Spring Snowboarding at Nakazato

A weekend well spent in the sun, working on our mountain carving skills.

This past weekend some people from Shux’s work went on their annual ski/snowboard trip, and we tagged along. This year the destination was mount Nakazato, near the skiing mecca of Echigo-Yuzawa in Niigata prefecture.

Unlike last year, we had extremely warm weather. Too warm, perhaps; the snow was wet and sticky and heavy. Not the greatest.

It was surprisingly not busy (particularly for Japan), I think I waited in a short queue for the lift about twice the whole weekend. Maybe the weather put most people off? The ski resort also celebrated their 50th anniversary that Saturday night with a pretty fireworks display.

Both of us worked on our snowboarding over the weekend, and we’ve made some progress. I can turn most of the time, and Shux is excellent on her heel edge.

Check out some pictures in the usual place. Was a lot of fun! If all goes well, I’ll head out another time or two this spring.

Roenick

“It’s not even so much me, it’s Roenick. He’s good.”

The Flames lost today, it was Game 7 of their first round playoff series against the Sharks. Jeremy Roenick scored two goals and two assists for a total of 4 points.

While it’s too bad the Flames lost, I must say I applaud Roenick’s achievement. After all, “[i]t’s not even so much me, it’s Roenick. He’s good.”



Watching the Olympics

The 2006 Winter Olympics are happening right now in Torino, Italy. Today was the first day I actually sat down next to the TV and watched some of the coverage. The hockey game was on, in which Canada lost to Finland 2-0. Coverage of the hockey game is pretty good, the olympic format doesn’t have TV breaks scheduled during the game so there is very little chance for the network (CBC in my case) to brainwash its audience with mindnumbing ads.

My dissappointment, however, is with the coverage of the remaining sports. All we see is how the Canadian athletes are doing. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that when there are no Canadian athletes currently competing, we’re given commercials. Or repeats of previous Canadian non-podium finishes. But mostly commercials. It’s disgusting.

Is the CBC really doing so bad financially that they are forced to flood the air with ads? Given that Canada is such a multi-cultural country, I’d expect to have some coverage of the other competitors at the games. If I was living in the states, I’d understand the lack of international coverage, their aim being to assimilate everyone into the American jingo state of mind. But in Canada? I’m thoroughly dissappointed.

No Longer Perfect

I managed to catch the 4th quarter of the Chargers at Colts matchup. The Colts, unbeaten this season and already securely in the playoffs with home field advantage and a first round bye, had really nothing to play for. The Chargers needed a win to stay in the wildcard race.

Anyway, long story short, Tony Dungy fielded his starters today. I’m guessing he was pursuing the 1972 Miami Dolphins 16-0 regular season record, which was 3 wins away. Who won? SAN DIEGO!

Michael Turner ran for an 83 yard touchdown in the 4th to give the Chargers the 9 point cushion. Immediately after shots of disenchanted Colts fans appeared on the screen between plays. I love it!

To Hell, c/o Heidi

Heidi Klum picks World Cup groupsA week ago, the teams who qualified for the FIFA World Cup were sorted into their first round groups. As usual there are easier groups and more difficult groups, though any coach and player will say their opponents are great teams and are not to be underestimated.

Others are not afraid to exclaim their displeasure with the group drawing. For instance, the Belgrade newspaper Blic recently ran a humorous (I hope) headline “‘Heidi Klum has sent us to hell’“. They’re playing Argentina, Cรดte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands in the first round. Ouch!

Poland’s in Group A with host Germany, Costa Rica and Ecuador. I wonder if they’ll be able to make it out of the group stages this year. Group E looks very interesting as well with Italy, Ghana, the United States and the Czech Republic battling it out. You never know with these African teams (Senegal in 2002) and the States have been improving, while the Czechs have a proven good squad. No doubt the other groups will have their share of interesting stories.

Will Brazil take it this year? This would be their sixth victory. Will Serbia and Montenegro make it out of hell? Now that we know the schedule for the first round, all we need to do is wait until June 9, 2006 when the finals finally kick off!

(Yes, puns intended.)

It’s Mine and You Can’t Have It!

October 27th, 2004 brought us an historic event in American sports. Against all odds, the Boston Red Sox “reversed the curse” and won MLB‘s World Series for the first time since 1918. That postseason gave everyone much to talk about, from the wildcard teams’ successes in the past to Johnny “Caveman” Damon’s hair (who’s my homeboy, by the way). And we all remember the outstanding American League Championship Series win the Sox pulled off, beating the New York Yankees in seven games after trailing three games to none!

People are still talking about that 2004 World Series. During the 2005 postseason, many wondered if Boston could defend their crown. The Chicago White Sox had the best record in the majors all season, were a favorite to win the crown this time around. The Cleveland Indians almost spoiled it for the then-slumping White Sox with a strong charge at the end of the season. Of course most were wondering whether the White Sox could mimic their red counterparts and win the fall classic, which would be their first since 1917.

Doug Mientkiewicz, Last Out 2004Most of the talk has died down by now, everyone focusing on the upcoming 2006 season. But there’s still one issue irking the Red Sox regarding that 2004 season: the last out ball. First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caught the last out of the World Series and kept the ball, not letting go of it until he got home. Ever since, the ball club has been trying to get the ball back from Mientkiewicz, claiming they own it. Understandably, he thinks he owns the ball. Many times the Red Sox organization has approached Mientkiewicz to settle the ball issue. Most recently, they filed a lawsuit, asking a judge to rule over the legal ownership of the ball.

I understand the importance of this ball to the organization and the team’s fans, it is pretty historic. I can also see how Doug doesn’t want to part with it. In a sport where autographed balls, bats and game-used bases sell at auctions for incredible sums of money, the 2004 World Series final out ball is the holy grail. It’s pretty amazing in a way, that one ball could garner so much attention; no other ball will do.

I wonder if this happens in other sports? Is the ball kicked in for the goal which allowed Brazil to keep the Jules Rimet trophy on display somewhere, or did it just get thrown into another match? What about cricket, another sport widely followed by much of the world, do the fans have any special attachments to the balls, bats or wickets?

At any rate, Americans are crazy over their baseball memorabilia. Though I have to admit, if I was in Doug’s place, I’d want to keep that ball too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Football!

Today was the last game of the UofC intramural flag football regular season, and the Crazy 88s managed to finish up strong. Starting the season off with a win, we had yet to beat a team since, until today, managing to put together a 42-12 victory. This puts us at a dismal 2-4 for the season. At least we had fun today ๐Ÿ™‚

In other football news, the Houston Texans won their first game of the season today, beating the Cleveland Browns 19-16. They are now 1-6.

Evenly Matched

Andre Agassi defeats James Blake 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

James Blake & Andre AgassiLast night I watched a US Open quarter final featuring Americans James Blake and Andre Agassi. Agassi is the well known 35 year old veteran with an elaborate tennis career and resume to impress, and James Blake is a young player staging his comeback from a neck fracture which threatened his tennis future.

Blake snagged the first two sets, both by a score of 6-3. Agassi wouldn’t say die though, and took the next two sets back also by a score of 6-3. The fifth set, as expected from the title of this post, went into a tie break. Blake took a 3-0 lead which was matched by Agassi, then they exchanged the lead until finally Agassi took it home with a strong return to the baseline, winning the tie breaker 8-6.

Final score: Andre Agassi defeats James Blake 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

Watching this match made me rediscover tennis in a way. I was an avid fan when I was younger when the likes of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf were in their prime, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl were still trying to stick around, Andre Agassi had hair down to his lower back and Pete Sampras was just getting started.

Not following tennis since makes me unfamiliar with today’s stars, and I also forgot what it was like watching a match, how exciting it can be. It’s very different from team sports, where surges of success are powered by many players pushing their limits in bursts, helping each other out and racking up wins. In tennis, it’s strictly an individual effort. Any comeback or surge of success solely depends on the player and errors are blamed solely on them as well. The tension can really build.

In fact, I noticed last night that the commentators would stop speaking during tense points being played, sometimes holding their silence across multiple points. The viewer is totally drawn in to the atmosphere on the court. They cheer with every point scored by their player, cringe at every unforced error commited and throw their hands up in despair each time advantage is given up on a double fault.

Right after the match an interviewer would come onto the court with a mic and briefly get both players to share their thoughts in front of the whole crowd. I don’t remember this happening in tennis before, but it adds to the personal experience tennis fans get. Last night they kept Arthur Ashe stadium packed until 1:15am awaiting the result of the 2h51m affair.

Great match!

What a Debut

Jeremy Hermida You’re looking at 21-year-old Jeremy Hermida who made his Major League debut yesterday for the Florida Marlins. His first (and only to date) at-bat was as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning. Stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded, this kid hits a grand slam! The second player in Major League history to perform such a feat, after Bill Duggleby did the very same for the Phillies in 1898.

Congrats Jeremy!