Friday, June 24, 2011

Superhero athletes deny gravity

Australian diver Matthew Mitcham can fly, no problem

Photo from An Honorable German's Flickr feed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Olympic Day!

Tune in tomorrow for more of our Summer Sports Spectacular. We must put that aside today, however, to contemplate instead the incredible Triumph of the Human Spirit (and no, I don't mean the statue of the same name in New York City). 

It's Olympic Day!
A day to celebrate athleticism and wonder and joy and the games.

(Occasionally sponsored by McDonald's.)

Happy birthday to the original IOC, from which all this amazingness was born. Let's celebrate in style, with a little John Williams pumping:

Feel the fanfariness

True, the Olympics may just be another international sporting event. But it can be and often is so much more than that. At the risk of sounding like an NBC human interest cutaway, the Olympics features the most amazing athletes in the world doing what they do best. It's a love story between an individual and their nation and songs of bodies in the poetry of motion. It can foster peaceful competition between nations in times of international tension. It's about pride and perseverance, and honestly, the the games are the closest we humans will ever get to real super powers.

And yes, cheesy as it sounds, it can be about the triumph of the human spirit.

Tell 'em, Usain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cycling: S^3.2

Yes, that's right. Bicycles have been part of the modern Olympics since the very beginning, even though bicycles themselves weren't very old by the time 1896 rlled around. For goodness sakes, the first practical pneumatic tire wasn't invented until 1888!

What do you think their tires were made of?

Nowadays, the cycles are engineered to perfection, the exact tilt of the velodrome is calculated to within incredible specification, and there's nary a penny-farthing to be found.
One of the biggest changes in the sport came in 1984, when women were finally able to compete in cycling events.

Anna Meares, after setting a world record in the Women's 500 meters.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Athletics: S^3.1

Think with me back to 1896 for just a moment. Utah became a U.S. State, the Philippine Revolution erupted, and, most importantly, the first modern Olympiad took place in Athens, Greece.

On April 6, 1896, the first race was run by the first Olympians the world had seen for more than a millennium. 15 men lined up (not all at once now, the concept of heats is not new) to run 100 meters.

Thomas Burke won with a time of 12.0 seconds.

Thomas Burke probably didn't run in this little hat.

On August 16, 2008 in Beijing, China, Usain Bolt ran the same race in 9.72 seconds.

Usain Bolt celebrates his victory, sans little hat.

In those scant 2.28 seconds lies over a century of feet hitting pavement, discus throwing, and javelins. And sweat. Quite a bit of sweat.

Athletics as an Olympic discipline is also known as Track and Field. It has consisted of 52 different events for men over the years, including Tug of War,* as well as hurdles, the marathon, shot put, javelin, and racewalking.

There are honestly too many events involved to give each one a fair shake. They are all very different from each other, and each has its own set of stars and strategies. What works in an 800m race might not work in a 200m race. It's so important to hold that baton correctly during a relay. Long jumping is distinct from pole vaulting, which is in turn distinct from the high jump. And don't even get me started on the shot put.

Instead of failing at describing them all, I'll just say that I view athletics as an especially beautiful Olympic event, because, for the most part, humans are equally matched for it. Running and throwing are things that are basically innate within us, and it doesn't matter whether or not, for instance, Jamaica has enough snow or funding for a bobsled team. A kid from Kenya who is so inclined can run really, really fast just as well as a kid from America. And they could be beaten by a kid from Argentina, or Azerbaijan, or anywhere else in the world. 

(As an aside, in 1908 Great Britain brought 126 athletes to the Athletics competition, or roughly 42 times more athletes than Austria or Bohemia brought that year. Granted, London was the host in 1908, but still.)

Athletics is one of the few sports in which almost every country can and does participate. And that, my friends, is awesome.

Here is my favorite example of people being awesome:

(If that made you cry, I'm sorry. But not that sorry.)

*Thank you, Wikipedia, for this amazing tidbit:
The events contested have varied widely. From 1900 to 1920, tug of war was considered to be part of the Olympic athletics programme, although the sports of tug of war and athletics are now considered distinct.[1]
Also, please note: we have discussed this before

Further reading:

Wikipedia like WOW.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Big Five

Beginning today, we here at Mount Olympics will be featuring something I like to call the Summer Sports Spectacular.


You may have noticed that we're not, generally speaking, the sportiest bunch. After all, we get way more worked up about Canadian superheroesDick Ebersol's sweater (his glorious, glorious sweater), and, let's be real for a second, Quatchi, than I ever get about wrestling. Or water polo. Or marathons. 

Well, all that is about to change.

This week we will cover the sports I'm calling The Big Five. These are sports that have been present at every single modern Olympics in the history of ever. These are sports that Pierre de Coubertin himself sanctioned at the first Olympics, way back in 1896.

Won't you join us for nonstop coverage of:






I can feel the excitement radiating from here. Join us, then, tomorrow, for more exciting coverage of the world of Athletics. Until then...

Yes, that is Wenlock and Mandeville. Yes, I drew them myself. 
Yes, I'm maybe a little more proud than is strictly necessary. 
What of it?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

AND WE’RE BACK (but Dick Ebersol is not)

Why. Hello there.

This old billboard from Atlanta 1996 is NOT INDICATIVE of the state of this blog.

It's been a bit of a ghost town around these parts recently, but all that's about to change. There are fewer than 500 days until the London 2012 Olympics! And we have so much to talk about!

Let's get started. 

On May 19, Dick Ebersol stepped downed from NBC Sports. This is big news in the American Olympics world-- Mr. Ebersol produced several years of Olympics coverage for NBC and acquired exclusive US media rights of the Olympics. You can thank him for the wall-to-wall non-stop American exceptionalist coverage over the past decade.

It's big news for Mount Olympics mostly because of this:

Aw yeah.

Farewell, "This post has been brought to you by Dick Ebersol's sweater" tag. We will miss you dearly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Strawberries? Cream?

For somebody like me (i.e. an over-entitled American whiner), of the most challenging things about the 2012 London Olympics is that I can read all of the news about it, but actually understanding it is a completely different matter.

This is especially disturbing because I always thought of myself as somewhat of an anglophile. I routinely misspell traveling with two ls because I read so much British humour. (SEE? DO YOU SEE?) Terry Pratchett is my favorite author. I can do a reasonable BBC accent. I know what stiff upper lip means, I know that in England you gob instead of spitting, that people are gits instead of jerks, that you shouldn't use the term fanny in polite company.

But cor, blimey if I can't figure out what some of these news stories are trying to say. For instance: London 2012 to have strawberries and cream factor.

Strawberries and cream factor?


 London 2012: Sure to be delicious!

The article completely fails to elucidate what in the bloody hell they mean by that. This is as close as they get: "The London 2012 Olympics will have the feel of an English summer event, organisers said Thursday, bringing the strawberries and cream flavour and the open-air festival spirit to the Games."

Oh really? So... everything is going to be flavored of strawberries and cream? Are they taking their design cues from Willy Wonka?
"So when it came to London, the team said: 'What is quintessentially London, what is quintessentially English?' That's the sort of experience we're trying to drive through," he told AFP.
"It's actually a very simple model. It's park, garden, enjoyment, relaxation.
"All of those things speak to having a lot more fun in the Olympics," he said, otherwise "it won't have that fizz".

So, to our English readers, I implore you to help me out here. What the bleedin' 'ell could this possibly mean?