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Marissa Lingen

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Olympics post, take one [Feb. 14th, 2010|08:40 am]
Marissa Lingen

I love the Olympics. Love love love the Olympics. I am happy enough with the Summer Olympics, but the Winter Olympics are the really good ones. In the last few days, I've tried a new-to-me restaurant, gone to two orchestra concerts, spent time with loved ones, cooked, and read books. But never mind that! Olympics!

Unfortunately I had the chance to use my rallying cry ("Shut up, Bob Costas!") within the first half-hour of watching coverage. I also thought it was really tacky that they called in Tom Brokaw to try to get Bode Miller to pay penance for not displaying enough emotion at the previous Olympics. Shut up, Bob Costas! Shut up, Tom Brokaw! Also, shut up, Bob Costas's moire-y sport coat! Shut up, Bob Costas's Hufflepuff Vikings fan tie!

And also, a memo to Carnival cruise lines: we have lots of boats here in Minnesota, so we are familiar with come-ons of various kinds that start, "Come on my boat and...." Very familiar. And let me tell you, "Come on my boat and get a wedgie," is not one that has been tested out as a winner. Really not. Mostly people hear that and go on someone else's boat. Just FYI. markgritter was out of the room getting a snack, so he thought timprov and I were joking based on the type of water slide they were showing or the expression on someone's face. No: actual ad boiling down to, "Come on our boat and get a wedgie." No thanks. Really, I'm good here.

And also, where are my ads for apple pie? I don't want boughten apple pie anyway, but there are ads for America and ads for, no kidding, mom. Blatant, in-your-face, subtlety-is-for-wusses ads for mom. So if we've got mom and America, where is apple pie? Advertisers owe me this.

I wouldn't have been watching these ads at all if the Slovakians had not sent their women's Mites team to the Olympics. What, were the PeeWees busy, Slovakians? What was that? In one of our brief interludes of watching the hockey game instead of the main channel with luge and moguls and short track, timprov said, "Those girls don't even look like they're used to skating near other people." My alma mater was not a hockey powerhouse (we saved that for physics and tennis), but I tell you what, we'd have been ashamed to put a team like that on the ice. To take a page from Dr. Zoidberg's book, your hockey is bad, and you should feel bad!

It just offends me that these countries that have good men's teams cannot be arsed to actually teach their women hockey. Little girls are good at hockey if you let them be. They are tough and fierce and make awesome stubborn jaw-jutting little girl faces around their mouth guards when they are small enough that their goalie pads outweigh them by a factor of two. Their brothers there in Slovakia are playing decent hockey. Let the girls on the ice. Tell them it's good to be fierce and even better to be good enough that you don't lose, here, let me check since we turned back to other things...

...18-0? EIGHTEEN? TO ZERO? Come on, Slovakia. Come on. Your girls deserve better than this. Not that I don't like to see North American teams victorious. I do. I just like to feel like they would have had to have their heads in the game at least a little bit to get there.

Uff da Sam. 18-0. I can't even make a Bull Durham joke here. It's just too depressing. I will hope for better hockey soon. Very soon.

[User Picture]From: jhetley
2010-02-14 03:04 pm (UTC)
Our local university has a pretty good women's hockey team. They play to mostly empty seats. The men's team has sellouts . . .
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[User Picture]From: adb_jaeger
2010-02-14 03:09 pm (UTC)
My wife's reaction after watching about two minutes of the game was exactly the same as yours: "It looks like Mites on Ice".
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[User Picture]From: buttonlass
2010-02-14 03:17 pm (UTC)
I needed a laugh. Thank you very much.:)
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[User Picture]From: jebbypal
2010-02-14 03:20 pm (UTC)
I find that most sports would be much better if there was a channel or option to turn off the commentators...Mute is all well and good, but sometimes I'd like to be able to hear what's happening during a game without listening to the drone of commentators. Especially when they are focused on simply praising one athlete above all others in the field or what have you.
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-02-14 03:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I'm not looking forward to the US/China women today. I mean I am, but...I kind of hope we lose early so the commentators will talk about the game instead of which wholesome athlete's mother is bravely dying of breast cancer, USA, USA. (Is it just me, or are the commentators much more irritating in women's sports? It's like they dye their words pink, or something)
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[User Picture]From: mkille
2010-02-14 03:51 pm (UTC)
We supplied our own lines for Bob Costas last night. For example: "Also, this burlap sack I'm wearing is really itchy." And we thought Brian Williams was the most horrifying commentator, when he contrasted Olympic athletes with "most of us" who are "earnest and reasonable." Even Bob Costas looked embarrassed! And Tom Brokaw's outfit on opening night were worse than Bob Costas of yesterday, which is really saying something.

The speed skating and moguls were awesome, though. And I got to have any interesting conversation with a non-sports-fan about why sports are valuable for me to watch, which featured explanations of the goodness of speed skating and moguls compared to the dullness (to me) of luge, golf and televised poker.
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[User Picture]From: ksumnersmith
2010-02-14 04:43 pm (UTC)
CTV was showing bits of the hockey game between other things, and at the end of one such section Brian Williams said, "You know, it's hard to get excited about a game with a score like that." And it was true.

Did you see the bit where the Slovakian goalie just ... fell over? For no apparent reason? It made me sad, and that was when I decided it was high time for a snack.

(Then there was short track speed skating. I'm sorry, make that: Short! Track! Speed! Skating! Whee!!)
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From: orbitalmechanic
2010-02-14 06:21 pm (UTC)
I watched a smidge of the game with Violet and there was one point when the announcer said it must suck for the Slovakians "to have the Canadians passing the puck around so...freely." And twenty seconds later I though, that was a very kind way to put it.

That said, it's a lot easier for V. to understand what's going on (and see the puck) when, uh, only one team seems to be playing. So that's handy.
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[User Picture]From: rmnilsson
2010-02-14 06:21 pm (UTC)
So jealous. Our basement project is proceeding at a glacial pace and it's keeping us from watching tv on our tv, so if I want to watch the Olympics I have to do so on a computer over the internet, which is far less fun. Sigh.
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[User Picture]From: fidelioscabinet
2010-02-15 02:33 am (UTC)
NBC is pretty mercenary--if enough of us offer to pay a dollar to see Bob Costas stuffed in a bag they might do it.

I reached the point a couple of Olympics ago where I decided to just cheer for everybody.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-15 04:15 am (UTC)
You are a nicer person than I am. I take instant and hearty dislike to a small number of people, not all that well correlated with nationality except that they're more likely to give me more information about American athletes that will make me instantly and heartily dislike them. However, I always want my favorites to win by doing well, not by someone else doing poorly.
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[User Picture]From: skwirly
2010-02-15 01:47 pm (UTC)
Random factoid: one of my coworkers (based in my company's Canadian office) has taken these two weeks off to volunteer at the Olympics. As the team host for... the Slovakian women's hockey team. Really.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-15 02:26 pm (UTC)
Um. What an experience for your coworker.
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[User Picture]From: mycroftw
2010-02-23 12:17 am (UTC)
There have been blowouts in ice hockey for ever, and yes, for some countries, they eventually get better. The Swiss (men) are still a B-class team, but they scared the US, and stopped Canada from getting the "first loser" qualifier with their shootout loss (don't get me talking about shootouts. Please don't).

This year at the juniors, Canada beat Kasakhstan 16-0. Yes, eventually it gets a bit much (although the +/- tiebreaker, see Finland vs the Czechs, means they have to). The only difference, with the men, is that there's about 4-5 "top" countries, and another 3-4 A- class countries, to go with the two or three B-class countries in the 12-team pool. Unfortunately, two teams demote to the second division every year, and two teams from that second division get their year in the sun (made black by sheer volume of pucks aimed at them).

Because women's hockey as an internationally-notable sport is relatively new - the first girls that wanted to play hockey, instead of ringette, were fighting their battles when I was growing up - there are fewer development programs; and it's the second generation of players that can actually play. So there's Canada and the USA, and a distant look back to third place (Sweden or Finland, depending on the day). And from those two teams to the also-rans is an equally big gulf. But I'll give 12 years for there to be two powerhouses, two "win would be an upset, but not surprising" teams, and three or four "will lose, but will hold their own". And a couple of also-rans, who will be being beaten 8-0, 7-1...by the Slovak women. And it won't surprise me if I'm being pessimistic.

It's not fun to beat up a team; it's not fun to be beat up that badly; it's not really fun to watch. But Tomcikova let in 18, 6, 5, and 3 goals - on 67, 48, 45, and 32 shots. Apart from the Canada game (which she was still impressive, given the lack of defence), those are pretty decent save percentage totals, on a team that is totally outclassed. Given real defence in front of her, and you could see a totally different world. Give it a few years, and she'll get the defence.

Frankly, this is something I've never understood about US College Football - for the top teams, 50+point wins aren't unusual, and there are only about 5 "real" games out of the 11, games they have a chance to lose. But the stadia are still packed...
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-23 12:42 am (UTC)
Are you sure I shouldn't get you talking about shootouts? I don't know you, you see, and it seems like it might not be a bad idea to get you talking about shootouts.

A 50+ point win in US football is like a 7+ point win in hockey--but I take your point, those are just not fun either.
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[User Picture]From: mycroftw
2010-02-23 12:28 am (UTC)
Oh, and see if you can watch the Canadian coverage - at least of the hockey games. Not that our self-centredness is any better (it is, but still a bit much even for this Canadian, and much more so if one is not), but I've watched two games with U.S. commentators, switching between "you don't have to explain that to anyone over 6" (they do, for people who only watch two games of the Stanley Cup finals a year), "come on, even you can't be that dumb" (no comment), and "please, quit with the USA-ing and talk about the game" (also, no comment). Occasionally with "you know, that was a really good play <opponent> made. It wouldn't hurt to mention it, just once" thrown in. Frankly, I wouldn't bet against the Cantonese coverage I get on the multicultural channel being better (for mono-English speakers) than the American coverage.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-02-23 12:41 am (UTC)
Yah, mostly we watch with the mute button engaged.

It made me saddest of all when we were watching figure skating, which is usually not my thing, and the US coverage was showing pictures of Sale and Pelletier (a.k.a. The Only Pairs Skaters I Have Ever Loved) doing coverage for the Canadians. So I knew that their commentary was there, and probably non-obnoxious, and I couldn't hear it. Feh.
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