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Does size make a difference (in hockey)? How international ice measures up

Sochi’s internationally-sized hockey rink is four metres wider than North American rinks. It doesn’t sound like much, but Canada’s men’s hockey team haven’t won gold on non-North American ice since the 1950s. Will Team Canada adapt better this time around?

Below, a comparison between the rinks with the grey line representing NHL ice and the darker line representing the ice in Sochi.

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Graphic by Trish McAlaster/The Globe and Mail
Source: IIHF

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How new events have changed the Games (to Canada’s advantage)

The Globe’s James Mirtle takes a look at Canada’s rise in the medal standings over the last few games.

The biggest shift in Canada’s favour the last 20 years has been to the Games themselves, Mirtle writes, which have evolved dramatically in a bid by the IOC for better TV ratings and higher revenues.

    How new events have changed the Games

    The number of events at the Winter Olympics has increased dramatically the last 30 years, and the creation of new sports disciplines has been a big factor in that growth. In 1984, there were just 39 gold medals given out; in Sochi that total will hit a record high of 98. One-third of those medals will be in sports that didn’t exist in the Games prior to 1992: Curling, freestyle skiing, short track speed skating, skeleton and snowboarding.

    Where Canada’s success comes from

    For years, the Winter Olympics were heavily based on sports Canada has rarely produced medals in such as cross-country skiing, ski jumping and related events like biathlon and nordic combined. Adding new sports has dramatically changed this country’s fortunes at the Games.

    Breaking down Canada’s medal count

    Since 1992, Canada has won 53 per cent of its medals in the newer Winter Olympic sports, despite the fact they have made up less than a quarter of the available medals. Canada is also one of the top four countries (in terms of medals won) in all five of the new sports and particularly dominant in curling, short track speed skating and freestyle skiing.

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Why ‘calamity curve’ has biathlon skiers nervous

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“Calamity curve” is one of the steepest downhills in the biathlon course and it’s followed by one of the sharpest turns, making it the toughest part of the course for many skiers.

The aptly-named sharp turn took Canadian skier Jean-Philippe Le Guellec’s lead (and broke his ski) in the men’s 12.5-kilometre biathlon pursuit on Monday. It’s still part of the course for the next few biathlon events.

Le Guellec will face it again in the 20 km Individual event on Thursday. Watch for athletes to take this corner with extra caution.

Graphic by Trish McAlaster
Sources: Christopher Lindsay of Biathlon Canada, Graphic News

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Who really won the halfpipe event? Judging from the crashes, the halfpipe itself

It would seem the halfpipe itself won the snowboard event in Sochi — its poor condition took down nearly half the competitors. Even though officials salted and sideslipped the course during the breaks, and the temperature lowered as the day went on, the boarders in the final still had a rough time.

Here’s how the runs went at the beginning and end of the day, and approximately where the falls occurred on the course. (Semi-final round is not shown.)

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The halfpipe’s victims

A few photos tell the story of Tuesday’s halfpipe event in Sochi, where even the venerable Shaun White fell victim to the pipe’s steep edges and icy drops.

Ireland' Seamus O'Connor crashes during the men's snowboard halfpipe final. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Ireland’ Seamus O’Connor crashes during the men’s snowboard halfpipe final. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

 

Australia's Kent Callister crashes during the men's snowboard halfpipe final. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Australia’s Kent Callister crashes during the men’s snowboard halfpipe final. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

 

Shaun White of the U.S. practices during a warm-up session ahead of the men's snowboard halfpipe qualification round. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters).

Shaun White of the U.S. practices during a warm-up session ahead of the men’s snowboard halfpipe qualification round. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters).

 

Winner Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov (C, back) celebrates while Shaun White of the U.S. (R) walks off after the men's snowboard halfpipe final. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Winner Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov (C, back) celebrates while Shaun White of the U.S. (R) walks off after the men’s snowboard halfpipe final. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

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Infographic: Why are snowboarders scared of Sochi’s halfpipe?

Snowboarders in Sochi have voiced some concerns about the halfpipe course and its snow quality. The course is on the large side, rising 7 metres in height compared to 6.7 metres in Vancouver, so some less experienced riders may find the size intimidating.

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Course concerns

Snowboarders have said the walls of the Sochi halfpipe are too vertical and they hoped the pipe shapers could fix the problem.

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Infographic: This is Canada’s best by Day 3 in Winter Olympic history

Canada is leading the Olympics rankings with seven medals, including three golds. It’s Canada’s best three-day performance at the Winter Olympics in Canadian history, on track to meet high expectations of securing top spot by the close of the Games.

Use this interactive tracker to compare Canada’s performance over time. Each chart show the number of medals earned each day at the Olympics, broken down by medal type. This year’s results will be posted throughout the Games as soon as they become available.


Use a modern browser like Chrome or Firefox to see advanced features

Canada’s performance so farScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 11.40.17 AM

Explore each previous year:

Interactive by Stuart A. Thompson

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Infographic: How fake snow is made

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1. The snow gun is attached to two different hoses that run to air and water hydrant stations. One pumps in water from an artificial lake, and the other pumps in high-pressure air from an air compressor. Approximately 870 million litres of water will be used to make snow for skiing and snowboarding competitions.

2. In order to form a flake, a water droplet needs a particle that the water can adhere to. The gun makes its own particles by expelling water and pressurized air through fine nozzles. As the air expands, it cools rapidly, and the water instantly freezes into tiny crystals of ice.

3. These crystals serve as seeds for a fine mist of water droplets produced by another set of nozzles, and a powerful fan blows this mixture over the ski slope. As they fall to the ground, the droplets lose heat through evaporation and become snow.

4. What snowmakers call ‘hang time’ lasts just a few seconds, so there isn’t enough time for snow to grow elaborate branches.

5. The process happens so quickly that often only the outside freezes, so the new snow is left sitting to freeze.

Sources: HowStuffWorks, The New York Times

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Path to the Podium: Every Winter Olympic medal, from 1924 to today

Canada is leading the Olympics rankings with seven medals, including three golds. It’s Canada’s best three-day performance at the Winter Olympics in Canadian history, on track to meet high expectations of securing top spot by the close of the Games.

Use this interactive tracker to compare Canada’s performance over time. Each chart show the number of medals earned each day at the Olympics, broken down by medal type. This year’s results will be posted throughout the Games as soon as they become available.


Use a modern browser like Chrome or Firefox to see advanced features

Canada’s performance so farScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 11.40.17 AM

Explore each previous year:

Interactive by Stuart A. Thompson

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Phillip Crawley, Publisher

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