Random observations

Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 by Travis Cody in
19

Mr Tucker loves Pam. He has since they first met. When we relax on the sofa in the evenings, he usually settles in between us and leans mostly on her. Sometimes he'll put his back against her leg and settle his feet against me. Or he'll get as much into her lap as he can...he's a pretty big cat.

There have been times when he has completely ignored me and refused to have anything to do with me, preferring Pam to get him his food and play with him.

But recently, he's giving her the eye. The last few nights, he's shoved himself between me and the arm of the sofa instead of between us for snuggle time. If I get up for any reason, he won't stay on the sofa. Sometimes he follows me and sometimes he just lays on the floor and waits for me to come back.

Maybe he's just getting fed up with all the construction and has decided it's Pam's fault? He doesn't seem ill. Or maybe it's just a phase.

Cats!

We watched curling on Saturday. It's an oddly compelling sport. And yes, I say sport. It takes a great amount of skill to put those stones where you want them. And the guys/gals who sweep the ice in front of the throws need to have balance and strength and stamina. It's more than bowling on ice. There's all kinds of strategy involved in setting up your own shot while anticipating what your opponent will do with the pattern you leave.

The focus is mostly on the slider, the person who shoots or delivers the stone down the ice. Matches are often billed with the main slider's name vs the other team's slider. But curling is considered a team game because of the importance of the sweepers to help the direction and speed that the stones curl. Those sweepers aren't just muscle either...they have to understand the strategy of the shot so they can help the stone get to the most advantageous position.

It's quite fascinating. The pronouncers discussed a bit of controversy with crowd noise. Evidently etiquette calls for quiet during matches so the players can focus and communicate. Some of the teams have complained about what they say is excessive cheering at inappropriate moments. Curling is incredibly popular around the world, and the fans have come out in the thousands and have been quite vocal.

Imagine that...controversy at an Olympic games. HA!

Short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno still has some work left in his Olympic experience, but he has already become the most decorated American Winter Olympian with a total of 7 medals. He's got 2 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze in a career that has spanned the games from Salt Lake City to Torino to Vancouver. He has two more events to skate in 2010, the 500m and the 5000m relay. (photo credit to David J Phillip, AP)

And if I may, perhaps now the Koreans can celebrate the success of their brilliant short track athletes instead of constantly whining about how Ohno is such a cheat. After all, it was a Korean skater who made a bad pass to take out himself and a teammate in the 1500m final when the Korean men were on their way to a sweep of the medals in that event. It's not Ohno's fault, or JR Celski's fault, that the two Americans glided past the wipe out to take silver and bronze.

Even with that mistake, the Korean men have still skated away with 3 of the 6 medals awarded in the sport so far. Presumably they are favored to medal in the last two events.

I don't know what happens during the other competitions in a short track speed skating season. The sport just isn't that widely covered. I know of Ohno from his performance in the Olympics and his winning appearance on Dancing with the Stars. I do know that fouls happen in short track speed skating. Ohno gets fouled as much as he fouls. In fact, he got shoved by a Canadian skater in the 1000m final that forced him wide and caused him to trip on his skates and lose speed. He somehow kept his feet, gathered himself, and skated back into bronze medal position. And I didn't hear him whine about that in his post race interviews.

I don't understand all the rules and infractions in the sport, but I can say from the evidence of my eyes that it's one of the most exciting events to watch. Anything can happen, and often does. The Korean men are the best in the world, and Ohno is a fantastic individual athlete.

By the way, you know those 3 medals the Korean men haven't won? Ohno has 2 of them.

Figure skating, and all it's permutations from singles to pairs to ice dancing, is a sport. It takes stamina, strength, balance, and coordination. (photo credit to Gary Hershorn of Reuters)

A man lifts a woman into the air over his head and spins with her suspended 10 feet off the surface of the ice. A man tosses a woman into the air, and she spins and lands 15 feet away on one skate blade. Men and women perform jumps with 2-4 rotations in them 8-10 times during a 4.5 minute program. Spins, twists, twirls, jumps...all on thin skate blades in 2.5 minute short programs and 4.5 minute long programs.

Not to mention all the training that goes into those programs, both on and off the ice.

Yes, the competitions are based on judging. Yes, artistry is a large part of the competition. Yes, each time the skaters take to the ice it is called a performance. Yes, the competitors wear costumes and make up. Sequins and tassels are often prominently featured.

It doesn't have whistles. It's not a race. Participants are not on the ice at the same time directly competing. There's no ball. There's no puck. There's no contact. There are no goals, no bases, no end zone.

But it's a sport. Participants train for it. They tear ACLs. They sprain ankles. They break bones and suffer concussions.

It might not be a sport you enjoy, but it's a sport.

19 comments:

  1. Jeni says:

    I've never watched a curling match -therefore, I don't have a clue as to how it's played and any, much less all, the nuances of the game but yes, I can follow your logic that it and the figure skating too (which I did watch as many of the performances as I could, are both sports!!! As to Apolo Ohno -what a great athlete he is and that's not meant to take any credit away from the Korean skaters either.
    And I haven't a clue as to why Tucker is acting the way he is! If ANYONE can figure cats out, that person should surely earn a fortune from explaining cat actions to cat owners!

  1. Debra says:

    I've been watching some of the curling and I must say it is strangly facinating! Love the ice skaters too!

  1. Dana says:

    Our new cat, Holly, has a favorite person - my mom, who can't stand cats! Go figure!

  1. Cats don't want their human pets to get too comfortable. They have to keep you vying for their affections.

  1. Trav: We have a large Curling Club here and when I go to watch, we have to sit in a mezzanine with a glass partition so there is no noise to distract the matches. Thanks for the ettiquette discussion. And the curling discussion, too.

  1. I'd seize the moment with Mr. Tucker... He's quite a handsome guy...

  1. Bond says:

    I also find curling interesting and there is quite a bit of skill involved.

    Ohno is one heck of an athlete indeed and the short track skating is very exciting

    OK, I will allow that the skating is a sport...I will also allow that I do not enjoy it at all.

  1. a very entertaining post...

    I am enjoying the Olympics immensely.

    And I find Mr.Tuckers fickleness indicative of typical feline behavior

  1. Akelamalu says:

    It's just your turn with Mr. Tucker - enjoy it while you can! LOL

    I love the figure skating - my favourite sport by far. :)

  1. Linda says:

    No doubt Mr. Tucker will throw you for another loop before too long and Pam will be back in his good graces. Tesla seems to have taken more to me than to Amanda - whose cat he is supposed to be. He's deemed my bed to be THE place to sleep but I guess I can't blame him for that one, I do have that nice heated mattress pad!

    I have always loved watching figure skating as I am amazed at the athletic prowess the skaters have. I can barely stand upright on skates so I know it's not easy to jump and spin and do everything else they do - which always look so effortless on their part. It's just as much a sport as curling and all of the other Olympic activities in spite of what naysayers might grumble about.

    And I still think that it had to be a lunatic who first said, "Hey, I'm going to jump off of this really high ramp, fly through the air, and land on these two little sticks at the end. You want to watch me and grade how I do?!?" Those guys give me sweaty palms and then some!

  1. Mags says:

    I agree that skating is a sport. I'm not sure how anyone could think it's not-with the amount of training and endurance involved.

  1. Sorry I haven't been around much my friend; I've been bed-ridden for nearly a week with a flu-like cold, and I'm still not with it. I'd say I'm around 20% of my normal self. Ugh.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments about figure skating. I have followed figure skating since I was a child, only stopping about four years ago when Michelle Kwan "retired" from competitive skating. Anyone who doesn't think skaters are athletes needs a reminder of when Todd Eldridge dislocated a shoulder at a competition during warm ups, put the shoulder back in place ON HIS OWN, and then when on to compete. I believe he won the silver medal at the competition. Oh, and more recently, what about Zhang and Zhang in Torino 2006? The epic fall that led to a silver medal. Yeah, they're athlete. They also have to look perfect doing it all.

  1. Sanni says:

    I'm totally into watching the Olympics and look like a zombie already b/c airing starts mostly after midnight. To me curling is like tomato juice on flights. I love tomato juice, but usually drink it only when on a plane...
    I also love watching curling, but mostly watch it just during the Olympics.

    Tonight I'm still up b/c of the ice hockey match. GO CANADA! :)

  1. You know, Mr. Tucker's quite the looker, himself...

  1. Jamie says:

    Your cat is just reestablishing ownership. He is probably blaming you for the construction and is registering a request that you make it stop. :-)

    Curling is actually fun to watch for anyone who enjoys this odd combination of shuffleboard and bocci ball.

    You are right about the skaters. The athletics involved are phenominal. Maybe it is moving ballet to thin (sharp) blades and running the risk of injury or even death, but just because it's beautiful doesn't mean it isn't a sport.

  1. Mr Tucker is a handsome fellow!
    I have become a fan of curling.
    <><

  1. Julie says:

    I haven't watched much of the Olympics but I love the skating! I sure hope Mr. Tucker is fit as a fiddle and back to his normal self soon!

  1. Thank for explaining curling to me. You don't even want to know what I thought it was.

    Anyway...figure skating. Be still my heart.

  1. P.S. Maybe Mr. Tucker is simply hormonal. It happens to the best of guys.