The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, began Thursday and last through Feb. 23. There is bound to be all sorts of excitement in the summer resort town — those folks did an awfully nice job of bribing the very bribable International Olympic Committee seven years ago — from the intrigue of many events to the uncertainty of the disasters that very well could happen this month. Here’s a quick guide of what to expect, from the glamorous events to the top American athletes.
Best American Medal Hopes
You want names? We’ve got names. The United States led all nations with 37 medals four years ago in Vancouver, but Team USA was tied for third with just nine gold medals. Canada led the way with 14 golds, and Russia is bound to get a home-nation boost from its poor showing of three winners in 2010. The Americans have plenty of gold-medal contenders, though.
Alpine skiing? Look out for Ted Ligety, Bode Miller (the old man himself), Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin, David Wise, Maggie Bowman and Hannah Kearney, to name a few (remember, Lindsey Vonn is out with a knee injury). Bobsled? Watch for Steven Holcomb, Elana Meyers and Jamie Greubel. Cross country skiing? Kikkan Randall is the women’s sprint favorite. Figure skating? The dance team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the Americans’ best shot, but maybe Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold can surprise us in the individuals. Speed skating? JR Celski is our best shot in short track, while Shani Davis and Heather Richardson lead the way in long track. Skeleton? Noelle Pikus-Pace is the women’s favorite. Ski jumping? Sarah Hendrickson is a contender in the first-ever women’s event. Snowboarding? The Americans own the pipe, and Shaun White and Kelly Clark are overwhelming favorites to win more gold. Nate Baumgartner and Lindsey Jacobellis are favorites on the snowboardcross course, too.
Sports to Watch
Hockey, of course, leads the way. Olympic hockey is the highest caliber you’ll find on the planet, and if the 2010 tournament is any indication, these Olympics are going to be something else. The American men are underdogs again, not favored to medal, but a hot goaltender in Jonathan Quick or Ryan Miller could make a big difference again. The US women are favorites, though, and expect a rematch with Canada for gold. Curling is also a recommended watch, even though Team USA isn’t expected to be much of a contender. Fans have gotten hooked on this sport once every four years, so you oughta catch the fever. Really, though, there isn’t anything over the next 2 ½ weeks that you shouldn’t check out at least a few times. We’re used to all the Summer Olympics sports; the Winter Games are a great change of pace and are just as fun.
Word from the Woods
The Hawks fell behind in the Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division race Tuesday night with a 58-49 loss to Wolcott. The Eagles limited leading scorer Tanner Kingsley to 11 points in the game, while Austyn Brown contributed 13 and Anthony D’Agnone had 10. The defeat came on the heels of a 75-72 double-overtime win over Torrington last Friday. Kingsley scored 36 points in that game, while Ken Koch hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Sam Merriman (11 points) and D’Agnone (10) also reached double figures against the Red Raiders. Woodland (5-10) needs to win three of its last five games to reach the state tournament. The Hawks will visit Ansonia on Friday before hosting Watertown on Tuesday.
Woodland will compete at the Class S state championships Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. Girls qualifiers include Ashley Michie (55 meters), Haleigh Resnick (300), Clara Drozdowski (3,200), Steph Kiley (3,200), Alina Martinez (55 hurdles), Audra Blewitt (55 hurdles, long jump), Michelle Angrand (55 hurdles), Jazmyn Menzies (high jump, long jump), Lauren Lombardo (high jump, long jump), Megan Lynch (pole vault), Abbey Rosato (shot put), the 4-by-200 relay team (Lynch, Marisa Macek, Michie, Samantha Plasky, Resnick, Lisa Thrasher), the 4-by-400 relay team (Blewitt, Ava Capuano, Lynch, Menzies, Resnick, Thrasher), the 4-by-800 relay team (Capuano, Drozdowski, Kiley, Erin Machado, Bianca Poehailos, Val Vinca) and the sprint medley relay team (Drozdowski, Macek, Michie, Plasky, Thrasher, Vinca). Boys qualifiers include Thomas Bethin (600), Dean Conway (1,000), Mike Lang (55 hurdles, high jump, long jump), Drew Chura (pole vault), Levi Fancher (shot put), the 4-by-200 relay team (Bethin, Colton Cronin, Sean McAllen, Jeff Moffat, Jason Rodrigues, James Yacavone) and the 4-by-400 relay team (Bethin, Conway, Cronin, McAllen, Moffat, Yacavone).
Naugatuck will compete at the Class L state championships Thursday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. Girls qualifiers include Jasmine Grey (55 meters, high jump), Hehi Cheng (300), Carla Soares (55 hurdles), Harmony Sturdivant (long jump) and the 4-by-200 relay team (Jendaya Bell, Cheng, Grey, Jill Orts, Regina Roper, Soares). Boys qualifiers include Mark Zamani (600), Tyler Hayward (600), Nate Franklin (long jump), James SanAngelo (shot put), Jack Reardon (shot put), Will Paul (shot put), Dan Schumacher (1,000, 1,600, 3,200) and the 4-by-200 relay team (Kevin Johnson, Francois Kazadi, Miguel Medina, Marcus Ruff, Thales Silva, Zamani).