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Everything posted by jiejie

  1. For anybody interested in watching Europeans, try Here and particular the Estonian television links listed. The live streams are working very well for some people and not so well for others, depending on your location and IT set-up. Also on this thread (various pages) are links to other live options such as Swedish feed (geo-limited area), Turkish TRT3 (some live, some taped), and Russian (pay only). There are a lot of complaints that Eurosport has cut back on skating coverage this year, as have other of the "usual suspect" media outlets.
  2. Abbott--Sandhu = Bad Comparison. Abbott is a skater head-and-shoulders above Sandhu both in skating ability and recognition by international judges, though he hasn't quite got the PCS marks he's deserved compared to some skaters. Sandhu not only had some wonky technical problems but was a complete headcase. Abbott's wise decision to change coaches seems to paying off. He may surprise you. Podium picks: Men: I think Chan will make top 10 but top 5 will be a struggle for him. I doubt he will make the podium. He technically isn't up there on the jumps and is struggling this season as well as coming back from injury. I think Canada has hyped him so much and is expecting so much from him, that there may be a bit letdown when reality of the competition he's up against sinks in. He's good, but not that good. Daisuke has also been struggling with injury comeback and stamina but possibly can make the podium. He's a popular skater with judges and fans. Lysacek has a habit of winning not by brilliance, but by staying upright when others falter. He's a popular skater with judges but not with (knowledgeable) fans. Love them or hate them, you can never count out Plushenko or Joubert if they come armed with their quads. Either or both could end up on the podium. The judges never seem to deny them no matter their artistic deficiencies. There are several other men (including Abbott) that with two brilliant skates, could make the podium. If I could have one ticket to any Vancouver event, it would be the Men's Free Skate. Lucky you if you've got one of these. Women: Your podium may well come to pass, as long as those ladies deliver the maximum skates they are capable of. But none of them (even Yuna) will be able to just phone it in. Yuna's facade of invicibility cracked a bit during Skate America and the GP Final. And rumor has it the technical specialist assigned to the Olympics is one who has given downgraded her jumps (= less points) during two prior major events. The Finnish Beauty Bonus has been a gossip-worthy development this season, from the flawed simple skates vs. fairly high results that we've seen at the Grand Prix. Awaiting evidence on whether same holds true for Euros. Pairs: Shen/Zhao--I was a skeptic about this comeback until I saw them live in November, and they weren't even at their best then. Gold is theirs to lose. Germans next, then Pang/Tong. Zhang/Zhang looking worse and worse--they have completely regressed since Torino and she doesn't even look like she wants to be skating anymore. One of the top 2 Russian pairs could hop on this podium though--but I doubt in gold medal position. Of course, judging being what it is, all bets are off. Dance: Virtue/Moir are a legit gold medal prospect, really top notch talent and programs this year. In the absence of any stupid mistakes, they should be somewhere on the podium. Domnina/Shabalin don't belong anywhere near the podium, based on live eyewitness reports and recent videos floating around. Unfortunately, they always get propped up. But with fair judging, they shouldn't be there. (They didn't deserve their World Champ title last year but that's another issue.) The Russians have a long history of brilliant ice dance teams, but this team isn't one of them. Davis/White are podium possibles, also Belbin/Agosto (but unlikely that both would be put on the podium). Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see outcome of US Nationals on this one. Mystery wild card is French team DelShoes--just withdrew from Euros so will take the unusual step of debuting for the season at Olympics. Not sure anyone's ever tried this before, but they just weren't competition-ready this week.
  3. Ugh..wish I could edit: make that sentence: "...manner of a bean-counting accountant, focusing on yourself and that COP. Whereas under the old 6.0 system,..."
  4. I return to this thread after a few days' absence and see that it has taken some interesting turns....let's begin with Faster. Faster: I usually like your comments on most GB threads, and agree with many of them, but not this time. 1) Your original comment (which I will not requote or repeat here) definitely came off as a homophobic slur. I am neither male nor gay, and yet I winced at that one. The above subsequent explanation doesn't really make it any better. 2) As part of this "primary audience" you refer to--which yes, does tend to be female--I can unequivocably state that with respect to the above bolded (by me) comment, you are dead wrong. Deader than dead wrong. Gay men have been a part of elite skating for as long as I've been watching (that would be decades), and women of all ages, throughout the ages, are as completely enthralled by a great program put out by a gay skater as a straight one. As female skating fans, we are looking for competence and excellence in skating; we're not looking for dates or marriage partners. The ability to put out a skating program that the audience can get emotionally invested in, is not correlated to gayness or straightness. I actually know a number of (straight) men who don't mind watching figure skating and they don't seem to have a problem with watching a great gay skater either. 3) Your listing of some skaters above and allegations that they are not "engaging enough for a general audience" is off-base. Unless you are limiting your definition of "general audience" to North America. Most of those skaters above have plenty of general audience fans in at least some part of the world--fans that go specifically to see them or watch them on electronic media. Within North America, the problem isn't the audience not wanting to see certain skaters, it's that the options for seeing them--or for that matter seeing ANY skaters--has markedly decreased. More about this below. As for current highly regarded lady Kim, I've seen her on broadcast and live (more than once) and she is absolutely capable of putting out performances that fire up an audience--and I don't mean just the Koreans. 4) Kwan was not technically inferior to her competitors, on an overall basis--in fact, she was remarkable for the fact that she had no major glaring weaknesses, whereas most of the other women that could beat her on highest jumps, or fastest spins, or more contortionist positions--also had one or more other weaknesses. And of course, she could pretty consistently be better than anyone else at channelling her nerves and summon the goods at the critical moment. The last is not a skill that we're seeing much evidence of lately, at least with the ladies' discipline. Kwan was reasonably engaging and media-friendly, but she was also a fierce competitor, even on the occasions where she didn't win. Audiences everywhere appreciate skaters who can put up a good fight. They do that for any sport. One of the issues I think skating has--and IMHO, is a negative unintended consequence of the COP system--is lack of fighters and this affects ladies more than anything. Under the new system, you have to plan and then execute a skate in the manner of a bean-counting accounting, focusing on yourself and that COP. Whereas under the new system, all you had to do was skate your utmost and beat the snot out of your competitors--much more "me vs. him/her". The de-personalization of the competition due to COP is no blessing to the sport. 5) One thing that I think Faster is pointing out correctly is the pernicious role of the media. Figure skating has been falling off the map for some years, and I don't think the problem is that of the skaters currently in the sport--whether race, nationality, orientation, etc. Lots of people seem to blame the decline on lack of a universally appealing "star" or stars, but the fact is that the increasing segmentation of the entire mass media/entertainment--including sports--audience has completely turned the traditional broadcast vehicle on its head. If Michelle Kwan herself was making her breakthrough in the sport now instead of 1995, I'm not sure there would be enough media coverage for anybody to know a buzz was going on. There's just more money for the broadcasters in football, or hockey, or World Series of Poker tournaments! The fact is, the major media are largely under the control of male (straight most likely) executives who in times of limited resources, are going to go with what they and their peers prefer, and that would not be figure skating--or any sport that has less than "manly men". Put me and 10 women in charge of the major broadcast media, and we'd get some balance back into things. Seriously, I put far more blame on any homophobia or lack of wanting to push interest in top non-North American skaters squarely on the shoulders of media executives, NOT the general skating audience/public. And for the USA, I also put a lot of blame on the USFS (US Figure Skating)--Federation. There is definitely a homophobic streak in parts of that organization, and they are too busy scrapping over small battles while losing the Big Picture of the sport's decline. Not a lot of great strategic business thinking coming out of that organization in the last 15 years or so. I don't know about the Canadians or other Federations. Unfortunately, huge swaths of the figure skating audience currently don't have easy or inexpensive access to the alternative-to-broadcast-TV means of watching competitions. If you make it hard for an audience to find it's sport, of course you will get a self fulfilling prophecy of "well, nobody watches figure skating" or "only a bunch of dumb women watch figure skating" and so you then get even less skating, and it spirals downward. With the demise of sponsorship and therefore opportunities for professional skaters, it adds to figure skating's ongoing demise. And it won't get better soon with the current general economic climate. There, I feel better now. Sorry this is so long.
  5. Knowledgeable skating fans don't put much stock in the ISU's World Rankings...as the methodology they have for ranking is suspect at best. Not to mention doesn't capture all the effects of real-time efforts. I mean, Carolina Kostner still sitting in the #2's ladies position? IMHO, the actual top 3 dance teams in the world right now are indeed the 3 North American teams. These cheeses off the Europeans to no end. Rumor has it that the French team (Del/Shoes) is apparently looking surprisingly good for her just having a baby, but we won't know more until they do their bit at Europeans. If they are back to form, they'll likely be in the running for a podium spot and that includes gold. The Russians Dom/Shabs are currently a disaster and unworthy of a top 10 finish much less a podium placement. Shabalin's knee is so bad that they can't train properly and he can't skate up to his former potential. They look ragged and way undertrained. Check out their recent Russian Nationals programs on youtube to see what I mean. I don't think this can be whipped into medal shape by Vancouver. They should have taken their gifted World Champs gold last season as their "lovely parting gift," and retired. However, never underestimate the power of the Russian Federation, particularly when it comes to ice dance judging. I'm predicting we have another scandal in the making for the upcoming Olympics, so no, I don't think the NA teams will be allowed to shut out the Russkies.
  6. Mao Asada has a very high-risk strategy with a technical score that depends on nailing those triple axels, a notoriously fickle jump with little margin for error. If those fail her, she's in trouble. Mao can't flutz anymore because she dropped the lutz attempt completely this season after being dinged for flutzing, also she no longer does the salchow. She doesn't have a reliable triple-triple she can pull off to counteract Yuna's. She had decent skates at Japanese nationals and mentally appears in somewhat better shape, but nobody's forgotten the lackluster to disastrous performances at her other big international competitions this year. IMHO, she does not have a lock even on a podium spot much less a gold. She is a capable contender though. She'll be skating a 4CC so we'll see... Joannie, much as I like her, is just not having a good season and nobody really knows why. I saw her skate live at CoC in Nov and she looks completely off her mental game, making errors she's too good to be making. I don't think it's a physical issue--she's in great shape and I've heard of no injuries. But at Skate Canada (where she got some gifted Canadian PCS bonus points) and GP Final, she's just not skating like the current World Silver Medalist. Again, I wouldn't say she's a lock on a podium spot, but also a capable contender. I really don't see Joannie taking the gold though, not without skating the performances of her life, and having some glaring mistakes from the other top contenders. This gold is Yuna Kim's to lose--her destiny is basically under her control. In order for anyone to overtake her, she's going to have to falter and others will have to outskate her. If she skates perfectly, she will not be beaten by any of this year's crop of contenders. This year the American ladies are not really podium contenders again, unless they skate to their maximum capabilities and others make mistakes. Possible, but not probable. I'm looking for a "Best Possible Result" as both ladies being in the Top 10. Which wouldn't be too shabby. And I think the only US ladies capable of doing this are Flatt and Wagner, mainly on the basis of reasonably solid and consistent technical skills (esp FS), the fact that they are trending upward with both skating quality and intl judges impressions, and especially that they are competitive fighters and seem to be able to channel their nerves and avoid meltdowns. Nagasu and outside chance for same reason but intl judges have been very hard on her PCS scores lately. Czisny lovely but a headcase. Sasha I expect to be a no-show at US Nationals and at any rate, her jumps aren't there any more.
  7. The Russian Federation named Plushenko to their Europeans team, and he is on the official ISU entry list for that competition. Whether he actually shows up and skates is open to question right now. Due to the scheduling issues, I would imagine whoever is named to the US Olympic Team will NOT be named to the 4CC Team--the loss of training time and travel issues between North America and Korea really make it unwise for a skater to do both.
  8. Beebee's assessment is pretty good and the point about not taking the ridiculously inflated Russian Nationals scores too seriously. One thing about Plushenko is that he has developed some kind of injury--depending on the (rather sketchy Russian) reports--and even sketchier translations--it's either a knee issue or a quadriceps tear or both. Supposedly he has to get weekly injections for the pain. I think it's actually worse than the Plushy camp and the Russian Fed are letting on, but he apparently wants to skate and the Russian Fed has no other mens skater that could mount a serious podium challenge this year. Stay tuned... As for Lambiel, word has it that technically he just can't keep up any more on the jumps, so likely will not be a podium candidate unless the other men have a splatfest or some very odd judging takes place. Either or both of those things are possible.
  9. Then it sounds like most of the problems getting tickets are with Canadian domestic market, and also the US market where I've heard lots of people coming up empty--or emptier than hoped. So if I made a last minute decision to join the party, accessing tickets from a minor market or at least a non-winter sports power might be the best bet, right? Guess I'm fishing for which nationality of friends/contacts might be most fruitful to hit up for assistance. Don't necessarily need the gold medal hockey game or the opening ceremonies, but it's not worth it to do the trip for just the curling.
  10. Interesting watching this unfold from the sidelines. From firsthand experience, 2008 Beijing had massive problems with its online system for domestic sales, and Cosport had serious issues as well in its middle phase online sales. Has there ever been a relatively glitch-less online ticketing effort? Torino? Athens? Did they use traditional sales/distribution or online but demand low enough that the system didn't get swamped? Or online but brilliantly conceived and executed IT?
  11. Why, you're welcome. August 2009 came this year, and I was seriously lonely for everybody! I now regret not trying harder to get to Vancouver--giving up too early because of ticket pricing/rationing and probably accomm. shortage. I know I met up with somebody from the GB forum, who waited until about 3-4 weeks before coming to Beijing, and he scored a very decent place at a decent price, 15 min walk from Olympic Green. Told me that the last-minute system was his strategy for other Games past and it always worked. So...hang in there. Very surprised that for VANOC block booking, that the excess rooms haven't been released yet. ???
  12. Actually, it was apparent back in 2004-2005 from the projects under construction and in planning, that there was a huge bubble in the making, and now that has come home to roost. It's just another form of that amazing Chinese propensity to build massive overcapacity in every industry they touch...real estate, steel, autos, textiles, cigarette lighters, etc. The reality is, China is NOT really a market economy, and absolutely huge fortunes are made by collusion between gatekeepers of resources and regulations (govt) with relatively few individuals/families/tycoons with capital...and with the privilege to access a bottomless pit of state-owned bank funding. Too many office buildings, too much retail, too many upscale hotels (well OK, minus one since the recent TVCC fire which consumed the soon-to-be Mandarin Oriental), too much luxury housing. And now not anywhere close to enough demand, maybe for years to come. Most of the subject of this article and the general situation had NOTHING to do with the hosting of the Olympics, although some already-planned infrastructure projects (airport T3, subway lines, etc) had their timetables accelerated for pre-Games completion. The infrastructure projects were sorely needed, Olympics or not, and BTW are still continuing. So the headline of the article is a bit misleading--you simply can't blame Beijing's overdevelopment woes on receiving the Games, nor tag the departure of the Olympic roadshow as the cause of the bust-in-progress. With respect to the Olympic facilities: excluding the temporary venues which will come down, and the Birds Nest which is a flaming White Elephant no matter what kind of spin you want to put on it, most of the other permanent structures are actively in use. Others--such as Wukesong Arena, Water Cube, Press/Convention Center--with proper facilities marketing and management, could be heavily utilized. (Although please God no, not another shopping center ) Unfortunately, good facilities marketing and management is not a Chinese strong suit, at least not mainland Chinese. I suspect (hope?) that most bid cities for future Games have this issue more competently and proactively sussed out well in advance.
  13. Hmm...might be a nice area to live post-Olympics, but from the looks of these pics, I'd first be majorly worried about getting all of the buildings done in time for the Games. Assuming these photos are from January 2009, they have a lot of work to do to get these things completed, then punchlist defects remedied, then occupancy and other final permitting, furniture and equipment move-in, support and maintenance staff mobilization, etc. Yikes! I presume they are not running 24-hour construction shifts but theoretically could if they get really pressed...at significant cost increase for the affected work, of course. (I'm in A/E/Construction Project management and if this were my project, I'd be seriously anxious right about now.) That said, looks like it will be a very attractive and appealing development. Please do share some more progress photos every couple of months or so.
  14. Anybody have luck getting figure skating tickets? I saw one person above with a session, and on another thread, CP got two sessions (dance, I think). Anyone else esp mens or ladies short or free programs?
  15. Possible solutions: 1) Import ASAP about ten thousand mainland Chinese construction workers. They work real cheap. Lowers ultimate construction cost outlay including financing costs. 2) Import ASAP about ten thousand mainland Chinese construction workers. They work steady, already have recent experience completing another Olympic Village, and could get this job finished lickety-split. 3) Import mainland Chinese upper-middle class and wealthy buyers to snap up the unsold units. Especially if you throw in Canadian permanent residence cards for each buyer and family. Problems solved.
  16. Confirmed. Business as usual in Beijing right now. For the average person, the Games seem like they happened a lifetime ago. I always thought that of all Beijing's shiny new and renovated facilities, the Birds Nest was going to be the most problematic in its Olympic afterlife. Other than the VERY occasional Cantopop or Taiwanpop outdoor concert--which have always been handled at Workers Stadium--there isn't much else activity that comes to/through Beijing that (1) works in the context of a stadium venue, (2) can draw 50,000+ people, and (3) is allowed by our Ruling Authorities. (That last one, very important and an obstacle that most of the previous host cities didn't have.) The rest of the permanent facilities all fill sports-and-recreation gaps that Beijing could have used even without the Olympics coming to town. Although I'm an architect and on the one hand, always interested in gee-whiz new structures and facilities, on the other hand it always amazes me at how overboard Host Cities go to stage these Games, particularly on the capital projects $$$$ side. Too much Edifice Complex going on, an afflication shared by much of the IOC membership, I'm sure. I actually thought London's concept of a "temporary" large-capacity stadium that could be whittled down to something more useable post-Games, was a great concept if properly executed, and more in keeping with current and future economic realities.
  17. Agree with everything you say here. Since I live in Beijing, I've had the opportunity to go to anything, but have only attended in person the wheelchair rugby (which is fantastic, by the way). Watched a few things on local Chinese TV here. But mostly, I'm just sort of mentally exhausted dealing with sports right now, and need to focus attention on other aspects of life that got short shrift during July and August. Not to take away from anything the Para-athletes are accomplishing, but staging this after the main Games is a real anti-climax, I think switching the order would be a great idea. Beijing itself is very much more relaxed now, and back to an almost normal atmosphere--the Beijingers have come out of hiding and are back on the streets again, restaurants and sidewalk cafes are full-up, the overbearing security has backed off a bit, lots of other activities going on. In short, a Beijing September like those we known and loved in the past, except with even better air quality than normal. And of course, the weather is now much more comfortable than even 3 weeks ago.
  18. No way. Not only will Harbin not be in the running for 2018, but I'll go so far as to say that without significant changes in political/social development, China won't get any more Olympics--Summer or Winter--during my lifetime (estim about 20-ish more years). Not after the way the Chinese gov't and organizers broke just about every promise made and made a monkey out of the IOC. Impressive completed venues notwithstanding, dealing with the Chinese is just more trouble than it's worth, and I think there will be some more new, negative revelations yet to come to light from the Beijing Games. There are just too many other, better places in the world to award the Games. This prediction of course assumes that the Chinese wouldn't ever try to come up with lavishing the backhanders on enough IOC members to swing a future bid, or that IOC members would consider taking same.
  19. China showed only what the government wished to show both at the Olympic venues and in Beijing at large--the "average Chinese" didn't have a say in the matter. In fact, a couple of million "average Chinese" were deemed not fit for international television viewing audiences, and were shown Beijing's Exit door during the early part of July. The mass media has made it seemed like 1.3 billion people in the PRC were rah-rahing over the Games, when in fact a significant minority questioned the expenditure and other issues for an event which only tangentially touched the lives of most citizens. The voices of this minority were SILENCED a long time ago, no public discussion or debate. Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (collaborator on the design of the Birds Nest) has made statements both last year and this year that I largely agree with. This Article is but one of many quoting his views. My reaction to the Opening Ceremonies in particular, seems to be quite different from the rest of the forum. While visually spectacular, which I fully expected--the "joy/peace love and brotherhood stuff" was a complete Chinese fakeroo, making this event an emotionally empty farce. For me, the negative implications of tens of thousands of marching, perfectly rehearsed automatons sent chills up my spine--I found it sinister and menacing rather than uplifting. Sometimes knowing too much about the lead-up to the spectacle is not a good thing. Some of you may be familiar with the old movie "The Stepford Wives"--this felt like a "Stepford Olympics" for just about everything except the sports sessions themselves.
  20. Well, as a Beijing resident I survived the Games, and managed to attend about 35 event sessions over the last 2 weeks. My general comments: 1) Your description of overbearing security, total control, lack of any spontaneity, and no "buzz" is absolutely correct. Even more so, these Games were completely about the Chinese establishment proving itself to its own people. Like a bad propaganda movie, where everything is scripted and in which most of the rest of us were extras hired to provide a bit of variety and fill space. Perhaps I felt this more acutely than a short-term visitor, as I live in Beijing and my Chinese BS-meter is on perpetual overdrive. 2) The Olympic Green is one of the most imposing and user-unfriendly public spaces I have ever been in (and I'm an architecture and planning professional who's seen plenty of big and often unfriendly public spaces worldwide). It is WAY too big, distances between venues are too long, and services too scattered. It could have been done in less than half the hectares, with the result of concentrating people and allowing some sort of activity nexus to develop. However, I presume this is exactly what the Chinese authorities DIDN'T want--if so, they succeeded in spades. My own definition of Chinese public outdoor space design is by military "tank widths"--as in 3 tanks wide, 6 tanks wide, etc.. The Olympic Green central paved area alone is about 20 tanks wide, make of that what you will. The physical plant was a serious IMPEDIMENT to establishing an Olympic atmosphere--you have to bring people together, not scatter them about. And the walking distances were inexcusably long. Subway placement too far away from major venues. And road closures pretty much obliterated taxi service without a long walk. 3) Security onto the Green: not enough entrances--at least two more needed in additional locations. Provision for purchase of daypasses for the Green-only, with dedicated security to handle, would have helped get more people and activity going. The ultra-strict security and Green access only for venue ticket holders held down attendance numbers, which the corporate sponsors complained about. 4) Don't give the Chinese too much credit for being good organizers, they are not God's gift to either planning or execution. Faulty logic generally underpins the planning, and lack of training, leadership, and initiative torpedoes the execution. The well-covered ticketing debacles were only the start. It continued: Transport--as in the special Olympic buses--was a big flop, which I knew the minute I opened the route map. I'm not sure how the routes were decided, but except for the express out to the Shunyi Canoe/Rowing venue, it was all but unusable for spectators. Even the loop line around the Green was overly ponderous and slow, and not in both directions. Food/Beverage Concessions--sheer, unmitigated disaster, not only on the Green and major venues but at EVERY venue I attended. Cheap goods, but basically nothing to eat. Long lines esp inside the Birds Nest due to both design and worker/operational issues. You know it's bad when you run to McDonalds as your best option. This issue was complained about at test events over the last year, but obviously complaints fell on deaf ears. Nobody expects gourmet dining in this sort of situation, but EVERYBODY (including the Chinese public) was complaining about both selection and servicing. Lest you think catering improved in the skyboxes...well, no not really, you just didn't have to go to concessions and stand in line to get your food and drink. Never in human history was pizza delivery craved by so many for so long... 5) Fans Disguised as Empty Chairs--Tin Medals of Dishonor to VIPS, media, CCP officials, other organizations, etc. who received "accreditation" tickets and didn't use, while the ticketed area sold to the general public was full. Venue after venue, session after session including things like Swimming finals. Boos and brickbats to BOCOG for assigning anywhere from 15% (typical) to 50% (water cube) of the capacity to these deadbeats. Note for Vancouver: cut back the media area to the bone and make workstations something less than palatial. And assign some of these priveleged types to the cheap seats up in nosebleed corners, they won't show up anyway so it won't matter. Leaving some of the decent seats for the rest of us. 6) Volunteers--definitely a bright spot. They were helpful and pretty well-trained. On three occasions I had specific complaints, which were taken seriously and solutions offered to the best of their ability (two situations required immediate referral to a higher level staff member). Of course, nearly all of these were Chinese, but I want to make Special Commendation to the the foreign student volunteer from Cameroon...stationed outside the South Green security entrance and cheerfully greeting all comers in fluent English, French, and Chinese. (This became my favorite way to enter the Green due to almost nonexistent wait time to get through security). 7) Corporate Pavilions--didn't get to all of these, but I liked the Adidas one--intertwining the history of their shoes in various Olympics, then a 2008 clothing display and fascinating display of all the different kinds of shoes per sport--I had no idea! And displays of some of the 2008 athletes and their Adidas competition footwear. I also liked the Coca-Cola pavilion's display room with the human-sized artwork bottles, one from each province in China, designed by an artist from that area and representative of something about that province. 8) Elsewhere in Beijing. Very eerie feeling in much of the City--it just lacks the vibrancy of a normal summer, and this is my seventh summer in Beijing. Away from the venues, life went on as normal but the streets were markedly empty, there was no excitement or "buzz" about the Olympics. Seriously, the closest thing I can compare the atmosphere to is 2003 SARS, except without the Fear or the Face Masks. If you asked the average Beijinger how they felt about the Olympics, 9 times out of 10, you'd get the same canned answer "it's great thing for China and the city.." delivered in a pretty unconvincing monotone. Nobody will say anything negative, but it's a far cry from huzzahs and handsprings. The city's nightspots seemed to be doing OK business, and I think the athletes started making appearances especially in the 2nd week, if you happened to get lucky on picking your entertainment location. 10) The Sports. What we all came for, I think. This was mostly brilliant and made putting up with everything else worthwhile.
  21. In no particular order-- 1) Michael Phelps. Again...and again...and again.... 2) Oksana Chusovitina's silver medal in gymnastics/vault, at age 33 and FIFTH (!!!) Olympics. 3) Matthew Mitcham's platform diving gold. Talk about doing the Dive of Your Dreams when it mattered the most. 4) Benjamin Boukpeti (to be known forevermore as "the Togo kayaker dude") 5) Usain Bolt. Again...and again....and again. Interesting to see so many Opening Ceremony mentions on this thread. It didn't rate with me at all.
  22. I didn't attend any trampoline events but from friends who did, heard a passel of complaints about pro-Chinese bias.
  23. If you are trying to be a wise-ass by implying I don't know what I'm talking about on scoring of the multiple sports per above, I assure you that--except for sync swimming (which I already admitted to not being fully up to speed on the fine points of scoring)--you are in error. As far as Chinese spectators observed at judged-sport events I personally attended, based on their actions and comments overheard (yes I understand Mandarin), most were not able to make distinctions as to the merits, or lack thereof, of various routines. In the absence of knowledge, their assumption/hope/demand was that a Chinese athlete deserved a nearly perfect score for whatever was produced, while a non-Chinese athlete did not. I have no respect for Chinese-style blind sports nationalism, particularly when backed up by nothing but ignorance. However, this thread is about judges, not spectators, and judges should be above intimidation by crowd dynamics...or other more hidden factors. Well, in an ideal world, at least.
  24. Definitely some blatantly biased judging at these Games depending on sport. I didn't personally attend any of the boxing or taekwondo matches but have heard through the grapevine that it's been pretty bad. As far as the other "judged" sports go, comments on what I personally attended: Artistic Gymnastics--several sessions (including mens and womens indiv all-around finals). I was aghast at the inflated scores given to nearly ALL the Chinese gymnasts (both men and women). And I have followed gymnastics for 35 years, know the difference between a Stalter vs a Yaeger, a Tsukahara vs a Yurchenko, etc, and have a pretty good feel for how the scores should come up technically. For the Chinese gymnasts in the IAA's, scores for routines were coming up anywhere from 0.50 to 1.00 points higher than they should have been, relative to scores received by other gymnasts. The strategy was to give them a high score in the first half of the rotations, so that the lead was insurmountable in the last half of the rotations, know matter how well one performed. Moreover, the Chinese routines were not perfect, yet deductions were not taken as harshly as they were for similar infractions by other gymnasts. It was pretty obvious to anybody who REALLY knows gymnastics--which of course doesn't include the majority of the Chinese crowd. In addition to the USA gymnasts, the Japanese and Russians were also generally held down, as well as selected gymnasts from other countries. The age controversy of the Chinese "ladies" is another issue, but they are definitely not all of legal Olympic competition age--that's a subject for another thread. Rhythmic Gymnastics--saw the team final in person today. The Russians won a gold they didn't deserve, the Chinese won a silver they didn't deserve, the Belarussians won a bronze that was probably OK, maybe should have been silver. The Italians--best of the day--got completely held down and screwed over. This judging seems to still be completely controlled by the Russians. I saw part of the IAA final on live TV yesterday, and it seemed the top Ukrainian (I think current World champion?) was being held down in favor of the two Russians (one reasonably deserving, the other definitely not podium-worthy). Probably a sport that should be booted out of the Games entirely...but that's also another thread. Sync Swimming--saw the duets final in person, the team final live on TV. The duets result top 5 (Russians-Spanish-Japanese-Chinese-USA) were exactly as I saw it, even though I'm not fully clued in on SS scoring. The team final was similar except flip China into 3rd and Japan into 4th--one could make a legitimate case for seeing it this way. So this sport's judging seemed on the up-and-up and relatively bias-free. Diving--I saw in person, 3 sessions for 3 different singles events (1 w prelim, 1 w sf, 1 m sf), and I have to say that the Chinese were getting scored high but were also doing some extremely good diving and unbelievably consistent--just very few mistakes compared to other divers, dive after dive after dive. I didn't witness bias here that would have changed the placements, as I saw the events unfold. I was amazed that the mens 10m platform final (I watched live on local TV) was fairly scored at the end--the Chinese diver leading the field had a lackluster final dive, which opened the door to the eventual winner from Australia. The judges could have easily been given inflated marks to make the Chinese lead insurmountable, but scored the faulty dive fairly, leaving the Aussie the opportunity to take the gold, which he did with the dive of his life. All in all, I saw the Chinese divers earning the marks they were given, likewise for the other divers. I don't know about synchro diving as I didn't see that. Volleyball--not a judged sport, but there has apparently been a lot of questionable line calls in matches by at least one Chinese line judge. Chinese team wasn't playing, but the bad calls were apparently an attempt to influence the results to favor the weaker of the teams, which would then move on to the next level and be pitted against the Chinese team. I believe a lot of the bad line calls had to be overturned by the referee. Most of the Chinese spectators are not knowledgeable about the sport they are watching, and cannot easily judge technical merit. But they are very loud and nationalistic (not necessarily in a positive manner) and that might influence some judges. There has also been some whispered speculation about untoward influencing of judges by Chinese officials, in some of the judged sports. This would not surprise me, as it is consistent with Chinese behavior in business, diplomacy, and other endeavors. Time will tell, maybe....
  25. Got to disagree with you on the part about the 1972 US Men's Basketball Team debacle--I supported then and even now, still support the team's decision to NOT appear for that medal ceremony in protest of receiving the silver medal, when they were cheated out of the gold by some of the sneakiest officiating in Olympic basketball memory. If I get unjustly slapped in the face, then am asked to bend over and grab my ankles so the perpetrator can have the opportunity to dish out some extra punishment, should I comply? In the name of "Olympic principles?" If one doesn't want to accept the medal on offer to you for whatever reason, far better to just avoid the medals ceremony than pitch a fit and/or throw medals or other objects during the proceedings. The statement made is just as clear and emphatic. And back to the 2008 Games in Beijing: The people who should first and foremost uphold Olympic principles ought to be the IOC members, federations, and organizers. When that is quite obviously not happening, it's a bit much to expect a higher level of behavior out of the athletes.
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