Archive for the 'Olympics' Category



Passageway

When I was in college, and things seemed more stressful/horrible/dramatic than we could handle, my friends and I would remind one another that, “All of this,” and then we’d wave our hand indicating the entire college campus, “is just a passageway to bigger and better things.”

Sabres fans, this (*waves hand at the six game losing streak and the horrible train wreck that is the Buffalo Sabres*) is just a passageway to bigger and better things.

I certainly can’t guarantee that this passageway leads to the Cup or even A SINGLE WIN EVER IN THE FUTURE OF THE SABRES EVER EVER EVER AGAIN, but I can promise that we have some good things in the future.  Namely, the Olympics.

Thankfully we’re about to get a break.  We’re getting a break, and during this break we can obsess over far, far stranger sports, and we can find new heroes, and best of all, we won’t have to watch the Sabres lose.  (Actually, I assume we’ll be seeing LOTS of Sabres losing, but they’ll be losing for other teams, so who gives a rip.)

Just hold on Sabres fans.  We’re almost there.  Just one more loss game to go, and then we’re HOME FREE.  Soon it’s all figure skating, and bobsledding, and that weird sport where they ski and then shoot things.

We can worry about this unsightly mess (*waves hand at the Sabres*) later.

Faster

My friend Dinesh and I had the following conversation tonight while watching the men’s 400 meter race:

Dinesh: I wonder what the coaching for these events is like.  I mean, I wonder what they work on.  (speaking as a track coach) “That was great Usain.  Now if you could just do that again, only this time…..go faster.”

Kate: (also speaking as coach) “You look good, but I think what you want to aim for a little more speed.  Try it again, only try running a bit faster.”

(pause as we watch the race)

Dinesh: (shaking head sadly, but still speaking as coach) “Damn it.  You know, I really should have told him to run faster…..He could have won that race.”

_______

Yes, we think we’re pretty funny. :)

Tennis, and Track, and Synchronized Swimming. Oh My.

1. I want to make sure I acknowledge that Max Afinogenov’s main squeeze won a tennis gold medal in the women’s singles at the Olympics. That’s pretty cool. Elena Dementieva is clearly an alluring badass, and I like Max a little more because he dates her. It’s every professional athlete’s right to GOP out and find themselves a hottie, but Max went out and found himself a hottie who can actually do something. I appreciate that about him. Max’s girlfriend won a GOLD MEDAL at the Olympics this weekend. That rocks. She rocks. Max rocks by association.

2. Aw, man. Tonight was the first night of true Olympic heartbreak for me. I was so sad for the track ladies! Sanya Richards and then the plucky hurdler Lolo Jones, BOTH came up short despite being favorites in their events. Lolo tripping over the second to last hurdle when she was so close to a gold medal was particularly tough to witness. I can’t say I’ve ever been too enthralled with track and field events in the past, but this year I’ve really enjoyed watching the running events. I find the incredible fierceness of the track women very inspiring, which is why it was such a jolt to the system when they switched directly from track to gymnastics on the NBC broadcast. After the track ladies, the gymnasts looked like creepy little wind-up toys. (But, America can finally breath a sigh of relief. Shawn Johnson has her gold. You can stop rioting in the streets now.) Obviously, the gymnasts are world class athletes too, but their tininess combined with the glitter and the hair scrunchies just made them seem infinitely undignified when viewed in quick succession with the track events. (Farewell, bizarro gymnastics! Until 2012, I bid you adieu!)

3. This is just a friendly reminder: SET YOUR DVRS TO RECORD THE SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING TOMORROW AT 6PM ON THE OXYGEN NETWORK. I watched a bit of the synchronized “duet” preliminaries today and this event is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. It is NOT to be missed. Not only is it the event totally nutso, but Robin, my current roommate, is a former competitive synchronized swimmer, so I have a live-in expert. Yeah, you heard me. Robin isn’t just a Juilliard trained bassoon player and high-powered advocate for disadvantaged children, she is also a FORMER SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMER. (Don’t even ACT like you’re not impressed/intimidated by her foxy skill set.) Robin promises that the duet competition is totally lame in comparison to the team competition, which BLOWS MY MIND because the duet prelims were quite possibly the most spectacularly freakish thing I’ve ever seen.

Here’s a teaser (all photos sneakily swiped from nbcolympics.com):

Sync swimming 2

Jazz hands are just the beginning.

sync swimming 3

Look at their freaky toes! They have jazz feet!

Sync swimming 4

For some reason they all wear tranny whore make-up. I don’t know why.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, behold the 2008 US Synchronized Swimming Team. Behold!

Sync team

*stunned silence*

2 Things

1.  Is is just me, or is Jenn Stuczynski’s pole vaulting coach a bit of an a-hole?  Scolding Jenn while he was mic’ed up was completely lame, and I kind of wish she had just punched him in the face.  I hate that guy.  If I decide to take up pole vaulting tomorrow, and in four years I win a silver medal in London, my coach better be a whole lot nicer to me than that.  He (or she) better give me an enthusiastic high five and then take me out for a delicious cheeseburger and about a hundred vodka sodas.  Afterwards we can drunkenly run around London letting strangers pose with my silver medal and periodically stopping to “WOOOOOO” and jump up and down with joy.  On the way back to the hotel, my coach will make some kind of joke about how, unlike gold, silver matches most of the jewelry I already have, and that gold is kind of fugly anyway, and aren’t I SO GLAD I didn’t wind up with a hideous gold medal- or, god forbid A REVOLTING BRONZE?!  Then we’d laugh and laugh about how silver is totally the prettiest of all the “precious medals”, and by the end of the night I’d be convinced that silver medals are WAY better than gold medals.  My pole vaulting coach is going to be so cool.  Jenn, your coach is not good enough for you!

2. The sputtering outrage of the NBC gymnastics commentators was fairly hilarious tonight.  Don’t get me wrong, if I were judging that competition that’s not how the medals would have been awarded. (The third place Chinese girl would have won first, Nastia would have won second, and the gold medal winner would have won the bronze.)  The judging did seem a bit out of whack, but the tiebreaking method was very clear.  Even I, a half-wit violist, now understands how a gymnastics tiebreak works.  My favorite part of the whole fiasco was how, after about half an hour of Tim Daggett and Al Trautwig and carrying on about the INSANITY of the INCOMPREHENSIBLE judging, and the TRAGEDY of Nastia being ROBBED on such an OBSCURE technicality as an IMPOSSIBLE to comprehend TIEBREAK SYSTEM, they were all, “Back to you Bob,” and from the studio Blob Costas kind of shrugged and said, “Well, there was a tie, but the tiebreak seemed pretty straight forward.”  Heh.  I absolutely love to watch gymnastics, but gymnastics and the industry surrounding gymnastics is totally stupid.

UPDATE: I guess Blob was talking about the men when he made his little crack about the tiebreak being straight forward.  Don’t you love how I have no problems blogging about something to which I was barely paying attention?  Don’t you feel good knowing you can always turn to TWC for the very least true information?  Heh.  One of my favorite things about the Olympics is that they seem to encourage us to have very strongly held opinions about crap we know nothing about.  I don’t care if Blob Costas agrees with me, in the true spirit of the Olympics, I’m going stand by my uninformed opinion: gymnastics are gloriously stupid. (And the bronze medalist should have won gold.)

America’s Sweethearts

Scene: The US men’s gymnastics team has gathered together to take a team photo at the conclusion of the team competition where they unexpectedly won a bronze medal.

Kate: Okay guys! America is so proud of you! How about you all get together and we take a group photo!

Jonathan Horton: WOOOOOOOO!!! Good idea! This is the GREATEST night of my LIFE! I want a picture to remember this night!

Kate: Okay, so guys get together. Good. Okay, taller guys in the back.

Raj Bhavsar: This is the culmination of my years of hard work. I am one with the universe. I can’t wait to get home and skateboard with my parakeet.

Kate: I know! Alright. Let’s do this. Let’s take this picture. Everyone smile! Let’s get a really wonderful picture that you can have forever.

Alexander Artemev: I’m going to make a case for my bronze medal, and I’m going to put this picture in there, and I’m going to display it in my house for the rest of my life.

Kate: You all displayed such courage and dignity during the competition. You were so scrappy and appealing- I want to take a picture that really shows the essence and the personality of this team. Okay! You ready?

ONE!

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TWO!

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THREE!

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SAY CHEESE!

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*click*

(Thanks to Heather B for the heads up on this hiLARious picture.  I’m absolutely delighted and amazed that six adult humans all thought this pose was a good idea.  Heh. )

Live Blogging the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around

I have a little admission to make. The BPO summer season ended two weeks ago and since then I haven’t had anything to do. At all. Normally during this time I travel all over creation, but this year, due to house hunting and the constant packing and unpacking, I’ve chosen to stay close to home.

It’s great. I make an excellent woman of leisure. I’m never bored and I spend very little time sitting around doing nothing, but basically I just hang out with my BFFs, watch Olympics, grill, and stay up really late. REALLY LATE. I’m all turned around in terms of night and day right now. I’m telling you all this by way of explanation for the fact that I am about to do a live blog of a sport I know nothing about, being played by a bunch of foreign girls I’ve never heard of, with names that are very hard to spell. Unlike most Americans who are all blurry eyed and worn out from staying up too late night after night watching the Olympics, I’ve got the time and energy for this type of dicey blogging right now. (That is, of course, no guarantee that this live blog won’t suck.)

Pre Round One

I love how just a few days ago these girls had to pretend to be BFFs and all supportive of one another, and now they can just go ahead and shoot death glares at each other over the chalk bowl. There is no way these girls don’t hate each other. No way at all. Nastia is sporting a hot pink number with accompanying pink scrunchy, and Shawn is sporting the classic shiny red l’tard, with an oh-so-cute gold ribbon. It’s like Gidget versus……someone very unGidgetty.

Round One: Vaultilicious

The Chinese gymnast Yang Yilin performs a perfectly serviceable vault with just a tiny, lady-like hop on the landing.

Dude. Nastia Liukin LAID IT DOWN on the vault. After reading Margee’s Squee-Off, I think I’ve decided I’m a Nastia girl. She’s hard core. She stuck the HELL out of that landing. Is there anything more satisfying than a stuck landing? I think not.

Shawn Johnson has some kind of cross legged probs going on with her vault.

Back in the day, didn’t they do two vaults? Didn’t Mary Lou do two perfect vaults to get the gold? EEEEEEE!! There she is! I still love her! MARY LOU!!!

Oops. Jiang Yuyuan falls flat on her ass. Good thing she’s only fourteen-years-old and she’s young enough that she can participate in the next eight Olympic games.

Pre Round Two

Um, we see the men swim some qualifying rounds of some race or another. We don’t care about this NBC.

Ooo! A bars routine from one of the much maligned Romanians. The NBC announcers are so sad that the Romanian girls aren’t being ripped from their homes as toddlers and locked in dingy gymnasiums anymore. There has been lots of talk this week about how the Romanians are lazy, and compulsive text messengers, and you know, NORMAL TEENAGERS. It’s such a tragedy how far the Romanian gymnastics program has fallen blah blah blah. This makes me want the Romanians to win it all. I want a Romanian sweep.

Nastia was ROBBED on her vault score! If looks could kill, everyone in that arena would be dead right now….

11:45 pm Round Two: Uneven Bar-o-rama

Nastia: Pretty bad ass. I love it when I’m not scared for a second they’re going to fall off the apparatus. Big step on the landing, but that’s cool. NBC tells us Nastia looks great on the bars because she’s got “good lines”. That’s NBC commentator speak for “not so square shaped”.

Speaking of square shaped…..

Shawn: She’s looking awfully adorable tonight. You really can’t argue with that charming button nose. NICE! Stuck landing.

Al tells us Shawn and Nastia are roommates at the Olympic Village. Wait. Shawn and Nastia are ROOMMATES? These two woke up in the same room this morning? That’s just twisted. Gymnastics could NOT be more fucked up.

Jiang Yuyuan: She is zipping around these bars like a little butterfly, isn’t she? Nice work recovering from the vault kiddo! It’s great how a seven-year-old can bounce back from disappointment so quickly.

Nastia is trying to kill Jiang with her evil glare.

NBC must think this Romanian chick has got a shot because now we’re watching her balance beam routine. Go Romania! Do it for the all the slacker chicks! I should make some effort to learn this girls name. I think it’s something like Stilya.

It is REALLY hard to live blog with all these non-Nastia/Shawn names. Here’s a feisty little Russian with forty-five clips in her hair kicking ALL kinds of ass on the parallel bars. So far the ladies are NOT falling off all the apparatuses like the men were last night. I suppose I should be glad.

Yang Yilin: Um. Cha-ching. That was money.  (As Pookie would say.)

I think I like the uneven parallel bars the best. The bars are the only event that I think looks more beautiful than it looks terrifying. All the other events make me scared that someone is going to die, but this one is just like….”Ooooh. Preeeetty.”

12:05am Round Three Balance Beam of Doom

Shawn: Rats! One little wobble detracts from an otherwise rock solid routine. I have LOVED watching her on the beam this week. She is the most fun to watch on the beam BY FAR. “High five, Shawn!”

Jiang Yuyuan: Oopsies. Kinda wobbly. Good thing she’s only three. She probably won’t remember any of this when she grows up. Jiang should fly to Buffalo specifically to punch me in the face for making fun of her (she’d need a foot stool, of course), because I’m not so sure I could even walk all the way across a balance beam without falling off.

Aw, drat. Stylia (or whatever her name is) has a rough one on the floor routine.

Uh-oh. Is this judging a TOTAL OUTRAGE? Jiang scores the same as Shawn. Even Shawn’s perky disposition is starting to show signs of Nastia-like rage.

Okay, the Russian gal’s name is Ksenia Semenova. Got that? You should remember because she is looking quite spiffy thus far.

Yang Yilin: Yikes. That was totally wiggly…..which means she’s probably going to get the highest score. The announcers are starting to get super testy about the scoring. I bet Bela Karoyli is starting to scare Blob Costas with his rage in the studio.

Nastia Luikin: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Perfect! That was awesome and super beaut.

If she doesn’t get a huge score here the NBC broadcasting crew is going to start an international incident.

Yay! She gets the big score! Nasty takes the lead!

Are you telling me this is all going to come down to the floor routine? BOO! I hate the floor routine. I hate the music and the “dance” moves. I think they should take out the floor routine and replace it with the trampoline.

12:33am Round Four: Stupid Old Floor Routine

Jiang Yuyuan: Hm. That was quite genuinely sassy and SUPER adorable! Eighteen months is such a fun age.

Whaa? Who’s this chick? Some Russian suddenly shows up and does a floor routine. Has she been here all night? I swear to Lindy Ruff this girl just showed up. That was NICE, Random Russian Chick Who Suddenly Appeared in the Last Rotation of the All-Around!

Here’s the Russian I know! Ksenia Semenova: The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! That was badass!

Shawn Johnson on the sidelines is starting to look like she needs a hit off an asthma inhaler, Goonies-style.

Yang Yilin: The Chinese have good choreography. You can’t really argue with that routine. Solid, artistic, enjoyable. *fist bump, Yang*

OH MY GOD! SHUT UP, AL. You are being such an ASS with all this “If the Americans just do what they’ve ALREADY DONE, they are GOING to win.” SHUT UP. Shut UO! That’s such an ANNOYING thing to say, NOT TO MENTION THE JINXING IMPLICATIONS. SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE!

Nastia Luikin: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! (Shut up, Al!) That was AWESOME! Nastia is so cool. Yeah, she seems like she might be a MEGA BEEYOTCH, but in a good way. I love her.

Shawn Johnson: She’s going to have to settle for being America’s Sweetheart. WOO!

Okay. I have to turn this coverage off RIGHT AWAY, because I really can’t stand Al Trautwig for even ONE MORE SECOND.

—-

Well, that was awfully satisfying. I have to say, I wasn’t sure if I would be rooting for the Americans in this one or not, but good old Nastia really won me over tonight.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Phelpseriffic

I am in full blown infatuation with Michael Phelps. My already fervent interest in the Olympics has gotten increasingly Phelps-centric. This infatuation is somewhat surprising as I tend to dislike heavy favorites, but Phelps has really won me over with his crazy winningness and his unassuming dopey demeanor. I don’t care if he’s being insanely hyped, sometimes a bunch of hoopla is totally warranted, and I think this is one of those times. Bring on the hoopla, NBC!

I am comPLETEly enthralled by the idea of Phelps breaking Spitz’ seven gold medals in a single Olympics. I’ve always been perplexed by how speed records are constantly being broken. It makes no sense that human beings can just keep getting infinitely faster and faster, but there you go. Every four years all the records fall. (Yes, I know the swimmers are using some kind of space-aged, dolphin-skin Speedos, and that the suits account for the increased speeds.) But THIS record, the seven gold medals in a single Olympics, has been around for 34 years! It’s ancient as far as records go! If this is the typical pace for breaking the record, I’m going to be, like, 114 by the time another person comes along who is capable of winning nine gold medals in one Olympics.

I got to thinking about Mark Spitz, the man whose record is on the line, so I googled him. Here is what I found:

Mark Spitz

Whoa.

Clearly Mark Spitz is going to be a tough act to follow, but I’m confident Phelps is up to the task, and if he pulls it off, I will jump for joy. I will leap in joyful celebration of sports and revel in the pure glee of witnessing a truly remarkable achievement.

Hot Damn

Last night’s 4×100 relay might have been the best thing EVER. I watched a lot of Olympics over the weekend (a LOT) and I’m not going to lie, I was losing steam last night. The little gymnasts were getting on my nervies (more on them later), and although I knew I wanted to see the relay race, I was very tempted to go to bed early.

Good thing I stayed up, because THAT WAS THE GREATEST. I’m still buzzed.

Fuck yeah

It was fairly exciting.

I’ve now watched this race in its entirety about five times, and I STILL can’t get over the last thirty meters. Even if I don’t see a single other interesting thing all Olympics long, this race will be enough for me to definitively declare, “THE 2008 SUMMER OLYMPICS WERE TOTALLY KICK ASS!”

I haven’t written much about this, but I don’t really cheer for the Americans in the Olympics any more than I cheer for anyone else. I randomly choose my favorites based on a variety of criteria such as “Who’s the cutest?” “Who’s the least annoying?” “Who is delightfully bitchy?” “Who’s an interesting interview?”. And for the record, there are few things in life I find more cringeworthy than the “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chant. Seriously. That chant makes me want to root for the other guy.

BUT

Last night I was trotting around the livingroom chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! and blaring Bruce Springsteen on the stereo. After that I baked an apple pie and revved my Harley Davidson in the driveway. Just for good measure, today I’m going to drive my Chevy to the levy and after that I’m going to join the Marines (if they will have me, which they probably will not).

That was some hardcore swimming.

5 Things I’ve Learned Watching the Olympics

1. Beach volleyball players are, across the board, hot. Men, women, whatever. They’re all hot.

2. There is a country called The Marshall Islands.

3. My general feelings about Dara Torres are “meh” and “whatevs”.

4. The mere sight of Bela Karolyi makes me happy because he reminds me of the Mary Lou Retton era. I was nine when Mary Lou Retton put a death grip on the hearts and minds of little girls everywhere by vaulting her way into all-around gold. I wanted to BE Mary Lou Retton. I loved her passionately, so much so that my favorite shirt was a purple number from the Mary Lou Retton Sears clothing line.

suzuki_camp

Viola Glamor Shots circa 1985

You can see Mary Lou’s autograph on the belly of the t-shirt in this picture from Suzuki Camp 1985. You can also see how super suave I was as a ten-year-old in this picture. A Katebits factoid: I do not wear glasses. I actually have freakishly good vision, but when I was ten I thought it would be cool to have glasses, so I squinted and acted blind until my parents were forced to hook me up with these babies to appease me. Age ten might have been the peak of my awesomeness. Heh.)

5. I do NOT like it when they take the Breakfast Club and turn it into a commercial for JCPenney. I don’t like it one bit.

Opening

After dinner, but before playing Rock Band with Jeff, Robin and I watched the opening ceremonies. Even I, a crazed Olympic enthusiast, tends to steer clear of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Usually they are cheesy and ALWAYS they are boring. Um, not so this year. That shit was ca-RAZY. Crazy beautiful, crazy elaborate, crazy impressive, and frankly at times just plain crazy. I was totally not bored. It was an absolutely mesmerizing display of special effects and large scale human choreography.

Pretty much every act was mind-bendingly vast and amazing, but I was particularly blown away by that thing they did with the giant boxes that represented the wind. Robin and I began making jokes about half way through that number that rather than some sort of complicated system of hydraulic machinery, there were people under those boxes, laboriously and with inhuman precision lifting them into the air. The choreography was insane- totally impressive even when we thought is was a machine. Imagine the uproar in the living room when after a few minutes of joking about the poor people lifting those boxes in IMPOSSIBLE symmetry, thousands of smiling, waving Chinese dudes popped out at the end. I refuse to believe that wasn’t trickery. I simply canNOT believe that human beings could be taught and organized to perform that box lifting routine. A lot of the Opening Ceremonies felt like this actually. Sort of like, HOW IN THE HELL ARE THEY DOING THAT?! WOW! I’M BOTH MASSIVELY IMPRESSED AND KIND OF FREAKED OUT. PLEASE POUR ME ANOTHER GLASS OF WINE. ALSO, PASS THE M&Ms.  THIS SHOW IS OUTRAGEOUS.

I loved the first half of the Parade of Nations, but after about an hour when we realized we were only half way to the Americans coming out, the call of Rock Band was too great, and we called it quits on the Opening Ceremonies. I did not see the lighting of the torch because I was making beautiful music with plastic instruments.

——

I thought I should give you fair warning about the Olympic coverage you will get at TWC. First of all, I have the next two weeks off. I literally have nothing to do except for watch Olympics all day long every day, but I have no idea how much I’ll actually watch. It might be a ton, but it might be only the evenings. Who knows. I’m a woman of leisure right now. I am surrendering totally to my whims as they unfold. So, you might get wall to wall elaborate Olympic coverage, or you might get none. Heh.

But here’s the important part:

I personally do not care about spoilers. That’s not to say I will be actively seeking out information about events as they occur in Beijing time, but I seriously hate trying to shield myself from spoilers and I prefer to just let information come to me “naturally”. I am comfortable letting the Olympic Gods decide when and how I should find out who won which events. Between the extreme time difference and the massive television coverage, I don’t think I’ll have any idea what is live and what is on tape delay anyway. I’m just going to merrily plod along, writing about whatever captures my fancy. My point is, if you want to avoid spoilers, you should probably wait until after you’ve watched your favorite events to read TWC.


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