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Olympic closing ceremony pokes fun at opening ceremony ring fail

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi came to an end on Sunday, and the Russians decided to end the Games with a sense of humor. Two weeks ago everyone was talking about that snowflake malfunction during the opening ceremony when the snowflake was supposed to turn into an Olympic ring but did not. We were reminded of it during the closing ceremony.

Olympic-closing-ceremony-snowflake

That’s right, Russian officials chose to make fun of themselves during the closing ceremony. Either that, or someone thought it would be funny and has already lost a finger over the stunt. We hope the former is true.

GIF via The Big Lead

Nicklas Backstrom failed drug test before gold medal game because of allergy medication?

Nicklas-Backstrom-SwedenCanada defeated Sweden 3-0 in the gold medal game at the Winter Olympics on Sunday, and it didn’t help the Swedes that they were forced to play without Nicklas Backstrom. The Washington Capitals forward was a late scratch before the game after he reportedly failed a drug test.

According to Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports, Backstrom violated the IOC’s anti-doping rules when he tested positive for a banned substance. The failed test was reportedly triggered by a substance called pseudoephedrine, which is a common ingredient in allergy medications like Claritin.

Bjorn Folin, a spokesman for the Swedish Olympic Committee, told the AP that Backstrom tested positive for a banned substance that is found in an allergy medication he has been taking for years. Backstrom was tested on Friday and pulled from the locker room before the team’s pregame skate on Sunday.

“I got the message two hours before the game, that there was something wrong,” Sweden coach Par Marts said. “Then I knew when the warmups are starting that he wasn’t going to play.”

Backstrom was the center on Sweden’s first line, so his loss was obviously significant. While there’s no way of knowing if his presence would have given Sweden a chance to beat Canada, you have to assume it hurt the team both physically and emotionally.

“It sucks. It’s like kindergarten,” Marts said. “I can not ice the best team today. We should have the right conditions to compete with Canada and we didn’t have that today.”

Each team is responsible for being familiar with the IOC and World Anti-Doping Federation’s regulations. If a banned substance is present in something as common as allergy medication, you would think the players would know. It’s a shame that Sweden was penalized before such a crucial game.

Ted Ligety: Olympic slalom setup was ‘borderline unsportsmanlike’

Ted-LigetyTed Ligety and a number of other Olympic skiers were infuriated by the course setup for the men’s slalom event on Saturday night. The course, which was created by Croatian coach Ante Kostelic, was so difficult that 34 of 77 skiers failed to finish or were disqualified in their second run.

“Ante set a really typical Ante course set, which is borderline unsportsmanlike to set those kinds of courses on these kinds of hills,” Ligety said, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. “That’s how it goes. Everybody had to ski it. Not all the best guys had a chance to make it down, unfortunately. … Not really the most ideal venue for having a course that wasn’t the most fair thing in the world.”

Ligety finished his first run just .11 seconds behind third place, so he had a chance to contend for a medal heading into the final run. However, the course setup got the best of him. Kostelic’s son Ivica Kostelic captured the silver medal in the event, which Ligety said raised an “ethical question.”

“You saw up there, there’s a hairpin [turn] into another hairpin,” he said. “But one was really straight, going into another one that was super turn-y. That was what took out most of the field right there. It’s just not a course set that you can ski in a typical modern technique.”

Kostelic’s course featured gates that were varying distances and extremely sharp turns. The track was also set over the runs of previous races, which made it extremely icy and slick. Ivica defended his father’s “old school” course.

“This course will show the difference between a very good slalom skier and those who belong to the second league,” Ivica said.

Coaches who have a skier in the top 15 rankings can bid for a chance to set up a course, and Kostelic was allowed to set up two in Sochi. Ligety was not the only athlete upset with the circumstances, as France’s Alexis Pinturault said the course was “too much” and that it is “not normal” for someone to set two races in one Olympics.

Fortunately, Ligety won a gold medal earlier in the week in the giant slalom event. He’ll be going home with some hardware either way.

Matt Lauer zings Bob Costas with classic joke about red eyes

Bob Costas returned to his position as host of NBC’s Olympic coverage in Sochi on Monday, and his eyes are looking much better. While wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day during an appearance on “The Today Show” Friday morning, Costas fell victim to a cheap joke from Matt Lauer.

Lauer appeared to be making innocent conversation when he asked Costas when he will be leaving Sochi. Costas said he is leaving Monday. And then the punchline:

“You are?” Lauer said. “Taking the redeye home?”

Now THAT is a low blow. Costas handled it like a champ and admitted he walked right into it. He took a shot at himself over the red eyes before drinking vodka on live TV toward the beginning of the Olympics, so Costas has been a good sport about it all along. Good for him.

Bob Costas pink eye glasses

H/T Jimmy Traina’s The Big Buzz 

The Sochi Olympics wolf was another classic Jimmy Kimmel hoax (Video)

Sochi-Olympics-wolfYou know that video we shared with you on Thursday of what appeared to be a wolf wandering the hallways of one of the Olympic Village dormitories in Sochi? As it turns out, it was indeed a real wolf and not a husky or some other kind of stray dog. The video, on the other hand, was fake. You can thank Jimmy Kimmel for that.

Earlier this week, US luger Kate Hansen agreed to help Kimmel execute his latest internet hoax. Kimmel pulled a similar viral prank months ago with that girl everyone thought accidentally caught on fire while twerking.

“There was a little more backlash than I thought there would be,” Hansen said on Kimmel’s show. “But it was all worth it in the end.”

Kimmel’s crew actually built an exact replica of Hansen’s Olympic dorm hallway to pull off the prank. They then hired a real wolf and took control of Hansen’s Twitter account (with her permission) to set the internet on fire.

“I started hearing people talk around the building,” Hansen said. “Security started freaking out because that technically was a breach within athlete safety. It kind of went a little crazy over here, but we handled it.”

Russian officials, who have had enough problems to deal with before and during the Games, likely did not appreciate the joke. We certainly did.

Ashley Wagner rips Olympic judges: ‘People need to be held accountable’

Ashley-Wagner-faceUS figure skater Ashley Wagner brought us the equivalent of McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” face at this year’s Olympics. Wagner has received some scores in Sochi that she is not happy with, and she feels that she has been treated unfairly by the judges. After finishing seventh in the ladies’ individual event on Thursday, she voiced her displeasure.

“I feel gypped,” Wagner said according to Fourth Place Medal.

More specifically, Wagner felt that the Russian skaters were given preferential treatment. Russia’s Adelina Sotnivoka won gold and Julia Lipnitskaia finished fifth after falling in each of her programs.

“People don’t want to watch a sport where you see people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean,” Wagner said. “It is confusing and we need to make it clear for you.

“To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it. People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can’t depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable.”

Wagner said the sport should do away with anonymous judges in order to create more accountability. Her total score of 193.20 was more than seven points behind Lipnitskaia, despite the fact that the Russian fell twice. Wagner, who went viral after the reaction you see above last week, had another entertaining reaction to her score on Thursday.

She’ll have a long flight home from Sochi.

GIF via Deadspin

US women’s hockey came an inch away from gold over Canada (GIF)

The US women’s hockey team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Canada in the gold medal game on Thursday. It was a bittersweet feeling for the US as they received their silver medals after blowing a 2-0 lead with just 3:26 remaining in the game.

Canada was able to cut America’s lead to one on a goal from Brianne Jenner. Marie-Philip Poulin then tied the game with 55 seconds remaining and an extra attacker on the ice for Canada. They went on to win on a power play goal in overtime.

To make matters worse for the US, there was an opportunity for an empty-net goal with roughly a minute left that rung off the post. The US literally came an inch away from a gold medal, though Canada deserved to win the game. The Canadians never gave up and played with a sense of urgency until the final whistle. They could have just as easily packed it in.

US-womens-post-Canada

GIF via @PeteBlackburn