Sochi Olympic Preview

cat tacopinaIn just one day (today if you count trials for certain events), it will finally be here. The Olympics.

Honestly, I’ve waited a long time to do an Olympic preview for The New Paltz Oracle. I love the Olympics. Sure, the Summer Olympics may be more fun to watch as there are more team sports, but I’m not picky. Aside from having a designated two weeks every two years where it’s easy to be a proud and American, the Olympics are a time to watch some of the greatest sports moments become history in the making. This also wouldn’t be a hockey column if I didn’t take time to say this is going to be the best hockey you’ll ever see. But without further ado, here are some things I’m looking out for in Sochi 2014.

After the excitement Men’s Hockey brought to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, all eyes will be on the tournament in Sochi. The storylines going into the Sochi Olympics are more interesting than the ones going into Vancouver. Russia will look to claim gold at home, Canada will look to defend their title and the United States will want to grab gold after their disappointing finish in Vancouver. Plenty of pundits and fans have been sure the gold will go to either Russia or Canada, but I’m not sure. I’m predicting Russia will choke, Sweden will grab gold, and the United States will, at the very least, medal.

I’m compelled by the new system of not only competing for individual medals, but by competing as a team as well. In a similar vein to that of Olympic Gymnastics, each country will offer up figure skaters from each competition to represent their country. It’s hard to foresee this being a good Olympics for U.S. Figure Skating. Yuna Kim of South Korea will capture gold again (she’s too talented not to) for the Women, and Patrick Chan of Canada should win for the Men. U.S.A.’s Jeremy Abbot has all the talent in the world, but unfortunately doesn’t deliver at the International level. Gracie Gold is the U.S.’s best chance to medal for the women, but I doubt she will.

 The Women’s Hockey Tournament won’t be as exciting as the Men’s, but fans of Canada and the United States will definitely enjoy the match-up. After being the favorite going into Vancouver, the U.S. women sank against home-team Canada. So not only will they be the more dominant team based on results in the past several match-ups between the two, but they’ll be looking for revenge as well. The United States women should win, and Canada should claim silver. Anything after that is anyone’s guess.

Finally, the question every media outlet has asked at least three times a day for the past month: Is Sochi going to be safe enough for the Olympics?

Hopefully Russian President Vladimir Putin knows how much pressure there will be on him to paint the best possible image for Russia given their Human Rights violations. Russian security will more than likely be everywhere given the rest of the world’s uncertainty of whether or not Sochi will be safe. However, don’t be surprised if something breaks out between security and protesters of some sort. If anything happens, it will be that.