Tag Archives: Magdalena Neuner

Favorite Olympian Names

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And now for something purely silly. When you spend two weeks watching fairly obscure athletes perform in their fairly obscure winter sports, sometimes all you can do is throw caution to the wind and choose to put your lot in with the athlete marred/graced by the best/craziest name. Here are some of our favorites, some are well-known, some not so much, but they would each render a fantastic autograph.

This is an unranked list, but a list nonetheless:

  1. Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway, Alpine Skiing)
  2. Apolo Anton Ohno (USA, Short Track)
  3. Didier Cuche (Switzerland, Alpine Skiing)
  4. Elisabeth Goergl (Austrian, Alpine Skiing)
  5. Gregor Schlierenszauer (Austria, Ski Jump). He is apparently a really big deal (complete with a clothing line) in Austria where  fans call him “Shlieri,” and he leads a life of fame and fortune: “I am feeling a little like a rockstar– and I like it!”
  6. Gro Kvinlog Genlid (Norway, Ski Cross)
  7. Magdalena Neuner (Germany, Biathlon)
  8. Nicolien Sauerbreij (Netherlands, Snowboard Parallel Slalom)
  9. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (Norway, Cross-country Skiing)
  10. Simon Ammann (Switzerland, Ski Jump). All the announcers had to say about him was that people like to say he looks like Harry Potter? I don’t see it, but whatever. Also he is pretty much out of everyone’s league in the ski jump world. Commentators said things like, “He told the world: you’re skiing for second place,” jumping twenty feet further than his nearest competitor. Asked how he plans to celebrate? “Long!”

So who did you become rabidly attached to based on their name?


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Lock & Load Lena

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nbcolympics.com/ Reuters

Magdalena Neuner, my favorite German skied and shot her way to a third overall and second Olympic gold of the Vancouver 2010 games. NBC didn’t air the 12.5km women’s mass start biathlon until late night coverage, but it’s OK– I stayed up to get the scoop for you.

Recap: After two penalty laps borne of shooting range misses earlier in the race, Neuner pulled it out, unexpectedly shot clean at the last upright range (not her strength) and quickly made up 7 seconds immediately afterwards. By the end of the race she had made up about 15 seconds, quite a feat: “She is absolutely ripping it out on this uphill!” Neuner ran away with the gold by a [whole] 5.5sec, leaving Russian Olga Zaitseva and fellow German Simone Hauswald to fight it out for silver and bronze respectively.


And after all that, Neuner basically looks fresh as a daisy coming across the finish line with a big smile. Damn.

Oh and she’s an accomplished knitter. She blogs about it. So who reads German here?

PS> Wall Street Journal article on Lena & German biathlon.

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An Expert on Maine Denies Biathlon

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While my favorite Olympic sport is tied up in the drama of short track, the biathlon has a special place in my heart. That bizarre ski and shoot at stuff sport, it’s just awesomely intriguing, and despite the American love of guns and shooting at things it retains a distinctly European flavor. In fact at this moment, no American biathlete has ever medaled at the Olympics. It recalls the days of Olympiad competition in quaint European hamlets. Apparently in 1924, the first year of the modern Olympics at Chamonix, the Scandinavians were reluctant to participate… until they were assured that biathlon would be included.

As I type the men’s 15km mass start–the sport’s marquee event at the Olympics–has just taken off. The commentators reflect on the innate high drama of the race both in the start method and the scene at the shooting range. This is particularly true as 30 top biathletes pretty much arrive at the range simultaneously. It’s intense.

According to a broadcast from last week’s biathlon events, the mysterious state of Maine has become a hotbed of American biathlete training. As luck would have it, my dear friend Spike is from Maine. It’s his one defining characteristic (in my mind)… so it looks like we have an expert on our hands?

Or do we?

The Interview

Spike: Why did you have to talk to me about Maine?

Johanna: Because apparently, it is a hotbed of my favorite Olympian sport, closely beating out short track death match racing [I lied to get the informational goods], and I want to know if you ever strap a rifle to your back and go skiing, or if you know anyone who does.

Spike: No. And no.

Johanna: I am sorely disappointed.

[Things rather devolved after this point, unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly.]

Johanna: You know, you are always thwarting the great stories about Maine that I want to put in my blog. Someday I am going to go to Maine and see what it is all about.

Spike: Haha. Let’s see… Maine.

Johanna: Surely you at least ski without a gun? Or do you just lie about in fields drinking well-water all day?

Spike: …Yes. Expect we lay about. We’re exceptionally honest. And serious about our fields, so we don’t lie about them.

Johanna: Wholesome and American?

Spike: Are you kidding? They voted down gay marriage… Although that may be considered being wholesome and American.

[Moment of silence for the state of the world/ the United States.]

Johanna: I am ever so impressed that we have actually just had a conversation that you instigated. Since you’re usually way too important to discuss Maine with me.

Spike: I’m just ashamed of my heritage.

Johanna: I’m sorry.

What have we learned? Well, possibly that Maine is not a hotbed of biathletes… or it probably is. Possibly that the one person I know from Maine is not a helpful individual. Perhaps he has been lying to me for years about being a true Maine-r. I find myself left with a lot of questions. And still with the desire to learn how to ski and shoot, maybe hand out with my favorite biathlete, Magdalena Neuner. Looking forward to seeing more of her in the 12.5km women’s mass start… if NBC decides to air it. Sigh.

For more reading on the art of biathlon, check out Edward McClelland’s article recording his experience trying out “winter’s weirdest sport” in Slate Magazine.

This just in: Gold goes to Evgeny Ustyugov of Russia, silver to  Martin Fourcade of France and bronze toPavol Hurajt of Slovakia, a first for his country.

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Olympic Haikus

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Today Gawker ran a “news haiku” contest, which inspired me to write a series of haikus on the Olympics, obviously. The first one below was one of the featured entries selected by Jim Behrle who was making the selections. It prompted him to comment: “@WordsToBumble we will have to do a whole day of poems just about curling.”

Sounds like a solid plan to me.

Curling’s cool at first
And then it gets confusing
Where is speed skating?

Curling stones slide, glide
Commentators talk twitter?
Not helpful, I’m lost.

If I had clap skates
I would surely break my neck
Love that speed skating.

Biathlon, ski, shoot
Oh Magdalena Neuner
Shooting so flawless

Now it turns out that the above statement is a lie, but at the time that I wrote it (just after the first found of shooting in today’s women’s biathlon pursuit) it was true. And she medalled gold anyways and it was awesome. Everyone should always be watching biathlon.

Apolo Ohno also has a great name for being in a haiku, like if my name was Johann instead of Johanna, curse that extra syllable. Or if my name was Johannana, then I could be the middle line like Magdalena. I’ve been upset about this for a while.

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Are you READY?!

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Are YOU ready for the Olympics?

I’m a big fan of the skiing & shooting sport, which I recently learned is officially called The Biathlon. In celebration of the Olympics, this is what I would look like as a world-ranked biathlon lady.

Actually Magdalena Neuner (Germany)

I know, right? And to think it’s only my first head transplant. Crazy.

Also just so you know, regarding my choice to love the biathlon, I’m in pre-tty good company:

@sethmeyers21 Heading to the ‘Couv for my first Olympics Can’t wait Trying to decide if i should compete in the luge or the ski/shoot stuff one.

Twitter is so illuminating.

Opening ceremonies are tomorrow. Be ready.

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