Sunday, April 22, 2018

Olympic Blurb Weekly Wrap-Up April 15-22

It is very easy nowadays to get sucked into a hole of YouTube videos. One video watched leads to YouTube suggesting more like it, which are also watched, then one moment of whimsy leads into the giant realm known as "Cat Videos," and suddenly it's been four hours.

I may have finally gotten the hang of YouTube after finally realizing that my subscriptions have their own feed and I don't have to constantly be scrolling through highlights from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon or conspiracy theories about how Star Wars is ruined because of this one big flaw! Now I can just watch what I want to watch.

One of those subscriptions was made to several Olympic YouTube channels - the Team USA channel and the Olympic Channel...channel. I subscribed to both of them during the Olympics, hoping for some nice highlights of past Olympics and athlete bios.

The Team USA YouTube channel is pretty terrible. Immediately after the PyeongChang Olympics they posted 20 videos at the same time, but each of them were just 30-60 second interviews of athletes. This happened for several days, and it got kind of obnoxious to see my feed inundated with mini interviews. A couple of weeks afterwards they stopped and haven't posted very much since.

However, the past two months on the Olympic Channel feed has been really awesome. The actual television channel recently picked up a few more sports to broadcast, which include kickboxing, sambo, and squash, increasing their broadcasting load to 67 federations. Because of this, some of their original programming gets less screen time on TV. In addition, the Olympic Channel is on a pretty high level of packaging for cable subscribers, so not as many fans get a chance to watch the shows on the channel.

To help get their content out, the YouTube channel provides videos of about 3-10 minutes that consolidate the episodes of their television shows so that people can watch them and enjoy. Some are cute "did you know?" videos while others are profile pieces.

Not only does the Olympic Channel provide television content, it also shows highlights of Olympic events - usually recent Olympics, but sometimes they reach into their back pocket and produce something fun from 20-30 years ago.

One of my favorite series is the "Strangest Moments" feed. There have been lots of crazy things happening during the Olympics, and sometimes it's hard to believe!


I also like the athlete profiles, like this one on Joseph Schooling, who beat Michael Phelps in competition at the Rio Olympics:


And sometimes it's just the weird stuff.


I appreciate how they post regularly, but don't inundate the YouTube feed with twenty videos at once. All the videos I've watched have been very well produced and give a lot of great information!

The next time you are bored and scrolling through YouTube, type "Olympic Channel" into the search bar. You might just stay there for four hours and never watch one cat video!

Tokyo 2020 Prep

Aside from two marathons, it was a pretty light week of Olympic sports, so I watched five different Olympic Opening Ceremonies: Atlanta, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, and Torino. It made me realize two things:

1) I really want to take part in the Los Angeles Opening Ceremony. I don't have to be a dancer or anything, but there seems to be a lot of people that just run and stand as hundreds of people create some amazing image. I could totally do that! My top Opening Ceremony role of choice would definitely be the shuffle dancers that line the route for the Parade of Nations. I can shuffle dance! I can dance in one place for three hours! Put me in, coach!

2) Participating in an Opening Ceremony might be a ridiculous pipe dream (see 1) but I really, really, reallyreally want to go to the Tokyo Opening Ceremony. It would be a dream come true. I would never be able to afford a ticket, but I love all the pageantry of all the Opening Ceremonies and just want to be there and cry in front of everybody as something happens. I can imagine people staring at me as I blubber, "Look! They're making a dove! The Olympic Charter says they have to have doves!"

Mini Blurbs

  • This week's BlurbWatch:
    • rhythmic gymnastics
    • running
    • track and field
    • baseball
  • There were two major marathons this week - Boston's was on Monday and London's was Sunday. There were people that participated in both - one notable was Tatyana McFadden, a push rim athlete who won Boston and got second in London. 
  • The weather for the two marathons could not have been more different. In Boston, it was cold and rainy, while London was sunny and pretty warm. Both had athletes dropping out due to the weather - as a matter of fact, much of the international field of women dropped out before the end of the race, resulting in a top eight exclusively of North American women. (Was it really that much of a problem for them to finish? they had, like, six miles to go and they dropped like flies.)
  • The NBC Sports coverage was hilarious at some points of the Boston Marathon, especially when Shalane Flanagan had to stop at the porta-potties and Galen Rupp flubbed his grab of the water bottle and it fell to the ground. 
  • I couldn't believe those push rim athletes wheeling in the rain. What makes it worse was that their center wheel was constantly spitting water in their faces!
  • Marathon video feeds need to get a bit better. Are the cycling video feeds that bad? Both London and Boston had video feed issues that wasn't fun, especially for the poor commentators. 
  • Marathons work hard to provide an interesting course for the athletes, and I enjoyed the variety of landscapes the athletes experienced in the Boston Marathon - from the tiny town of Hopkinton to downtown Boston!
  • Des Linden was gearing up for a win for a while now - she finished seventh in the Rio marathon and has kept up the pace with the tops in the world. 
  • Linden's win kind of overshadowed the fact that Japan's Yuki Kawauchi won the men's marathon, and it was the first time in 28 years that neither the men's or women's marathon was won by an African. (Now I'm pulling for Kawauchi - an educator in Japan that has no sponsors and wants to run 100 marathons by the Tokyo Olympics - to win when Tokyo rolls around!)
  • London had pace makers for the men's and women's events because they were suspecting that the weather conditions might be right for record-breaking runs, but it ended up being too hot. As a result, there were several men (for both genders) wearing black-and-white striped singlets that were spread out with various pace times to follow. It made watching the women's event a little hard because the men were so tall they blocked the women from view!
  • Running with pacers in front must be helpful for the runners, but it's hard for viewers to follow. I wish I knew more about the role of pace makers in track and field. 
  • I got to watch the second annual Grenada Invitational - a rare track and field event that's broadcasted on ESPN instead of NBC's affiliates. There were a few events that only had four or five athletes participating, and the stadium was far from full, but it felt a little bit like a high-stakes high school track meet because it was a bit more intimate. 
  • The stadium that the Grenada Invitational took place on is called Kirani James Stadium. Crazy that an athlete who has not yet retired from sports has an entire stadium named after him already! 
  • It is clear that this is only the second year of the Grenada Invitational, because there were some hiccups with starting pistols and wiring of the start blocks. Instead of using the normal measuring system for long jump and triple jump used by other international competitions, they actually used metal measuring tape! In the 200m dash LaShawn Merritt actually never heard the starter call "set" which would be crazy in any other official track meet! (He won, anyway.)
  • Calling the Invitational were Lewis Johnson and Felix Sanchez, a former Dominican athlete who won gold in 2004 and 2012. It was interesting hearing his opinions on things and nice to hear someone different for once!
  • Rhythmic gymnastics continue to impress me. Hoops is the real deal, and five hoops is even more magical. The fantastic Italian team that I mentioned a few weeks ago came back to last weekend's event in Pesaro, Italy, and they did even better on their amazing "Black Swan" routine. This time they won - which they should have before, but I digress. 
  • It looks like Bulgaria and Belarus are big contenders in rhythmic gymnastics. I don't usually see many sports where Bulgaria is frequently at the top of the standings. 
  • I'm watching so much NBCSN and Olympic Channel that Phil Swift is starting to haunt my dreams. If I never heard about Flex Seal products ever again I would be so, so happy. 
I'll just close this week's blog with a tweet showing the next big event for which I am gearing up. Until next Sunday!




My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes for lots of Olympic comments, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!



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