Tag Archives: speed skating

Dressed to Kilt: Shani Davis at the Glenfiddich Sponsored Charity Fashion Show

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In the past Words to Bumble posited that Olympic speed skater Shani Davis (you know, they guy who called Stephen Colbert a jerk, which was deftly tuned into comedic fodder by the Report newsman) did not seem to have  a sense of humor. Based on the images posted by Universal Sports recently, it turns out that maybe he does.

Davis donned a kilt and hammed it up a bit for the cameras at the “Dressed to Kilt” Charity Fashion Show sponsored by Glenfiddich in New York City on April 5th. The theme, unsurprisingly was “Mad for Scotland;” the funds were raised for the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org), the Paralyzed Veterans of America (www.pva.org) and the Erskine Hospital in Scotland (www.erskine.org.uk).

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images/ UniversalSports.com

At any rate my point is that Shani Davis strolled down the runway in a kilt and velvet jacket and vest with his gold medal and then struck a speed skating pose for the ages. Being an Olympian must be such fun.

And who else was there? A sports-minded Mike Myers showed a bit of blindingly white leg as he crept down the runway in a Canadian hockey jersey and kilt combination–naturally. Somewhat inexplicably the Geico caveman was also in attendance, posing his way down the runway in full formal kilt attire, complete with a heraldic lion and black tie.

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Enter the upper echelons of the Hollywood elite:  Lady and Sir Sean Connery– everyone’s favorite Scot/James Bond–also made an appearance, donning their plaids and being Scottish in general. Obviously. The whole thing would have been null without Sir Sean.

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Short Track World Championships: Relays, Super Finals & Social Media Mayhem

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This weekend I discovered how to watch obscure winter sports that have been rudely neglected by Universal Sports (which had recently made me so happy regarding the Alpine ski season), purely thanks to the wonders of social media. Between Twitter investigation and US Speed Skating on Facebook, I discovered that the TVU Networks Player carries Chinese and Korean sports channels and Tony Chung provides mucho helpful live commentary to short track events on Twitter (you know, since I am Chinese and Korean challenged).

FYIs completed, let’s move on to the action.

The Men:

The men’s team was comprised of Kyle Carr, J.R. Celski, Simon Cho, Travis Jayner and Jordan Malone. They not only gave a strong showing at these ISU World Championships, but also social media-ed it up with a lot of conversational tweeting and a couple informal live webcasts for fans… which was ‘interesting’ and definitely involved nearly toxic numbers of teenage girls, leading Cho to wonder, “How many of  you skipped school to watch this?”

As for myself: When you are an unemployed so-called writer, you can only watch so much CNN. Trust me. Also, an inquiry on Twitter did confirm that people were figuring how to get out of class in order to tune in. Distressing– particularly because it was being recorded for later viewers.

On Friday Celski and Jayner made it to the 1500 meter final along with Thibaut Fauconnet (France), Kwak Yoon-Gy, Lee Ho-Suk and Sung Si-bak (Korea). From starting position #2, Celski settled into second place at the beginning, Jayner at the back of the pack from his #6 starting position; however the 1500 meter saw a lot of movement back and forth before the finish. France, Korea and the US each had a turn in the lead–at one point Celski and Jayner were in first and second positions respectively–but the race ended in a Korean sweep: Kwak, Sung and Lee for the podium with Celski taking fourth and Jayner sixth, despite all efforts to split up the Korean team. In terms of world rankings for the 1500 meter Jayner is tenth and Celski is unranked due to that epic injury from the Olympic trials last autumn that prevented him from competing for several months; Malone– who apparently got into an argument with the ice a few times in Bulgaria– is ranked fourteenth.

Fast-forward to the 3000 meter super final on Saturday: Celski competed once more against familiar faces from the Olympics: Charles and Francois Hamelin (Canada), Kwak Yoon-Gy, Lee Ho-Suk (Korea), Liang Wenhao (China) and François-Louis Tremblay (Canada) in the longest distance individual short track event.

Celski started from position 7– which pushed him into a start line behind the other six competitors– no problem: He immediately settled into the top three working hard to keep the team of three Canadians separated. After a pace pick-up to about 44 km/hr around 1.15 Celski fought his way into first by 1.30, ahead of Tremblay. As a bonus for being in the lead at 1000 meters Celski was awarded five extra points; he would hold his position until the last lap. After the 1000 meter mark, Celski was so far ahead that the he was out of the camera shot, which was following the rest of the pack. At eight laps to go it appeared that all he had to do was hang on for the win… it was not to be. The pack slowly gained ground and by 4.20 Lee and Kwak were coming up fast from behind, the three appear to have lapped other competitors and in an unbelievable pass Lee and Kwak passed Celski to take first and second in the super final, respectively, with Celski taking the bronze. In terms of the overall results for the Championships, this meant that Celski missed the podium by a mere eight points, taking fourth. Eight. Points.

See? It’s so exciting, people should always be watching short track when it is not the Olympics!

And to close their season (it seems that although the team qualified they will not be attending the team Worlds in Torino at the end of the month), the men went ahead and took home the silver in the 5000 meter relay. If you are not familiar with the relay format, note the image and my previous post on the Olympic relays.

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The relay began with two false stats, which create visual mayhem during a relay– the ice starts to look like a public rink full of people aimlessly milling and circling about. The US started out in first quickly shifting over to Germany and then Korea, an order (Korea, Germany, USA) which was maintained for quite a while. Around 2.23 the American men passed into first place leaving Korea to hold off the Germans. The lead did not last long and at 2.40 the teams reordered: Korea, USA, Germany and China way behind. China eventually ended up getting lapped by the three leading teams. At eight laps left the Korean team was pretty far ahead of the Americans who had, in turn, broken away from the German team… AND, that is how it ended, with Team USA .03 behind the Koreans.

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And what did we learn at the medal ceremony? The flowers are presented by girls in full Bulgarian folk attire. Just thought you should know. Also, there are not a lot of spectators– shocking, I know.

The Women:

The United States was represented by Allison Baver (who did not compete due to a residual flair up of a broken leg injury from last year’s Worlds), Kimberly Derrick, Alyson Dudek, Lana Gehring and Katherine Reutter. The ladies are not quite as enamored of bonding with fans via social media, although Derrick did make a brief appearance during one several of the webcasts organized by Jordan Malone.

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Anyways, Katherine Reutter made it to the first final event of the weekend on Friday for the 1500 meter. She started from position #4, getting pushed to the back of the pack after the starting turn, settling into fourth place. As commentators repeated again and again during the Vancouver games, Reutter– unlike, for instance Apolo Ohno– hates being at the back and tends to get panicky if she cannot get into a leading position and skate offensively. Thus, Reutter pulled an impressive outside power pass into the lead. Unfortunately the efforts was not enough, or perhaps she used her energy and power up too early, because the three Korean women pushed her back into fourth again, where she finished behind Park Seung-Hi, LEE Eun-Byul and Cho Ha-Ri. Reutter finishes the year with the third world ranking in the 1500 meter.

Reutter also raced in the 3000 meter super final event on Sunday against nine other women. Starting from the second starting position Reutter settled into fourth behind Wang Meng (China) and two women from the Korean team. After the race speeds up around 1.30, Reutter passed into third and then into second behind Park Seung-Hi… and at this point the amount of movement in the race got out of hand and pretty difficult to follow with Jessica Gregg (Canada), Reutter and Cho Ha-Ri each taking a turn in the lead. Reutter executed another mad pass outside all three Koreans around 3.40 but was shortly overcome again by the Korean team effort. It appears that Reutter might have even lost her balance a bit towards the very end, giving up first the lead and then third place, finishing in a hard-fought fourth place by .14 behind Park, Cho and Lee. Park won the overall Championship title; Reutter ranked in sixth.

For the women’s 3000 meter relay final that followed (Derrick, Dudek, Gehring, Reutter), the USA skated against Korea and Canada (China was supposed to race but did not show), in a rematch of the dramatic and highly contested Olympic relay. It was a race of redemption for South Korea, who this time took home an uncontested gold in the relay with Canada in second and the American women finishing in third place, similar to the Olympic outcome minus the disqualification drama and the Chinese team.

Whew… and that’s that for short track.

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Purely Entertaining:

And now for a few brief moments of hilarity and randomness from last week’s men’s team webcasts:

  • When asked why Apolo Ohno was not on the team for Worlds: “Because he’s in Beruit.” Here is a hunch: they are really sick of people asking about Ohno. At one point, when asked the question, “Where is Apolo,” Simon Cho replied, “Hey what’s that supposed to mean? That’s an insult!”
  • There was a discussion on Snuggies. Malone has purchased them as gifts. I almost purchased my dog one once… and then I came to.
  • We were also treated to a discussion on how McDonalds is different in every country. Based on the team’s knowledge of various incarnations of fast food burgers, everyone’s greatest question has been answered: Olympians really do eat McDonalds!
  • Cho is afraid of birds: “Everyone hates birds, right?” Meanwhile, a) that is not true, b) he and frequent Words to Bumble guest star Kathleen have an irrational fear in common, and c) Malone was like, ‘Really? I have a parakeet.’
  • Kyle Carr’s luggage got lost by Air France and so his skates were in limbo for most of the trip. Instead of getting to skate while the rest of the team had practice, he just had to jog around the track.
  • There were questions about rolling toilet paper over or under. Over. Obviously the answer is over. How do I come to this? Because that is how hotels to it to make life fancy. The end.
  • Cho says, “Don’t waste your money on the iPad,” good advice really.
  • Too many people are obsessed with the sexuality of spandex-wearing guys, and the guys appear to pretty tired of it all, really. Even though some people talk about bubble baths, their preferred shampoos and a love of cupcakes; however, those are all really important things in my mind.
  • Most of these people fondly remember Pokemon and Digimon from their childhoods. Malone remembers Teddy Ruxpin, and I like that about him because I always wanted one of those and my mother would never get me one and, and…

Ahem. I think that’s it.

So short track recaps: Done. Back to normal programming… I think.


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Mary Carillo: Expert in Canadiana

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I think a lot of us fell a little in love with Mary Carillo over the course of Vancouver 2010. I know Kathleen and I did; I suspect that you might have.

Mary Carillo’s late night coverage got us through many hours of luging and women’s events, which were often inexplicably/explicably pushed from prime time into late night– lots of lady speed skating, biathloning and other such activities. I would have been even more upset had Mary not been there to carry us through with her amazing collection of boots and blazers that challenged even the dapper new look sported by Bob Costas.

So who is Mary Carillo? How did she come to us?

Facts:

Mary Carillo was a professional tennis player in the late seventies, retiring in 1980 due to knee injuries. From there she went forward as a widely celebrated tennis commentator, et cetera… and in 1992 she showed up in Albertville to provide some insight into skiing events. She made her summer games début as a tennis commentator at the 1996 Atlanta games, and continued to expand her winter repertoire as well. The 2002 Salt Lake games brought us the best comment about two-man luge that the world as ever heard: “a bar bet gone wrong.” She has also written three books about tennis. Read her Wikipedia page, she sounds like a busy lady… who maybe would like to hire me to be on her team for the 2012 games… I’m just saying that it would be a lot of fun and like, we could stand next to each other and it would be funny because you know how I am short and she is the opposite of that… and I just love the Olympics so much, and I just want to hang out with Mary and the Olympics…

Ahem.

Anyways, as the years  passed she took on hosting capacities, such as her 2006’s Olympic Ice in Torino and forging into late night coverage in Beijing. It appears that the 2008 games also saw her foray into providing cultural slices of life about the host country. This past time ’round, Bob Costas noted that she has become an expert on all that is Canadian, “Canadiana” if you will, as per her special prime time segments that took us around the great white north as if we really wanted to know more about Canada. The segments also roped in many an animal lover with spotlights on playful polar bears and puppies, theoretically luring non-sportsfans to turn their gaze towards Olympic coverage. They say there is something for everyone…

So we got to see Mary try out dog sledding after meeting an inspirational blind husky named Isabelle who still runs despite her disability. Mary figured that if Isabelle could still run with her pack, that she herself could give dog sledding a try. They both achieved the seemingly impossible that day.

Later, Mary delved into the world that is British Columbian logging. She hung out with lumberjacks, learned about their efforts to replant the forests as they go, and what they do for fun on the job. And what do they do? The pop wheelies on their tractors. The tennis pro and the woodsmen really bonded. As a final moment of joy on the river, Mary got to give the call for the loggers to dump a pile off logs into the river from above; it clearly brought her a lot a of joy: “Hahaha, I love my job. I love my job! Ahahaha!”

I love your job too.

We were blessed with one last moment of enlightenment regarding the Canadian experience as Mary and Bob bid each other farewell: It was an ace investigation into Canada as a breeding ground for humor, “the comedy of Canada as its greatest export.” Caroline Rhea explained that “It’s really cold here, so you have to entertain yourself all the time!”

So… turns out there are a lot of Canadian comics amongst us. Additionally Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live hails from our northern neighbor. It makes sense when you think about it, since SNL is such an entry point for such folk (Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, Mike Meyers, and more). Shocking.

Mary also provided some insight to the sporting events in questions: NBC sent her to the Netherlands to check out the homeland of speed skating in Kathleen’s favorite Carillo special segment. We learned about the Elfstednentocht, the longest of long tracking over 200 kilometers of canals in the Netherlands, coursing 16,000 competitors through eleven cities, fifteen times since 1909. As the canals have not cooperated by freezing fully since 1997’s event, the Dutch recently came up with an alternative: the FlevOnIce, a three-mile manmade ice track allowing the Dutch to pursue their love of skating outdoors. Mary’s thoughts on the matter? “It’s a lovely passion, it is– a lovely obsession.”

I like her candidness.

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Ever game for an authentic experience, Mary even dressed up like a crazy Dutch-er and went to see a pro race featuring Sven Kramer and American Shani Davis, who–incidentally–won, probably because Mary was there cheering him on. Mary asked a few locals if her outfit was the craziest they had ever seen. They gave an emphatic “Oh no,” please, “you’re in Holland!”

Mary’s final verdict on her experience: “Anyone who visits will get carried away by the zany orange zeal.”

Let’s take this opportunity to thank Mary Carillo for traveling all of Canada and various other parts of the world for our Olympic education and entertainment.

Parting with Mary’s late night coverage was bittersweet. Colbert the moose (formerly Ebersol) was apparently pretty torn up about it as well. The two had been through a lot together, “Colbert was inconsolable” when the Canadian men lost to the Americans in that early hockey game (presumably he is now feeling adequately smug about that gold medal situation). However, he had best reign in those Canadian feelings since it look like Colbert is coming back to New York with NBC for some sort of installation on the Vancouver games at 30 Rock. Looks like they are going to have to change his name again though since Colbert is kinda associated with Comedy Central, which brings us to this last exchange:

“‘The Chairman,’ that’s you name? Is that your final antler?… You wanna meet Tina Fey? I can’t promise that.”

Get in line moose, we all want to meet Tina Fey.

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Ok, ok, so that final adieu to late night Olympic coverage was insanely corny. It was ridiculous, but you know what? Mary went out there and got it done– the interesting, the stupid, the funny and the obscure. During her final chat with Bob Costas she said, “I’ve had a lot of good assignments.” That’s probably worth kissing a stuffed moose, right?

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One Last Speed Skating Song: The Pursuits

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Sniff sniff. Last. Speed. Sk-skating. Events-s. Good thing they are fun team pursuits for both the men’s and women’s teams, both of which put forth an exceptional performance. Way to sew up the games kids. Way.

Saturday saw the finals for both long track team pursuits. The pursuit event made its début at the 2006 games and let’s just say that the commentators are totally stoked that “it has proven to be vastly entertaining.” You have to imagine Dan Jansen being super excited.

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Ladies first.

The quarterfinals went down Friday afternoon and the US team pulled a real shocker by beating out the heavily favored Canadian women. The pursuit is all about being completely and utterly in sync with your teammates. Previously, commentators were really impressed by the caterpillar-like start of the Japanese team. Yes, “caterpillar-like.” A single being, many legs. Oh sigh. Olympic commentators, please don’t leave me. I just want to hang out with you all the time, is that so much to ask?

But seriously, the pursuit is a very cool thing to watch. The ideal team is able to skate not only in perfect unison but as closely together as possible. For instance, the Russian team who were favored to beat Poland in their pairing fell away from each other (we later find out due to one of their skaters having inadvertently kicked another and injuring her) and since the finish time is measured by the last skater to cross the line… you see what I’m getting at. If the commentators said it once, they said it a million times, “you’re only as strong as your weakest skater.”

Thanks for clearing that up. Over and over and over again. Hence,”team” “pursuit”.

So the Canadians are an incredible powerhouse of speed, yet Jennifer Rodriguez, Jilleane Rookard & Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. knocked them out of the finals 3:02.19 to 3:02.24– yikes. Cue shocked commentators throwing around phrases like “a perfect race.” Take that with the knowledge of Jansen’s earlier assertion that one of the most unique things he has ever heard from an athlete was Ohno calling his Torino 500 meter race “the perfect race”… and now look at you Dan, just throwing the same phrase around!

Later on the lades talked about their race saying, “under pressure you can do great things, and I think that’s what we did here today.” Rodriguez elaborated on teamwork strategy and the nature of pursuit, referring to a moment towards the end of the race when she gave a teammate a little push from behind: “whatever we can do to help the person in front of us… a tap here… [It was] definitely one of the most fun pursuits.”

The women paired into a semifinal versus the gold-defending German team. It was a close one and it ended as a pretty ridiculous one. The American team lost some of that key ‘tightness,’ the ‘accordion’ movement if you will, but they fought quite the battle forcing the German to fight all the way to the line.

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The element of ridiculousity went down a few meters before the finish on the German side: Anni Friesinger-Postma “ran out of steam” after the last turn, fell behind her teammates and pretty much collapsed, belly flop style and proceeded to slide swimmingly on her stomach down the lane. Gathering her wits as she approached the line she swung a leg forward to cross the finish. I guess the rules really are that simple: just get your entire team across the line. Friesinger-Postma clearly thought she had ruined her team’s chance to defend the gold, she was seen face down, pounding her fists on the ice until someone had the decency to inform her that she had still beat the last American across the line. I still find it totally bizarre that slip ‘n’ sliding to the finish qualifies, but hey.

The American team changed their line up for the bronze medal race against Poland, in which Catherine Raney Norman replaced Swider-Peltz Jr. Unfortunately Norman ended up being the skater who fell out of the pack, by over one and a half seconds, costing her team the bronze.

On the other hand, the whole experience can be considered wildly successful for US Speed Skating: fourth place at the Olympics is perhaps the most frustrating of finishes, but it’s also not too shabby. The Americans knocked the Canadian team out of medal contention, fought a tight race again gold medal Germany and an excruciatingly close race for the bronze, forcing Poland to fight every step of the way. All this from a team unexpected to play a great role in the pursuit. Well done.

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The men’s team also advanced over a dominant favorite, the Svenergetic Dutch team helmed by Sven Kramer in their semifinal race. Kramer is not having the games that he was promised. Chad Hedrick, Jonathan Kuck and Brian Hansen on the other hand– they had a pretty awesome race after getting through their quarterfinal race against Japan with Trevor Marsicano on the ice (later replaced by Hansen). After the semi, Hedrick reflected on their victory over the Netherlands: “We [had] a chance to slay the monster today with Sven Kramer.” Well that’s one poetic way to put it.

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The men met team Canada in the gold medal race which they only lost by two tenths of a second: “a solid race skated by both teams, they both stayed together… Canada just never relented.”

Let’s a take a moment to reflect on how one’s sense of time gets totally warped by watching Olympian racing. It’s insane.

This was Hedrick’s last race in his last Olympic games. He’s retiring to get on with his life, which includes a daughter who will turn one year old next month. He called the silver medal “a great start to a good life.”

Great Olympics for American speed skating.

In related news, short tracker Alyson Dudek’s tweet recently brought this illumination into my life, which I had not previously processed:

@alydudek Congrats to our guys team on their bronze medal! Every USA short tracker goes home with a medal. First time in history!

Very cool.

And that’s it for Olympian speed skating recaps folks! But don’t worry, there will still be a few Olympic entries to help wean us off the excitement over the course of the new week, so don’t forget to check back!

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US Success on Short Track Friday

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Over all it was a great night for American speed skating, resulting in two medal winning races on the short track. Good stuff.

Katherine Reutter had an awesome race night in the 1,000 meter, executing an awesome passes along the way. She won her quarterfinal ahead  second qualifier of Cho Hae-Ri of South Korea. Reutter went on to win her semifinal in 1:30.568 just ahead of Wang Meng of China who crossed the line at 1:30.573.

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Reutter began the A Final from the third starting position and fought the whole way to finish with a silver, the first individual women’s medal in short track in sixteen years. Reutter hung out in third for a while before slipping back into fourth and finally power-housing through to the silver and heroically holding Park back the last laps. Pre-tty fantastic. Wang Meng got the gold and bronze went to Park Seung-Hi of South Korea. Reutter has been considered a major player on the women’s team for this her first Olympics and it looks like that Colbert-branded thigh can go home happy.

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Second medal moment of the night belonged to the men’s 5,000 meter relay team consisting of Apolo Ohno, J.R. Celski, Jordan Malone & Travis Jayner. Ohno was the only remaining team member of the 2006 Torino bronze medalists.

If you missed the earlier relay events you missed out on some spectacular comments comparing the required movements to a ballet of sorts… last night all we got was, “it looks chaotic, but there is an amazing synchronicity to what these skaters do.” This is the race where skaters alternate laps and push each other in and out of play, passing on their speed to their teammates while tagging them in. It’s basically the most exciting and hectic event in short track.

The US team was easily in the lead pack early on, keeping up with Canada, China and South Korea and leaving the French team well behind. Then things got a little hairy with the American team settled into fourth and struggling to keep up with the pack. Very stressful.

In a pre-race sound bite Ohno said that for short track Friday “I like to use the expression ‘Any given Sunday, anything can happen.'” The race was perfect entertainment from the get-go.  It was also incredibly close– unknowably close until the replay. I certainly had to wait to be sure of what I had just seen. Ohno took the last laps for the team who had remained in fourth position throughout the race and somehow–out of nowhere– rocketed into third, almost overtaking South Korea for second: “What Apolo can do– he’s the best in the world in this situation!” You get the feeling listening to the commentators that there is no joy in the world like being in the arena when Apolo Ohno is racing. I’m a little/a lot jealous of them.

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That’s number eight kids. As over used as the word ‘epic’ is… it was epic. And that is why no one on this earth could tempt me to not watch the Olympics last night. Not a one.

As a postscript, Canada took the gold so good for them on home ice. I’m still upset about the 500 meter though, and I blame them. Sorry.

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The 500m: Apolo Ohno & Ultimate Mayhem on the Short Track

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In case you have a life and missed it… SPOILER ALERT, because I firmly believe in OnDemand, DVR and NBColympics.com… go watch the men’s 5oo meter short track finals and then come back. Maybe take a Valium. Don’t be caught with liquids near anything you don’t want doused. This is good advice.

The phrase most frequently associated with the sport appears to be, “That’s short track,” accompanied with an exasperated shrug. Crazy shit goes down and that’s just the way it is. I urge you to recall the Celski disqualification during the 1000m and the surprise bronze for the women’s relay borne of a South Korean blade click.

Last night we confronted what Chris Collinsworth described as “the craziest event within this crazy sport,” on what is touted as the best night of short track at the Olympics– a Friday night with the “part race, part demolition derby,” (Oh Bob Costas) men’s 500 meter, the women’s 1000 meter and the final epic event, the women’s 3000 men’s 5,000 meter relay.

In an advertisement aired by NBC on Saturday afternoon for the Kentucky Derby, Ohno likened his sport to the esteemed horse race… which was confusing and involved lots of snorting beasts battling it out. Previously he had compared the 500 to a bunch of guys ripping around a tiny track on motorcycles at top speed and then doing a multitude of hairpin u-turns.

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NBC really likes to encourage metaphoric language. I don’t know if you’ve noticed.

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The quarterfinal brought the world another amazing Apolo Ohno moment that was just about too awesome and too good to be true. There was a spill on the track in which two competitors wiped out right in Ohno’s path (Tyson Heung, Germany & Thibault Fauconnet, France). So what did he do? Oh yeah, he just jumped over the carnage. Just. jumped. over. them. No big deal. Like that cliff running bit from two weeks ago.

Talk about crazy. Scott Hamilton called Evgeny Plushenko ‘cat-like’ during men’s figure skating. Molly summed Ohno’s move up thusly, “He’s a lion.”

Digression: The world has been wondering all week why Ohno yawns before a race. Is he bored? Is he tired? What is going on? So NBC asked him and aside from explaining that it relaxes him before a race he grinned and said, “Turn on the Discovery Channel. Lions do it– so, I wanna be a lion.”

Love those spotlight on Apolo NBC moments and the magical things he says.

Moving on.

In the semifinal Ohno qualified first ahead of François-Louis Tremblay of Canada, beating out two South Koreans, Kwak Yoon-Gy and Lee Ho-Suk, placing into the A Final. It was a delight. Things were looking good.

And now I bring you final of mayhem/ doom. The line up: 1) Charles Hamelin (Canada), 2) Sung Si-Bak (South Korea), 3) Apolo Ohno (US), 4) François-Louis Tremblay (Canada).

Ohno fell back into fourth position early on which did not bode well since there barely is an “early on” in a race as brief as the 500 meter sprint. But there’s always a solid chance when you are watching Ohno race that he will somehow, amazingly pull it together at the clutch. As the seconds clocked by things took a desperate turn. There was a lot of shouting. Neighbors where disturbed.

And then just before the finish it looked like Ohno was going to make a move into third for the bronze. As happens with shocking frequency in short track there was minor contact, a hand to Tremblay’s hip by Apolo (again let’s just re-read that Celski incident recap). Shortly after this seemingly quotidian contact Tremblay slips and spins out. Meanwhile, up ahead it looks like Hamelin has a hand on Sung’s hip momentarily, Sung trips of his own accord, grabs at Hamelin’s skate and spins out. Once again Ohno is navigating through the carnage, Hamelin is sliding all over the place and ends of going backwards for the last bit, Ohno manages to stay fully on his feet and crosses the line for silver…

You. would. think.

I can’t find  embeddable video at the moment, so here’s the stingy exclusive NBC link. I will keep looking.

The moment Tremblay went down the threat of disqualification was thick in the air and maybe the saddest thing ever is watching footage of the end of the race and how elated Ohno is that he hung on and got through… and then having to realize that he has been disqualified. And again we must do a tally for the day: Rough City, Population- Apolo Anton Ohno.

If only Tremblay had not felt the need to wipe out. If if was a skiff…

After the race Collinsworth caught up with Ohno: “I think that was definitely three of the fastest guys off the line that I’ve ever skated against… There wasn’t any space to move up, just kind of waiting, waiting, waiting… I don’t know why they called me– I was in fourth the whole time… but no regrets.”

Ohno countered the contact DQ saying that he was “just protecting myself” from running into Tremblay by having his hand up, a typical move in short track. His frustration with the call was not a surprise, but he was pretty chill in staking his position: “…you know, in short track everything is subjective, so I just have to skate faster [in the relay].”

Done and Done.

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US Speed Skating & the Colbert Nation: “Kicking Ass & Mispronouncing Names”

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… said Stephen Colbert on his Tuesday night show. On Wednesday night he came to us from the Colbert Report ‘sports zeppelin.’

He has also presented an ace profile on himself as the Assistant Sport Psychologist to the US speed skating team by showing footage of his hilarious self diagnosing and then ‘helping’ out a few members of the team. I can’t help myself, I have to recap a few key moments of “Freud Rage: The Iceman Counselth.”

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1) Colbert gave Mitch Whitmore a “thigh five,” after talking Whitmore through dealing with his addiction to skating.

2) Lauren Cholewinski was told to imagine that Colbert had stuffed her suit full of meat and then let a pack of wild dogs out on the ice. “You are skating for your…?” “Country?” Wrong. The correct answer? “Life.”

3) Fredricks Tucker has a hard time with Colbert’s trust games since they involve getting poked in the eye, declaring “I don’t trust you!” to an incredulous Colbert.

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4) Tucker really wins with the funniest segment, agreeing to let Colbert brand him with a little Nation love by autographing his chest– his heart if you will– since at the Olympics athletes cannot wear any sponsorship labels.

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5) And to close the first of a two episode series profiling the antics of this wayward assistant sports psychologist, Colbert had a serious conversation about racing strategy with Tucker’s glutes. And remember, “You’re gonna feel like giving up, but don’t– you’re not just any ass, you’re an Olympic ass, remember that.”

Part two of the exposé featured a team pep talk involving such motivators as: “Your self worth is riding on what you do here.”

Shani Davis also made a an appearance via fireplace satellite where he admitted that “If [Stephen] were there in my 1500 m race I probably would have won the gold [instead of the silver].”  Is there a true reconciliation in the works?!

Earlier in the week Bob Costas had jokingly confirmed with Colbert that “animosity really fueled [Shani].” On last night’s show Colbert admitted that “Shani prefers that I do most of my coaching from the stands.”

But don’t worry kids, the boys have made up. Shani presented his medals to the Colbert Nation: “This one is also for Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Nation, thank you so much.” I’m glad your PR person is doing their job Shani.

And for old times sake? “Stephen, you’re a jerk,” with a south side smile on his face. What is a south side smile? It’s something that I made up, which I am allowed to do since I too am from the south side of Chicago. And it’s my blog. So there.

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Filed under Commenting, Television