Thursday, July 12, 2012

Run Up to the Weymouth Olympics: The Medal Race

I think it was the last Olympics where they introduced the medal race for sailing; the last race counts double points and is only open to the top ten in the standings. Obviously designed for TV, I like the idea of the medal race. At times it has made for some real drama.

At this past year's Olympic Worlds in Perth, Australia, it looked like the medal races were held in the harbor entrance. At any minute, I half expected a 50 foot sport fisherman to barrel through the course full speed. Here is the video of the Finn class medal race (first round only).

And who can forget the 49'er medal race at the 2008 Quingdao Olympics. The Danish team, who led in the standings, broke their mast before the start, raced back to shore, borrowed the Croatian 49'er, made it to the starting line just in time to make it an official start, finished in some wild and woolly conditions, and survived several days of hearings to be declared the Gold Medalists.

Add to that race was the absolute carnage on the course (he's up, he's down, he's up again) as the World's elite 49'er sailors couldn't make it all the way downwind without going over.

Video with German?? (see note below) commentators. (The word, "Krashboombang", fits this race to a tee.)
A comment was left that this is not German - which could very well be - as I demonstrate a sad trait of most Yanks, uno language skills and an appalling lack of any useful knowledge of any other languages. Apologies if I have this completely wrong - I could guess again and say Danish  - but it would still be a guess.


Tillerman said...

Yes, I think it was introduced to make it a more exciting finale for TV and the spectators. And it often turns out to be so.

In the old days, sometimes a competitor had such an overwhelming points lead that they didn't even need to sail the final race. Sometimes still, a last place in the medal race is all you need to achieve to win the gold medal.

I still think it must be a bit confusing for people who don't understand the scoring. Oh, the guy in 9th won the gold and the guy in 4th won the silver and the guy who won the race got nothing. Huh?

Why don't we just say, top 10 go into the medal race and 1,2,3 in that race win gold, silver, bronze. That's how it works in the finals of the swimming and running races isn't it?

Tweezerman said...


I think most people would get the concept if it is explained properly. Sailing is like the decathlon; there is a bunch of events (races) preceding the last one and the winner of the last event doesn't necessarily win overall. Unfortunately, TV coverage of sailing never includes a review of what happened in the run up to the medal race, hence the confusion.

Tillerman said...

I always work on the assumption that 50% of people have below average intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Not German for those commentators.