Is It Time To Talk Track and Field Yet? (Sorrynotsorry)
However, it is not a good idea to miss out on all the stuff that's leading up to the Olympics. Know your athletes! See their conquests! Understand who they are and where they came from, and make your mind up about them before NBC narrows your fandom to its handful of profiled athletes.
This is the season of Spring. Winter sports are just about done, and the sports that feature in the summer Olympics are starting to ramp up.
Which, of course, means that I start waxing poetic on track and field.
(Wait - I've already been doing that? Well, whatever. Now it's outdoors.)
It's easy to watch track and field because it's on or around an oval track. Marathon viewing is easy because the cars can lead the runners on, and cameras are easy to find.
But have you ever watched cross country? No, not cross country skiing, but its warm-weather sibling.
I know I have not. Cross Country was always "that sport the crazy runners do in the fall" when we were all in high school. In order to get ready for the spring track season, these runners often can be found running in the dead of winter.
I didn't even know that cross country had a World Championships until I saw the IAAF promote the Aarhus World Championships. Apparently it is Sebastian Coe's dream to have cross country have just as much of a presence in the IAAF as regular track and field and marathons. Even without cross country in the Olympic Games.
Many runners use cross country as a warm-up for the athletics season, if they are middle distance runners who prefer outdoor running instead of the 200-meter indoor track. Conselsus Kipruto of Kenya, gold medalist in the steeplechase, and his competitor Soufiane El Bakkali, both participated in the World Championships.
The difference between cross country and its track equivalent is the "track" on which it's run. At Aarhus, Denmark, most is run on grass with inclines and declines all over the place. There is a mud pit which ruins any pair of shoes the runners decided to show off, a sand pit, and a water hazard. It's basically what the steeplechase was meant to be - but no hurdles.
I will never decline more track and field events, so it was fun being able to watch something that I'd never seen before! Plus, the dulcet tones of Tim Hutchins was back in the booth, and that makes everything better.
If you're curious about cross country - even if it hasn't been an Olympic sport since Paris 1924 - you can catch this weekend's races on The Olympic Channel online (though you will need access through your TV or Internet provider, so be warned.) You can also watch it if you have the NBC Sports Gold Track and Field pass, like me! (Worth every penny.)
So let's get started, shall we? It isn't just track and field that's emerging from winter's shadow. This year is the perfect chance to catch all your favorite athletes before next year's big seasons!
Olympic Channel Video of the Week
The Olympic Channel put out a magnificent behind-the-scenes look at two bobsleigh events from PyeongChang 2018: the women's two and the men's four. It's almost an hour long, but very much worth your time. Plus it features the coach of the Brazilian men's bobsled team: an American woman named Shauna Rohbock!
- Team Shuster - men's national champions - have started their World Championship competition in Canada. Their matches will be on television all week, so make sure to catch them and cheer them on!
- The final Olympic race for the Night Train featuring the late Steve Holcomb ended up being a silver instead of the original bronze after the Russian team was disqualified! It was finalized at the IOC's meeting last week.
- Boxing's future in the Olympics is still up in the air, but they tried to state their case at the meeting as well. Sounds like a decision will be coming later this year. I'm sure Tokyo 2020 would like to know what is up!