The 2010 Winter Olympics are upon us! Some tidbits to ponder while Jeffrey Immelt and Jeff Zucker of GE / NBC jealously look at their peers in Korea and Japan, where the upcoming duel in ladies figure skating between Kim Yu-Na of South Korea and Mao Asada of Japan will likely produce a television ratings boffo for their networks (see '88 Katarina Witt vs. Debi Thomas, or '94 Kerrigan, Harding, and Baiul) while Zucker continues to be the butt of jokes about the Leno-Conan programming fiasco. But on to the rest of the Games, which promise plenty of drama and excitement.
A huge congratulations to Apolo Ohno on tieing Bonnie Blair for the most medals by a USA athlete at the Winter Games, and even more so to JR Celski for his bronze in 1500m short track. Just last fall, JR had a horrific accident in one of the last races at the Olympic trials, where his blade caused a deep gash in his thigh. I'm so happy he overcame the mental challenge--he's young and he's going to be around as a skater for a long time and there's plenty of time to recover physically for his future skating career, but the challenge of overcoming The Fear after a terrible crash is definitely a problem in any sport with risk. Okay, I know they would have placed fourth and fifth but for the three Koreans colliding in the last turn allowing Ohno and Celski to "pull a Bradbury". But like the Australian, Celski had to mentally battle back from a horrific injury to just get to where he was in the race.
Nice to see Katherine Reutter on the first time Olympic athletes television program that aired just before the opening ceremonies in some cities. I contributed to her sponsorship by buying her Rootin' for Reutter sweatshirt--see her website (note that I'm pretty sure they won't be shipping until after the Olympics are over as Mom and Dad Reutter have journeyed to the games.)
I loved the feature NBC did with Mary Carillo talking about Dutch speed skating fans in the Netherlands, the Elfstedentocht, and Flevonice. I'll try to post a link if NBC or Universal Sports puts the video on their respective websites.
A few plugs: I'm enjoying the "Sports Center"-like coverage on Universal Sports in the morning at the Olympics. Also, the "Zen" blog on speed skating continues to have terrific, original content on speed skating and is definitely worth following, and even offering up a "virtual tip" to buy the host a cup of coffee.
Lastly, beyond the Games, its winter everywhere. There were some skating tours this weekend in the Netherlands. The northeast of the US (Vermont - NH - NY) area is enjoying some great natural ice skating conditions. And one hopes that the snowed-in people in the mid-Atlantic region are creating their own bobseld runs out of the deep snowbanks. I have memories of "The Course" from such a record snowfall from my childhood, where we rode plastic-sheet toboggans skeleton-style down a banked course we iced over--our neighborhood backyard skeleton / bobsled course. We all still talk about it, so if you are a parent in the mid-Atlantic tell your kids to unplug the Wii or the PS-whatever and build their own Course.
Editor - Jim
This blog weighs in on topics such as long-distance skating, the Illinois canals, cycling, and a variety of related (and occasionally not-so-related) topics. I'd like to correspond with others interested in skating the Hennepin and I&M canals.