SPORTS! Yay! – Thoughts on the Olympics

Getty Images – Synchronized Male Platform Diving

Ok, so, I think a key component to enjoying the Olympics is having television.

That may be super obvious, but for the last eight years, I didn’t have television (we owned a TV in Davis, but had nothing coming to it). In 2004 and 2006, I watched a little bit and started a Very-Important-Tradition of watching the Opening Ceremonies with my friend Drew, but what I caught was always at other people’s homes.

In 2008 and 2010, I had no TV and no cable, I tried watching parts of the Bejing games on my computer while living in Ithaca, but it was basically a bust. The screen was tiny, the advertisements were huge, and the internet was slow.

Now, we come to the last two weeks, where I have seriously main-lined some Olympics coverage. (At least main-lined for me – watching anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours of coverage a day). This has been steadily helped by our excellent and large TVs, the wonders of the DVR, and my super-fan sister (who has possibly watched everything. I left for work one morning, and she had the TV showing one thing, the computer another, and was checking other updates on her phone).

I started out the two weeks at a lovely Opening Ceremonies party at Syche and Drew’s. (As I said, a Very-Important-Tradition). We ate foods of the world (including lumpia, which may have made my month) and alternatively enjoyed and were snarky about the spectacle. (I really enjoyed it up to the dance/technology montage, which I didn’t understand and was so very long).

After that, I would just watch whatever my sister was watching. Sometimes briefly, and sometimes being sucked in for the whole prime time segment. (This first Wednesday, I came home from the gym, sat down for a moment and got majorly sucked into swimming & men’s gymnastics). My favorites have been: synchronized male platform diving, track in general and the women’s 4×100 relay in specific (which the Americans kicked ass in), all the swimming relays, BMX (though, Jesus Christ that is brutal), and then, today, the women’s Modern Pentathlon.

Donna Vakalis in the equestrian portion of the Modern Pentathlon

I watched the women’s Modern Pentathlon because one of the Canadian athletes, Donna Vakalis, is a Jordan Jesse Go! listener. This show, my favorite podcast, has a segment called “Momentous Occasions” where listeners leave messages about the exciting things in their lives – people call about weddings and babies and craft projects and more. Donna called to say she would be competing in the London games, and Jordan and Jesse followed up that call the next week with a phone call to learn more about Donna’s story.

It was super interesting and kind of insane. The Modern Pentathlon was created to be a collection of sports a modern (at that time early 1900) solider would need to know. It is four events: fencing, swimming, riding an unknown horse, and a running/shooting combination. And it all happens in one day! The NY Times article about it is entitled In Modern Pentathlon, a Day of Madness. We watched the second half of the women’s competition today, and I was super impressed.

So, thanks to my sister and the MaxFun community, I watched and was invested in much of the Olympics. I almost can’t wait for the next summer games. As Andy Zaltzman said “How am I going to last four years without being able to remember to care about rowing?”

(That leads me to a side recommendation: Andy Zaltsman and the Bugle have done daily recaps of the games. They are hilarious, relatively short, and I think would hold up way beyond the games ending. Go! Listen!)

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Alex the Vineman

As always, I’m way behind on my blogging and need to talk about my lovely New York vacation. It is crazy though – I only came back on Monday, but work has been so crazy it feels like a month has gone by. I’m so glad that I got to spend last night and today at the Russian River with some of my oldest and dearest friends, as it was fun, and oh-so-relaxing.

We were there to watch Alex compete in the Vineman Triathlon, which is a half-Iron Man competition. And, as would be expected, insane! (I learned all about the differences between a sprint vs. an Olympic vs. a half Iron Man, and about transitions and all this other triathlon lingo)

We got up early, and trekked a whole… hundred yards to the dock to watch the swim portion. We cheered for basically everyone who went by (all of whom were super impressive) and chatted, until we saw Alex. He saw us too, and waved:

The River was very narrow on the sides where folks had to compete, so many did a combination of walking and swimming. After he waved, Alex dove in.

Eventually, we saw him swim back on the other side. Then we had five or so hours to kill, so we ate some breakfast, enjoyed the sun (I am sooo sunburned) and went champagne tasting at Korbel Winery.

Yup, Alex did 70.3 miles between the swimming, biking and running. And we drank champagne and ate cheese and enjoyed the lovely Sonoma area.Eventually we ventured to the finish line to try and see him – here, I learned about the importance of the cowbell in cheering and the tricks to spotting the right white hat and white jersey amongst a crowd, and from a far distance.

Kate, Alex’s girlfriend, here in the foreground, is a pro. She knows how to be an excellent cheering section and support team.

Alex did an amazing job, and it was a lovely weekend. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday!