David Di Somma: Winter Olympics - yeah or nah?

OPINION: There will be those that say the Winter Olympics are a bit crap, a bit underwhelming - it's inevitable.

No Kiwi medals, a few promising performances and a few disappointments - well, welcome to elite competition. No one rocks up here expecting to win medals by the dozen.

It's cutthroat and tough - that's why New Zealand's medal drought goes back to 1992.

The joy of the Games is actually the joy of the games. That seems an odd thing to say but the enjoyment is in watching the sheer artistry, speed, and aerial skills that you see at sports such as the figure skating, the luge, the speed skating, the moguls and the halfpipe.

Because these  sports don't get regular TV time back home they are essentially a novelty every four years and so distinctly different from the usual conveyor belt of Super rugby, the NRL, the Big Bash, the A-League and the diet of news stories we get dished out every night.

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott.
Zoi Sadowski-Synnott. Photo credit: Getty Images

For example: The Oklahoma City Thunder lost but Kiwi Steve Adams starred. Winston Reid's West Ham lost again, as did Chris Woods' Burnley. Lydia Ko has returned to the LPGA and is gunning for a top 10. Dan Carter's Racing club. Brendon McCullum's Brisbane  Heat. Tiger Woods' big return. Tom Brady and the Patriots. Le Bron's Cleveland Cavaliers.

You get the idea.

So much of our sport and its coverage is about 'brand' and personality-based around the likes of Lisa Carrington, Hamish Bond, any All Blacks pretty much, Shaun Johnson, Maria Tutaia or anyone else with appeal and profile.

There's nothing wrong with that necessarily, but here it is good to see sport for sport's sake.  Many of the athletes are millionaires many times over and global superstars - but just not to us.

There will be some who look at the Kiwi performance so far these games and write them off. And that is understandable. The team stated before the Games that anything other than one medal is a FAIL. So far Peter Michael got the closest with a fourth in the 5000m speed skating, with snowboarder Carlos Garcia Knight fifth in the slopestyle final.

Kiwi skeleton racer  Rhys Thornbury.
Kiwi skeleton racer Rhys Thornbury. Photo credit: Getty Images

The speed skaters have long been heralded as our best chance with the team pursuit of Peter Michael, Shane Dobbin and Reyon Kay finishing second at last year's World Championships at the Olympic venue of Gangneung Oval.

But with the Netherlands being such a dominant force these Games and South Korea feeding off the frenzied home country fans, medals will not come easy. That is not to say it can't be done. The race is 3200 metres (eight 400 metres laps), with most picking a winning time under 3 minute 40 seconds.

As for the rest of the week, there's a lot of emphasis on our skiers - Jackson wells and Finn Bilous  in the slopestyle, and then in the halfpipe are Janina Kuzma and Britt Hawes, as well as the quartet  of Byron and Beau-James Wells, and the Porteous brothers, Nico  and Miguel, as well Jamie Prebble  in the skier cross. He won a silver medal in the event at the last world championships.

Snowboarders Garcia Knight and Zoi  Sadowski- Synnott will also front up in the big air and on their day they are not without a chance.

Going into the last week of the games, the athletes are acutely aware that time is running out for a medal - Kuzma spoke about it specifically during the week, saying the pressure was on.

This time next week we will all know if the games have been a success or not.

David Di Somma is in Pyeongchang covering the Winter Olympics for Newshub.