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Posts posted by FiveRingFever

  1. Because he said so on Twitter. He tweeted this morning that he's headed to Austria for the world skiing championships and "my new winter sport." Assuming that means he'll be calling Alpine in Sochi next year

    I like Hicks. He's solid on everything he does and definitely an upgrade over Ryan. I wonder what's behind the switch. I would think that Alpine and long track are roughly equivalent in prestige, so maybe it's because the US alpine team happens to be pretty strong right now. Or maybe he just likes the scenery.

  2. Baseball Leagues 1st and 3rd Most Attended Sports Leagues in World, Report Says

    Professional baseball leagues attracted collectively amongst the highest number of spectators of all professional sports worldwide in 2012, according to a report published by the authoritative website sportingintelligence.com.

    Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States repeats as the most attended sports league in operation, reporting attendance of 74,859,268 fans for its 30 teams during the 2012 season, over 50 million more than any other league.

    Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB), whose 12 teams drew in a reported 21,370,226 fans (as indicated in NPB’s report to the International Baseball Federation), was the third most attended sports league in in the world in 2012, finishing behind the National Hockey League (NHL) of 21,470,155 (2011-2012).

    The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) had its fourth consecutive record year since Korea captured the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. KBO exceeded seven million fans (as reported to the IBAF) for the first time ever, placing the league in the top 20 most successfully attended sports leagues of 2012.

    Baseball’s global fan attendance maintained its trend of surpassing the 100 million benchmark.

    “The worldwide growth and continued strong consumer interest in baseball are validated in these exceptional numbers,” said Riccardo Fraccari, co-President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. “We congratulate all our partners in the pro leagues for these outstanding results and for their continual efforts to build and develop the global interest and appeal of baseball.”

    “Behind these impressive figures are passionate, motivated fans of all ages, backgrounds and cultures, said Don Porter, co-President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. “Combined with the worldwide interest in and gender opportunity of softball, our collective fanbase makes for a very strong case for added value to the Olympic Programme and the Olympic Movement overall.”

    “With the strong support we have received from the professional leagues and our recent merger with softball, we are more confident than ever that we can add significant appeal, value and visibility to the Olympic Games in key markets where professional baseball leagues are extremely well-positioned and have enormous reach,” said Fraccari.

    If only the MLB agreed to play at the Olympics...

    I think the attendance argument is a little weak because baseball has so many more games each season than the other professional team sports. But yes, having a tournament with MLB players along with the Japanese and Korean leagues would be epic.

  3. Universal Sports and NBC ready for the US Gymnastics Trials and amatuer Olympic qualifying boxing:



    DS, boxing happened in May. An item of interest for USA track fans might be the season debut of Tyson Gay at the NYC diamond League meet. It's on NBC Saturday from 3:00-4:30 EDT. Overall, the fields aren't quite as strong as last week's Prefontaine meet in Eugene but there are some good events, particularly the women's 100m.

  4. NBComcast has probably been so wrapped up in the re-launch of Versus/NBCSN that sinking its full efforts into Olympic promotion either wasn't possible or wasn't a priority. I think we'll start to see more once Olympics trials season gets in gear, although it is a little disappointing we don't have some sort of weekly program like MSNBC ran in 2008. Remains to be seen how the changeover from having the trials primarily on USA Network to NBCSN takes effect. And remember also that come June 30th, NBCSN gets to one of their bread-and-butter events in the Tour de France which is likely to take up a large portion of their programming schedule the first 3 weeks of July.

    There's only 2 days of overlap between the Olympic trials and the TDF, so NBCSN going to be pretty busy through mid-August with NHL playoffs, Olympic trials, TDF, and the Olympics themselves.

  5. I'm thinking that NBCOlympics.com is going to be updated in a big way soon. Right now it only has a few promo videos and it links to Universalsports.com for most of the content. Universalsports.com seems to have been running on fumes lately. There hasn't been a news headline update since March 27th there. I wonder if they'll stream the Olympic trials from NBCOlympics.com.

  6. The Good News:

    Olympic hockey significantly increases the audience for hockey in the US. The US/Canada 2010 final was one of the highest rated non-football team sports event of the last decade. Bigger than the World Series. Bigger than the NBA finals. Bigger than the NCAA Basketball finals. And it goes without saying, far bigger than the Stanley Cub. The Olympics are about the only time non-diehards will watch hockey.

    It didn't hurt that this was one of the greatest hockey games you could imagine. Last second shot to send the game into overtime? NHL's wonderkid scores the winning goal to give the host nation the gold is so desperately craved? You couldn't script this stuff. Coincidence or not, NHL ratings have been on an uptick since. The 2011 Stanly Cup game 7 was the highest rated since cable.

    There is simply no better marketing for the NHL than Olympic hockey. Gary Bettman would have to be a complete moron to not find a way to get the NHL players to Sochi.

    The Bad News:

    Gary Bettman is a complete moron.

    Bettman is just representing the views of the owners. I kind of understand it, because it doesn't generate revenue, and it's a headache as far as scheduling goes. The dilemma is that the Olympics do the most good for the NHL when the USA has a good team. Canadians are going to watch regardless, but casual fans in the US generally watch only when their team is good. Sweden vs. Finland for the gold medal is not going to help the NHL. Even if it's not the most apparent business decision, my opinion is that they should do it because they know it's what the core fan base wants, and the core fan base is really what fuels a lot of the revenue.

  7. Given that Ovy and Malkin have given their notice 4 years ahead of time, I think their teammates will understand if their Russian teammates skip town for a couple weeks, to play in a home country Olympics. If not, tough.

    I don't agree. Bailing out on your contract and your team to go off and play the other countries' scrubs in the Olympics isn't going to sit well in the locker room. Not to mention the fanbase, ownership, coaches, and, of course, Don Cherry.

  8. A piece of paper isn't going to stop the Russians from playing in the Olympics even if the NHL says no. Ovechkin and Malkin will break their contracts if they have to. At best, they sit out a few games, take a pay cut and suck it up. At worst, they leave for Russia for good. Neither of which is good for the NHL.

    It's one thing to threaten it, another to actually do it. Bailing out on their teammates is more significant than the money.

  9. So, day 7 found me starting at curling. The previous night, I had made it back to my hotel at around 1230AM following the late hockey game. My feet were pretty raw from blisters, and I was really concerned. I knew that I would have to do a fair amount of walking from the Canada Line to curling and then later to speed skating. Curling was at 9:00, which meant setting the alarm for 6:00. I spent quite a bit of time trying to deal with my feet, so I got a later start than planned. I got to the venue about 10 minutes until 9:00, but the securtiy lines were pretty monsterous by then. I arrived at the start of the second end. The seats at curling are uncomfortably tight and the sections are huge. If you get in the middle, you could have 15 seats in either direction. I was in the very back row, so at least I could stand a bit. This was my only curling event. The matchups were USA/Denmark, Germany/Norway, Canada/Sweden, and Great Britain/Switzerland. The Canadians smoked the Swedes. The ends in that match always had multiple rocks in the house and some complicated shots. The Germany-Norway match was also pretty entertaning. It was tight for a while, but eventually the Norwegians proved to be the better team. The Swiss/UK match was a lot simpler in terms of the approach. The Brits were in control with last rock at the end of the match, and they just had to knock out one Swiss stone with the last rock. The last shot totally missed. These guys are the defending world champions? That was pretty bad shot for a team that was supposed to challenge Canada. So, the last match was the USA/Denmark. USA had a point lead, but Denmark had last rock. The US actually was in good position to win the point in the last end, but their last shot wasn't so great. So, Denmark won the point and it was headed for extras and I was headed for a decision. If I stuck around, I would probably be a little late for the speed skating. Do I support the USA team, even if they're winless and already out of the tournament? I decided to stick around. The US had last shot, so they were in a good position to win. Like the UK match, it came down to the last shot. Denmark had one unguarded stone. It seemed like a pretty easy shot. The US skip gagged the shot. No wonder they were winless coming in. Why exactly did I stay? As you might imagine, it took a while to clear out of the arena. The Candian match was conceded early, so I figured the Canadian fans would leave en massse after that match concluded. That's generally how it works with the home nation. Instead, nearly everyone stayed until the USA/Denmark match was over. Keep in mind that both teams were winless.

    My thoughts on my one and only curling experience. Great fans, mediocre venue. Having 4 matches going at once keeps it pretty interesting because most matches get staggered and one is usually approaching the last few stones of the end. The Canadians are really formidable. Of course, I didn't see every team in the tournament, but I would predict that they will win the gold medal. Not exectly going out on a limb.

    Off to speed skating. This was the women's 1000m and Canada was favored for a couple of medals. As it turned out, the Dutch were the strongest overall team. Every Olympics they seem to have athletes that peak at the right time. Also, their incredible depth allows them to medal even when one of the skaters has an off day. So, the Dutch were sitting 1-2 with two pairs left. Then, Nesbitt from Canada skated second to last. She really looked gassed going into her last lap and her splits weren't all that great. Somehow she hung on by 2 1/100ths to take the lead. Groves was in the last pair and finished short of the podium. As always, the crowd was a lot of fun thanks to the Dutch fans and having Canadian medalists. So far I had seen all 3 Canadian gold medalists.

    Then, it was off to the men's figure skating finals on my aching feet--- next blog entry.

  10. Wednesday was one of my most anticipated days as I would get to see Lindsay Vonn in the downhill and Shani Davis in the men's 1000. I slogged my butt out of bed super early to catch the Whistler bus from Langara. I packed some earplugs for the ride with the plan to grab some sleep. The buses really make good time and we arrived in about two hours. I got my first view of Creekside. Really spectacular. The option of getting to the venue was to take the chair or walk uphill. The security lines seemed pretty long for the chair. so I decided on the morning constitutional and made my way up the hill. It was pretty steep in spots but the weather was great, so I got some good views along the way. The volunteers give everyone encouragement as they make their way uphill. The volunteers here are fantastic. They really are friendly and very knowledgable. It was about a 15 to 20 minute hike, and you could sign your name on a wall they had at the top to mark your achievement. This is the difference between Whistler and Cypress. There's a great atmosphere of fun at Whistler. Cypress is so ordinary. When I got to the top, I thought I would be rewarded with a short security line. Wasn't happening. It didn't really matter becuase I had 45 minutes before the race start. After grabbing some food and some merchandise, I went to the standing area to check out the course. It was really packed, so I grabbed a spot close to the entrance. I was behind quite a few people, so I know that I wouldn't be taking too many pictures. One of the unfortunate things was that the sun was right in line with the video board, so it was a little inconvenient to watch the race progress. Julia Mancuso was one of the early racers, and she took the lead. Then raccer after racer came down, and all were well back of her time. It was apparent that she had a good run. She was still in the lead when Vonn stepped in. This was the moment I had been waiting for. She started and each of her intermediate splits were way ahead. What a great run. No apparent mistakes. After she crossed the line, the Americans in the crowd were going crazy. There were still some big names coming. It pretty much came down to Paerson and Riesch to see if Vonn would have the gold. Paerson had a decent run going. She wasn't going to touch Vonn and probably not Mancuso, but she seemed to be in line for the bronze because Goergl was about 1.5 seconds back in the bronze position. Toward the bottom of the run, Paerson must have been going for it and she crashed big time. The video operator actually killed the feed during the crash because it was so nasty. There was a long course hold and Riesch was next. Riesch was out of it early. She just didn't seem to have it that day. Maybe seeing the crash made her tentative. Anyway, after she was done the race was pretty much over. Vonn gold, Mancuso silver, Georgl silver. A great start to my day.

    I left before the back (low-seeded) racers went becuase it was time to head to the Richmond Oval. I hiked back down the path and hopped on the bus, which sat for a bit waiting to fill up. The ride back to the city took a lot longer than the ride up, so I didn't have time to get to my car to change out of my snow boots. I took the Canada line train, which was pretty crowded to the Aberdeen stop. It was a long walk to the oval, about 15 minutes along a river. I have to say that I was unimpressed with the location. It's right in the middle of industrial parks. Why did they pick this location? It's quite an ugly area. Even the river views are terrible. Oh well. I got there a little before the scheduled start, but the security lines were really long. I ended up missing the first 5 pairs, which doesn't really matter much because the lower seeds go first. I got to my seat and found the seating to be really, really tight. The guy next to me was huge, so he was almost in my lap. Speed skating is always a great event, largley in part because of the Dutch fans. They have their own brass band, Kleintle Pils, that plays during the ice resurfacing break. The atmosphere is always terrific. The race, as you would expect, gets more exciting the closer it gets to the final parings. Chad Hedrick went up against Mo Tae-Bum, the 500 gold medlist, in the fourth to last pair. Mo scorched the track early, as you might expect. He had the #1 time in all of the splits going into the last lap. Down the final straight, Hedrick tried to reel him in. He came close, but Mo held him off. Hedrick's wife was sitting in the row in front of me with their young daughter. She had a monster rock on her finger, so Chad must be doing OK! The next pair didn't threaten. The second to last pair included Morrison from Canada. The crowd got really pumped, but each split time showed that he was out of the medal chase. You could sense the collective bumming out in the Canadian crowd. Finally, it was Shani time. His splits were a little behind Mo, but I knew he would have a better final lap. Sure enough, he crossed the line for gold. Hedrick held up for bronze. A banner day for this American spectator.

    My last event was the Czech Republic vs. Slovakia in men's hockey. Unlike Russia-Latvia, this was a quality game. The Czechs pulled it out 3-1, and Jagr was the man. I though he was all washed up. My bad. The crowd was again great. So far this is the best hockey atmosphere I've ever expeerienced. Can't wait for the quarters and semis. Unfortunately, all the walking that day tore up my feet. I had a couple of nasty, nasty blisters on the balls of my feet after I got back to the hotel around 1245 AM. Not good. The next day was all city events, so that was good. And it will be summarized in my next blog entry.

  11. It's been a while since I posted. Late night hockey games the culprit. I've done a pretty good job at picking out the Canada and USA gold medal events. So far, I've seen each country win 3. I went to women's snowboard cross the other day. Let's say that it didn't live up to my expectations. For those who have never been, there are 2 qualification runs that narrow the field of 24 to 16 for the head-to-head racing later. The event was held up 1.5 hours because Cypress was fogged in. Then, we got all of two runs in (the second a wipeout before the fog rolled in again). It was then on and off with the runs because the fog would clear and then come in again. Let me also say this-- the qualifications are soooo boring. You take the best time of the two runs and then toss your worst run. Top 16 advance to the quarters. Some of the boarders were in over their heads on that course. Tons of DNFs. Tons of yawning. I looked around me and people weren't paying much attention to the runs. I can't say I blame them.

    By the time the quarterfinals blissfully arrived, there has been another cumulative hour of delays or so. It was pretty crappy with all the waiting. Plus, I knew that I would miss some of the men's figure skating becuase of the delays. The quarterfinals were pretty good. You don't get to see much of the event live other than the finish. The top 4 in qualifying all advanced out of the quarterfinals. Then, the first semi saw the top qualifier from Switzerland bomb out. The second semi tossed Jacobellis from the USA. That was serious bummer for me. She was one athlete I was really hoping to see do well when I was choosing which events to attend. By the time of the final, I knew that I would have to make a med dash to the buses, so that plus the loss of Jacobellis really made the event kind of a downer. Ricker won the second gold for Canada, so there were plenty of people to cheer her on. Good win for Canada but I had to go.

    Nothing like a power walk in snow boots to make your feet feel like they're on fire. I powered down to the bus and made in back to Lonsdale Quay. I grabbed a cab (and practically had to direct the driver to the drop off point for Pacific Coliseum). I ended up missing the first 5 skaters, so it wasn't too bad since the best skaters generally go last in the short program. The one exception was Plushenko (skating 10th), and I arrived in plenty of time to see him skate. My spirits were defineintely a lot better watching the skating. There were some truly great perfromances (Plushenko, Lysacek, Takahashi), some uneven but not bad (Lambiel, Chan, Oda) and a few disappointing, most notably Abbott and Joubert. Then there's Johnny Weir. I like watching him skate, but he just doesn't have the difficulty. 6th place after the short program was apretty good results for him, though. Overall, I think the men's figure skating event is the marquis event for Vancouver after hockey. That was a very entertaining short program. Having a ticket to the free skate also helped make the short program even more compelling.

    Then, it was out to watch the Russia-Latvia men's hockey game. It was already 2-0 by the time I got there. It was totally one-sided, so I couldn't tell if Russia was that good or Latvia was that bad. 8-2 final. Ovechkin had a couple goals. That guy is so good. The GM place arena (or whatever they renamed it for the Olympics since GM isn't a sponsor) is really nice. Definitely the biggest hockey arena for any Olympics that I've attended. It's also fun to experience a hockey game in Canada. It's a total party atmosphere in there. I can't wait for the knockout rounds to start. It was quite the long day. Parts of it sucky, more parts of it great. The next day was one that I really was looking forward to, but that's for my next entry.

  12. So, I'm back from the pairs final. It was good but not great. I did have killer seats, though. It was one of the ones freed up by JetSet/CoSport because there were a bunch of JetSet clients in front of me. Hope they're getting their money's worth (I doubt it). As far as the skating went, there were a fair amount of mistakes from most teams. Thank God for the Chinese. Three performances got standing ovations. The first, surprisingly was the French pair who ended up down the placement list but made a really good connection with the crowd. The second ovation and easily the best performance of the night was by Tong and Pang. Finally, Shen and Zhao received a standing O but more so as a lifetime achievement award rather than for a flawless skate. In fact, the one failed lift of theirs was pretty harrowing. In the end, I was really happy to see Shen and Zhao win it. What has happened to the Russains? Totally off the podium. This was my second event at Pacific Coliseum. I really like this venue. Great job. Go teach Cypress Mountain how to run their venue.

    Well, I need to hit the sack. Going to snowboard cross in the morning.

  13. My lone event on Valentine's Day was the men's moguls, but what an event it was. First of all, let me say this about Cypress. Did they not realize that a 6 hour event where you have 12,000 spectators, you might want to have more than 2 food tents? The wait time was 1.5 hours. Ridiculous. Easily my least favorite venue so far.

    The prelims started at 2:30 and the finals at 5:30. In between the sun was going down and it got kind of chilly so I spent the down time in the warming tent. The finals were unbelieveable. Having four Canadians and four Americans represented a lot of rooting interest for me. The crowd was so loud before each Canadian run that the PA system was drowned out by the noise. There was a lot of drama in the top ten. When Begg-Smith went, I thought he might be a double gold winner. Bryon Wilson put down a good runs with some good air tricks. The Bilodeau went. Total bedlam. He had such a good run, easily better than Begg-Smiths. So, it was Bilodeau, Begg-Smith, and Wilson. Sititng in podium position with Colas to go. He put in a really great run and I thought he was going to get the gold. He ended up 6th, so I had no idea what happened until I saw a replay of the event later on. When his score went up and Bilodeau had won, it was the best moment of the games for me so far. I was high-fiving the Canadians around me. I really can't put in adequate words the electricity in the stands. Great medal for Wilson, too. That's 3 freestyle USA medals. Wahoo!

    Every Olympics I've attended has been great, but there's always 2 or 3 really special moments at each one. This was definitely one of them. So far this has been a great time. The cancellation of my snowboard cross ticket was a bmmer, but at least I'm about to watch the final on TV. Two Americans and one Canadianin the final. Let's sweep the podium boys!

    Next entry will be for the pairs finals tonight.

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