The biggest shock of the 2010 World Cup is that Chile has a starting defender named Gary. Beyond that (and the odious vuvuzelas, the second biggest shock has been the massively underperforming referees. Missed goals (Lampard), phantom fouls (Edu), offside both called and not called (Tevez), and egregious distribution of both yellow and red cards that have turned the course of the games around (Nigeria v. Greece and Germnay v. Slovakia come to mind). Clearly something needs to be done there.
Beyond that, there’s still this massive problem with players play acting injuries. Kaka was given a second yellow card when a player from Ivory Coast pretended to be hit in the face. A few, like Portugal’s Tiago, have been cards for “diving”, but not nearly enough. The players are absurd, but you can’t really blame them. As long as they can continue to fool the refs, they are going to keep rolling around on the pitch like they’ve been fatally injured.
FIFA needs to do something. Another ref on field. Another ref watching on video. Some retroactive and harsh penalization after the game. Summary execution. Something.
I’m predicting 10-0. Brasil is ranked#1 in the FIFA Rankings. No surprise there. You have to go all the way down to page three before you run across Korea DPR tucked in at 105 between Jordan and Syria. The North Koreans are behind such football powerhourses as Qatar, Haiti and Benin. Maybe not 10 goals, but it’s lambs to the slaughter. No doubt about it.
The World Cup is underway, again. It seems like yesterday I was watching the 2006 matches while traveling around Europe: Zurich, Basel London, Barcelona, Paris & Amsterdam. Can’t believe it’s been four years.
Coverage in the us on ESPN and ABC should be improved. They’ve actually got some decent announcers who will actually be in the stadiums and not calling the games from Bristol, CT. The time difference makes things a little tricky. I was up at 6:30 this morning for the opening game. Tomorrow, there’s a start between South Korea and Greece at 4:30. Yikes. I’m not going to catch all the games like in years past, but I’ll try to watch the good ones.
Tomorrow is also USA v. England. It’s the first match they’ve played in the World Cup since 1950. Amazingly, we won that match 1-nil. That win was a miracle. The USA has a far superior team now. It will be a shock in England if they lose, but won’t be such a shock here if the US wins. I will be cycling in Sonoma, so I’ll catch the game later on the DVR.
As for my picks, of course, Brasil, for the all the obvious reasons. But I really want Holland to win. They’re overdue for a win. They play very exciting, positive football. And it would be great for the football world. If I had to pick the team I think will win, I’d have to go with Spain. I’d love to see Holland v. Spain in the final. It would make a fantastic game regardless who wins. I just don’t want to see Germany or Italy win. Anyone but them.
These are some very heady days for Australian cycling.
They’ve got Tasmanian Richie Porte in the Maglia Rosa leading the Giro d’Italia. They’ve got Mick Rogers, who seems to have completely recovered from the injuries that have plagued him in recent years in the lead of the Tour of California. Matthew Lloyd is leading the King of the Mountains race in the Giro. Lloyd along with Cadel Evans and Matt Goss have won stages at the Giro. While Bret Lancaster picked up a win in a soggy stage 2 in the TOC. And, of course, Cadel Evans is the reigning World Champion. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
Hopefully Porte can hang on for vistory in the Giro. The last week is going to be rough and he’s sort of an unknown quantity. He does have a little lead to wrk though. On the other hand, Rogers’ competition is right on his heels. It’s nice to be in the lead With three days to go including a time trial in LA (he’s a former TT World Champ). However, Dave Zabriskie has the same time and several riders incluing Levi Leipheimer are well within striking distance. Should be an exciting few days of racing.
Killer ad for Nike. Not quite the awesomeness of this one tough. (Poor, poor Ronaldinho. Didn’t even make the Brazil squad for the World Cup.)
This is the first year in a long time that I’ve not been glued to the TV during March. I hardly watched a game during the season. UCLA was horrible. They finished under .500 for the first time in recent memory. It was painful to watch, so I didn’t.
The NCAA tourney arrived as a surprise to me. I didn’t pay attention to the selection show. I didn’t see any of the first round games. I did hear about all the upsets though. Kansas going down to Northern Illinois. Cornell, Butler, and St. Mary’s advancing to the Sweet 16. Who couldn’t love that? Cinderella stories are always fascinating. Everyone wants to see another George Mason in the Final Four, right?
Cornell was elimated by Kentucky last night. No surprise there. Northern Illinois is still alive. Butler is only one game away now, but they’ve been good for so long, it’s not going to shock anyone to see them there.
St. Mary’s is another story altogether. It’s a tiny college playing in a minor conference which has been dominated by Gonzaga for years. They have student body around 2500. Really, they have no business in the tourney.
But I want to see them continue to win. The college is in Moraga which is less than 15 miles east of where I live and I pass it all the time on rides out to Contra Costa County. The campus is small but beautiful, centered around a cathedral in a large square (it’s a Catholic school).
I don’t know how much of a chance they, or the other mid-majors, have to make the Final Four. I don’t even know if St. Mary’s can get past Baylor tonight (is Baylor any good?).Long ago are the days where I watched SportsCenter with a religious fervor and prided myself on keeping up with all things sports.
It would be exciting as hell if one of the upstart teams to make it to Indianapolis and hopefully it will be St. Mary’s.
Go Gaels Go!!!!!
You just have to love Ski Cross (aka skiercross or Skier-X). It’s crazy. It’s insane. It’s wicked and wild and wooly and just so much fun to watch. I really don’t know how these guys do it. It’s the sport of tube-fed, genetically-modified (oft alcohol fueled) adrenalin junkies.
If you’re not familiar with it, this is how it goes. Four skiers race simultaneously down a winding snake of a course filled with bumps, jumps, and steeply banked turns. Competitors are not supposed to push, shove, or elbow each other, but in a sport that’s like roller derby down the bobsled run, you won’t get penalized if you don’t get caught.
Naturally, the risk is high and the crashes can be severe, but these guys are tough and probably little mental. American Daron Rahlves, previously an Olympian in the Apline events, crashed horribly just three weeks ago at the X-Games and dislocated his hip. But that didn’t stop him from competing in Vancouver.
Skicross has long been a part of the Winter X Games but was added as a full-medal sport in the Olympic lineup for 2010 after it received recognition from the IOC. I highly recommend checking out the vids on the NBC website, if you didn’t catch the broadcast.
*If you don’t get this reference it probably mean you’re weren’t a male teen in the mid-80s. sorry
It’s really beyond the pale how bad NBC is at covering Alpine Skiing at the Vancouver Olympics. The latest joke the Men’s Giant Slalom. NBC only bothered to show 4 of the runs in the first round (each skier gets two runs): Carlo Janko, who finished in first, Aksel Lund Svindal, third, American Ted Ligety, in eigth place, and Bode Miller, who caught a tip and didn’t finish. They failed to show Romeo Baumann, second, Massimiliano Blardone, fourth, Marcel Hirsher, fifth, Benjamin Raish, sixth, Cyprien Richard, seveth or any other skiers.
They showed all of three skiers on the second run. Three? Three is all we get? Bode crashed out so they didn’t have to show him again, but why not show Ligety? Why not show the first run of the eventual silver medalist, Kjetil Jansrud of Norway? Other Americans? Anyone? Bueller? It’s on tape delay, so they can program it anyway they want. They show qualifying for freestyle skiing, yet they won’t show the meat and potatoes Alpine events. What gives?
They must really, really suck or not care.
Since NBC won’t bother to explain, I took to the interwebs to find the answers:
A salchow jump is done from the back inside edge of one foot to the back outside edge of the other foot. A half revolution is done in the air.
The salchow jump was invented by Ulrich Salchow in 1909.
The salchow is usually done from a forward outside three turn. After the three turn, the skater stops momentarily with the free foot extended behind, then swings the free leg forward and around with a wide scooping motion. Then, the skater jumps in the air and lands backwards on the foot and leg that did the scooping motion.
Sometimes, the salchow is entered from a forward inside mohawk instead of a three turn.
A toe loop is done with a toe assist. While skating backward on an outside edge, the figure skater picks with the other toe, then jumps a half revolution in the air like a waltz jump, and lands on the foot that did not pick. The skater should be gliding backward on an outside edge when he or she lands.
This jump was invented during the 1920′s by Bruce Mapes who was an American professional show skater. In fact, in artistic roller figure skating, the toe loop is called a Mapes Jump.
Most of the time, the toe loop is entered from a forward inside three turn.
In a loop jump, an ice skater takes off from a back outside edge, jumps a full revolution in the air, and lands backward on the same back outside edge from which he or she took off.
This jump is easy for non-skaters to recognize since there is no toe assist. It is considered an “edge jump” since no toe assist is used on the take off. Loop jumps are often done as the second jump in figure skating jump combinations.
A flip jump is a move where the skater glides backward on a back inside edge, picks with the other skate, jumps a full revolution in the air, and lands on the back outside edge of the foot that picked.
Most figure skaters enter the flip jump with an outside three turn and then “pick” with the free toe. The three turn done before the flip jump must be done in a straight line. The toe pick assist looks a bit like a pole vault. Some skaters enter the flip with alternative entries, such as a forward inside mohawk.
A lutz jump is done just like the flip, but the takeoff is from a back outside edge instead of a back inside edge.
The lutz jump was invented by a Austrian man named Alois Lutz who first performed the jump in competition in 1913.
The lutz jump must be taken off from the back outside edge and is considered a counter-rotated jump. It is very difficult to stay on a back outside edge as the skater takes off; if the skater does allow the blade of the take off edge to roll over to an inside edge, the jump does not receive full credit and is consided a flip jump. This mistake on a lutz has been nicknamed a “flutz.”
The takeoff of an axel jump is on a forward outside edge. After jumping forward from that forward edge, the skater makes one and one-half revolutions in the air and lands on the other foot on a back outside edge.
This jump was invented by a skater named Axel Paulsen who first performed this jump in 1882.
It takes time to master an axel jump. It may take years for some skaters to master an axel. Once a skater “gets an axel,” double jumps usually come quite easily.
Makes it much nicer to watch when you know what the fuck Scott Hamilton is talking about.
Every two years, I get psyched for the Olympics and every two years, I come away severely bothered by the television coverage. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is no exception.
I’ve written about this before, and in some ways it gets tired to complain about the coverage, but what else can I do?
First off, not much of anything is live on NBC. There is some programming on CNBC like hockey that will be carried in real time, but all the major events will be tape delay, at least on the west coast. In the days of the DVR, this doesn’t matter as much as it used to. However, watching on delay not only takes away much of the drama inherent in sports competition where you will never know what will happen and replaces it with a paradigm where one has to avoid any possible coverage that is in real time from online services to the ESPN crawl lest the results are revealed before the event is broadcast.
For both the Men’s and Women’s Downhill, I was unable to keep from seeing the results before I saw the event on TV, which is just fucking horrible. The Alpine events are the centerpiece of the Olympics and downhill skiing is the crown jewel of the event. Yet the coverage on NBC is simply a joke. And knowing the results beforehand just makes it a sad joke.
For the men’s event, NBC deigned to show 6 runs. America’s Steven Nyman and Bode Miller, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, Switzerland’s Diider Cuche and Didier Defago and Canada’s Rob Dixon. Count ‘em. That’s six runs. They probably wouldn’t even have shown Defago except that he happened to win the event. And Dixon probably only made an appearance because of a spectacular crash. That’s six competitors out of a field of 64. It’s just unacceptable.
The women’s event was only slightly better. NBC showed the runs of America’s Lindsay Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Stacey Cook, Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl, Germany’s Maria Reisch, Sweden’s Ana Paerson, Switerzland’s Dominique Gisen, Italy’s Daniela Merighetti, and France’s Marion Rolland. The final four on that list all crashed out including Rolland who somehow caught an edge out of the starter’s house and keeled over before she even got started.
The men’s and women’s course were totally different but equally exciting. The men skied the famous Dave Murray Downhill while the women were on a special course created on Franz’s Run (I’ve skied both and they are incredibly fun). The women’s run on Franz, a whippy labyrinth of a piste, subjects the skiers to several massive jumps including the infamous “Hot Air” at the bottom where many competitors, including Paerson, Gisen and Merighetti, crashed spectacularly.
The entire competition is available online sans commentary, which makes it quite boring. And you can see the full results for the men’s and women’s downhill on nbcolympics.com.
There’s no good reason why more of this incredible competition should not be shown on TV. It’s just inexcusable, especially when you consider the wall-to-wall coverage of curling on CNBC. Curling? It’s like watching the ice melt. (Any event where the inclusion of pizza and beer does not dramatically impact the results is not a sport and certainly should not be in the Olympics.)
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