DFL

Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Results for Wednesday, February 15

Alpine Skiing: Algeria sent two athletes to Torino; one of them, Christelle Laura Douibi, 20, finished 40th in the today. Her time of 2:09.68 was 13.19 seconds behind the gold medallist's time. There was one DNS and four DNFs.

Vitaly Glushchenko (Russia)Freestyle Skiing: In
, Russian skier Vitaly Glushchenko, 28, finished 35th in the qualifying round, with a total score of 12.75, and did not advance to the final; the gold medallist's score in the final was 26.77.

Luge: A pair of 18-year-olds from Romania, Cosmin Chetroiu and Ionuţ Ţăran, finished 18th in the luge doubles; their time after two runs was 1:39.593, about five seconds behind the gold medallists. Three teams did not finish.

Nordic Combined: The remainder of the team event has been postponed until tomorrow. Bad weather.

Rózsa Darázs (Hungary)Short Track Speed Skating: The was run today, but the heats were run on Sunday. The slowest heat time was put in by Hungarian skater Rózsa Darázs, whose time of 1:10.558 was considerably behind the rest -- the gold medallist's time in the final, for example, was 0:44.345. The 18-year-old Darázs was Hungary's flag-bearer during the Opening Ceremonies; I haven't been able to find any news that indicated a fall or crash, but it's almost certainly something along those lines.

Standings to date: Additional last-place finishes move Romania and Russia up the standings, Romania into first place -- overtaking South Korea! -- and Russia into fifth. Algeria, with only two athletes at these Games (more on small delegations from Runner-Up) slides into sixth.

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Media Inquiries

Because I used to be a reporter myself, and know what it's like (deadlines, editors and all that), I try to be as helpful as I can when a reporter or producer contacts me about doing a story on one of my web projects.

But things got a little hairy here during the Athens Games. I was getting 5-10 media requests a day, and I wasn't prepared for the onslaught. Because I didn't have my contact info in plain view, reporters and producers had to scramble to reach me -- for example, contacting the town hall and the local newspaper (the latter being a bad idea, since I used to work there and left under unpleasant circumstances; they were not inclined to be helpful). I was even getting phone calls from reporters before I was out of bed.

I don't expect things to be nearly as nuts this time around, but just in case, I've done a few things to try to make it easier on everyone.

First of all, I've promised myself that I will not go crazy trying to respond to every media request. Sorry, but I need a life -- and, yes, time to work on this site and elsewhere. I'll probably limit myself to not more than one or two media requests per day. Please understand if I decline -- and I'll try to decline promptly, rather than leave you wondering.

And second, I've updated my contact page to include a special e-mail form for media inquiries. It includes information I need to know -- like what kind of interview you need for me (live or not), what kind of media you work for (print, radio, TV, etc.) and how quickly you need to hear back from me. This allows me to perform triage on the spot: for example, if I'm overwhelmed with work and you need a response from me immediately, then I know I can decline immediately, but if it's less urgent I can fit you in a little later. So, if you're a reporter or producer, use the contact page if you'd like to get a hold of me. Then we'll see.

Update (Feb. 20): For background information, you should look at some earlier posts. From 2004, see Welcome to DFL, A DFL Primer, Reuters, Lovable Losers and a Rant About the Media and DFL Media Roundup. From 2006, see And We're Back and the FAQ. These pages may address some of your questions and, more generally, shed some light on what I'm doing here.

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Qualifying Rules: Short Track

Part of a series looking at just how hard it is to get to the Olympics; see previous posts on biathlon and cross country skiing, ski jumping and nordic combined, and speed skating.

Short track speed skating's qualifying rules are a little less straightforward. Quotas everywhere. First of all, there's a total quota of 110 athletes -- 55 men, 55 women -- and a national quota of 10 (five and five) per country if they're sending a relay team, or eight (four and four) if they aren't.

Each country gets a fixed number of athletes per individual event based on their athletes' performance in World Cup trials, and there are a maximum of 32 athletes per individual event. If you have three athletes in the top eight, you get three places; if you have two athletes in the top 32, you get two places; the rest are filled by the highest-ranked athletes from other countries until the quota of 32 per event is filled.

Only the top eight national teams participate in relay events -- and Italy, as host, is guaranteed a spot even if they aren't in the top eight. (Italy's a relatively strong short-track country, though.)

I'm amazed that they can make all these quotas agree with one another; surely there have to be conflicts here and there.

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The Hard Bigotry of High Expectations

More than anything else, I think, this blog is opposed to the idea that anything short of a gold medal is a failure on the athlete's part. Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno writes the usual Canadian whinge about high medal expectations falling short -- written only four days into the Olympics! -- that includes this bit of profound offensiveness about Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen:
For Klassen, on the weekend, there was bronze in the 3,000 metres, which is hardly failure. But it's hardly the top of the podium either, for an athlete who has become rather accustomed to stepping up there on the World Cup circuit and who had never previously exhibited any tendency toward nerves or excitability or poor judgment in a race.

The Winnipeg native can atone -- a word and concept cited far too frequently, it seems, when the subject is Canadian Olympians -- in any of the races she has left here.
Via Tart Cider. Yes, you read right: DiManno believes that Klassen has to atone for getting a bronze medal.

My default position should come as no surprise: given the stringent qualification rules imposed by the IOC, the various sport governing bodies, and national Olympic committees, I don't think that anyone who manages to get to the Olympics has anything to apologize or atone for.

Now, DiManno's point is about people whose world championships fail to translate into gold medals. To which I would respond, so what? We're talking about someone who still managed to make it to the podium. If the world champion finished 24th, yes, some questions along the lines of "What the hell happened?" might be warranted.

But if world champions were supposed to win all the time, why bother running the races? I think anyone who actually competes in a sport will tell you that, yes, there are other people in their sport who are actually good, and things can happen during competition. If you're so myopic to conclude that if someone else wins, it's because it's your guy's fault, not because somebody else was better or stronger or just plain luckier that day, then you need to pull your head out of your ass and look around at the rest of the field a bit.

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