Sunday, August 24, 2008

2010 Olympics preview: Men's Ice Hockey

As the 2008 Beijing Olympics come to an end (way to go, Phelps!) I'm already looking forward to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. They're February 12th to the 28th, 2010 in Vancouver and a few other nearby spots. The part I (and apparently, Canadians) care about is the Ice Hockey. I have to admit, I'm more excited for men's than women's, but mostly because I know some of the players on the Men's teams and none on the women's teams. (Where are you, WNHL?)

I've decided I want to attend the games, or at least part of them. Tickets haven't gone on sale yet, but will soon in Canada and other locations. If anyone is out in Canada and wants to nab a ticket or many for me, I'd be more than happy to make it worthwhile. I'm going to start saving now, I think. After all, it's $350 for the nosebleeds for the men's gold medal game.

So, as long as I'm going, I may as well figure out what's going on and who's playing and all that jazz. As it turns out, nine teams have already qualified for the tournament (with current medal totals in the event):

Belarus (4th in '02)
Canada (7 golds, 4 silver, 2 bronze)
Czech Republic (1 gold, 1 bronze - Czechoslovak team had 4 silver, 4 bronze)
Finland (2 silver, 2 bronze)
Russia (1 silver, 1 bronze - USSR had 7 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze and Unified team won gold in '92)
Slovakia (5th in '06 - Czechoslovak team had 4 silver, 4 bronze)
Sweden (2 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze)
Switzerland (2 bronze from '28 and '48)
United States (2 gold, 7 silver, 1 bronze)

There are 3 open spots in the big tournament. The top three teams from the "Qualification Tournament" get those three spots. The Qualification Tournament, in turn, has 3 spots open at the bottom of it's seeding, for teams from the Olympic Pre-qualification tournament. The Olympic Pre-qualification is in turn fed by some teams from the Pre-qualification tournament. As a result, the prequalification is being held in known hockey hotbed of Turkey, and will include the likes of Bulgaria (last in '76), Mexico (never qualified), Spain (never qualified), and Turkey (never qualified). They'll play before November, sometime, because the prequalification is on November 6-9, 2008. Already qualified for that tournament are, in seed order:

Kazakhstan (Former soviet country, finished 8th on it's own in '98)
Hungary (never qualified)
Poland (4th in '32)
Japan (never qualified)
Lithuania (never qualified)
Netherlands ('8th in 1980)
Estonia (25th - '06)
Croatia (never qualified)
Romania (competed in four)
China (never qualified)
Great Britain (Gold in '36 and bronze)
Serbia (never qualified)

And the list of those already qualified for the Qualification Tournament:
Germany (2 bronze)
Latvia (9th in '02)
Norway (8th in '72)
Denmark (never qualified)
Italy (7th in '56)
Slovenia (never qualified)
Austria (8th in '76)
Ukraine (10th in '02)
France (5th in '20)

And if you've read this far, here's a bonus: So far, the best video about the 2010 olympics is about Quatchi, a shy sasquatch who loves to travel and one day dreams of being the world's best goalie. Seriously, watch the video. You will not be dissapointed.