August 15, 2004

Olympics, Day 1

Despite, or possibly because of, my general apathy towards sports, I always love watching the Olympics. I have a number of gripes about the coverage---particularly, the way they jump between three or four sports rather than just covering each one start to finish in a block---but it's generally fine.

My new favourite sport to watch is synchronised diving. Diving in general is generally not bad, sort of enh, but synchro---where two people time identical (well, usually mirror image) dives with each other---takes it to a whole new level. Really, really impressive.

Cycling isn't that interesting to watch, but it's neat when the announcers see a guy launch out ahead of the pack and don't really have any idea who he is. "He's from Portugal, and he's a total unknown..." A lot of who-the-hell-is-he before he finally took silver. I guess next time they'll know who he is. :)

Gymnastics, boy oh boy. I'm not sure who I'd less want to be, this Kato guy or the two American gymnasts he dicked over. Apparently the head judge, a Japanese guy named Kato, notified the American team two days before the start of competition that the rules had changed and their high bar routines were worth less difficulty points than before; this affected two guys' routines, and both of them changed some elements less than 48 hours before the competition. Blaine Wilson did this crazy hard release move, actually caught the bar afterwards but didn't get a good enough grip, and landed on his back. His head made an audible thud on the pad. He finished his routine (with a .5 deduction for the fall, of course). He went on to do a fantastic floor routine, but when he walked off the floor he said he felt dizzy (which makes his exquisite floor routine all the more impressive). He scratched pommel horse and gave an enh rings routine. I hope he's ok and there's no concussion or anything; I'd love to know whose fault it really was about the difficulty points. Did they really change the point values of certain elements just a few days before the Olympics? Did the US coach just miss a memo? I do know that if I were Blaine Wilson (or the other guy whose name I currently forget) I'd be hella pissed.

Massive team player points go to Guard Young, who was not planning to compete pommel horse and had not warmed up or even practiced it in the last few days, but was pressed into service due to Blaine's scratch and walked away with a respectable 9.4-something.

And come on guys, lose the pommel horse already. Every time I watch a men's gymnastics meet I'm once again struck by the awful-ness of this event. In every other event in men's or women's gymnastics, a good routine can be appreciated by the untrained eye as a clear demonstration of power or agility or grace in varying combinations. But you can see a very technically accurate, very difficult pommel horse routine, and it just clunks around up there. There are about three moves that actually look good on the pommel horse, and they look just as good on the floor and parallel bars, so we won't have to miss them when you burn all the pommel horses and throw their unlamented wreckage into the dumpster.

'"But that's bullshit!" Doug says. "Jesus! Haven't you guys spent any time at all around people like Comstock? Can't you recognize bullshit? Don't you think it would be a useful item to add to your intellectual toolkits to be capable of saying, when a ton of wet steaming bullshit lands on your head, 'My goodness, this appears to be bullshit'?"' --Neal Stephenson, _Cryptonomicon_

Posted by blahedo at 4:31am on 15 Aug 2004
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