If you eliminate aerials from the equation, only two of the 15 podium spots in freestyle skiing have been awarded to a non-North American. Five of the six gold medals that the United States have earned to this point have been won in either freestyle skiing or snowboarding. Meanwhile, three of Canada’s four gold medals have also come from freestyle skiing.

These tallies were updated today after American David Wise and Canadian Mike Riddle finished one-two, respectively, in Tuesday’s men’s ski halfpipe finals.

Just as Canada’s luck in short-track speed skating, and America’s ability in long-track have seemed to run dry, the two nations emerging in the newer Olympic events reveals an interesting dynamic: North Americans like to have fun on the ski and snowboard slopes.

It’s not hard to imagine why. The European domination of the stodgier alpine events combines with the runaway success and accessibility of the X Games to glorify what have largely been considered the more alternative events.

However, with the success of the freestyle skiing and snowboarding Americans and Canadians in Sochi, we might suspect that the alternative classification of their disciplines isn’t meant to last.

Think of all the kids watching these Games, making heroes out of Olympic champions. Forgive the all too fitting analogy, but it’s a bit like a culminating snowball that starts at the top of the mountain, and grows as it comes down the slopes to avalanche proportions.

If the emergence of the X Games was the snowball starting, the Sochi Olympics are quickly becoming the most snow-filled part of the ongoing descent, where those at the bottom of the hill begin realizing the imminence of their demise.

Read the rest of this entry »

Olympics: Figure Skating-Ice Dance Free Dance

The following piece is not based in fact. It is a loose retelling of what likely happened. The author has no biases, except for the truth. 

Meryl Davis and Charlie White did what they were supposed to do on Monday, capturing  gold in the ice dance. The Americans were the favorites, but Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave them quite the test.

Unfortunately, Virtue and Moir were unaware of the circumstances. They weren’t going to win. The results were preordained 40 years ago, when a cabal of the world’s most powerful made their choice.

Davis and White were winning gold in Sochi. The skaters were pawns, of course. This wasn’t about them. The men that filled the executive boardroom of Genva’s Hotel Savoy in 1974 didn’t know the names of the people they would use as tools for world domination. Davis and White could have been Smith and Johnson, it didn’t matter. Sochi After Dark presents the oral history of ‘The Fix.’

Read the rest of this entry »


Subjective. Unfair. Fixed. Robbery.

The escalation of accusations was almost as quick as the footwork of the figure skaters participating in Monday’s free dance. Ice dancing, it turns out, is beautiful, but those following the sport on a temporary basis during the Olympics were quick to reveal their ugly side.

It began a little more than a week ago when a report was published in L’EQUIPE suggesting that an agreement between American and Russian figure skating judges had been reached to ensure that Russia won the team event, America won the ice dance, and Canada won neither.

A week later, the results: Russia won the team event, Canada was second. The United States won the ice dance, Canada was second.


There are two things Canadians would do well to understand: 1) A rumor of a fix doesn’t guarantee there is a fix; and 2) Learning about a potential fix doesn’t make you a better judge of figure skating.

If you can watch the respective performances of Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, and “know” with anything approaching certainty which pair skated better, I have the utmost confidence that you’re deluding yourself.

It’s maddening from the perspective of the team coming in second, but suggesting that ice dance judging is flawed doesn’t make the pair you wanted to win any more justified as winners than the pair that actually did. In this sense, viewers almost have to resign themselves to trusting the actual judges – no matter how flawed, or possibly corrupt – almost as part of an agreement if they’re going to watch the event with any rooting interest at all.

Sometimes – like today – that’s tough.

Read the rest of this entry »

Olympics: Men's Super G Team USA Press Conference

The Olympics are good. Everyone is good, and moral, and benign. Nobody wants to ruffle any feathers, but the truth is important. Who do you hate, why do you hate them and what can be done about said problem is a conversation that’s been had between you and a few friends.

In Sochi it’s assumed this conversation has been had numerous times. My rival keeps beating me, I hate my teammates and why is my floor burning are questions that have been directed at the ceilings of Russia’s most dubious Holiday Inn’s.

Because we’re good people, Sochi After Dark would like to present the unfiltered version. There are Olympians that are hard to root for. Be it their personality, their brand or even sometimes their face, some athletes are hard to like. Here is the list.

Read the rest of this entry »


With Canada’s 2-1 overtime victory over Finland – and the U.S. demolition of Slovenia - the table is set for a semi-final matchup between the 2010 Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey finalists. But first, the United States will have to get past the winner of Czech Republic vs. Slovakia, while Canada will face the winner of Switzerland and Latvia in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bracket, Sweden and Finland will meet the respective winners of Slovenia vs. Austria and Russia vs. Norway in their quarterfinal games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ashley Wagner of the United States celebrates in the "kiss and cry" area during the Team Ladies Short Program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

America doesn’t make it easy sometimes. The world’s policemen don’t have the greatest track record in recent years (that’s being generous). Their politics have created platforms for terrible, terrible people. Their biggest and most influential corporations eschew decency and common courtesy when dollars are at stake.

These problems certainly aren’t unique to the United States, but when you’re the biggest show around it’s hard to look away.

They are the circus we can’t help but watch, and in turn, loathe. Cheering against America at major sporting events has an odd way of uniting the world. When Landon Donovan stunned Algeria at the 2010 World Cup, New York, Chicago and cities around the heartland went nuts. The rest of us felt like our favorite restaurant in Algiers had just closed down.

Brash, arrogant and really good: that’s the American formula, and it’s worked pretty well for them in a number of sports, but that doesn’t mean the world has to like it.

Until now.

Read the rest of this entry »


Olympic Hockey

Every four years we develop a new platonic ideal of hockey. It starts with higher stakes on an international level, often involves a larger ice surface, and as of today, also includes T.J. Oshie participating in a shootout.

After 65 minutes of riveting back-and-forth play, Saturday’s game between Russia and the United States remained tied at two. That’s when the Americans called on Oshie, a shootout specialist who plays for the San Jose Sharks in the NHL, to do his thing.

He responded by scoring four times in six shootout attempts against goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, leading the United States to an incredible victory after regulation and overtime.

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Oshie’s name was included on the U.S. roster ahead of Bobby Ryan. Those eyebrows have since been removed by the most patriotic of waxes and razors.

Reminder: We really don’t need false narratives built around political rivalries when the U.S. and Russia play hockey against each other. Their games are far more entertaining on their own, better than anything hyperbole and imagination might add.

Read the rest of this entry »

Canada's Patrick Chan reacts in the "kiss and cry" area during the Figure Skating Men's Free Skating Program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

The stage was set for Canada’s Patrick Chan. The figure skating star that had won everything except Olympic gold just watched his rival, Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu, falter in the free skate.

It was there for the taking. Chan was four and a half minutes away from doing what no Canadian man had done before: win figure skating gold at the Olympics.

Maybe it was the weight of the moment. Maybe it was the tired legs that affected just about every competitor on Friday. Chan didn’t have it.

He made three glaring mistakes during a ‘safe’ program. He played not to lose and lost.

The competition was over, but the fun had just begun.

Read the rest of this entry »


It started in 1984. Brian Orser’s silver medal in Sarajevo was hardly surprising. American Scott Hamilton had dominated men’s figure skating, winning three straight World Championships heading into the Winter Olympics. Orser’s second place finish was an accomplishment, his best result in a major international competition.

It was closer in 1988. With Hamilton turning professional, there was no dominant figure atop the men’s heap. Having not lost a competition since losing to his rival Brian Boitano at the 1986 world championships, Orser was skating on home ice. He was the flag-bearer for Canada during the opening ceremonies. After winning the  short program, he placed second in the free skate, and ended up losing to Boitano by .10 of a point.

It was heart breaking, and it was the closest Canada would ever get to a gold medal in men’s figure skating.

Read the rest of this entry »

People walk past the cauldron at the Olympic Park as the moon rises over the Caucasus Mountains during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics,

Usually, the world’s most corrupt governments like to keep the truly abhorrent stuff behind closed doors.

Shadow trials with ‘judges’ is the common course. Activists sent away three years for a transgression nobody can really pin down is how the story goes.

It’s been different this time. The temerity shown by the Russian government during the Sochi games has been revealing.

Four gay activists were arrested in St.Petersburg on the opening day of the 2014 Winter games. 61 people were detained across Russia on the same day for voicing their displeasure with archaic laws, how much money the games cost and more.

“Human rights are generally violated in Russia,” said Polina Andrianova, a gay-rights activist in St. Petersburg, via the New York Times. “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter.”

Ah, yes. The Olympic Charter. Few things in this world have less relevancy than a charter that looked the other way when Apartheid, racism and fascism stared it in the face.

Read the rest of this entry »