Olympic roundup: U.S. twins have company on ice
Just call it a sister thing. Whenever another hockey team has sisters on the rosters, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando take notice.
Well, the U.S. Olympians are twins themselves. Combine that with how few sisters play hockey or reach national teams playing internationally, it's easy enough to notice whenever sisters are dressing up for another country.
“It's just cool to see,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said.
The Lamoureux sisters will have some sisterly company at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. Teammate Hannah Brandt's sister, Marissa, plays for the unified Korean women's team, and Switzerland has two sets of sisters on the roster with Nina, Isabel and Monika Waidacher, plus twins Laura and Sara Benz. Canada nearly had its own sister act with Sarah and Amy Potomak, though neither made the Olympic team.
Being sisters definitely can provide an edge in hockey.
“When we get the opportunity to be on the ice together, there's a chemistry that just never goes away,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said. “It's always there. So whenever we have an opportunity to have a couple shifts together or if we're ever put on a unit or line together, it's always there. And we've pushed each other every day. Whether it's workouts, during on-ice training, it's just that accountability that we've always had growing up.”
The Lamoureux sisters played a year in college at Minnesota before switching to North Dakota for their final three seasons, the last in 2012-13. They have played internationally for the United States since 2006. Both play forward, though Monique also plays defense. Now 28, the sisters credit each other for their long success, which now includes a third Olympic berth.
“That's part of the reason we've pushed ourselves to this level and been competing at this level for quite a long time is that built-in accountability day-in, day-out even if we're not with the team,” Jocelyne said.
No women's luge athlete has won more World Cup medals than Germany's Natalie Geisenberger. Same goes for world championship medals, same goes for Olympic medals.
Her resume is beyond compare.
There may no other athlete at the Pyeongchang Olympics — not Lindsey Vonn, not Mikaela Shiffrin, not Nathan Chen — more expected to win than Geisenberger, the star attraction of a juggernaut German luge program that has been miles ahead of the rest of the world for generations.
“I'm not one who looks to the number of races or being on the podium,” Geisenberger said .
Maybe she should. Here's a baffling comparison: The United States, in its entire World Cup luge history, has 45 gold medals. Geisenberger has 43 golds in singles races alone,.
Count on the Dutch to dominate the oval, but don't expect them to suffocate the opposition like they did in Sochi four years ago, when they turned the Olympic hall into a swelling sea of their national color, orange, courtesy of a massive haul of 23 of 36 medals, including eight out of 12 golds.
It was dominance rarely seen in top class international sports. Think the USA ruling Olympic basketball, Jamaica the recent track sprints and China table tennis.
“There is only one goal and that is doing the best you can. The more, the better,” Dutch skating technical director Arie Koops said in an interview in Friesland, the pond- and canal-ridden flatlands in the northern Netherlands which have produced countless champions.
Mass start speedskating
The mass start is everything traditional Olympic long-track speedskating is not.
There are spills, pushes, elbows, evil eyes and worse over 16 laps as two dozen skaters vie in a pack for one gold medal. There is teamwork, strategy and often a sprint to the finish line.
“That is why it is so exciting,” said reigning world champion Joey Mantia, already relishing the thought of lining up for the final in the new event. So is just about everybody else.
But as the 21st century butted in with its in-your-face Olympic additions like snowboarding and jazzed-up forms of skiing speedskating could not stay behind.
It needed a serious dose of cool, the complaints of boring races and predictable winners mounting at every Olympics. Critics said 10,000-meter races taking 13-plus minutes between two racers only to be followed by more of the same for the best time of a session was just too much.