Official Souvenir Program

December 31, 2009

For Christmas, Scott also received the Vancouver 2010 Official Souvenir Program. It's ok, there isn't as much of the info that I had expected in it (venue info, sport info), it's a lot of articles and advertising like you would find in a regular magazine. Considering it's $18 (without shipping and handling) I was shocked at the amount of advertisements.

All in all, I give it: ✯✯/✯✯✯✯✯.



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More Olympic Gear!

December 30, 2009

Christmas has come and gone and left Scott and I with a bunch of Olympic gear!!
Scott received: a Canada scarf, a CTV "Believe" Shirt
I received: a Canada scarf, a Canada toque, a zip up Vancouver jacket, an Olympic Bear, a Figure Skate keychain and best of all, my parents gave me the funds for the flights and the train tickets! (thank you Mom and Dad!)


I look a little excited, don't I? :) This picture was taken with Scott's new camera for the games, we're testing it out beforehand to learn the settings.

In other Olympic news, Scott was sent an email from our hotel in Whistler today! Within this email, there's information about where to go while we're there and what to do, it's really interesting and getting us hyped up!

So exciting! I can't wait!! :)

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Team Canada - The Announcements

So I found the majority of today's announcement on YouTube. Recorded for posterity and your enjoyment, check it out.

Goaltenders


Defence


Forwards


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Team Canada - A New Generation




When you think about the 2002 Team Canada that won gold in Salt Lake City, you think about a generation of great players. Guys like Mario, Yzerman, Sakic, Shanahan and MacInnis…just to name a few. Future hall-of-famers, joined together in the prime of their careers for one defining moment. It united a country after 50 years in the hockey wilderness, and in the eight years since, has already passed into immortality.

Since that time, most of the members of that team have retired. Sure, there are a few stalwarts like Iginla and Neidermayer still around, but most have passed on…and passed the torch to a new generation of Canadian hockey superstars.

In some ways, the 2005 World Juniors represented a new dawn for Canadian Hockey. After a long drought, it was the first of 5 straight gold medals at that tournament, a streak that still continues. It was held during the NHL lockout, with the eyes of the hockey world focused on Grand Forks…and although we had an inkling of it at the time, it was also the first meeting of Crosby v. Ovechkin.

Team Canada would eventually decimate the Russians in the final by a score of 6-1. Overall, Canada never, not for one second, trailed in a game throughout the whole tournament, outscoring its opponents by a score of 41-7. It was a dominating effort, causing some to call it the greatest Team Canada ever assembled.

Steve Yzerman must agree, a member of the old guard, turning to the new, as he has selected the nucleus of that team to lead Canada to Gold in Vancouver. We can only hope that history repeats itself, that the domination continues. All together, Yzerman has pulled 7 players from that team: Crosby, Bergeron, Perry, Weber, Seabrook, Richards, Getzlaf.

Goalies
 Martin Brodeur
Marc-Andre Fleury
Roberto Luongo

Defence
Dan Boyle
Drew Doughty
Duncan Keith
Scott Neidermayer (C)
Chris Pronger (A)
Brent Seabrook
Shea Weber

Forward
Patrice Bergeron
Sidney Crosby (A)
Ryan Getzlaf
Dany Heatley
Jarome Iginla (A)
Patrick Marleau
Brendan Morrow
Rick Nash
Corey Perry
Mike Richards
Eric Staal
Joe Thornton
Jonathan Toews

It’s a team built with for a purpose, and with expectation weighing heavy on their shoulders. The disappointment of Turin, the expectation of a hockey nation, the pressure of home ice…it’s an intimindating combination. This Olympic Men’s Hockey Tournament will undoubably be the most watched event in Canadian sporting history. It’s the perfect storm, bigger than Salt Lake 2002, more apprehension than 1972…with the right mix of drama and success, this could be a defining moment for this country.

There is no questioning that this team can win it all. The key of course over such a short tournament will be finding quick chemistry, and it’s something that Yzerman has clearly taken into consideration. Yzerman elected to go with two set pieces, the San Jose line of Marleau-Thornton-Heatley, and the Chicago defence paring of Keith-Seabrook. But the search for quick chemistry goes deeper than just that. Pronger and Neidermayer have a long history of playing together in Anaheim. There is the aforementioned connections to the 2005 World Junior Team, where Crosby-Bergeron-Perry tore apart the tournament with their combination of speed and skill. Getzlaf and Perry play together for the Ducks. This is a surpisingly interconnected team, and I don’t think that is by accident.




I also notice how young this team is. I think viewing this team, it is easy to see that the lessons of 2006 have hit home for Yzerman, namely that youth and speed are where its at. There are no Todd Bertuzzi’s on this team, and clearly with the pick of Doughty, age wasn’t a negative consideration. I would think that Canada will be one of the youngest teams at the Olympics, and will almost certainly be so among the ‘7 Hockey Powers’. Comparing the roster of Canada to say Sweden or Finland shows just how much this team represents a new generation of Canadian talent.

When you ask yourself, is this roster good enough to win gold, the answer is a resounding yes. I think Yzerman has done a great job here. I feel much better about this team than I did the 2006 edition.

Now all that is left is to play the games.

I can't wait to see this squad in action.

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O'Canada! Stevie Y's edition of Team Canada.

It's a job many would love to have, but a responsibility few could handle with the skill and grace of Steve Yzerman - the role of executive director for Team Canada, charged with selecting the Men's Olympic hockey team. Today, months of speculation ended, and 6 weeks of second guessing commenced, as the Men's Olympic Hockey Team was unveiled at a press conference in Saskatoon. Team Canada was even a trending topic on Twitter today - testament to the number of people in our country who are passionate about hockey and the Olympic games!

Team Canada contained only a few surprises, with goaltenders a lock for several months with Cam Ward injured and Steve Mason playing poorly, and experienced players like Niedermayer, Iginla and Pronger surefire picks for Vancouver 2010 - there was little room to play your way onto the team.
However, Patrice Bergeron did just that - playing his way onto the team with a stellar first half with the Bruins, although it probably helped that he's played with Crosby before at the '05 World Juniors. While many have labeled him the 13th forward, he may end up on Canada's first line with Crosby and Nash. Look out goaltenders everywhere! Twenty-year-old Drew Doughty was the big surprise on defence, although he's already drawing comparisons with Ray Bourque from Bob McKenzie, his skill level was never in question. While Doughty is lacking in senior international experience, Doughty is the future of Team Canada's D-core, so this pick makes sense to allow him to lead a no-Niedermayer, no-Pronger team in 2014. Much the chagrin of my friends here in Calgary, Jay Bouwmeester was bumped to allow the inclusion of Doughty. J-Bo has averaged the most minutes of any NHL player, can move the puck quickly, hit hard and quarterback the powerplay - that a player like him is left off speaks to the immense depth of talent that Mr. Yzerman and co. had to choose for this team. Who knows - maybe one of the top 7 D-men get injured in the next couple weeks, and J-Bo gets a chance to show what they missed by not picking him?

I can't say I disagree with any of Hockey Canada's picks for the Olympic games - and I'm sure looking forward to seeing these players suit up together in 6 weeks time. The criticism that Stevie Y will have to face if this team doesn't win gold is immense, but I think he's picked the right team to go all the way! Go Canada Go!

-Ben

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Canada Who?





















So today is finally here - Roster Selection Time! Its been a favorite topic of converstation across this country for months, if not years. But today, the speculation ends, and we find out who will comprise one of the most important teams we have ever assembled...

This tournament quite honestly has the potential to surpass the 1972 series in terms of national importance. Can you imagine the hysteria if we get into the gold medal game, and someone scores a game-winning goal in the form of Paul Henderson?

In advance of todays annoucement, there are still a large number of questions to be answered. We actually know surprisingly little in terms of who will comprise the team:

Forwards
Assuming that Yzerman takes 13 forwards, there are probably only a few that can be considered locks at this point: Crosby, Iginla, Nash, Thornton, Heatley and Getzlaf.  That leaves 7 open spots to be contested, although there are 'probables'. Guys I think will be there include Corey Perry, Jon Toews and Mike Richards.

That leaves a large bubble, and the list is long: Eric Staal, Marleau, Morrow, Doan, Smyth, Stamkos, Sharp, St. Louis, Fisher.....even just to name a few.

Although I know its a longshot, I'm personally pulling for Ryan Smyth to make this team. Not only because I have his Team Canada jersey already, but because I think he brings an element of grit and determination that can really inspire a team. Its pretty hard to not drop to block a shot or finish your check when Ryan Smyth is sitting at the end of the bench after just taking a puck to the teeth.

Defence
Things are a little clearer on the back-end, where Pronger, Neidermayer, Boyle, Weber and Keith are probably locks. That really leaves maybe 5 guys fighting for the last two spots: Bouwmeester, Seabrook, Doughty, Green and Phaneuf.

I personally think that it will be Bouwmeester and Doughty, but I most combinations of those 5 guys are possible. The only thing I would be surprised by would be if both Green and Phaneuf make it. Considering their styles of play, I think its a one-or-the-othere there, I can't see them both being on.

Goaltending
Its probably the worst kept secret in the country that it'll be Broduer, Luongo and Fleury. My bet is on Marty to get the start come February, but that won't be decided today.

Captaincy
From where I'm sitting, I think that there are three main contenders for the Captaincy: Neidermayer, Iginla and Crosby. I'd personally like to see Iggy with it...I like his passion over Neidermayer's. Really though, I'll be happy as long as they keep the 'C' off Crosby's jersey. I think that if Canada is going to win gold, Sidney needs to be Canada's best player. I'd rather have someone else dealing with the distraction of wearing the 'C', and let Crosby focus on just playing hockey.

I'll be watching this part of the proceedings closely. I've already decided that I'll be getting one of these...Now I just need to know what letter I can put on the front....



Regardless, today should be excellent drama...and who is left off this team will be just as much a topic of discussion as who makes it.

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Czech Republic

Czech Republic



Olympic Appearances: 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: 1st (1998)
Total Medals Won: 2
Pool: Russia, Slovakia, Latvia

I don't think there is a Canadian out there who still isn't bitter about the 1998 semi-final. Goddamn you Hasek, and goddamn the shootout!

The Czechs have faired pretty well in their short time at the games, in four appreances they've won gold, and never finished lower than 5th. I wonder though, despite their reputation, if this Czech team might be a little overblown:

Goaltenders
Tomas Vokoun (Florida Panthers/NHL)
Ondrej Pavelec (Atlanta Thrashers/NHL)
Jakub Stepanek (Vitkovice/CZE)

Defence
Miroslav Blatak (Salavat Yulaev Ufa/RUS)
Jan Hejda (Columbus Blue Jackets/NHL)
Tomas Kaberle (Toronto Maple Leafs/NHL)
Filip Kuba (Ottawa Senators/NHL)
Pavel Kubina (Atlanta Thrashers/NHL)
Zbynek Michalek (Phoenix Coyotes/NHL)
Roman Polak (St Louis Blues/NHL)
Marek Zidlicky (Minnesota Wild/NHL).

Forwards

Petr Cajanek (Saint-Pétersbourg/RUS)
Roman Cervenka (Slavia Prague/CZE)
Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils/NHL)
Martin Erat (Nashville Predators/NHL)
Tomas Fleischmann (Washington Capitals/NHL)
Martin Havlat (Minnesota Wild/NHL)
Jaromir Jagr (Avangard Omsk/NHL)
David Krejci (Boston Bruins/NHL)
Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators/NHL)
Tomas Plekanec (Canadiens de Montréal/NHL)
Tomas Rolinek (Magnitogorsk/RUS)
Josef Vasicek (Yaroslavl/RUS).

I see the Czechs as a similar team to the Fins, if maybe half a step ahead of them. I like their depth alot, but they're still missing the true superstar. Jaromir Jagr of course used to be that guy, but really, this is 2010, not 1994. I'd still be watching him at all times out of the corner of my eye, but he's not the elite player he was through the 1990s.

Put me down for the Czechs to see the quarter-finals, and they should make the semi's. But I don't put them on the same level as Canada/Russia, and I think I like the Swedes over them too. I'll call a bronze-medal game loss here!

Linkback: Other Rosters

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Finland

Finland


Olympic Appearances: First appeared in 1952
Best Finish: 2nd (1988, 2006)
Total Medals Won: 4
Pool: Sweden, Germany, Belarus

The Fins are always a dangerous team, mainly because they have become a goaltending factory. After riding a very hot Miikka Kiprusoff  Niittymäki to a silver medeal in 2006, Finland comes in looking to improve in 2010. Can Kipper recapture that magic, and become the 1998 Hasek...carrying a team to gold?

Realistically, I think Finland is a lock to make the quarterfinals, and could even make the final four. Of course in a short tournament anythign can happen, but I put the Fins on about the same level as the Americans and Czechs. They aren't a favorite to take home a medal, but it won't be a shocker if they do.

Goaltenders
Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames, NHL)
Niklas Bäckström (Minnesota Wild, NHL)
Antero Niittymäki (Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL)
Defence
Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia Flyers, NHL)
Sami Salo (Vancouver Canucks, NHL)
Joni Pitkänen (Carolina Hurricanes, NHL)
Lasse Kukkonen (Avangard Omsk, RUS)
Toni Lydman (Buffalo Sabres, NHL)
Sami Lepistö (Phoenix Coyotes, NHL)
Janne Niskala (Frölunda, SWE)

Forwards

Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild, NHL)
Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina Hurricanes, NHL)
Valtteri Filppula (Detroit Red Wings, NHL)
Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks, NHL)
Saku Koivu (Anaheim Ducks, NHL)
Jere Lehtinen (Dallas Stars, NHL)
Niklas Hagman (Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL)
Olli Jokinen (Calgary Flames, NHL)
Antti Miettinen (Minnesota Wild, NHL)
Jarkko Ruutu (Ottawa Senators, NHL)
Niko Kapanen (Ak Bars Kazan, RUS)
Ville Peltonen (Dynamo Minsk, BLR)
Jarkko Immonen (Ak Bars Kazan, RUS)

This Finnish team is very similar to the one that took the Silver medal in 2006, and as with Sweden, why mess with success right? The issue again though is, that each of these guys have another 4 years on their frames, are they still the same players they were in 2006?

The other issue here is a lack of elite talent up front. The Fins have excellent depth, but I think the only player you can say is the best on his own NHL team is M. Koivu. Beyond that, its alot of 2nd and 3rd liners on NHL teams.

Of course, that doesn't include the goaltending, where either of Kipper/Backstrom would be good enough to lead this team to a medal. Throw in Niittymäki and you have a pretty solid trio.

Linkback: Other Rosters

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Norway

December 29, 2009

Norway


Olympic Appearances: 1952, 1964-1972, 1980-1994
Best Finish: 8th (1972)
Total Medals Won: 0
Pool: Canada, Switzerland, USA

Norway makes its return to Olympic Hockey for the first time since they hosted the games in Lillehamer in 1994. They squeak their way in as the #12 seed, having beaten Denmark, Kazakhstan and France in their preliminary qualification pool last year. The Nords have never finished higher than 8th at an Olympic games, and I really wouldn't expect that to change.

I'll actually be seeing the Nords twice (Canada, USA) so it'll be interesting to see just how well they are able to hold up to elite competition.

Goaltenders
Pal Grotnes (Stjernen)
Andre Lysenstoen (Haki/FIN)
Ruben Smith (Storhamar)
Defence
Alexander Bonsaksen (Modo/SWE)
Jonas Holas (Farjestad/SWE)
Tommy Jakobsen (Larenskog)
Juha Kaunismäki (Stavanger Oilers)
Lars Erik Lund (Vslerenga)
Ole Kristian Tollefsen (Philadelphia Flyers/NHL)
Mats Trygg (Kolner Haie/GER)

Forwards

Morten Ask (Thomas Sabo Tigers/GER)
Anders Bastiansen (Färjestad/SWE)
Kristian Forsberg (Modo/SWE)
Mads Hansen (Brynäs/SWE)
Marius Holtet (Färjestad/SWE)
Lars Erik Spets (Vålerenga)
Mathis Olimb (Frölunda/SWE)
Martin Roymark (Frölunda/SWE)
Per-Age Skroder (Modo/SWE)
Patrick Thoresen (Ufa Salavat/KHL)
Tore Vikingstad (Hannover Scorpions/GER)
Martin Laumann (YlvenLinlöping/SWE)
Mats Zuccarello Aasen (Modo/SWE)
 
Its a little strange that the other Scandinavian nations do so well at hockey (Sweden/Finland), yet Norway lags so far behind. Can't say I have an explanation for it, its just one of those things.

Linkback: Other Rosters

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Slovakia

Slovakia


Olympic Appearances: 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: 5th (2006)
Total Medals Won: 0
Pool: Russia, Czech Republic, Latvia

Slovakia is an interesting study. Considered one of the '7 Hockey Powers', there is no denying that the Slovaks are a talented team. However, they have to still be considered to be well back of the 'elite' teams such as Canada, Russia and Sweden. Could the Slovaks surprise and win a medal? Sure...but its far more likely they'll play the role of a middle of the pack team, and bow out in the quarterfinals.

Historically, Slovakia has ranged from 5th to 13th place over their four Olympic Apperances. I'd expect them to come closer to the upper end of that range this time around. Their pool game against the Czech Republic should be a good one for two reasons. First, obviously given the two countries united histories, and secondly, as it will probably determine who finishes behind Russia in their pool. Finishing 2nd in the pool might fetch you an easier qualification game (Norway, Latvia), whereas if you drop to 3rd, you're going to have to earn it against someone tougher (Finland, USA).

Goaltenders
Jaroslav Halák (Montreal Canadiens/NHL)
Peter Budaj (Colorado Avalanche/NHL)
Rastislav Staňa (Severstaľ Čerepovec/KHL)

Defence
Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins/NHL)
Milan Jurcina (Columbus Blue Jackets/NHL)
Richard Lintner (Dinamo Minsk/KHL)
Andrej Meszaros (Tampa Bay Lightning/NHL)
Andrej Sekera (Buffalo Sabres/NHL)
Lubomir Visnovsky (Edmonton Oilers/NHL)
Martin Strbak (HK MVD/KHL)

Forwards

Lubos Bartecko (Bern/Svajc)
Branko Radivojevic (Spartak Moskva/KHL)
Martin Cibak (Spartak Moskva/KHL)
Pavol Demitra (Vancouver Canucks/NHL)
Marian Gaborik (New York Rangers/NHL)
Michal Handzus (Los Angeles Kings/NHL)
Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks/NHL)
Marcel Hossa (Dinamo Riga/KHL)
Tomas Kopecky (Chicago Blackhawks/NHL)
Zigmund Palffy (HK 36 Skalica/SR)
Jozef Stumpel (Barys Astana/KHL)
Miroslav Satan (UFA)
Richard Zedník (Lokomotiv Jaroslavľ/KHL)

The first thing I notice when looking at the Slovak roster is the elite talent. Chara is probably the best defenceman on the planet today...Halak is one of the hottest goalies in the NHL...and Gaborik/Hossa are two elite snipers. This is a team that if it gets on a run, can be very dangerous.

The issue for the Slovaks is that, while they have the elite talent of other teams, they just don't have the depth of talent that a Canada or Russia has. Chara/Hossa can't play the whole game, and when they're off the ice, look for the elite teams to have the edge over the Slovak's 2nd/3rd/4th lines.

Also, love the 'nostalgia' picks of Palffy and Satan. What is this, 1999?

Linkback: Other Rosters

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Christmas Report - New Camera and Other Items

So Christmas has come and gone for another year. Lots of running around again this year. Hitting up not only our own family things, but each others as well, makes for a lot of events for both Beth and I. Throw in the fact that I'm working through the holidays, and I'm exhasted!

Anyways, enough bitching, onto the important stuff...presents! Of course, with our Olympic Trip coming up, both Beth and I were easy buys this year. We each got scarves, shirts, programs etc to help suppliment our trip. I thing with all the Olympic/Canada gear I now have, I won't need to wear anything but come February.

So, as good as all that other stuff is, the 'big ticket' item was a brand-spanking-new camera: a Panasonic Lumix.


My old camera had clearly bit the dust. It was more than a few years old, had pretty much lost the ability to focus properly, and was the size of a barn. So it was time to upgrade for sure!

I haven't had a chance to really test the camera out 'under pressure', like at a sporting event, but I gotta say that I'm super impressed so far. Its got a 12x zoom (key for when sitting in the nosebleeds), and the auto-focus and image-stabilization seems to be top notch. You pretty much have to purposly try to take a blurry picture.

I'm super happy with it so far anyways...and can't wait to use it in Vancouver. I plan on taking about a billion pictures when out there, so that I have the proper equipment, all that is left is the waiting for the opportunity.

Anyways, check out a couple of test shots that I've done over the past few days. #1 is a panorama from my condo, and #2 of some Olympic billboars on John St. in downtown Toronto...ironically across from the CBC building.




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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Latvia

Latvia

Olympic Appearances: 1936, 2002, 2006
Best Finish: 9th (2002)
Total Medals Won: 0
Pool: Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia

Aside from Norway, Latvia is probably the biggest underdog of the tournament. Featuring only two NHL players, and those of limited talent, the Latvians will be in very very tough to make it to anything resembling even the quarterfinals. Heck, they don't even have Arturs Irbe anymore. It also doesn't help that they play in probably the most well rounded group of the tournament, catching 3 of the '7 Hockey Powers' in Russia, the Czechs and the Slovaks.

The biggest thing that Latvia probably has going for it is its fans. I've never been to a game featuring a Latvian team, but from what I hear, they are absolutly crazy when it comes to their home squad. From a Toronto Star article on the 2008 World Championship:
Team Canada assistant coach Pat Burns was amazed by their raucousness as he watched the U.S. beat Latvia 4-0 Friday. Afterwards, he spoke with his NHL boss, New Jersey Devils president Lou Lamouriello.
"I was talking to Lou, and said, `Can we buy them and bring them to Jersey with us,'" said Burns. "It's their Super Bowl. They take it very seriously. I was just hoping they would get a goal just to see them erupt."
Gotta love that passion, even if it might end up being in a hopeless cause. Considering the tough competition in their group, its pretty likely that the Latvians will go 0-3 through the group stage, setting up a tough matchup for them in the Qualification Stage. Really, the goal for the Latvians should be to try and be the best of the 0-3 group teams, maybe setting up a game in the qualification stage they have a chance of pulling off an upset in. Anyways, onto the roster:


Goaltenders
Edgars Masalskis (Dinamo Riga)
Ervins Mustukovs (Dinamo Riga)
Sergejs Naumovs (Dinamo Riga)

Defence
Oskars Bartulis (Philadelphia Flyers)
Georgijs Pujacs (Sibir Novosibirsk)
Karlis Skrastins (Dallas Stars)
Arvids Rekis (Wolfsberg)
Krisjanis Redlihs (Dinamo Riga)
Rodrigo Lavins (Dinamo Riga)
Guntis Galvins (Dinamo Riga)
Kristaps Sotnieks (Dinamo Riga)

Forwards

Herberts Vasiljevs (Krefeld Pinguine)
Janis Sprukts (Dinamo Riga)
Aleksandrs Nizivijs (Dinamo Riga)
Martins Karsums (Norfolk Admirals)
Martins Cipulis (Dinamo Riga)
Girts Ankipans (Dinamo Riga)
Lauris Darzins (Dinamo Riga)
Aleksejs Sirokovs (Amur Khabarovsk)
Mikelis Redlihs (Dinamo Riga)
Kaspars Daugavins (Binghamton Senators)
Armands Berzins (Dinamo Riga)
Gints Meija (Dinamo Riga)

Aside from two NHLers (Bartuli, Skrastin) and two AHLers (Daugavins, Karsums) you'll notice that the vast majority of this team has been formed from Dinamo Riga. I gotta say that I'm a fan of this approach for an underdog team. Considering how short this tournament is, there really isn't that much time for a team to find chemistry and gel. For a team like Canada, the wealth of talent available makes it worthwhile to pick-and-choose elite players. However, for an also-ran like Latvia, picking a team that will already have substantial chemistry is a nice edge to have.

Linkback: Other Rosters

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Sweden

December 27, 2009

Today, the defending 2006 Gold Medalist - Team Sweden. The Swedes bring back a tonne of the same players from 2006, but are clearly fighting the injury bug.

Sweden

Olympic Appearances: First entered in 1920. Missed 1932 and 1976
Best Finish: Gold (1994, 2006)
Total Medals Won: 8
Pool: Finland, Belarus, Germany


Sweden has always been a perennial hockey power, if maybe a half-step behind front-runners Canada and Russia. The Swedes have always excelled at 'big-ice' hockey, taking an almost soccer approach to the game at times. Puck posession and a focus on solid defence is normally what you can expect out of your Swedish opposion. Of course, not that they can't put the puck in the net.

Sweden comes into the Olympics as the defending Champion, having beaten Finland in the finals four years ago. Therefore, its not surprising that they have returned a large number of the same players from 2006:


Goaltenders
Jonas Gustavsson (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Stefan Liv (HV 71)
Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)

Defence
Tobias Enstrom (Atlanta Thrashers)
Magnus Johansson (Linkopings HC)
Niklas Kronwall (Detroit Red Wings)
Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
Douglas Murray (San Jose Sharks)
Johnny Oduya (New Jersey Devils)
Henrik Tallinder (Buffalo Sabres)
Mattias Ohlund (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Forwards

Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators)
Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals)
Loui Eriksson (Dallas Stars)
Peter Forsberg (MODO Hockey)
Tomas Holmstrom (Detroit Red Wings)
Patric Hornqvist (Nashville Predators)
Fredrik Modin (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Samuel Paahlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)
Mattias Weinhandl (Dynamo Moscow)
Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings)

As I said, the first thing that I noticed was how many of these names are the same as from 2006. I understand the 'don't mess with success' forumla, but a full 13 of these 23 players were on the team in 2006. And of those players, most of them are getting a little long in the tooth, and more than a little banged up.

Perfect example here is Forsberg. There is no denying the fact that in his prim, Forsberg was probably the best player in the world (when healthy). Even in 2006, he was clearly an elite player. Now I haven't seen any of his play over in the Swedish Elite League, but at 36 and with the miles on his body, is he still going to be an elite player?

The same can be said for a number of the Swedes. Lidstrom is still an excellent excellent defenceman, but he's clearly not the man he was 4 years ago with 1 goal in 38 games so far in the NHL. Daniel Alfredsson, Tomas Holmstrom, Samuel Paahlsson...all still good players...but also all players on the downside of their careers.

Notable execeptions that were left off to make room: Mikael Samuelsson, Johan Franzen and Nik Bergfors.

Not surprising considering the veteran nature of this club, the Swedes come in with a tonne of injury questions. Between guys that have just returned from injury or are currently out, if the Swedes win a medal in Vancouver, the first people they should put on the podium will be the training staff. A quick cross-section:
  • Forsberg - You name it, but the most recent was a broken foot in the fall.
  • Gustavsson - Two heart ablations this year.
  • Alfredsson - Separated Shoulder - Out 4-6 more weeks.
  • Kronwall - Out for another month with a knee problem.
  • Zetterberg - Separted Shoulder, back soon.
  • D. Sedin - Just back from a broken foot.
  • Modin - Just back from a knee injury.
Perhaps everyone will be 100% come Vancouver, but what if everyone only gets to 80%? In a tournament with so many good teams, being banged up like the Swedes are can be the difference between Gold and 7th.

I look at this Swedish team, and I see them repeating the same mistakes that Canada did in 2006. First, I think they are taking too many players from their previous Gold Medal run. Was taking Freddy Modin over a young player like Nik Bergfors really based on talent, or was it based on the fact that Modin was on the 2006 team?

The second mistake is taking too many banged-up players. In Turin, a number of Canadian's played hurt...and it showed. I think the Swedes are making a big mistake by taking so many guys who might only be shadows of themselves.

Further. As much as the Leaf fan in me likes Gustavsson, is he really ready to take this team to Gold if Lundqvist goes down?

I suppose time will tell, but I don't like this roster the Swedes have assembled. I would have had them as my bronze medal pick, but I think they will get upset somewhere along the way. They could still medal, and could still win it all, but my money is on an off-the-podium finish.

Linkback: Other Rosters

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Russia

December 26, 2009

On Christmas Day, Russia unveiled their Olympic Men's Hockey Roster. Widely expected to compete with Canada for Gold, the Russians are a study in firepower.

Russia


Olympic Appearances: 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 as Russia. First entered as USSR in 1956.
Best Finish: Gold (1956, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1984, 1988, 1992)
Total Medals Won: 12
Pool: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia

As the USSR, the Russians were nigh untouchable. Save for the 'Mircale On Ice' of 1980, the Russians managed to win gold for 8 of 9 Olympic Games. Thats pretty damn intimidating. Of course, those teams were made all the more menacing by the mystery surrouding the players themselves. Held behind the Iron Curtain, the USSR would roll out a team of superstarts otherwise basically unseen or unknown to the Western World. Names like Mikhailov, Kharlamov and Tretiak live on on hockey lore.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Russians have not faired quite as well internationally. The breakup of the Soviet Union split off the USSR Talent Pool. No longer would the Russians be joined by Ukrainians, Belarussians, Latvians etc. to form one superteam. The Russians would have to fend for themselves. Since the split, the Russians have only managed two medals in four Olympics: Silver in 1998 and Bronze in 2002. The Russians will look to the following players to win their first Gold as an independant entry:

Goaltenders
Ilya Bryzgalov (Phoenix)
Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose)
Semyon Varlamov (Washington)

Defence
Sergei Gonchar (Pittsburgh)
Denis Grebeshkov (Edmonton)
Dmitri Kalinin (Salavat Ufa)
Konstantin Korneyev (CSKA Moscow)
Andrei Markov (Montreal)
Ilya Nikulin (Ak Bars Kazan)
Fedor Tyutin (Columbus)
Anton Vonchenkov (Ottawa)

Forwards


Maxim Afinogenov (Atlanta)
Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit)
Sergei Fedorov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta)
Viktor Kozlov (Salavat Ufa)
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh)
Alexei Morozov (Ak Bars Kazan)
Alexander Ovechkin (Washington)
Alexander Radulov (Salavat Ufa)
Alexander Semin (Washington)
Danis Zaripov (Ak Bars Kazan)
Sergei Zinoviev (Salavat Ufa)

The first thing that jumps out at you about this roster is the sheer amount of skill the Russians have. They just have so many dangerous goal scorers that their third line is going to be better than most countries first line. Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk and Semin are all elite snipers, probably all Top 10 in the world...and thats even before you get to 'secondary guys' like Alex Radulov.

The second thing that you'll notice, is the number of players that are coming from the KHL here. I guess as much as its not the USSR now, the 'Politburio' still holds sway. Politics must be played here, and enough players taken from the homefront to satisfy the sponsers. Some of the KHL players are ex-NHLers, and are clearly worthy of selection, but a few of these KHL D-Men are relative unknowns. Were they taken because of what team they play for, rather than on skill?

Which brings me to the third thing here. The Defence. If Russia has a weakness, its on D...where after Gonchar and Markov things get a little thin. If the Russians end up with anything less than a gold medal, it will be because the defence has failed them.

#4 - No Kovalev, No Frolov...victims of the politics I think...

Regardless, the Russians are clearly an elite team, and may even be the class of the tournament. Expect to see them in the medals for sure.

Linkback: Other Rosters

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WJC - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year



So I know its not strictly Olympics Related, but I wanted to throw a quick note out there on the World Junior Championship that kicks off today in Saskatechewan. Canada goes for its 6th straight Gold.

Its the last major international hockey tournament in advance of the Olympics, and seeing the crowds decked out in their Canada gear are surely a preview of what we will see in Vancouver!

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Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - Belarus

December 23, 2009

Over the next two weeks, countries will be releasing their Men's Olympic Hockey Rosters. Its always an exciting endevour, finally finding out who is on each team after months of speculation. The list of when each team will be releasing their roster can be found here.

I'll be using these occasions not only to relay the final rosters, but to also provide a bit of a preview of how I think each country will fair. First to announce their roster is:

Belarus


Olympic Appearances: 1998, 2002
Best Finish: 4th (2002)
Total Medals Won:0
Pool: Sweden, Finland, Germany

Belarus has long been considered one of the 'weaker sisters' of international hockey, but that hasn't stopped them from leaving their impact on the Games. Everyone (especially Tommy Salo) remembers the HUGE upset of Sweden in Salt Lake City, that pushed them through the quarterfinals. Belarus was quickly thumped by Canada 7-1 in the semi's, but boy was it entertaining.


Entertaining...right Tommy?


As big as that was for Belarus, I don't expect them to be able to repeat that magic. Drawing Sweden, Germany and Finland in their pool, its almost a certainty that they'll fall into the qualification playoffs, needing to reel off 4 straight wins for gold.

I expect them to drop all three games in their pool, although they may give the Germans a run for their money. Once they hit the qualification pool, they're going to need another miracle upset to even get to the Quarterfinals. My money is on 0-4, and a plane ticket back to Minsk.

Anyways, onto the roster. Even as an also-ran, Belarus features a few NHLers in Grabovski (Toronto), Ruslan Salei (Colorado) and the Kostitsyn brothers (both Montreal). Andrei Mezin is probably the only other familiar name to North American hockey fans, based off his performance in 2002. He currently plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.

Goaltenders
Vitali Koval
Maxim Malyutin
Andrei Mezin

Defence
Andrei Antonov
Andrei Bashko
Vladimir Denisov
Viktor Kostiuchenok
Ruslan Salei
Nikolai Stasenko
Vadim Sushko
Alexander Syrei
Oleg Antonenko
Sergei Demagin

Forwards

Mikhail Grabovski
Alexei Kaliuzhny
Konstantin Koltsov
Andrei Kostitsyn
Sergei Kostitsyn
Alexander Kulakov
Andrei Mikhalev
Andrei Stas
Alexei Ugarov
Sergei Zadelenov

One thing to watch out for is the often rocky relationship between Grabovski and the two Kostitsyn. Its never come out exactly what transpired between them while Grabs was in Montreal, but these three players seem to have a healthy hate on for each other. It will be interesting to see how (if) they get along with each other.

Regardless, expect the Belarussians to rely heavily on this trio. At the 2009 world championships Grabovski racked up an average of 27:23 of ice time a game.

The other puzzling item here is that Belarus has apparently named 10 defence, and 10 forwards (list from CTVOlympics.ca). Thats a very very odd balance, normally it would be 13 forwards and 7 defence. I wonder why Belarus has decided to roll with that many defencemen. Are they expecting to play Grabovski and the Kostitsyns so much that they only need three forward lines??

Linkback: Other Rosters

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More Tickets...Somebody Stop Me...

December 21, 2009


So I did something that was either really really smart...or...really really stupid.

With the launch of the Fan-to-Fan Marketplace, VANOC released another small block of tickets. One of the events that came up available was the Russia-Czech Republic Men's Hockey Game.

We already have eight tickets to this game, and only plan on using 4 of them. But that didn't stop me from picking up ANOTHER 4 tickets...bringing our total to 12. Why would I do that? Two reasons:

#1) To sell. Because the VANOC Fan-to-Fan marketplace allows you to sell above face value, if we don't have anyone out there who wants the extra tickets, we should be able to re-sell the tickets at a bit of a profit.

#2) To upgrade. We were originally going to use tickets in the 10th row, right behind the one net. Not bad seats at all!! However, these tickets that I just grabbed are on THE RED LINE! In the 9th row, right behind the player benches. I think this are pretty much THE best seats in the entire arena. So...we'll sit in these, and sell our 'crappy' ones behind the net.

Its a little risky to take on more tickets. But they all SHOULD sell, we SHOULD make a little money off the extra's anyways, and we 100% have amazing seats to that game now.
________________________________________________________________________

I was very very close to buying Opening Ceremonies tickets today. They also came up as availible during the marketplace launch...but I just couldn't justify putting $2000-3000 on my credit card, even if they would almost certainly re-sell. Its not worth tying that much money up just to make a couple hundred bucks. So...I passed on OC tickets...

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The Olympic Torch - Check!

So over the weekend, Beth and I had a chance to see the Olympic Torch not only once...but twice!!

Thursday, December 17th - Toronto
First up was Thursday Night in Toronto, where we waited along the road at Yonge and Bloor. The torch was scheduled to pass Y&B at 6:06 PM, but was held up just north of where we were for about 30 minutes due to a protest at Yonge & College.



Anyways, once the torch did get moving again, it went past us really quickly. I don't know who the torch bearer was, but he was moving at almost a sprint. Consequently, between the jostling of the crowd and how fast the guy went past us, we weren't able to get any really good pictures.

We had Matthew Good tickets in Hamilton later on, so we weren't able to stick around and go over to Nathan Phillips Square. Soon as the torch passed us, we rushed down to Union and hopped on the GO bus.

Saturday, December 19th - Hamilton
So, since I still wanted to see a 'Community Celebration', Beth and I jetted down to Hamilton on Saturday night to see the torch again in Hamilton. We were able to stake out a really good spot, right on the 'rail'. As a result, our Hamilton pictures are a lot better than our Toronto ones.



We met up with BJ and his girlfriend April, and I think Pam was in the crowd somewhere. I'm really glad we went to see at least one of the community celebrations, I know Beth thought it was a really cool (if too cold) experience.

The final Torchbearer in Hamiton was Ron Foxcroft.

Missed Opportunities
I had planned on getting up and seeing the Torch Friday morning in Toronto on its way out of town, but the combination of the 6:15 time for it going past and the fact that I was seeing it in two other places was enough to keep me in bed for it.

The Torch hits Brantford tonight, going abotu 300m past my parents house. It would be really neat to see it go through my old stomping grounds, but its just too much to go see ANOTHER community celebration. They have been keeping the final torchbearer a secret in Brantford...wouldn't be surprised if it was Gretzky!

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VANOC Fan-to-Fan Marketplace

So, FINALLY, the fan-to-fan marketplace has been launched by VANOC. That only took forever.

Things seem to be up and running pretty smoothly, and its pretty impressive how seemlessly things blend into the ticketing website. You just go into your 'My Tickets', select the ones you're willing to part with, name your price, and post 'em. VANOC of course takes their cut as a 'posting fee', but colour me shocked on that one....



Its pretty groundbreaking that an official ticket outlet allows you to sell your tickets back at above face-value. Normally ticket scalping is exclusive to the black market. However, by allowing this, VANOC has almost certainly killed the black market. Why would you risk some shady guy on Craigslist when you can go right to the Official Website. It will also help sell-out the Games, as its now less likely that tickets will go unused. So good on VANOC for having it right on this all around.

As for ourselves, we have been able to sell a couple of our tickets 'offline' already, but still have maybe 2/3rd of our extra tickets to move. I've put a couple of them up on the official marketplace now, hopefully they sell!! I've been pretty aggressive in terms of asking price. But as of right now, we have the only tickets listed for the events that are up, so I think we can set the bar a little. There are still 53 days to the Games, so if I've asked too much, I can always change the price later. Better to start too high!

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Happy Ticket Arrival Day - Version Pam

December 18, 2009

Got a text message from Pam, saying that she received her tickets safe and sound! Add another 34 to the pile!

Still no word on when Cowie is expecting his to arrive, or when I’ll get my second shipment. But we’ve now got about 2/3rds of our total tickets in-hand!

I also got an email from Stubhub regarding where and when I can pick up the two tickets I ordered through them (Canada v. Sweden – Women’s Hockey). We can pick them up 48 hours in advance of the event from their ticket distribution centre in Vancouver. Thankfully its downtown, so it won’t be too far out of the way for us!

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Olympic Torch in Toronto: The Setup

December 17, 2009



So I won't be able to stick around and see the show, but here is a quick picture of the stage for the community celebration in Toronto at Nathan Phillips. You can 100% feel the buzz in the air!!

I'm now off to Yonge and Bloor to see the torch!!

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The Olympic Torch in Toronto

So I've decided to bump up this post, in honour of the torch arriving today!


View Olympic Torch in Toronto in a larger map


So, being the observant young lad that I am, I've noticed that the Official Olympic Torch Relay Page has been updated with the path that the torch will take through Toronto!! See the above map for an overview. The torch makes its apperance on December 17th and 18th.....less than two weeks away!

Some of the highlights:

December 17th (Shown in Blue)
  • Runs from about 1:52 PM until 7:00 PM
  • Starts out with a small strech on Yonge, just north of Steeles
  • Jumps over for a quick tour of Scarbourough Town Centre
  • Then the 'main leg' begins. Basically York Mills, down Yonge, to Nathan Phillips

December 18th (Shown in Red)
  • 6:00 AM Start at Queens Park...yeesh..
  • Comes down University to Front, then makes a circuit of the CN Tower and SKYDOME
  • Heads out across Front St to the Distillery District
  • Heads up Parliment, across the Danforth to Pape
  • Travels through Leaside, before ending at roughly Eg & the DVP
  • From here, travels north to Newmarket and Brampton

One quirk is the official page currently has a little mark saying that the Torch will travel by Streetcar on Yonge between Dundas and Queen. Of course....there are no streecars on Yonge...so that'll be quite the feat!

Once the torch arrives at Nathan Phillips, there will be the standard Community Celebration. Not sure who will be in attendance as of yet, but I'm sure there will be a few luminaries.

As excited as I am that the torch is coming to Toronto...like an idiot...I have to be out of town the night of the Community Celebration. As a result, I might be doing the whole 'community celebration' thing two days later in Hamilton.

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The Olympic Torch: Last Couple Days

December 16, 2009

So tomorrow, the Olympic Torch arrives in Toronto. In preparation for that, I thought I'd take a quick look back at the Torch as it went through two of my favorite Canadian Cities: Ottawa and Quebec City.

Quebec City


Ottawa


As things turn out, the torch will pass by Yonge and Bloor at almost the exact moment that Beth gets out of work tomorrow. So she'll stick around for that, and then we will jet off for Hamilton.

Friday morning I'll be getting up early to see the torch as it passes by our Condo...before we return once again to Hamilton, to see the Community Celebration on Saturday.

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Musical Entertainment

Something that is really neat for the 2010 Games is that there will be a band performing at medal ceremonies throughout the games. We have tickets to the medal ceremony the night that Trooper and Loverboy are there... Scott's not overly happy but my dad thinks it's awesome! haha! So, here's a list of the performers:

BC Place - Nelly Furtado, Barenaked Ladies, Paul Brandt, Hedley, Theory of a Deadman, Stereophonics, Trooper and Loverboy, Billy Talent, INXS, Burton Cummings, Great Big Sea

Whistler - All American Rejects, Estelle, Pierre Lapointe, Feist, Our Lady Peace, Deadmau5, Hedley, Stars, OneRepublic, The Fray, Jet, The Roots.

Richmond - Our Lady Peace, Hawksley Workman, Marianas Trench, Bedouin Soundclash, Wintersleep and Tokyo Police Club.

Of these bands, I would have really enjoyed seeing: Hedly, All American Rejects, Feist, Our Lady Peace, Stars, OneRepublic, The Fray (who we might get to see, we are in Whistler the night they perform) and Tokyo Police Club.

I was curious about previous games and if they had as much musical entertainment as 2010 will have, and really, didn't come up with much.

2006 - Avril Lavigne, Elisa (Italian singer) & Ricky Martin

2002- Kiss, Yo Yo Ma, R. Kelly, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Dianne Reeves, Harry Connick Jr., Dave Matthews Band, 'N Sync, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Dixie Chicks, Josh Groban, Charlotte Church.

Weird mixture of genres in 2002. I think if I HAD to see one of those acts, I'd pick Sting in a heartbeat.

I will now leave you with a classic from Trooper and Loverboy :)







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A 'Real' Relay

December 15, 2009

So we had a party the other night to celebrate Beth’s Birthday, and I got talking to my friend Andrew about the Olympic Torch Relay. He was a little disappointed to learn that large chunks of the relay are in fact driven, with the torch-bearers only running selected stretches in each major centre. I said, fair enough, but that there was no way that one could actually run a ‘full’ torch-relay that stretched right across the country, it would just take too long.

So we kept talking, and did a little mental math, and he ended up convincing me. It would be totally possible to run a relay right across the country, with every single kilometre run by a torch bearer. Lets have a quick look.




Let’s consider a run from St. Johns to Vancouver. Google Maps tells me that the above path runs about 7,861 km (holy crap Canada is big). This isn’t the shortest path, but one that I’ve edited a bit to closer approximate what a real cross-country relay might look like. This one dips down into Southern Ontario to hit Toronto and Hamilton, and doesn’t go through the US at all.

So, assuming that 7,861 km path, lets round it up a little…say to 9000 km. Why the jump? Well, let’s add distance for little detours along the way, getting off the highway to run it downtown, or to hit that city that’s just out of the way. Plus, 9,000 km is a nice round number.

So. We have the distance, but we need the velocity. For our purposes, I’ve assumed a running speed of 8 km/hr. That’s a really slow jog, but let’s remember that not all torch bearers are going to be Olympic Sprinters. So…what does that give us:

Distance: 9,000 km
Speed: 8 km/hr
Assume: 12 Hour Days (7 AM-7 PM)
Equals: 96 km/day

Equals: 93.75 days to cover 9,000 km

Now I’m probably underestimating things. Like the time it takes to transfer the flame from one person to another, people run slower up hills, maybe not everyone goes 8 km/hr. But still…even with all that, you’re gonna end up with something close to maybe 100 days, give or take.

Considering the real relay is taking 106 days, I think it’s something that could have been totally feasible. According to my back of the napkin math, +1 for Andrew it would seem…

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'Roar of the Rings' - Winners

December 14, 2009

So there you have it! Cheryl Bernard and Kevin Martin will carry the Maple Leaf into Vancouver!

My personal preferences were for Jennifer Jones and Glenn Howard, but I’m not terribly upset. First, my two 'anybody but' teams didn't make the playoffs (Ferbey and Scott). Secondly, and more importantly, both Cheryl Bernard and Kevin Martin were the best teams on the ice in Edmonton, and that’s exactly who I want representing us in Vancouver…the best…

Women's - Cheryl Bernard



For Cheryl, this will be her first crack at top-flight international competition, having never won a Scotties. She’ll face an interesting decision, as this year’s Scotties ends just before the Olympics. Should she stay in Alberta and try to qualify for the Scotties, or should she go overseas and get some face-to-face experience against the teams she’ll be facing in Vancouver? I’d personally choose the former, the competition at the Alberta Playdowns and Scotties will be just as good, if not better, than the international competition.

Team Bernard won’t be the overwhelming favourite for Gold, but is still probably still the frontrunner. As long as she plays as well as she did this week, she’ll be just a-ok!

Men's - Kevin Martin



On the men’s side, Kevin Martin was clearly superior to Glenn Howard in yesterday’s final. It was a textbook game of Curling. Take two, force one. It was beautiful in its simplicity. Of course, having your skip throw 93% will go a long way in any game regardless of strategy, and Martin was spot on.

Kevin Martin will now try to erase the only blemish on his impressive resume, his international record. If Kevin can bring home Gold, it’ll cement his name as the best curler of this generation. I imagine that he was able to get the ‘international record’ monkey off his back somewhat after winning the ’08 worlds, but one has to wonder if that monkey didn’t hop right back on after dropping the finals to Scotland in 2009. Kevin Martin is the best team in the world right now, it’s just up to him to go out there and prove it now in Vancouver. I can’t wait!!

Couple of Quick Stats, from the Curling News and Canoe.ca:
  • 175,852 attended over the week
  • TSN average audience 496,000
  • 872,000 viewers for Women's Final
  • 1,200,000 viewers for Men's Final

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Flight Time Change

Just got a notice from Air Canada, saying that they'd modified our flight times for the way out there. We're still on the same flight, but now it leaves/arrives about an hour later.

No big deal really, get to sleep in an hour later now, but it would have been nice to have that extra hour out there before the Opening Ceremonies. We now get in about 11:00 AM, so it might be like 1:00 PM before we get all checked into the Hotel.

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Olympic Bus Network Tickets

So, after a few technical glitches, I was able to book our ‘Olympic Bus Network’ tickets for the various events we have at Cypress Mountain. At about $14 return, you can’t really argue with the price…although it maybe would have been nice if it was just built into the price of the ticket since there is no other option on how to get there. They are print-at-home tickets, and look something like this:



Anyways, we required OBN tickets for 5 events:

Day 3 – Men’s Moguls – 12:05 Departure for Ben, Andrea, Scott and Pam
Day 4 – Men’s SBX – 8:35 Departure for Ben, Andrea, Scott and Pam
Day 6 – Men’s Halfpipe – 11:10 Departure for Ben and Andrea
Day 11 – Men’s Aerials – 15:45 Departure for Ben and Andrea
Day 16 – Men’s PGS – 8:05 Departure for Beth and Jen

Cross my fingers, but unless I'm forgetting something....I think we're now all booked! Flights, Hotels, Tickets, Buses, Trains...all set and ready to go!

For anyone else looking to book tickets, they can be purchased at:
http://www.departurehubs.clickandpark.com/

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The Beauty of Vancouver

December 13, 2009

I seem to be on an NBC kick or something when it comes to videos. Anyways, check out this great vid highlighting some of the scenery in and around Vancouver and Whistler.


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'Roar of the Rings' - Men's Finals


In a little less than half an hour, the Men's Finals of the 'Roar of the Rings' will get underway, and its the matchup that everyone has been hoping for. Its Martin v. Howard for the right to represent Canada in Vancouver. Its the best two teams in the world going head-to-head. What else can you ask for?

Men's Final - 3:00 PM


Martin v. Howard

We all know the resumes. Howard and Martin share between them 21 Brier appearances, 6 Brier Wins, 4 World Championships, and an Olympic Silver Medal. Thats before you add in the resume's of the rest of their teams, which is primarily made up of John Morris' old Ontario Junior Team (Morris, Laing, Savill).

It should be an amazing game, and either team will become the instant favorite for Gold in Vancouver. Martin has the edge in recent history, having beaten Howard in the round-robin, 1-2 Game of the '09 Brier, Round Robin of the '09 Brier etc...

However, for his part, Glenn Howard has had more consistent success on the international scene. 3 world championship appearances...3 gold medals. He also took the October 'Olympic Warm-Up' World Cup of Curling against the very teams that are going to be in Vancouver. In fact, he went undefeated...

On the basis of his international success...I'll be pulling for Howard to take the white blets to Vancouver!! But either way, I'm excited!

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Happy Ticket Arrival Day - The Reprise!

So while at home yesterday, I was finally able to get my hands on the first batch of tickets to be delivered! They're pretty snazzy, and will make for a nice keepsake. They're probably about 20 cm x 8 cm, give or take, and feature a really nice pictogram of each event. Anyways, have a look!



This is only about 1/3rd of our total tickets. I'm still waiting on all our Phase III tickets (coming in January), and Ben/Pam are still waiting on their deliveries. Pam is getting her's on December 17th, and Cowie hasn't heard as of yet.

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'Roar of the Rings' - Women's Final

December 12, 2009

So here we go...time to see who is off to Vancouver, and who is going home empty handed. Its the Battle of Calgary (errr..in Edmonton) - Bernard v. Kliebrink



Women's Final - 8:00 PM

Kliebrink v. Bernard
Bernard comes into the final after topping the field during the round robin. She's had a full day off, so she should be rested. She was able to beat Kliebrink along the way, and will look to repeat that tonight.

Kliebrink comes in after beating Krista McCarville last night in the semi-final. This is old news to Kliebrink now, having made the finals of the trails 3 of the 4 times they have been held. After losing to Schmirler in '98, she was able to win in all in '06. She looks to get back to the Olympics after finishing with a Bronze in Torino.

I gotta say that I'm pretty happy with either option. Bernard has been the best team all week, and Kliebrink has the experience of having been through the Olympics before.

Should be a good one!!!

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National Post: How to go to the Vancouver Olympics for $999

So today in the National Post, there is a story on how to goto the Olympics on a budget. I think its pretty funny, becaue its almost exactly the way we're doing things for Jen and Beth.

Included in their recommendations are:

  • Flying into Seattle from Buffalo or Detriot
  • Then travelling via public transport to Vancouver
  • Staying at a hostel
Pretty neat to know that we're apparently just a step ahead of the press, and that we're doing things 'right'. HA!

Anyways, check out the National Post article here...

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"We're Gonna Need A Montage"

Ahh...Team America: World Police...

Anyways, if there's one thing I'm a sucker for, its a solid montage. CBC has been the official Olympic Broadcaster for the past few games, and don't get me wrong, they can do a great montage. Many a time, I've teared up over a solid opening to Hockey Night in Canada.

But when it comes to the Olympics, NBC has to get the gold medal. I suppose they're not TECHNICALLY montages, but ok, its close enough...

2008 - Beijing


Beijing was almost a lock to win the 2008 Olympics, with the allure of having never hosted a games before to tempting for the IOC to ignore. II think NBC does a good job of capturing 'the moment' here, the idea that the Games would 'open up' China to the world a little...

2006 - Torino


Don't know why this one strikes me so hard, but I think it has something to do with just the importance that this montage portrays. It makes it seem like what is about to take place is so monumental.

2004 - Athens


So I wasn't able to find the full intro, but here is a promo spot from NBC for the 2004 Athens games....it gives you an idea of what they did I'm sure.


2002 - Salt Lake City


Not the best quality, but you get the idea. Its important to keep in mind that the '02 Salt Lake games came only about 5 months after 9/11, so it was something fresh in the minds of most Americans. Its certainly an interesting view into a mindset that is maybe a little forgotten now.

There is a better quality version at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyt0MI8OSdQ, although it has the first 20 seconds or so cut off.

2000 - Sydney
Unfortunately the embedding is disabled on this one, which is to bad, because I think its the absolute best of the bunch. James Earl Jones was pretty much born just to narrate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9JMyjTQxsg

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'Roar of the Rings' - Semi-Finals Showdown

December 11, 2009

Just a quick one:

Women's Semifinal
After reeling off two tiebreaker wins, Krista McCarville moves into the Semifinal against Shannon Kliebrink. McCarville looks to keep on her hot streak, while Kliebrink looks to return to the Trials final for the second straight time. She won the last trails, so she knows what this is all about.

I like McCarville alot, but I think I'm pulling for Kliebrink here. I think I'd like to see here get another shot at Gold, and I think she's the better team a little....giving us the best shot.

Men's Semifinal
Stoughton v. Howard...how many times have these two faced off? Round one million gets underway Saturday at 3:00 PM. After dropping the last draw of the Round Robin, Howard is trying to get another crack at Kevin Martin. Stoughton looks to return to the trials finals again, hoping for a different result in '05.

I'm happy with any of the teams that are left really, Ferbey is gone, so I got what I wanted. But if I had my choice, it'd be Howard....

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'Roar of the Rings' - Tiebreaker Friday!

So, after 5 days of some really top-notch Curling, we’re onto the playoffs!! As I predicted, the Men’s side ended up without tiebreakers after Stoughton topped Simmons last night . That means the Men get the day off, before Stoughton and Howard faceoff in the semi-final on Saturday. The winner moves onto Sunday’s final vs. Martin.

On the women’s side, things finished up with a 3-way tie for 3rd. As a result, two tiebreaker games will be required today! The first one gets underway at 10:30 when McCarville takes on Lawton.

The winner of that game then takes on Amber Holland at 3:00 PM. All the while, Shannon Kliebrink has moved directly to the Semi-Final, and will get the winner of the Holland/Winner of the First Tiebreaker game.

Cheryl Bernard missed out on going perfect through the round robin by dropping a close one to Lawton yesterday. However, her record was still good enough to finish first. She’s through to Saturday Night’s final, and needs just one more win to go to Vancouver!!

Women’s Tiebreakers – Friday 10:30 AM, 3:00 PM

McCarville v. Lawton
Krista McCarville moved into the tiebreaker after taking down Webster on Thursday Afternoon. Lawton needed an upset of the previously undefeated Bernard, but was able to do it.

Although I’m sure these two are happy to still be alive, it’s a long road to Vancouver still. In order to move on, they’ll have to win 4 straight to get all the way through the playoff bracket….three today. No easy task.

These two teams met during the round-robin on Monday night, where McCarville was victorious. This one could go either way though.

Holland v. Winner
Amber Holland awaits the winner of the McCarville/Lawton matchup. Holland qualified for the playoffs after winning three straight to end the round robin over Webster, McCarville and Scott. She’ll look to stay on that hot streak and move into the Semi tonight against Kliebrink.

During the round-robin, Holland bested McCarville, but lost to Lawton.

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'Roar of the Rings' - Men's Draw 7

December 10, 2009

So…I called it…although it was a little tighter than I thought…This morning, things went according to plan, setting up a fairly clean table going into the final men’s draw. Well…clean compared to the Women’s anyways.

Glenn Howard was able to stay undefeated, although it took a key steal of 2 in the 9th to slip past Ferbey. Martin and Koe went back and forth all game, but Martin was able to edge ahead in an extra. Stoughton just about blew it, but he was able to steal 10, and steal an extra to avoid a big loss to Middaugh.

So where does that leave us?

We know for sure that Martin and Howard are in the playoffs, and Stoughton is now guaranteed at least a tiebreaker. Koe and Ferbey are still alive, but they need help from Stoughton to get a tiebreaker. As Ferbey an Koe are playing each other, we know that at most there will be one tiebreaker between the winner of that game and Stoughton, should he lose. If Stoughton wins versus Simmons, there is no tiebreaker and the Ferbey-Koe winner is SOL.

Men’s Draw 7 – 8:00 PM

Howard (6-0) v. Martin (5-1)


Gotta get boring? Not for fans anyways…

For the umpteenth time, Kevin Martin and Glenn Howard will face off on a Thursday in the last game of the round robin, with first place in the round-robin on the line.

Tonight, the prize is a bye right to Sunday’s final…and the chance to avoid a big hurdle in the Semi-Final game. Its cut and dry really, win and you move on, lose and you get the semi-final game. Martin has had Howard’s number recently, topping him in the Round-Robin and 1-2 Game at the ’09 Brier, the ’08 Brier Final and the ’07 Briere Round-Robin.

Stoughton (4-2) v. Simmons (2-4)
Stoughton just about blew it this morning against Middaugh, but was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by stealing a single in the 10th, then repeating the feat in the 11th. That gives Stoughton control of his own destiny. Win and he gets the loser of the Howard-Martin game in the Semi’s. Lose, and he gets the winner of the Ferbey-Koe game in a tiebreaker.

Ferbey (3-3) v. Koe (3-3)
Both teams suffered key losses this morning, with Ferbey letting one slip away against Howard via the steal of 2 in the 9th, and Koe dropping an extra-end decision to Martin. That puts them both at 3-3, and needing help.

The loser is done here, with the winner needing help. If Stoughton wins his game, this one is meaningless. Only a loss by Stoughton gives the winner a tiebreaker.

Gunnlaughson (0-6) v. Middaugh (1-5)
Middaugh almost played spoiler vs. Stoughton this morning, but instead fell to 1-5. He’s been out of it for a while, and is just playing out the string. Gunnlaugson hasn’t managed to pick up a win yet, and this is his best chance to do so.

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About This Blog

This blog is the online chronicle of our adventures leading up to, and including, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We hope to give you a little insight into what went into planning our trip and a first hand look at the Games from the ground in Vancouver.

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