Monday, August 8, 2016

Olympics, Opening Weekend

Some random thoughts from watching the Olympics thus far.
  • I enjoy the opening ceremonies as much as the next person, but it takes so long. Did we really need to watch Gisele Bundchen walk all the way across the stage? Or a bunch of samba dancing near the end, when everyone just wanted to see the torch lit? No organizing nation is ever going to want to go shorter, sadly - have to top whatever the last place did.
  • Having every athlete plant a seed that will end up in a special forest area was a cool way to draw attention to global climate change.
  • Watching all the athletes walk in the opening ceremonies, it's a bit surprising how normal they all look. Then you see the actual competition, and realize that "normal" is relative. The announcers talk about "short" 5'11" swimmers and volleyball players, or "tall" 5'5" gymnasts. In theory, you know all these folks won a genetic lottery as well as working incredibly hard, but it really sinks in when watching it.
  • NBC's coverage seems pretty decent, all things considered. Focused on the US team, of course, and pretty heavy on the feel-good happy stories, but that's pretty much what I want out of the Olympics. I'd go crazy if I tried to just sit and watch it, but as something going on in the background while I do other things, it's fine.
  • Congratulations to Ginny Thrasher, who surprised everyone by winning the 10-meter air rifle event. You could tell that NBC wasn't expecting it since they didn't have one of those "meet the athlete" profile bits on her. Bet they wish they had, because she was great on camera afterward - killed an interview with Dan Patrick.
  • No time was wasted in getting dramatic. The men's cycling road race on day one had the leaders crash on the last big downhill section, then the eventual gold and silver medalists closed a 20+ second gap over the last few miles to pass the leader (who took the bronze). I wasn't sure a 6+ hour event would be all that interesting, but this one was. The coverage was well executed: 10-15 minutes on the race, then off to some other event for a while, then back for an update.
  • Seven Olympic games is an incredible run for anyone, and especially a gymnast. Oksana Chusovitina first competed in Barcelona in 1992, and keeps coming back for more. She has a son older than the youngest gymnasts that she's competing against this year. Really impressive to see.

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