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3 posts from August 2016

Rio-cap, days 0-2

FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 (Day Zero)

Some events had technically started by the time the games formally opened, but Friday was all about the Opening Ceremonies, y'all. The world waited for Brazil's show like you wait for the dinner your children have volunteered to cook for you: it's exciting, but so much could go wrong, and who knows what a mess will be left behind. Fortunately,  the show exceeded expectations and did a lot with its modest budget. ("Modest" relative to London and China, not relative to what anything else costs, anywhere.)
 
I did not watch the whole thing. I would estimate I caught about two of the four-plus hours. This is still a decent go at it for a program that literally recaps the entire history of a country as an INTRODUCTION to the entire world walking by. That left room, and time, for a lot of song, dance, and color. So much color.
5240Every Brazilian.
The Parade of Nations was next. This is always a favorite of mine because, outfits. I love any event where the dress code is evenly split between track suits and blazers. More events should adopt this dress code. Consider it for your next brunch. The blazered-up guests will lend the event an air of classiness, but individual guests can still opt for an outfit that will let them break into a light jog.
 
Speaking of understated, I liked this year's torch, which was smaller than previous years' torches and backed by a giant THING that looked like a 1000x scale version of those metal wall hangings I always pick up at HomeGoods and then put down because I don't want to go to all the trouble of hanging something the safe way.
5568Nobody doesn't shop at HomeGoods.
With that, it was time to head home, put those windbreakers back in their duffel bags, and prepare for the first day of full blown competition.
 
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6 (Day One)
Thanks to the NBC Olympics app, I was able to watch table tennis on my iPad before even getting out of bed on Saturday. It was terrifying. But also kind of funny, because by all appearances, the players are using the basic red ping pong paddles that come with the table.
Rio4
The only sport where the paddle comes free with the table and the ball can be purchased at the liquor store register, next to the limes. 
I'm sure they're not.
 
All that aside, table tennis is fascinating, not least because a lot of the ping pong players are noticeably older than other Olympic athletes. This is nice because the Olympics have a way of making you anxious that you have ROCKETED past your physical prime and oops, you didn't do much with it. Even the most secure person will be browsing caskets online after hearing gymnastics announcers comment on a 28-year-old competitor's extraordinary ability to remain competitive despite her decrepitude. ("Her grand kids must be thrilled!") This article examines the age dynamic in table tennis and why many athletes peak well into their 30s and compete into their 40s and 50s.
 
I caught plenty of other coverage including, Women's Handball pool play, men's gymnastic qualifiers, archery, and some rowing. Regrettably, I did not catch the U.S. Women's soccer game due to being at the mall (I know), but I know there will be other opportunities.
 
SUNDAY, AUGUST 7 (Day 2)
 
I watched pretty much the entire prime time broadcast. Thoughts:
  • I really enjoyed the U.S. Men's 4x100 relay win over France (and, you know, the rest of the planet).
  • The U.S. Women's Gymnastics team is so dominant that a huge part of why I support the search for life on other planets is to find these girls some dang competition!!!!!! (Sidebar, omg, will Interplanetary Olympics happen in my life?! And what will we wear????)
  • Katie Ledecky!
 
 
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I can't even do this.

As you've probably heard, Leslie Jones is the best Olympic commentator out there, so we'll let her close this out.

Get pumped for Olympic action with this article about leotard sparkles

This morning Emily sent me this New York Times article, a 2,000-word examination of leotard sparkles. In case you were wondering:

In 2008, when Nastia Liukin won the gold medal in the individual all-around competition at the Olympics in Beijing, her leotard had 184 crystals on it.

 In 2012, when Gabby Douglas won the same event in London, her leotard had 1,188.

This year, many of the Team USA leotards will have close to 5,000 Swarovski crystals each.

In other words, Sparkle is the currency of gymnastic performance and its inflation rate is a billion percent.

Just another day at the office.

This article has so many choice quotes that I'm not even sure what to do with them all, but here are some key points:

“It’s difficult for me to imagine how we could get more crystals on,” said Kelly McKeown, executive vice president for design and corporate relations at GK Elite, the official outfitter of the American national gymnastics team. This Olympics, “we may have hit peak crystal.”

Peak crystal? Doubt it. Something tells me future sparkle analysts will chuckle at the naivety of this statement . . .

“In the early 1990s, the U.S. team always wore white, because Martha wanted to show off their six-packs,” Ms. McKeown said (referring to abs, not beer).

Incidentally, white is also a great way to display what beer has done to your body.

This autumn, Mr. Wellhoefer said, Swarovski will introduce a new crystal product, called a Concise Crystal, that is 50 percent lighter than previous stones, allowing for even more encrustation and refractory gleam. “We’re in a crystal arms race,” Mr. Wellhoefer said.

Additional evidence that we have NOT reached peak crystal yet. In fact, this may only be the beginning.