner. But the Chicago native (Davis) has had his fair share of altercations and controversy in his 25 years of speed skating. From his 2002 Olympic selection but non-participation to his feuding with the USA Speedskating team, Davis has not alway been the face of USA winter Olympics. But, the upcoming games in Sochi have been a different story. Davis has worked hard to repair his image with USA Speedskating and has developed into one of the leaders of the US winter Olympic team. Davis references the absence of Lindsey Vonn as a member of the 2014 US Olympic team as a reason he now plays a larger leadership role and Davis embraces the idea stating, "for me, my first and foremost job is to perform, and if that comes with me being one of the guys that is the face of the Olympics, I gratefully accept it." A new and improved Shani Davis eagerly awaits the 2014 Sochi Olympics as the world eagerly awaits his chance to become the first winter Olympian to earn a gold medal in three straight Olympics. 

Wayne Drehs. "Sochi Spotlight: Shani Davis." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 04 Feb. 2014.