Tag Archives: Beijing

UPDATE: Latvian “giant killers”, gone but not forgotten…

Though you wouldn’t know it from watching NBC’s frustratingly America-centric coverage of the games, two of my favorite Beach Volleyball players, the Latvian “giant-killers” Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs were knocked out of the running for the quarterfinals a few days back.

Honestly, most people never thought they had a chance at even getting past the preliminaries, but after killing Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser in their opening game at Beijing, the “giant-killers” were on a roll. After a surprising loss to Argentina on August 11th, they beat Switzerland 2-1 on August 13th, and were seriously on their way to the quarterfinals before getting wiped out by Austria on August 16th in a crushing 2-0 match at Chaoyang Park.

But even if they didn’t get much screen time — I had to settle for photos of their matches online! — these Baltic beach bums kicked some serious ass in Beijing and certainly put Latvia on the map in my book.

So, rock on, my Baltic brothers. Hope we see ya again in London in 2012!

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Latvian “giant-killers” rule the day!

OK, Christine and I spent almost all of our waking hours this weekend watching the Olympic coverage from Beijing and so far, we have discovered a few very interesting things…

One: the American female gymnastic’s team needs to seriously step it up, because those little girls on the Chinese team are AWESOME. Two: Chinese lady weightlifters kick ass. And three: Chinese people really, really love Kobe Bryant. Seriously, it’s kinda crazy…

And while Christine loved watching those sideways walking horses in the Equestrian Dressage events, I gotta say, my favorite moment so far was the way a couple of kinda stonerish Baltic beach bums kicked our American golden boys asses in the beach volleyball preliminaries.

It was a classic moment, the Latvian team, Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs, came into the Olympics placed 23 out of 24 teams. The American team, Todd “The Professor” Rogers and Phil “The Thin Beast” Dalhausser came to Beijing expecting to clean house and go home with the gold.

But in a truly thrilling preliminary match up, the Latvians showed our guys what the Olympic spirit is all about. I’m not kidding you, man, Plavins and Aleksandrs kicked ass. It was like watching Rocky beat the crap out of Ivan Drago…really, a battle of total David and Goliath proportions. It was epic, baby!

And the story behind those crazy Latvians was even cooler. There are so few beach volleyball players of note in Latvia that Plavins and Aleksandrs actually trained by playing on the beach against six other guys. SIX! Apparently, that was the only way to truly simulate the caliber of players they would face in the games. Now that is Olympic spirit, amigos. Just awesome…

And though the Latvian “giant-killers” — as they’re quickly coming to be known online — were knocked down a few games later by some bad-ass Argentians, as of right now, they still have a chance at medaling. So, rock on Latvia!

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Warning: Olympic nerdiness ahead

Just wanted to give y’all a warning that there might be a whole lotta Olympic news coming your way in the next couple of weeks. With our Tivo taping round the clock — I’m not kidding, that red light is always on! — we have been insanely devouring Olympic coverage since the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night.

And though neither of us has cut or dyed our hair like this crazy cool Chinese fan below, Christine and I are all about the games, yo. So get ready for a whole lot of Olympic “See” action in the days to come…

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Opening Ceremonies in Beijing!

Just finished watching the epically cool Olympic Opening Ceremonies from Beijing and all I can say is, rock on Zhang Yimou!

The most acclaimed of China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers, Yimou has always been one of my favorites, but after watching the magic he worked as director of this year’s opening ceremonies, well…wow! Give this dude a gold medal already!

I already knew Yimou was a bad-ass storyteller with a killer eye for detail — if you haven’t seen “Ju Dou”, “Raise The Red Lantern”, “Hero” and the shockingly subversive “Happy Times”, rent them, immediately! — but who knew he could create something so breathtakingly beautiful on such a gigantic scale?

Utilizing upwards of 15,000 individual performers, Yimou crafted an opening ceremonies for the ages, and whatever you think about China and the power-mad oldies running the country, that show kicked some serious ass! The costumes, the movement, the scope…this show had everything.

And unlike previous opening ceremonies where details tend to get lost in the mix, Yimou took the time to highlight some really delicate, intricately beautiful moments. The little girl with the kite? The old dude at the end running sideways to light the Olympic torch?

Hell, even the way those crazy dancers moved around that glowing globe while Sarah Brightman sang her heart out (in what sounded like Chinese!) with Chinese pop star Liu Huan…amazing!

And though Christine and I reached for the kleenex more than a few times during the four hour-plus show, I think our favorite moment of the night was when nine-year-old earthquake survivor, Lin Hao lead the Chinese athletes into the Bird’s Nest beside the towering Yao Ming. Oh…my…God…so awesome!

And best of all, that was just the first night of the Olympics! Yay! Bring it on, Beijing! We won’t stop taping till our Tivo catches fire!

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Olympic torch scales Mt. Everest!

Anyone who knows Christine and myself knows that we are huge Olympic geeks. I’m not kidding, we literally do not leave the house when they’re on. We Tivo EVERYTHING, and though we are total suckers for those “pull the strings” video bios on the athletes, we are also kinda crazy about the lesser events in the games. Seriously, the weirder the sport, the more we love it.

I actually watched every curling event during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. Especially the women’s, which, my apologies to American skip Pete Fenson, was always way more dramatic than the men’s games.

And while I could go on for hours about the dramatic final “end” (round) of the Gold Medal match-up between the Women’s Curling teams from Sweden and Switzerland — Sweden won, thanks to an amazing last-minute double take-out by their skip, Anette Norberg — I’ll spare you the details and simply say that we loves us some Olympics. My football-crazed friend Matt actually jokes that my favorite sport is Olympics…and he’s right!

So, you can understand our conflicted feelings this year when there has been so much drama about China hosting the Summer Games in Beijing. I mean, on the one hand, I feel kinda bad for the Chinese people. Here they finally score an Olympic games and all everyone wants to talk about is Tibet.

But on the other hand, why the hell did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) even grant them the opportunity to host the games in the first place? I mean, was China any less suppressive a few years back when they were selected to host the games? Hell no! If anything, things were worse then. So, why reward such bad behavior by allowing them to host the games at all? Crazy!

Of course, this is the same organization that held the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, so, I guess their record isn’t so hot. But, in my mind, the blame for this whole mess lies entirely on the IOC’s doorstep. As a hugely powerful organization, with the ability to take a stand for human rights by the very nature of their picks, they simply should not have picked China to begin with.

Or, perhaps they could have said: “Hey, China, we’ll pick you if you clean up your act.” At least that would have sent the message to the world. Treat your people right we’ll let you host the games…treat your people like hell and you get zip.

But since the IOC did neither of these things, we are now officially stuck with China as a host country. And as a super fan of the games, I think we might as well just accept the fact that the “bad guys” are hosting this year’s Summer Olympics and get on with it.

I’m not saying we should be happy about it or that we should not try to blow out that torch when it passes through our cities — rock on, SF! — but hey, the games are gonna happen one way or another, and if you’re a fan of the games and not the country where they are being held, well…you’re probably gonna watch them. Or, at least we are…

Anyway, since there has been so much controversy about the Olympic torch relay the last few weeks, I was kind of thrilled to see something good being written about it today when I read that Chinese hikers had lit the Olympic flame at the peak of Mt. Everest. And better yet, the woman who held the flame at the top of the peak was ethnic Tibetan, Ciren Wangmu. Rock on, Tibet!

I know what you’re thinking…propaganda much? Of course China let a Tibetan woman carry the torch the last few feet…what else they gonna do at this point?

But, whether it was a callous PR stunt or not, the fact that hikers climbed to the top of Mt. Everest with the Olympic flame secured in a little can and then lit a series of torches in the howling wind and snow at the top of the world is still pretty damn cool in my book.

Check out the video feed from the adventure at: Reuters.com and if that grainy, un-subtitled footage of those Chinese hikers schlepping up that mountain with the flame doesn’t fill your heart with the spirit of the games, then, well…maybe you just don’t like the Olympics, my friend.

Seriously though, that video is the spirit of the games in action, and even if you don’t support China’s heavy-handed tactics or their recent crack down on Tibet, you gotta admit that what happened on the rooftop of the world this morning is perhaps the first true Olympic moment of the games. Awesome!

The photos are taken from a number of sources online, many thanks to the brave photographers who weathered the cold to get them!

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