• The Pan Pacific championships had only been held in the United States one other time since they started in 1985 (they were in Atlanta, GA in 1995). Swimming is one of my favorite Summer Olympic sports, so when I saw that the championships were going to be a few miles away (and practically on my way home from work), I had to go. I wanted to make sure I saw Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps (my two favorite American swimmers). They both competed the first night and Michael Phelps was swimming the 200m fly – the stroke I most wanted to watch live. I used to swim a lot and though I was pretty good at butterfly, it’s definitely my least favorite. Butterfly is definitely the most impressive to watch on TV and live, though.

    Not surprisingly, Phelps won the 200m fly. Though he won with the fastest time this year, he was clearly disappointed and ready to put this race behind him and concentrate on doing it better next time. In his post-win interview, he said he was far from the shape he wants to be in going into the Olympics in 2012. He may not have beaten his world record, but Phelps looked pretty good from where I was sitting. Ryan Lochte won the 200m free, which was also great to see live. Not surprisingly, he was much more pleased with his performance than Phelps. Lochte’s teammate Peter Vanderkaay came in third Aaron Peirsol, who was only in the A final of the 50m back because Lochte dropped out (he decided to only compete in one event per day) won the race. He thanked Lochte from dropping out of the race in his post-win interview.

    Allison Schmitt won the women’s 200m freestyle, followed by Morgan Scroggy as the US women finished 1-2 in that event. Teresa Crippen and Kathleen Hersey finished 2-3 in the 200m fly, Christine Magnuson won bronze in the 50m butterfly, and Natalie Coughlin won bronze in the 100m backstroke. The United States definitely had a great start in the swimming championships.

    The Australians also did very well, starting off the night with two swimmers (only one of whom was in the A finals heat) tying for the Pan Pacific Championship record in the 50m fly. Marieke Guehrer won gold alone, since her teammate Yolane Kukla who set the Pan Pacific Championship record in the first race of the night was in the consolation final.

    Needless to say, NBC didn’t show the event live, but they were there tonight and will air highlights of the championships Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon (Pacific time). It’s really great that NBC will be televising the championships in HD, though. I look forward to seeing the races I watched (and the rest of the championships) from another angle.

    I really enjoyed my first big swimming event. Until tonight, I don’t think I’d attended a swimming meet where I didn’t compete. It was very exciting to see world championship swimming so close to home. I never would have expected to see swimming championships in Orange County. Those of us in southern California are very lucky. We’ve had one of the mildest summers I can remember as the rest of the country has been facing record highs and we get to watch the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships live. What more could an Olympic-obsessed hockey fan trying to fill the time before the NHL season starts up again want? Training camps start in just a little under a month, so it won’t be long before the NHL is back. It was nice to have the swimming championships as a distraction until the NHL returns.

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  • The death of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili is tragic and a horrible thing to happen – especially when it was the main news on the day of the Opening Ceremonies and happened before the ceremonies took place. I understand why tonight’s NBC broadcast (and probably many around the world) started by mentioning the tragic event from earlier today. In spite of the warning (I’m glad NBC threw that in, I had no desire to see what I’d already seen described), I don’t think it was appropriate to start the broadcast with video of the tragic death. The Olympics Opening Ceremonies are watched by people of all ages and I think the video of the death could have been shown tomorrow and only made available online initially. I’m sure many disagree and were glad they got to see the video of the tragic death in HD on the opening night of the Olympics, but I wish NBC had handled the situation differently.

    I was very disappointed with NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and I’m hopeful that this year’s coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will be much better. I know a lot of people on the west coast who still believe we will get live coverage of the 2010 Olympic Games (which we did not in the Beijing games even when the east was able to watch Michael Phelps win gold again and again live). I don’t know why they believe this will happen, since the Olympics are taking place in the same time zone. I doubt it happened in 1984 when the Summer Olympics were in Los Angeles. I didn’t live here at the time, but I know how coverage has been more recently and I doubt it happened. Those of us on the west coast don’t get the Oscars live even though they take place in Los Angeles. Why would NBC allow us to watch any Olympics live? Like all other sports broadcasting in the United States, the NBC Olympics will most likely be very east coast centered. The Opening Ceremonies started at 7:30 pm here. They started at 7:30pm on the east coast. So, unless those on the west coast have DirecTV or Dish with the east coast NBC channels, they will not be able to see the Olympics live. Those on the east coast finished watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies live not long after those of us on the west coast could start watching them if we wanted to watch them live. My plan had been to sign up for the east coast channels for the Olympics from now on so I could watch the broadcasts earlier (though still not live), but I can’t get DirecTV, so that’s not possible. I’ll be at the Olympics in less than a week, though, so it wouldn’t have made sense to pay extra money for a week’s worth of advantage anyway.

    NBC definitely did a lot right in tonight’s broadcast. One of the best things was that they interviewed a lot of athletes from different sports. They didn’t just interview those from the sports that are most popular. They interviewed a variety of Olympians. They even interviewed Jack Johnson, the only American NHL player at the Opening Ceremonies. I did think it was bad that the reporter insisted on making Jack say who he thought would light the flame for the Olympic Games to begin. Most of us thought it would be Wayne Gretzky (and although I it hasn’t gotten to that point as I type this in the west coast broadcast, I could easily find out if we’re all correct online). Not surprisingly, Johnson’s answer when pressed was, “I’ll go with Gretzky – seems like the safe bet.” He realized resisting the reporter was futile and gave the answer we’d all expect from almost anyone asked that question. The interviews might not have been very good, but at least they chose a variety of Olympic sports and not just a couple people everyone in the country recognizes already.

    The Opening Ceremonies also gave us our first North American TV coverage of former NHL star Jaromir Jagr (who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 91 & 92, his first two seasons in the NHL) in quite a while. Clearly, he’ll be prominent in the Czech Republic’s men’s ice hockey team competition later in the Olympics. Initially, a couple of the flag bearers surprised me, and then I remembered that most of the NHL players were not as lucky as Jack Johnson and couldn’t attend the Opening Ceremonies even if they really wanted to do so. Johnson had the advantage of being on the west coast, not having a game that night or the next afternoon, being allowed to skip a practice, etc. I don’t think getting to attend the Opening Ceremonies should be something NHL players typically can’t do. If the NHLPA is able to keep Olympic participation in their contract, I think they should get an Olympic break that covers Opening Ceremonies through Closing Ceremonies. Part of the reason Jack Johnson of the LA Kings was the first American NHL player to attend the Opening Ceremonies is that he’s one of the only NHL players who would have the chance. Since NHL teams are not likely to allow players to skip games to attend the ceremony, the NHL schedule eliminates the possibility to attend for most NHL Olympians. I think they should all be able to do what Jack has decided to do and take in as much of the Olympics as possible if that’s what they’d like. Normally, the Olympics are too far away and one couldn’t fly to them and get back in time for a morning skate the next day. I realize that a lot of Olympians from all sports (winter and summer) choose not to attend because of early competitions the next day, training, or even because they’re not interested in the long ordeal of the Opening Ceremonies. I think the NHL players should also have a choice. I know they’re not leaving for NHL games, but they are playing the same sport they play in the NHL and getting a lot of completely free (to the NHL) advertising for the NHL. I’d think the NHL would want as much national coverage as they can get.

    My best friend doesn’t follow the NHL (other than what he hears through me on a regular basis) and he isn’t a huge fan of sports outside the Olympics, but he noticed that they interviewed Jack Johnson during the Opening Ceremonies and immediately thought of me, since he knew Johnson was an NHL player. National TV coverage is something that’s good for any sport. If the NHL is trying to expand their audience, why not advertise on one of the biggest world stages available for a bit longer? Allowing the players to all attend the Opening Ceremonies (if they’d like) would give the NHL more national exposure. The Kings have gotten a lot more national coverage this year than they normally do, since they’ve been doing well and have been mentioned on the NHL Network a lot more. In spite of that coverage, more people in the United States saw Jack Johnson’s interview than would ever see anything on the NHL Network or Versus. I think the NHL should break earlier for the Olympics and encourage their players to enjoy the whole Olympic experience if they’d like.

    I think the graphics when the countries were entering were well done. I liked how they showed where each country can be found on a world map starting out at the United States was. It was a neat touch and a good graphic concept that was also well executed. The way they listed the upcoming countries was okay, but I think that the bottom bar graphic could have been a lot smaller. There was no need for it to take up almost ¼ of the height in the HD broadcast.

    I think all the projection design of the Opening Ceremonies was amazing. I think they did a better job than China with the visuals for the projection. The opening with the ice breaking apart was so well choreographed. I’m sure that those acting in that segment could barely (if at all) see the icebergs breaking apart below them on the screen due to the lighting on them. I can’t imagine how many hours that took to coordinate. The one guy even “swam” for a while and then grabbed on to another iceberg. I thought that was amazing. My favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies came not long after that section – the whales. I don’t know how they did it, but the whales looked like they were breaking through the plane of the screen with the other whales. I still have the Opening Ceremonies on my DVR and have already watched the ice breaking, whales, etc. a second time. I’m sure that won’t be the last.

    Some of the segments I really liked (like the step dancing with the leaves, the running then flying through the fields, etc.) were great initially, but seemed to go on a bit long.

    Everyone knew Wayne Gretzky would be the one lighting the flame. What we didn’t know was that for the main part of the ceremony he would be joined by basketball player Steve Nash, skier Nancy Greene, and speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan. I thought that was a wonderful touch and a great surprise. The technical difficulty was unfortunate and it was clear those about to light the flame didn’t know what to do and were wondering what was going on like the rest of us. I think the torch lighting was still pretty well done. The extra two and a half minutes seemed like an eternity. I understand the awkward looks on the faces of everyone as the ceremony came to an unexpected stand still, but Gretzky had to know there were a ton of cameras on him throughout the ride to the outside flame location. Couldn’t he have pretended to look excited about being the one to light the other flame? I was very surprised that he didn’t look happy to be a part of something so amazing.

    As usual, I don’t think that the Opening Ceremonies should have sports guys announcing the events. They don’t seem to study their media guides enough, since they often aren’t able to name the Olympians in the close-ups. I think they need people who are used to doing parades or heck, just any really huge Olympic fans who will study their guides. They do not need to be sports or news people. They need to be people who can help the audience with some of the things they might not know from time to time and who will be quiet and allow the home audience to fully enjoy and appreciate most of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. NBC never seems to get this part right. I hope NBC will air some events live on the west coast (especially the bronze and gold medal hockey matches), but if the NBC site is accurate that will not be the case. The gold medal match is listed on the Official Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics site as being at 12:15pm on February 28th. NBC lists the game airing at 3pm on NBC in Los Angeles. Some people will not avoid the news of the gold medal game and enjoying a game when you already know the outcome is a lot more difficult. Why is it so impossible to allow everyone across the country to watch a major event (like a gold medal match in the Olympics) live?

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  • Watching the Olympics made me think some more about all the improvements technology has given sports. Clearly, there were the down sides of technology being used in sports (remember that horrible blue glowing puck that turned into a red streak if there was a slap shot?), but for the most part I appreciate what they’re able to do to make the viewer’s experience more enjoyable.

    I’ve talked to people who don’t like the yellow line signifying the first down in football or the line indicating the line of scrimmage, but I think these are wonderful and make it so much easier to tell whether the player got the first down or not. The markers on the sidelines can’t be seen from many camera angles, but the lines are very clear and can be seen any time a player is near the line of scrimmage or first down. What’s not to like?

    In the Olympics, there have been many advances. The flags in the pool and track & field lanes showed up in the last Summer Olympics (or perhaps in Sydney). It’s so nice to see at the start of each race which lanes are occupied by swimmers/runners/rowers of each country and to see which country is ahead every time they reach a turn in the pool. Of course, seeing the flags as each swimmer or boat end the race with the 1, 2, & 3 by them popping up as they finish is very nice. You immediately know who got the gold, silver, and bronze medals in the race without having to wait for the results to show up in the complete list.

    This year’s addition of the world record time line in swimming was greatly appreciated. Each time Michael Phelps and the many others broke world records, you could see how much they were ahead of the line. It made the races more exciting, since it was often clear who was going to win. Not all of the races were as close as the 4×100 relay when Lezak had his amazing finish or the 400m butterfly race where it looked like Phelps might not get the 8 for 8 gold medals he aimed to attain. The ones that weren’t were made more interesting by seeing the world record pace line chasing the swimmers (or the swimmers chasing it).

    I do wonder why a world record line could not be used for the track world records. I’d love to see that line going around the track as the races are going on. I realize that initially the lanes are staggered, but I’d think that they could do a diagonal line or just do a straight line that approximates where the world record would be (have it in line with the time for the middle lane, perhaps). Hopefully, this will be something they add in the London Summer Olympics of 2012.

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  • They described Michael Phelps as the greatest American individual athlete of these games. Really? Is that all they want to call him? Michael Phelps is only 23 and has 14 gold medals – more than any other Olympic athlete of all time. He got 8 gold medals this Olympic games (again, more than any other Olympic athlete of all time, we all know Mark Spitz had won 7 gold medals). Seven of these gold medals were obtained with new world records, one with a new Olympic record.

    Rowdy Gaines (Olympic swimmer, medalist, & commentator) agrees with me that the case is already closed about Phelps being the greatest Olympic athlete ever. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Considering what he’s already accomplished, how can anyone think otherwise? He’s only 23 and he’s already got 16 Olympic medals. The only person in the history of the Olympics who has more is Larissa Latynina of Russia, who has 18 medals. Phelps will almost definitely surpass that number in London. Then will people like Bob Costas think the case is closed? I hope so.

    NBC has done a horrible job choosing what to show during the entire Olympics this time around. I can’t remember worse coverage. They did something similar to what they did last year with the gold medal women’s beach volleyball match. I can’t remember how much of the match they cut out last year, but I think it was the entire first set. That entire match was not available anywhere.

    This year, they cut out the entire first set of the gold medal match of the men’s indoor volleyball. They also cut out more than half of the second set and clearly it was good, since the score was close when they decided to show us the rest. They also cut out half of the 3rd set! I can’t believe they did this to the gold medal match. I KNEW as soon as they started showing the entire 4th set that the US had won the gold medal and that they won the match 3-1. NBC was finally showing us a complete set, clearly it was the last one or they wouldn’t have bothered. On the bright side, it was great to see the US win gold! Everyone was clearly so thrilled to win the gold.

    What bothers me about the coverage is not that they didn’t show the entire gold medal match in the prime time coverage. I don’t think that’s necessary. Highlights of the game are more than enough for most people watching the closing ceremonies, most likely. However, I think it’s horrible that someone like me who was recording on every channel (except the Olympics Basketball channel, I don’t like basketball) during the Olympics and loves volleyball could not watch the entire match. They should have aired the entire match live or sometime during the day or in the middle of the night for those of us who wanted to see it and then aired the edited version in prime time. I would have been totally fine with fast forwarding to the replay of the end (I would have watched that again) when I got to the prime time coverage, since I’d already seen the entire match. That would be perfectly acceptable. The fact that I could see the entire bronze medal match (and did – it was a great match) and not see the entire gold medal game (which was for the gold and had the US team taking part) makes no sense at all. It’s what NBC chose to do last year with beach volleyball, so clearly they think it’s a good idea. I hope they don’t do anything like that when the games are in London, but I’m sure they will. At least I’ll be at those games, so I’ll already know the scores before I watch the games I missed when I get home and I’m sure it won’t bother me as much.

    Overall, I was very disappointed with the coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics by NBC. I hope they realize some of what they did wrong and try to correct it for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

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  • WOW! Can you believe that Matthew Mitcham of Australia upset China’s Zhou Luxin and won gold in the men’s platform diving? He was the only non-Chinese gold medal winner in diving in the 2008 Summer Olympics and everyone expected the Chinese to go 8 for 8. Apparently, Michael Phelps is the only one who’s capable of going 8 for 8 in ’08.


    It was great to see the US women’s volleyball team beat Brazil in the second set. I really thought that they’d at least push the match to a 5th set, but it wasn’t meant to be. They should be very proud to get the silver medal. It’s the highest the US women have ever finished in volleyball and they hadn’t gotten silver since 1984 (their only other final appearance, when they lost to China). Hopefully, the men’s volleyball team will have better luck tomorrow.

    Go USA!

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  • As unimpressed as I’ve been with the reporters at the events in general (swimming & gymnastics, especially), I have really enjoyed the interviews in the studio with the athletes. I definitely have to give NBC some credit for doing a lot of those this Olympics. I really think it’s cool that they interviewed Arron Piersol, Brendan Hansen, & Jason Lezak without Michael Phelps and giving them a bit of the attention they deserve. Don’t get me wrong, I think Michael Phelps is probably the most amazing Olympian of all time and probably always will be, since he’s still very young. However, the other guys on that relay (especially Lezak, who did an amazing job in the freestyle relay) did a lot and deserve some credit. Without them (and Phelps’ other relay teammates), Phelps couldn’t have broken the record of 7 gold medals in one Olympics.

    I was glad to see that the Chinese women got the bronze medal as well as the silver in beach volleyball. Of course, the match happened before the gold medal match last night, but I didn’t find out until after I got home and was able to watch Very cool for them to get their first two medals in beach volleyball when the Olympics are at home. It was the first time since beach volleyball was introduced to the Olympics that Brazil didn’t get a medal – they must be pretty devastated.

    Kerri Walsh & Misty May-Treanor were the only Americans I’d noticed who actually sang the National Anthem until the women’s soccer team later in the day. It was great to see them win the gold medal again (in an exciting game that went into extra time, since it was scoreless at the end of regulation).

    I can’t believe Japan won gold in softball. I guess that’s what can happen when you go into a game with everyone wondering if the other team will even score, rather than fighting to win. The US women must be crushed… Most of the games the US women played started out with the commentators wondering if the other team would get a hit, not if the other team would win. I didn’t watch the game, since I don’t find it very interesting when a team dominates a sport so much. I stopped paying attention to the US softball team years ago.

    As a big volleyball fan, I can’t wait to see the US women’s volleyball team playing for the gold (after sweeping the match against Cuba). They’ll play Brazil in the finals. Brazil hasn’t lost a single set so far in the 2008 Olympics. Hopefully, the US will break that streak.

    Until Wang Chen of the US beat South Korea’s Kim Kyung-ah to advance to the quarterfinals, the US had never had an Olympian get that far. Wang, born in China, had a lot of friends at the match and dropped to her knees crying when she won. It was an amazing match and is the first time anyone from the US has made it to the quarterfinals and Gao Jun of the US was eliminated just barely, losing 4-3 to Wu Xue of the Dominican Republic.

    I hate that they cut the beginning of the men’s quarterfinal match (22-21 USA when they started airing it). So sad! I love volleyball and clearly the game was good – a game can’t be that close without being pretty exciting. The commentator even mentioned it. They did win the first set 25-22. They turned around the second set (losing 16-13) to win 25-21. They dropped the third set 25-27 and the fourth set 22-25, but came back to win the 5th set 15-13. I can’t wait for the gold medal match! In the next quarterfinal match, the commentators were saying they think the US will be the team to beat in the gold medal match, no matter who moves on. I hope they’re right. No matter what, it should be a great match and it’s their first appearance in the finals since 1988.

    I don’t remember ever seeing a jump-off for gold and bronze in the equestrian individual jumping event. Both the US competitors jumped part of the decoration and Beezie Madden successfully completed the course and beat the time set by the German rider who started the jump-off for bronze.

    I thought they might cut out a lot of the gymnastics gala, since they only showed parts of it Wednesday night, but fortunately, they showed it on Oxygen in Thursday night’s coverage. As a former gymnast and lover of the sport, I like seeing the gymnasts just let go and have fun doing the sport they love at the end of the competition and I’m glad NBC didn’t decide to cut this as they did so much of the gymnastics throughout the Olympics. I’m sure they didn’t show us everything, since they’ve been cutting a lot all along, but they did show a lot of great performances at the gala.

    The interviews with all the gymnasts were great, too. I think Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are great, but my favorite gymnast on the women’s team was Alicia Sacramone. It’s sad that she still totally blames herself for the team getting silver instead of the gold. There was quite a bit of a difference in the scores. I really don’t think she should blame herself, though I’m sure as the leader of the team she feels responsible. A lot of the blame has to be placed on the judging. There’s no way around that. It’s so funny how a female gymnast at 21 is already getting old for the sport and thinking she probably won’t be able to compete in the next Olympics. Very sad, since Alicia is my favorite from the team, but it’s what I expected.

    Go USA!

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  • Last night’s Olympics coverage had some of the most shocking footage (to me) so far in the Olympics. Although perhaps they should have given Haley Ishimatsu (the 15-year-old diver who just missed qualifying for the platform diving, coming in 14th when the top 12 advanced) a bit more time before her interview, I understand wanting to talk to her before she left for the night. Surprisingly, the reporter asking Haley how it felt to be so close to qualifying and not make it seemed touched moved by Haley’s tears and tried to comfort her. I was shocked. It was nice to see a reporter for NBC seem to care about the feelings of one of the athletes at the Olympics. Normally, it seems like they’re cold-hearted and actually enjoy asking questions like “So, you just missed getting the gold by 1/1000 of a second – how do you feel?” and concentrating on the negative side, rather than saying something like “You just won the silver medal, beating out tons of other athletes – how do you feel?” I appreciate the fact that one of the reporters actually came across as caring about an athlete. I’m sure it won’t last, but it was a nice touch.

    The men’s volleyball match against Italy yesterday was definitely exciting. I know that the USA wasn’t expected to win and it was a huge upset, but clearly I was rooting for the USA and was going nuts watching them. I’d be rooting for them anyway, but with UCI’s men’s volleyball coach (John Speraw) there as an assistant coach to the team, I really want them to do well! I’m excited that the men’s volleyball team moved on to the medal round and I hope to see them play for the gold. Go USA!

    Of course, watching the women’s beach volleyball finals wasn’t too surprising. I figured Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor would win the gold and be the first team to win back-to-back gold medals in the Olympics (teams often aren’t even the same from Olympics to Olympics, it seems). I’m so happy that they were able to achieve their dream and move on with their lives now, though I’ll miss them in London if they’re too busy with their families to participate. They’re a lot of fun to watch on the AVP tour and in the Olympics. I did think that the Chinese team might win one of the sets against May-Treanor and Walsh. They are a very good team. It’s amazing to me that May-Treanor and Walsh were able to get through two entire Olympics without losing a single set. They did face set points against other teams, but they never actually lost a single set to another team in the Olympics. That’s amazing.

    Usain Bolt broke the 200m world record Michael Johnson set in the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996. Many felt that Johnson’s record was untouchable, but Bolt proved them wrong. Even people who aren’t interested in track & field seem interested in world records being broken.

    Those who were talking about all the excitement being over when Michael Phelps was done swimming and the gymnastics had ended are really missing out on the volleyball, beach volleyball, diving, track & field and many other sports that are still going on (it’d take too long to list them all). I can understand the people who are sick of hearing about the “Redeem Team” and not being interested in basketball (I feel the same), but there are tons of other sports to watch – even BMX racing, which can be kind of fun to watch. The gymnastics showcase pieces are enjoyable, too. It’s good to see the athletes relax after winning their medals and have fun out there. I realize I’m not biased, since I’m clearly addicted to the Olympics, but a lot of world records have been broken in Beijing and many are starting to argue what I believe (that Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time – he’s only 23 and he’s already surpassed the lifelong totals of everyone who’s ever participated in the Olympic games – imagine what he can do since he’s not done in the Olympics yet). How can one not be interested in the Olympics with so much happening?

    Go USA!

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  • The final night of gymnastics event finals was certainly exciting. It was great to see Shawn Johnson finally get a gold medal and having Shawn and Nastia finish 1-2 in the opposite order was nice. It’s actually what I expected on floor the night before and I was so happy to see the scores. When Cheng Fei’s score of 15.950 was displayed for balance beam when she had almost fallen off, I was very worried that the judges were determined to score another gymnastics event horribly and I would be disappointed by the end results. However, I ended up happy with the results for the first two spots. The fact that Cheng Fei got the bronze medal is horrible for Anna Pavlova of Russia. Pavlova came in 4th place with 15.900 and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that she deserved the bronze medal. Russia finished the 2008 Olympics without a single medal in gymnastics. I doubt anyone would have predicted that before the competition began.

    Jonathan Horton’s performance on high bar was amazing and I was surprised that the crowd actually booed when his score of 16.175 (putting him in 2nd place) behind Zou Kai of China’s 16.2. It seems a lot of people there agreed with me and thought Horton should have gotten a higher score on execution. I think the execution score of 9.275 was a bit low, even though it was higher than Zou’s execution. What is it about high bar judging? The 2004 Summer Olympics’ high bar scores are what caused the uproar that led to the scoring system change. Remember when Alexei Nemov had to try to calm the crowd down after his horrible score before Paul Hamm competed? The great part of this year’s high bar competition is that Horton was clearly thrilled to get an individual medal and he knew that he did a great job on his routine and couldn’t have done much better. It’s always good to see Olympians truly enjoying the moment and last night was a great night for the US gymnastics team.

    The China vs. China women’s beach volleyball match early yesterday morning was amazing. The one team goes on to play Misty May-Treanor & Kerri Walsh in the finals, the other plays for the bronze. I’d be surprised if the Chinese teams don’t get two of the three medals in beach volleyball. I’m guessing silver and bronze, since I can’t see May-Treanor & Walsh losing their first match in about a year in the gold medal match. Both medal matches should be very exciting.

    The USA women’s volleyball team upset Italy in a great match yesterday to advance to the semifinals. They definitely seemed like they didn’t have what it takes to beat Italy for a while, but came back to win the last two sets decisively (25-18 & 15-6) and advance. Hopefully, they’ll have what it takes to make it to the gold medal finals. Clearly, I wish all the US teams well, but I’m particularly interested in the men’s volleyball team, since one of the assistant coaches (John Speraw) is UCI’s men’s volleyball head coach and I go to as many of UCI’s matches as I can. After the tragedy the USA men’s volleyball head coach had to endure, it would be really nice to see a bit of an up side for him and for the men’s team to win gold. They’ve been looking very good so far.

    I don’t know of anyone who watched Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles who didn’t want to cry when they watched her hit the 9th hurdle. She was pretty far ahead of the pack and doing so well. Then, all of a sudden, she clipped the 9th hurdle and dropped behind to finish next to last. The fact that she was still able to pull herself together enough to finish the race (and not even come in last) is amazing to me. My heart went out to her (and her family) as they cried when her dreams of a gold medal were destroyed. Lolo’s 26 years old, so perhaps she can try again in the London Olympics in 2012, but it’s so sad to see someone doing that well and being completely at the top of her game and then faltering.

    I just bought a copy of last week’s Sports Illustrated with Michael Phelps on the cover swimming. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did flip through and it’s almost all Olympics coverage. If you love the Olympics you should definitely pick up a copy while they’re still available. The Sports Illustrated where Phelps recreated the Mark Spitz cover (for more information, click here, supposedly hit news stands today, but my local book store gets the new issues on Friday, so I can’t comment on that issue yet. I’m sure it’s mostly Olympics coverage, too.

    Go USA!

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  • If you’re watching the Olympics closely (even if you’re just watching the prime time coverage), you probably saw the wonderful interview with Michael Phelps tonight. This really impressed me, since NBC has not been as good about showing cool specials on the background of the athletes this year as they have in previous Olympic telecasts, which I’ve really missed. I like the personal touch and to get to know a little bit about the athletes. I have enjoyed the special pieces they’ve done about Beijing, but I miss the close-up looks at the athletes…

    In any case, during this interview, Michael Phelps mentioned that he’s checked Facebook a couple times since he was in Beijing and commented on how high school people who picked on him are trying to add him as a friend. What’s funny is that I think this happens to everyone on Facebook. I’m sure it’s worse for a celebrity – especially one who can make people like my dad (who never really pay attention to the Olympics) care about getting home in time to watch his races live.

    However, I do think that once people grow up and get away from high school for a few years they realize how pointless it was to pick on kids because they were different (whether it was a different look, different clothes, glasses, …) and though they will probably never become true friends, the definiton of friend on Facebook is closer to that of acquaintance (and some people are “friends” with a lot of people they haven’t even met on Facebook, bringing the definition of “friend” on Facebook even lower than that) and I think it makes sense to let bygones be bygones and be friendly with those who were in our schools even if we never got along then.

    On a side note, I’m totally shocked that NBC is actually showing us the men’s floor event finals when there are no Americans involved. They started with a Russian, then a Romanian, the third routine they’re shosing us is a gymnast from Brasil. Why didn’t we see their routines when they qualified? Clearly they were better on floor than any of the American men that night, but NBC didn’t think they were important enough to make the coverage. Of course, I recognize them from the world gymnastics competitions, but I don’t think the coverage of the Olympics should be so centered around the US, China (clearly amazing gymnasts, but not always the best in every event), and Japan.

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  • The announcers and extra “junk” seem to get worse every year on NBC. Last year, that horrible blonde reporter was rude to Michael Phelps right after he had his first finish that was not a gold medal. They consistently asked questions to the gymnasts that were equally rude. This year, they asked about how difficult it was to compete after his teemates had totally messed up (I can’t remember her exact words) when the gymnasts in question were well within earshot and even on camera at the time. I see no need for this. How many gold medals (or Olympic medals of any kind) do these reporters have? Why can’t they concentrate on the positive side?

    Everyone was nice to Michael Phelps this year, but not every athlete can get a gold in every event they do. Michael Phelps is the first Olympian in the history of the Olympics to win 8 golds in one Olympic year and is the most decorated Olympian at age 23. One can’t expect that of anyone else. It’s hard to say if this accomplishment will ever be matched. I think the reporters should be polite to all the Olympians. These athletes aren’t being paid for what they’re doing and many of the athletes are not professional athletes. If a reporter wants to be rude to a star of the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, etc. I still think it’s wrong. However, those guys are getting paid a lot of money and can put up with a little rudeness from reporters from time to time when they mess up. A lot of the Olympians are kids. Michael Phelps was only 19 last year. The reporters should have been kind to him.

    Just another way that NBC has completely disappointed me in their coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics. They seem to have more talking and less sports coverage per hour than they did in previous years. Even more upsetting, I found out from my best friend (who lives on the east coast) that the coverage there has not been going over the scheduled time as much as the coverage on the west coast. This probably means we are getting more commercials, since I can’t imagine them adding content.

    I think it’s horrible that we don’t get the “prime time” (I use this term loosely, I do not consider coverage that ends at 1:30 a.m. prime time) coverage live, especially since many of the nights are scheduled to end at 12:30 or 1:00 a.m. and most nights have gone over this time slot by at least 20 minutes. At least one night went more than a half hour over the projected 1:00 a.m. end time. Since they’re time delaying the coverage on the west coast by 3 hours, they have plenty of time to cut out things like the gymnasts waiting (and waiting) for scores. While this coverage makes sense for the east coast, who is getting to see the sport live, it’s unnecessary when you’re getting a feed that is delayed by 3 hours and 3 hours is plenty of time to edit out enough to end the show on time on the west coast. Instead, NBC adds commercials and makes sure that those on the west coast are more sleep deprived than those on the east coast if they get caught up in the competition and can’t go to bed without knowing who won the gymnastics competition.

    I would like to see an improvement in this area in future Olympic games.

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