Saturday, September 4, 2010

Useless Speculation Time

Gotta love useless speculation for gymnastics world championships!

Unless they get injured, Rebecca Bross, Alicia Sacramone, and Mattie Larson are virtually locks. Bross should compete on bars, beam and floor in the team final. She is usable on vault, but I think she has one of the sloppier DTYs on the National Team. Sacramone should compete on beam and vault in the team final and Larson is usable on floor, vault and bars.

I would be surprised at this point if Aly Raisman didn't make the team. Though she did not look as good at Classics and Nationals as she did during the spring season, she is still very usable on beam, floor and vault in the team finals. If she actually manages to get her Amanar down, that would also be quite helpful.

A healthy Bridget Sloan should also make the team. While she's the defending World All-Around Champion and a fantastic vaulter, maybe a better strategy for her would be focusing on bars and floor. She would probably be in the team finals line-up in both of those events. While her DTY would score well, so should Larson's and Raisman's.

Macko Caquatto and Cassie Whitcomb have been mentioned extensively as "bar specialists" for the last spot on the team and both have good shots at that role. Caquatto has a higher start value and therefore higher scoring potential, but has been a "headcase" in the past. As good as her routine can be, I'm not convinced she can hit in a team final. Though Whitcomb has a lower start value, she has room to upgrade and tends to consistently hit her routine. However, her Gienger is wonky and she had recently been injured. I'm really not sold on either of them currently.

I actually kind of prefer Chelsea Davis for that "bar specialist" spot. She currently has the same start value as Whitcomb and also has room to upgrade. I think she tends to have cleaner form and that her miss on her Jaeger on day two of Nationals was more of a fluke than anything.

Kytra Hunter also still probably has an outside shot. She is a great tumbler and maybe could get an Amanar, which boasts team start values a ton. I doubt Amanda Jetter, Morgan Smith, or Sami Shapiro will make the team. Honestly, sometimes I'm just sad that Vanessa Zamarripa is no longer in contention and that Kyla Ross, Katelyn Ohashi, McKayla Maroney and Gabrielle Douglas are not age eligible.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gymnastics Nationals

Halfway through the women's competition at the US Championships, one thing is fairly certain: finishing in the top 6 AA will be very important. I have a hard time believing that Alicia Sacramone, Jordyn Wieber, Cassie Whitcomb, Amanda Jetter, Bridgey Caquatto, and Ivana Hong won't be named to the National Team. There go six of the eight discretionary spots...

In other news, Maria Sharapova looked the best I had seen her in a while tonight. Now, if only she'd stop double faulting.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Olympics 101: Ice Hockey

The other night, I was reading the Ice Hockey section in my copy of The Complete Guide to the Winter Olympics by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky and came across some interesting (and not particularly well known) information I thought I'd share.

Canada was a leader in the debate on professionalism and the Olympics. The country withdrew from international ice hockey competition in 1969 because it objected to having to play professionals from Communist countries. The issue on what made a hockey player a professional was a fairly complicated one. The IOC said that any hockey player who had signed a professional contract was a professional while the International Ice Hockey Federation said that a player had to play in a professional game before being considered a professional. Furthermore, these definitions applied only to the NHL; minor league players and players in European leagues were considered eligible. Athletes on Communist national teams received paychecks from their governments as opposed to privately-owned clubs and were therefore still eligible. Sweden joined in this boycott in 1976 and both countries returned to international competition in 1980.

One has to wonder how much these "definitions" had to do with the USSR's dominance in hockey. Would more of their players have defected or refused to play if they weren't receiving paychecks? If Canada and the US had been allowed to use paid players, would they have been more of a factor in the international hockey scene?

The 1928 Canadian team, comprised of players from the 1926 Toronto University team, was so good that Olympic officials advanced them to the medal round after seeing them practice. The team went on to beat Sweden 11-0, Great Britain 14-0, and Switzerland 13-0 in the medal round, justifying the decision.

Canada also produced the first male black gold medalist at the Winter Olympics when Jarome Iginla won a gold medal with the 2002 Canadian hockey team.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of the Soviet Union in ice hockey was not their record, but their ability to bounce back from tragedy. A plane crash killed all but one member of the national team in 1950. The government kept the crash quiet and went on to win the 1954 World Championships with a completely new squad as well as the country's first ice hockey gold medal in 1956.

After losing to the USA in the medal round in 1960, Nikolai Sologubov, the captain of the USSR team, actually helped the American team defeat Czechoslovakia for a gold medal. Down 4-3 after two periods, Sologubov came into the locker room and said that the American players should take some oxygen. The US went on to win 9-4. That never would have happened in 1980!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I'm Back

Hi readers (if any are still out there)! Sorry for my absence; I just moved and that whole process was quite time consuming. Anyway, hopefully I will be able to do a better job of updating over the next several weeks. I will be attending a couple of professional tennis tournaments soon, so I should have fun reports from those.

The CoverGirl Classic was last weekend and the US's juniors showed much more promise than the seniors (though neither Sloan nor Bross competed the All-Around). As of right now, I would say that Bridget Sloan, Rebecca Bross, Alicia Sacramone, Aly Raisman, Mattie Larson, and Mackenzie Caquatto are the front-runners for the World team (though, let's be honest, this could change about a million times between now and then). With this team, Sacramone would be off bars and floor (obviously), Caquatto would be off beam, and either Larson or Caquatto would be off vault in the prelims. In the finals, I would probably put Sloan, Raisman, and Sacramone on vault; Caquatto, Sloan, and Bross on bars; Raisman, Bross, and Sacramone on beam; and anyone but Caquatto on floor (that's training).

Assuming Larson stays healthy, I'd assume Macko's spot is the least secure because she will be heading to the NCAA in January will probably not factor into the international scene for the rest of the quad. Though I would love to see Cassie Whitcomb get the "bars" spot over Macko, she really did not look particularly great at Classics. Bridgette Caquatto could also very much be in the mix depending on how she looks at Nationals. Honestly, if she looks good on bars, I think she will get the sixth spot on the team as she will probably be around for the rest of the quad. Kytra Hunter, Amanda Jetter, and Chelsea Davis are also probably still in the mix. I would love to see Sami Shapiro and Vanessa Zamarripa be major factors, but the former will probably be too injured and the latter really needs to upgrade to have a serious shot.

I love the budding Contador/Schleck rivalry. Not related to Olympic sports news, but get ready for the union of T.O. and Ochocinco. The Bengals will be the most entertaining team in the NFL this year.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Life has been slightly crazy, hence my lack of posts (this seems to be a recurring theme; sorry about that).

I'm not terribly surprised that Federer lost and thought that Venus losing was much more surprising. I really think Murray is playing the best out of those left; we'll see if he can handle the pressure and bring the Wimbledon title back to the UK. I would love to see a Murray-Berdych final.

Check out John Isner reading the Top 10 list on Letterman.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Isner Wins

In the match that wouldn't end, John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68. The match lasted 11 hours and five minutes and spanned three days; the last set alone lasted 8:11. Isner will now play Thiemo de Bakker in the second round. who was pushed to the usually grueling score of 16-14 in his final set. In another interesting side note, Mahut won his second round qualifying match by a score of 24-22. Isner even found time to look like the late Touchdown Jesus after winning.

In other Wimbledon news, according to an article written by Kamakshi Tandon, leggy blonds are more likely to play Centre Court matches than Serena Williams and Dinara Safina. Many seemed perplexed that third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki was scheduled to play on Centre Court today for the Queen over Williams. While they both seem equally deserving this time around, if the most attractive players on the tour are really given court preference, the All-England Club might want to encourage their spokespeople not to mention it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What a Day

I don't know if I have anything particularly insightful to add, but what a day. First Landon Donovan scores in the 91ST MINUTE off of a Clint Dempsey, allowing the US to advance to the knock-out round of the World Cup. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut are tied at 59-ALL in the fifth set at Wimbledon. The match has lasted 10 hours total; the fifth set has gone on for 7:06 alone. The second longest match in tennis history was only 6:33. And I think the guys only took one bathroom break today.

I'm excited. I'm exhausted. And I didn't participate in any form of international sport today. Let's hope tomorrow is just as fun.