A last post on the Winter Olympics
Updated: Apr 8, 2018
Our last event for the 2018 winter Olympics was the final biathlon, the men’s 4x7.5 relay. This was another night event, but the weather had warmed up considerably since the first week, and even from the first biathlon that we had gone to just 5 days earlier. That helped, as because this is a team relay with each member skiing 7.5 km and each taking a prone and standing shot, the total time for the event is more than double what it was for the men’s 15k race.
The event was just as exciting at the first biathlon that we watched, but it was interesting since it consisted of a shorter skiing loop before the athletes would come back around to take their shots, so as they all came in the crowd would cheer for them as they skied past but then the stands would get quiet so you could hear them take their shots. In the first event it didn’t seem to get as much attention, but it might have been because there was a larger group all shooting at one time, and the relay ended up spacing out the leaders from the pack pretty quickly – at the end of the first groups 7.5k the German team had a 22 second lead, it seemed like they were going to be able to just ski away with the gold medal. It also seemed that the guys expended more energy for their short run, as when they tagged off to their teammate a lot of them just collapsed on the course.
For the relay the guys all had 3 extra bullets that they could manually load if they missed their targets to try again, if they still missed then they would have to do the penalty loops. The extra bullets was something different and not something that I realized from watching these on television in previous years, but with the cameras on the guys you can really see them struggling in the cold and wind to reload if they missed a shot and how much time that sometimes take between shots just to make sure they are relaxed and lined up to make it. Once the first few guys get their shots done the crowd gets pretty loud again with the cheering so we can also see how that might have been a distraction for the shooters that are coming in later and trying to make up ground.
As I mentioned, the German team had an outstanding lead but their second guy ended up missing 3 of his shots even with his extra bullets, and they quickly dropped down to 6th place in the race. At one point the Canadian and American teams were making a good push and the Canadians actually had a few laps where they were up in medal contention. It does make it exciting, but then also less climatic at the end, as you pay a lot more attention to the shooting for the teams, but once the last Swede finished his final shots and took off for his final lap everyone knew that nobody could catch him and that they had won the gold. The Norwegian’s came in second, for a while – the third man in the relay – there was a good challenge between them and the Swedes, and the German team managed to fight back up and get the Bronze medal. Austria was 4th, and we were shocked when France came back from a disastrous first 2 guys and near last place to finish in the 5th position.
It was a great final event for us to enjoy, 5 total was a good number in all, and as remarkable as it was to see it live I don’t know that I would do the Skeleton, or any of the sliding events, in person again because it’s just too fast and too long of a track to really get as much viewing enjoyment as you do watching it on television. The biathlon events are definitely worth seeing live, as is the downhill skiing once you make sure that you’re wearing the right gear to combat the cold. Tina had talked to another spectator at the skiing who gave here some feet warmers to use, she loaded them into her boots for the second run of the skiing and used the second set at the final biathlon event and they really helped. Hockey I don’t think I need to explain how it is worth it to get tickets to go and see live, but our seats for it were better than we would have expected, and actually the Olympic stadium for the hockey was much smaller than any of the hockey stadiums we have in the States so there really weren’t any bad seats.