It was the end of an era. Assuming of course, that a time span of just over three months qualifies as an “era”.
On this day, the U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships would proudly round out the winter sports portion of the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour.
I have to admit that, once actually onsite I’ve enjoyed each and every one of my Ice & Snow events. It was the process of getting to each venue that provided a steady stream of…how do I put this…“opportunities to exhibit problem-solving skills”. Yeah, that’s it – opportunities. Two feet of opportunity one day. Negative 29 wind-chilled degrees of opportunity the next.
So I reveled in the irony that the last Ice & Snow event would take place in the winter wonderland of Ontario. Ontario, California, that is, with its 80 degrees of sunshine bathing at least the outer confines of Citizens Business Bank Arena. Granted, it felt a little odd wearing two layers of clothing (and carrying a third) as I crossed the parking lot, but at least I could be sure that here the ice and chill would be confined to the arena.
Curling is unlike any other sport. And if you have any cause to doubt the truth of that statement, consider this…
In the traditional beginning to a championship match, both teams are “piped on” to the ice by an actual live piper who typically plays “Scotland The Brave”. The teams then face each other and offer a toast of Drambuie (or ginger ale, where appropriate), and a simple but heartfelt, “Good curling”. And when it’s all over, the winning team buys a celebratory round of drinks for all concerned. All the time. No questions asked.
Which makes me think that this sport was made for me – I can lose and then drink free with the absolute best of them.
Broomstones Curling Club is located in Wayland, a leafy (well OK, it will be leafy in a few months) western suburb of Boston. It’s been around for a while – specifically since 1968, and currently boasts an active membership of about 400, a number that pretty much pushes capacity.
There are leagues almost every night of the week, and special events and competitions on most weekends, from October through March. And make no mistake about it – Broomstones is every bit a social club as it is a sporting club. This is not one of those country clubs where you know the people in your regular foursome and that’s it. No – these people interact.
How do I know all this? Sheila Hanley told me.
As far as I know, never in the annals of misguided sports odysseys has this been done before. I refer, of course, to chronicling two sporting events at once.
Not two events in one day. That’s child’s play. Not two events in one day in two separate cities. Yawn…did it.
I’m talking two separate events in two different states. Simultaneously. You tell me one other person doing a sports walkabout that has pulled that off. I’ll wait…
Like most everybody else, I have only the vaguest of notions of what Hell is like. The whole fire and brimstone thing never actually clicked with me – hey, if it’s warm it can’t be all bad. No, my vision of Hell involves mostly images of cold and dark. And reality television. I’m guessing that Keeping Up With The Kardashians is broadcast 24/7 there.
The reason I bring this up is because the end result of my recent trip to the Bob Hope Classic is a guaranteed reservation in Hades. You see, I snuck a Flip Videocam into a PGA Tour event. And used it. Here is the damning evidence…
To enjoy golf in January in the desert, you have to acquire a taste for sunshine, zero humidity and temperatures in the upper 70’s. It’s not too bad, if you like that sort of thing. As luck would have it, I do – but that was not the motivating factor in including the Classic on the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour schedule. I was actually there to see a celebrity.
Live roller derby is charming. Yes, charming. Borderline cute. Definitely endearing.
When I bought a Derby Dolls ticket to see the San Diego Hard Corps host the L.A. Sirens, I didn’t know if I was expecting classic Bay City Bombers mean girl shtick, spacey Drew Barrymore in the movie Whip It, or something in between. But what I got was more like Halloween – the trick or treating kind, not the Michael Myers kind.
This was my second attempt to catch live roller derby, having been left staring at a “Sold Out” sign in L.A.’s suddenly chic Echo Park entertainment district in December. Derby Dolls action is part of the overall scene there and understandably the province of the young and hip. At the San Diego Fairgrounds in suburban Del Mar though, a roller derby “bout” seemed more like a destination for the curious.
It was as if the good folks at the U.S. Table Tennis Association had been reading my blog and knew I was coming. They’d thought of everything in preparation for the arrival of the IGTS Tour. I walked into a dream scenario.
Admission to the U.S. Nationals cost just $5, and included a substantial program full of all kinds of handy information – including a full roster of players listed alphabetically and by bib number. It was delivered with a smile and an eager “Be sure to come back this weekend for the finals!”
They dispensed with the obligatory search of my backpack and person. I had all the tools of my trade at my disposal, with no posted restrictions on camera or video use. I suppressed the urge to hug the woman at the door.
…Continued from the previous post.
Granted, the people in this final wave were running the half-marathon distance of 13.2 miles, instead of the 26.2 mile course laid out for the marathoners. But most of them were “first-timers”, taking part in their maiden distance-running event. To do it in just 45 minutes!? This is historic!!
No…hang on…wait a sec…OK, this is a little embarrassing. A closer read of my scribbling seems to indicate that it took 45 minutes to get every last athlete across the starting line. My bad.
See, everything gets all out of proportion when you’re talking about the kinds of numbers that the producers of the LBM dealt with. Once you stop and consider that almost 17,000 runners took part in this race, 45 minutes to get everybody off and running is a comparative heartbeat. And I can’t even fathom how long it would have taken to simply start the race if it hadn’t been run like a top.
Most of my time at sporting events is spent solidly underground. I go incognito, posing as a simple-minded sports fan – which come to think of it, hasn’t been too hard to get into character for. Recently though, I chose to blow my cover and accept an invitation to go behind the scenes and into the domain of the athletes.
When Steve Mackel, the co-founder of SOLE Runners, an L.A.-based running club, offered me the opportunity to observe his group as they prepared for and took part in the Long Beach Marathon, I was intrigued. When I received the special wristband that got me into the private Runners Club area of the event’s sprawling build-out, I was pleased. And when I found out that there would be a generous post-race spread of free food…need I go on?
SOLE stands for Seeking Out Life Experiences, and this particular running club focuses a good deal of its energy on introducing beginners to both the physical and psychic benefits of long-distance running. Steve and fellow coaching guru Gary Smith conduct step-by-step training programs designed to gradually prepare even the most novice of runners for conquering marathons and half-marathons.
…Continued from the previous post.
Jumbo Shrimp. Congressional Oversight. Flood Control…
My new favorite oxymoron? Kickball Strategy.
When we last got together, I was telling you about kickball as it is played across the country by people that have discovered the joys of the World Adult Kickball Association.
I came about this information because I happened to be visiting recently with almost 100 teams full of men and women who had traveled to Las Vegas to take part in the 13th annual WAKA Founders Cup – and its newborn sibling, the Kickball Games.
Any discussion of the WAKA game begins and ends with the fact that there are 11 fielders sandwiched onto the diamond, making any reasonably airborne kick an out-in-waiting. This puts the well-placed bunt squarely in the strategic forefront of the game.