Monday, August 31, 2009

Lesson: Do Not Mess with Badass Olympians.

Hey, do you guys remember Dawn Fraser? Of course you do. Just to jog your memory, she was the amazing Australian swimmer and eight-time Olympic medalist who also was elected to the New South Wales Parliament after being banned from swimming for a decade for stealing Emporer Hirohito's Olympic flag at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ah, yes. THAT complete and total badass.

Quick quiz: does that kind of Olympic-sized awesome diminish over time?

Quick Answer: No.

Long Answer: A teenage boy came to Dawn Fraser's daughter's house one night this week. He grabbed her by the throat (clearly not realizing that this is DAWN fucking FRASER and you Do. Not. Mess. with her) and threatened to kill her.

Dawn Fraser would not be having with any of that nonsense.

As she told Australian television, "I grabbed him by the ear and I kicked him in the groin."

Fraser continued, "I have got a titanium knee so it must have hurt him."

A male friend came to help (though she was clearly doing just fine on her own) and they made the man lie on his stomach in the driveway until the police arrived.

This woman is an Official Australian Living Treasure for a reason, my friends.

Let this be a lesson to all the troubled youth out there: just because a woman is 71 years old does not mean she can't kick your ass with her titanium knee. Especially if she is an Olympian.

Citius, Altius, Fortius, my friends. Swifter, Higher, Stronger. Also, taking names.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Defining athalons

All you ever wanted to know about athlons, One through Ten!

: Not a sporting event, but apparently a sporting goods company. And now you know.

Of course, it is also a term derived from athalon, from the Latin for "competition." It's the same word from which we get "athlete" today. (One Wikipedia page (aquathlon, for future reference) seems to think that it really means "wrestling," but Wikipedia spelled Latin "latten," so, you know.)

Biathlon: Usually refers to a winter sport combining cross country skiing and shooting. Apparently, the sport can trace its roots to exercises that promoted Norwegian national defense. Of course it does. The summer version is cross country running and shooting, and the "modern biathlon" refers to running and swimming.

Triathlon: Swimming, running, biking. Not necessarily in that order. (I actually don't know. Maybe you do have to do it in that order?) Apparently we have only the French to blame, or maybe San Diego. Wikipedia does not give me a solid answer. The Ironman is specifically a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike course, and then, uh, if you're not tired yet, a marathon. Holy crap.

Quadrathlon: Swimming, kayaking, cycling, running. Uh. What? Apparently, sometimes roller skating is also involved. I'm dubious. Here's a quote, straight from Wikipedia: "Quadrathlon adds flatwater kayaking to the sport of triathlon to create a balanced test of fitness." Right. Not to be confused with the Tetrathlon, which involves riding a mount over a course of obstacles, shooting an air pistol, cross country running, and swimming.

Pentathlon: MYTHOLOGY ALERT! The pentathlon was an ancient Greek sport, featured in the Ancient Olympics (man I love those). The mythical hero Perseus accidentally killed a dude (though not the Gorgon, that was a different time) with a discus while competing in the pentathlon, fulfilling an oracle's prophesy.

Mouth guards, people! They matter.

Originally (as in "Ancient Greece" originally), the pentathlon was part of military training. Aristotle once wrote "a body capable of enduring all efforts, either of the racecourse or of bodily strength...This is why the athletes in the pentathlon are most beautiful." (Right, Aristotle.)In 1906, the pentathlon made its modern Olympic debut as a conglomeration of five track and field events, but it was discontinued in 1984 and replaced by the heptathlon because it kept getting confused with the "modern pentathlon."

The modern pentathlon was introduced in the 1912 Olympics. Returning to the -athlon's military training roots, the sport was invented by Pierre de Coubertin, founder and first president of the IOC. He wanted to test skills required by a soldier (so this was sort of like the Norwegians, but with less snow). According to Wikipeda, he was "working from the template of a 19th century soldier fighting behind enemy lines," and came up with epee fencing, pistol shooting, freestyle swimming, show jumping on horseback, and a cross country run. It basically has all the elements of an amazing action flick. The sport was male dominated until Sydney 2000, female athletes got a chance to show off their James Bond meets The Great Escape skills. Sexy awesome!

Sextathlon: Either a dirty joke or a Frenchman named Ygor swimming, biking, running (in scandalous shorts), then skiing (in the middle of a city?), golfing, and playing a game of hockey. Perhaps the proper term is Hexathlon, which is referred to in this exerpt from a blog about the game of bridge: "The Modern Hexathlon combines traditional disciplines of track and field (javelin throw, long jump and marathon) with aquatics (200-meter backstroke, 400-meter freestyle and high diving)... The Modern Hexathlon also relates well to bridge, as these six problems illustrate." Then there are six bridge problems, like those things that show up near Dear Abby in the paper. The internet really is killing the newspaper! In the most boring way possible!

Heptathlon: Seven events! One day! Here's what's in store: 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 m race, long jump, javelin throw, 800 m race. Wow. It also involves the academic decathlon, because scoring has an equation that looks like you might need better than basic math skills. Seriously, there are variables and constants.

Octathlon: Occasionally, in Tahiti, you try to host a decathlon. But the pole vault equipment doesn't arrive on time, and you have to abandon the high jump and the pole vault entirely. So you have to change the name of the event entirely, because you can't call it a decathlon with only eight events. The Tahition Olympic Committee isn't happy about it, but then they realize that they're in Tahiti and pretty okay with life, all things told.

Nonathlon: Something involving an indoor rowing machine. We're getting farther away from international athletic competition here, people.

Decathlon: Finally! Ten events! Amazing! They are spread over two days and encompass the 100 m, the long jump, the shot put, the high jump, the 400 m, 110 m hurdles, the discus, the pole vault, the javelin, and the 1500 m. Basically, if you can run it or chuck it, you do.

There we have it, one through ten. Only four of these events are in the Olympics and a couple aren't really, you know, real. But hey! Any Athlon is a good Athlon, right? Speaking of which, if you absolutely want more...

Other athlons (also known as "I forgot how to count in Greek and so did much extraneous googling"):

Duathlon: Woah, confusing! Though it sounds like it should be back down there with biathlon in the 2 slot, actually has three (or maybe two?) events. Most commonly, the term refers to running, then biking, then running again. Duathlon is also used for the winter sport of skiing cross country (traditionally) and then changing your skis to ski cross country some more, only this time with the skate skis! Exciting times on those nordic tracks.

Aquathlon: Underwater wrestling. Maybe could also mean swimming followed by running, but that wouldn't involve (supposedly sexy) underwater wrestling, now would it? But wait, now I am plagued by questions! How does that even work? Do the athletes float? Are they weighted down? Do they have oxygen? Are they allowed to go up for breaths? Is Wikipedia lying to me again?

Quintathlon: The best definition I can find comes from a website touting the wonders of Alaska. They advertise the "Barefoot in the Park Quintathlon: Swim, bike, shoot, kayak and run, then picnic in the park." Picnic makes it six events, though. I wonder if the organizers thought about THAT.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Follow the Money: TV!

Eventually we here at Mount Olympics plan to have an entire series of posts about Following the Money in the Olympics. It's a particularly germane topic given the crazy global meltdown that basically began ten minutes after the extinguishing of the Olympic Torch at the Closing Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Possible "Follow the Money" topic: GLOBAL MARKET COLLAPSE A DIRECT RESULT OF OLYMPICS?? What the IOC Doesn't Want You to KNOW.*)

I've been curious for a long time about where funding comes from and where it goes-- what sort of sponsorship deals exist, what being the "Official Soft Drink of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics" means. (Note: Coca-Cola. Of course.) Do Olympians drink it? (Wild guess here: No.) Does anyone actually care? What, for all that is holy, could this sentence possibly mean: "Coca-Cola's Olympic Games Sustainability Plan is designed to outline the holistic methods Coca-Cola is using to minimize its environmental impact while demonstrating to Canadians how their own small changes create an opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame"?

But first, let's talk about the proposed US Olympic Committee's proposed cable station. Basically, the USOC and Comcast decided that it would be great if they started up an "All Olympics, all the time" channel. For those of you thinking, "Wait, I thought we already had that," congratulations for putting more thought into it than anyone over at Comcast!

NBC is one of the IOC's biggest partners. It has billions of dollars invested in being the only American station that consistently covers the Olympics. It also has and a great relationship with the IOC. And the USOC is not the IOC's best friend.

I'm not an expert on this little venture, but this sentence from the LATimes blog intrigues me: "It seems clear that Comcast miscalculated the level of bad blood between the IOC and USOC and didn't realize what the blow-back would be from NBC and its sports chief Dick Ebersol, who has a lot of juice with the IOC."

What kind of juice? I'm guessing mango. But that's not a Coca-cola product.

End result: the network is "on hold." Right. That's Dick Ebersol's code for "never again to see the light of day."

*Please note: This is a ridiculous joke about conspiracy theories. The IOC of course wants you to know. For once something cost less than predicted. In fact, they have probably post it on their website, and now nobody will ever be able to figure out anything ever.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unfortunately, Sledge Hockey does not mean Hockey with Sledge Hammers

Let's talk about the Paralympics!

We already gave some brief mention to the Paralympics, but they really deserve more love. Unfortunately, most folks don't mention the Paralympics in discussions about the Olympics, when really, these athletes are at least as deserving of heaps of glory. (Not just because the International Paralympics Committee's website is better designed than the IOC's flashy, unnavigable mess.)

I mean, have you SEEN the movie Murderball?? Holy shit, those athletes are AWESOME.


Since the Winter Games are coming upon us, we'll focus on the four Winter Paralympic Sports.

Alpine Skiing:
In both the Paralympics and the Olympics, Alpine Skiing means skiing down a hill that would certainly make me wet myself. Athletes in the Paralympics compete in Downhill, Super-G, Super Combined, the Giant Slalom, and the Slalom (the normal, everyday Slalom, apparently). These events all take place in the Olympics as well, and in both cases there are competitions for men and women. In the Paralympics there are also specific categories for standing skiers, sitting skiers, and visually impaired skiers.

Are there special rules? You bet! "Skiers on one ski are not allowed to use the free limb in contact with the snow to gain speed or to keep balance."

Visually impaired skiers "must wear blacked-out goggles during the competition." They use the same equipment as Olympic skiers (other than the blacked out goggles, of course), and have guides who can communicate only by voice and radio communication.

Oh man. Hard core.

Nordic Ski:
Paralympic Nordic Skiing has two categories: Biathlon and Cross-Country Skiing. Again, it's broken down into standing, sitting, and visually impaired. In contrast with the Paralympic Downhill Skiers, standing Nordic Skiers use the same equipment as able-bodied skiers-- no nifty mini ski-sticks for them! (Nifty mini ski-sticks is not what they are called, but I believe deeply that by coming up with that phrase I have begun my career as a Paralympic Equipment Marketing Consultant. Look for the ad campaign.) Sit skiers use a sit-ski-- really. It's a ski... where you sit. Visually impaired skiiers again have a guide that can guide them through voice or radio.

Nordic Sit Skier: Better than you at everything.

The Biathlon is made up of two events: skiing and shooting. In the Paralympics, all shooters must fire their guns from a prone position. Also? This little exciting nugget from the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics web page: "Visually impaired skiers use an acoustic system for shooting that uses differing tones as the rifle is aimed toward the bull’s eye." OH MAN acoustic aiming!

Wheelchair Curling:
Someday soon we will have a post about Curling, affectionately known as Chess on Ice (no really), because I love it so. Who doesn't love Chess on Ice? You must have a heart made from a stone (and not granite, for that is what a curling stone is made of) to not love Chess on Ice. For now, this is all you need to know: Wheelchair Curling differs in two ways from Non-Wheelchair Curling. First, the athletes are in wheelchairs (I KNOW CRAZY RIGHT?). Second, no sweeping. In the case of Wheelchair Curling, delivering the stone is where the magic happens.

Ice Sledge Hockey:
This is actually one of the first sports adapted such that folks without full use of their legs could continue playing it. It predates wheelchair basketball and murderball. The international rules are essentially the same as Ice Skate Hockey and modeled specifically from the Canadian rules. The equipment is slightly different, of course. The skates have been replaced with a sledge and athletes use two hockey sticks. One is used mainly for propelling along the ice, and the puck handling stick is shorter, straight, and has picks on the end for even more propelling action.

Unfortunately, no sledge hammers in Sledge Hockey.

Also? Sledge hockey brawls. You'd better believe they exist.

Occasionally, people get weird about the Paralympics. They're not as popular as the Olympics, they don't happen at the same time, and some folks say they don't serve any purpose. Either the athletes should compete against "real" athletes or they should stay home. If you ever hear anyone talking like that, here's what to do. Tell them about the 2014 British Paralympic hopefuls. Here are three guys, all veterans of either Iraq or Afghanistan, all maimed in the line of duty. What are they doing now? Serving their country with four skis between them.

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a story about overcoming adversity with the Olympic Spirit (TM). And that's how it's done, folks. Paralympians deserve nothing more and nothing less than our respect as serious athletes and competitors. We'll be keeping an eye on the Paralympics as well as the Olympics here on Mount Olympics. I hope you'll do the same.

Image sources:
Vancouver 2010 Paralympic website

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mount Olympic Rings?

Google is our friend.* Due to a fun little tool called "analytics," I actually do know what you are looking for when you find this blog. And I am here to deliver. So those of you searching "how to mount olympic rings," this entry's for you.

By "mount," I assumed you meant "get up on" and not "mountainous pun in the title of this blog." And by "olympic rings" I assume you meant "still rings" and not "the five interlocking rings on the official flag of the Olympic Games."

Basically, you want to figure out how to do this:

Please note: this image comes to us courtesy of my new favorite website, the Oldtime Strongman Blog. Find this and so many other exciting photos of oldtime strongmen at

I cannot tell you how to be an oldtime strongman. I do not know any real oldtime strongmen. But I do know a real gymnast! Here is what our Special Gymnastics Correspondent tells us "how to mount olympic rings," Google friends!

well..... the real question is what do you mean by mount? if you mean how they get up to the rings... they get lifted by a coach. if by mount you mean what skill they do first.... there are about 300 different possibilities. or you could possibly mean how do they hold. in which case 98% of Olympians where grips on rings. so they would simply position their dowel over the ring. Basically i dont really know what you mean... Also might be beneficial to know that the rings look deceptively tall. I believe FIG rings are only about 8 feet tall. So mounting them really isnt much of an issue. hope this might kinda help.

It does kinda help, Special Gymnastics Correspondent! Or, I assume it does, at least. Let me know if you need any more help, Intrepid Googlers!**

*Don't Be Evil, Google!

**Please be sure and note that Google has also informed me that you can buy special gymnast insurance, tailored specifically to the needs of gymnasts! Google, you always know exactly what I need, even if I never knew it existed!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wouldn't it make more sense for Sumi, the Thunderbird?

I know why you come here.

You come here to have pertinent questions answered. You wish to know important facts about pertinent thoughts concerning the Olympics, and I am here to deliver them to you. And this is what you are wondering right now:

Does Quatchi, the Sasquatch mascot of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, have a twitter feed?


You're welcome.

PS-- Quatchi thinks you should follow him, he knows the way!!! Also, he awkwardly abbreviates Vancouver to "Van." Dear Canada, is this normal?