Random Things Round-up: It’s Been A Week in London

Did you know that apparently the men’s basketball uniforms for Team USA are made out of recycled plastics water bottles somehow? Apolo Ohno was also surprised, in this video documenting his first trip into an Olympic gift shop. Spoiler: he puts on a biking unitard, but he can’t quite bring himself to try the tiny speedo situation.

By the way—be jealous—I have pins from the Barcelona and Albertville games. I have duplicates of a few, in case you want to make an offer.

Never mind, they’re priceless.

In regards to other winter Olympians, NBC is really cashing in on any cult of personality they can snag, including Shaun White who apparently does not excel at fencing, but just wanted to clarify, “I’m obviously not competing, I’m just enjoying everything.”  He does, however, think that Gabby Douglas is super inspiring, as established in a really clumsy non sequitur towards the end of Friday’s primetime coverage. He also vaguely remembers training on a trampoline as a child. So, there’s that.

Have you ever noticed how the news crew are always talking to the Dutch? It’s totally because a) they all speak perfect English and excel at life, and b) they’re easy to pick out, wearing all the orange. Also, in case you are planning a trip to future Olympics, know that Holland House has been the hit of every games since those last same-year Olympiads in 1992 (Barcelona and Albertville); this year, guests hoping to party Dutch-style apparently have to book tickets in advance online.

And, in case you were wondering what the Olympics are about, Stephen Colbert has the definitive answer: “Making little foreign girls cry.”

I mean, one thing at which the Russian lady gymnasts really dominate is expressing a sense of utter, devastating tragedy impending around every corner.

Viktoria Komova, I’m sorry Gabby Douglas made you cry.

Aliya Mustafina, your name makes me want to hiss “Mufasa,” all the time. I’m also sorry about that. Sort of.

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Humans Do This: Steeplechase

I am late for yet another party.

Last week, in all the excitement leading up to both the Olympics, I was expounding on how much I love to watch steeplechasing. I was referring to horses (apparently for the Olympics we are supposed to refer to this as Equestrian Jumping?), which caused mild confusion because, I am informed—oh-my-life—there are humans who steeplechase and this is completely new information to me. 

I simply cannot comprehend how I have missed this wonderment over the years of my avid Olympic viewing.

I mean, there are water traps. Why is this a thing? Who declared this as a thing? It’s too amazing to me, and I am so excited about it.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the history of steeplechasing humans: “The event originated in the British Isles. Runners raced from one town’s steeple to the next. The steeples were used as markers due to their visibility over long distances. Along the way runners inevitably had to jump streams and low stone walls separating estates. The modern athletics event originates from a two-mile (3.2 km) cross country steeplechase that formed part of the Oxford University sports (in which many of the modern athletics events were founded) in 1860. It was replaced in 1865 by an event over barriers on a flat field, which became the modern steeplechase. It has been an Olympic event since the inception of the modern Olympics, though with varying lengths. Since the 1968 Summer Olympics the steeplechase in the Olympics has been dominated byKenyan athletes, including a clean sweep of the medals at the 2004 Games.”

So awkwardly British.

I mean, true, the gates are not nearly as beauteous as those enjoyed by the equine athletes, but it’s just not a perfect world.

About those barriers: unlike hurdles, they do not fall if you hit them—you just hit them.

The men’s qualifiers were Friday, the final will be on Sunday. Women’s heats  are Saturday and the final will be on Monday. Note it. Watch it.

Humans do this.

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Stephen Colbert Learns Dressage: “Who’s Winning? Me, or the Horse?”

Ok, so I know I am incredibly late to this party (it happened earlier this week), but for those of you who are also late to the party: Stephen Colbert did a two segment special bit his “adventure in the workaday world of horse ballet,” as part of his personal celebration of the Olympics, otherwise known as “fighting our enemies in a sports-themed proxy war.”

In addition to dubbing Dressage “horse ballet” or “horse prom,” Colbert provided further clarification to the American public by describing dressage as “the sport of the summer—for those who use ‘summer’ as a verb.”

Touché.

Other definitions include:

Passage: Horsey walking sideways.

Piaffing: Fancy prancing.

You’re going to want to see that video here and then here.

 

 

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A Belated Moment for the American Women’s 8

This is what happens when you have a gold medal row.

Mary Whipple Gets Tossed

And that’s why I never wanted to be a coxswain.

Meanwhile, this is what the commentator had to say as these ladies powered towards the finish: “You stand there as a spectator, and you can kind of imagine what it would have been like standing on the shores watching the Viking invasion.”

Really? That is what you have to say?

Oh well.

Love those lady rowers, and love an 8.

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Seth Meyers Addresses Dressage, Mitty, & the Perks of Being an NBC Employee

In a refreshing break from having to actually listen to any of the NBC commentators (aside from Bob and Mary, who are—obviously—delightful), Seth Meyers stopped by the studio this afternoon for a little post Dressage commentary, among other hilarious things.

Meyers declared, “I have Olympic fever and I think in the daze of Olympic fever, I  somehow got Shanghaied into being here [in the studio],” for his usual fee of a turkey sandwich. Apparently the catering at the NBC London studio is not great, because the actual anchor clarified, “a dry turkey sandwich.”

Of course, given the state of affairs at NBC, it might be considered pretty generous that they can offer an appearance fee to one of their own. When asked about how he came to be in London, Meyers said, “Well look, we’ve worked for NBC for a long time and at some point you have to say, like, I’d like to go to the Olympics.” And apparently as long as you’re willing to stop by on your way to a beach volley ball match, NBC will make that happen for you.

I want to work at NBC.

Meyers on Women’s Gymnastics & Becoming an Expert

“It’s so exciting… If you spend two hours at women’s gymnastics live you feel like a full expert… You’re like, ‘Oh that’s a double Arabian, that’s no small thing… That’s an execution deduction!'”

I feel you Seth. I, too, am a gymnastics expert based on three years of childhood participation and a couple of evenings of wondering if there are any teams other than the Americans, Russians and Chinese.

Meyers on the Badminton Scandal

First of all, you have to excuse the coaches and players, because they probably were not aware that anyone would be watching, as they are playing badminton, ““They did not realize that you guys [at NBC] have a million hours of coverage.”

Fair?

“You just realize, like as a coach ,if you’re ever going to ask your players to throw a game, you have to practice throwing a game.” This made the entire studio laugh. Including the people who are being paid to be quiet behind the scenes.

Meyers on Dressage and How Rich Mitt Romney Is

“Mitt couldn’t be distancing himself enough from this horse… When you say [during the Brian Williams interview]: ‘I don’t quite know what my wife’s horse is doing in the Olympics,’ that is the longest way to say ‘You have no idea how rich I am.’”

“You should be able to embrace the fact that your wife’s horse is in the Olympics, and people shouldn’t be able to use it against you, like I just did—but I hold myself to a different lower standard.”

Meyers on Appropriate Patriotism & Team USA Support

“I’m rooting for Rafalca [the Romney horse]… Well look, we’re Americans and we have to root for all our American athletes—even horses with super foreign names.”

Yup.

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Awesome Olympic Names: Spotlight on Ranomi Kromowidjojo

In the spirit of terribly subjective and spotty Olympic commentary, I bring you today’s weirdly but awesomely named Olympian: Ranomi Kromowidjojo is a Dutch swimmer (of Javanese Surinamese descent) and I enjoy her for several reasons beyond her name.

Kromowidjojo took gold in the women’s 100m freestyle yesterday, in addition to swimming for silver on the Dutch team in the 4x100m freestyle relay. She also had the fastest qualifying time for the 50m freestyle, so stay tuned for that action.

Note that she is sporting a quintessentially Netherlandish manicure in bright House of Orange… orange—I love this about her.  Nothing goes together like Dutch people and orange. 

Sometimes I wish I was Dutch just so that I could wear obnoxious orange all the time… with purpose.

Oh, by the way, the media is referring to Kromowidjojo as “The Flying Dutchwoman.” So there’s that magic.

 

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Magenta for the Win: Gabby Douglas

Things.

First of all, hold the phone, the definitive photographic moment of the games has already been called by the experts at Deadspin (although today that was followed up by a yet another declaration of photographic awesomeness on Gawker). Imagine what will happen in the next week. I love declaring bests before all the results are in.

Personally, I’m a fan of this clearly authentic photo moment, tweeted by Danell Leyva’s Towel. I hope that his towel continues to tweet. I also hope that people all over the world are scouring Bed, Bath & Beyond type stores looking for that exact towel.

If you want to get serious about analyzing Douglas’s balance beam prowess, the New York Times has obligingly provided this graphic guide (this is just one tiny bit of it).

If a rant about Olympic gymnastic coverage on NBC is more your speed (and let’s face it, the commentary hasn’t even been entertaining, much less actually good), here’s a pretty ranty rant from Deadspin: Fake, Jingoistic, And Stupid: Gymnastics Coverage is the Worst Part of NBC’s Olympics.

Also, in case you didn’t know, Douglas’s mother’s family is from “Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana” (points to whoever gets that reference), and figured prominently on the local Chicago news last night.

And, in the spirit of contrariness, I am just going to come out and say that I prefer Aly Raisman’s floor routine style to Douglas’s. Sorry.

Plus, check out those back muscles!

One more bit of infos, if you are interested in becoming an expert not only in gymnastics but on the topic of leotards: everything is explained here.

This is only an iota of the knowledge to be gained:

What do you wear underneath a leotard?

Some people wear briefs, some people don’t. Some people wear a body liner.

What’s a body liner?
A body liner is kind of like an undergarment, like a leotard. I would say briefs are a lot more popular than a leotard unless you’re wearing white, in which case some people like a body liner for a little bit of coverage.”

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