“Down, down, down!” Trent yelled.
The snow cat had turned back up the slope, its lights pointing in our direction. Trent and I dropped flat into a small depression, our bodies hopefully obscured by the shadows. The snow was cold and hard, but I was wearing plenty of padding. We were at the top of Vail Mountain at night, and it was pitch black save for the snow cats grooming the ski slopes for the next day. We looked around for our third, but Matt’s tall, skinny shape was nowhere to be found.
The lights passed us over. “Go!” Trent cried. In the crunching snow at a full sprint, we covered the last open expanse, then slid baseball style down to the catwalk, fully out of view. Matt reappeared a moment later, clutching a square of folded black plastic to his chest. “I dropped my trash bag,” he explained.
The sledding we were about to do was not smart, legal, or safe. In fact, we were probably the stupidest people on Vail Mountain that night. But that’s what made it great.
“One day at a time,” Shawn Johnson said through a giant smile. It was the day after she won her gold medal on the balance beam, and Bob Kostas was already asking whether or not she had any plans for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Could it be that a 16 year-old, only 4’9″ tall, is as wise as she is flexible? In her quest for the perfect full backflip with a twist, she somehow also discovered that achievement grows from steadfast, daily determination– and maybe even from enjoying this first great success as the world watches on.
Super-human feats are often preceded by big dreams. These long-term goals convinced a single mom to continue paying for her son, Michael, to take swim lessons and persuaded the Johnsons to double mortgage their house to keep their daughter in the gym. They believed that what was next could be astounding.
I was in the bar at the Hyatt hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Both times. My girlfriend Jen and I were driving up from Baltimore to New York and dropping off two other wedding guests along the way. Jen and her friends sat down for some food at the end of the catered dinner, but I scarfed mine and headed for the bar. It was 10:10, and I knew I was going to see history.
This was the 100m butterfly, one of Phelps’ toughest tests. His qualifying time had actually put him 2nd to a swimmer named Cavic, not the 1st that he was used to. 100m means you only go up and back, and after the first 50m he was trailing pretty significantly. I had thought no one else in the bar cared, but as Phelps made the turn the sound started to rise. A pretty significant roar saw Phelps home in the last 50m, where he outtouched Cavic by the pencil width of .01 seconds.
But that was nothing compared to the next night.
Olympic swimming smells fishy. Every day, someone is breaking a world record in the pool by 1, 2, 3 seconds. Didn’t anyone think it was weird that in so many races, more than one swimmer was breaking the world record? What about in that dramatic US win in the 4×100 freestyle relay, where the world record line was trailing everyone by several body lengths? What are these guys on?
The right question is, what is the pool on. From Outside Online:
To promote the breaking of swimming world records, the Chinese have optimized their Water Cube pool for speed by: (1) Keeping the water at 80.6 degrees, the temperature considered optimal for swimmers; (2) pumping “microbubbles” into the pool to break the water’s surface tension; (3) building the pool to a depth of 42.7 feet, which prevents water-temperature interference; and (4) introducing a ventilation system that whisks chlorine fumes off the surface of the water, allowing the athletes to breathe clean air.
Doesn’t anyone find that disheartening? It’s like throwing a slugger grapefruits so he can break a home run record–sort of takes the fun out of the idea. But I guess “…the world record, set in Beijing in 2008…” will be a common phrase going forward, which is exactly what the Chinese intended. Kind of upsetting, don’t you think?
As much as I hate seeing rampant steroid use in baseball, this Mitchell report is garbage. Some of the accusations, especially against Clemens, are serious and damning, but the idea of picking out forty some odd players for something utterly permitted by the entire culture is dubious at best.
Now lets look at who George J Mitchell is—former Senator from Maine and current member of Boston Red Sox front office management. Yes—I was stunned to hear it as well, a very interesting and underreported fact. This so-called impartial Mitchell Report was conducted by a man on the Red Sox payroll.
Filed under Politics, Sports
Barry Bonds has been indicted by a federal grand jury for lying about his use of steroids. This is big, folks. If you were one of those people who vaguely heard your baseball fan friends complaining about Bonds’ oversize head but never paid much attention, this is the time to perk up. Now it’s real.
I’m from Durham, North Carolina—the land of the Duke Blue Devils. I grew up loving college basketball and thinking the Cameron Crazies were the coolest things ever. I even got to go to a few Duke basketball games—my parent’s friends had season tickets and would give us the pair when they were out of town. On these occasions, my dad would alternate taking me and my sister. I went first and promptly reported back to Lizz that it “wasn’t that fun” and was “kind of boring” so that the next time the chance arose, she would let me be “the nice sister” and go in her place. (The cruelest irony of this story is that my sister went on to go to Duke and, yes, she camped out for a full week to get tickets to games. I was a mean older sister.)
I’m getting away from the point. At home in North Carolina several years ago, I noticed a guy with a blue devil tattoo on his arm. It was small—tasteful if you will. I liked it and it never even occurred to me that it was a little extreme to get a sports tattoo. Until the other day when I saw a photo online of a guy with the biggest Boston Red Sox tattoo ever.
Filed under General, Sports