… that is the question. Normally it would be easy but since I’ve gotten on this treadmill of 40 consecutive days of making posts naturally I feel this compulsion to keep up the streak and ignore once-in-a-life (at least live) broadcasts. It got a little harder with last night’s rather boring (a few good special effects) opening. I guess after Beijing 2008 opening sorta broke the all-time record that would be impossible to top so the UK decided to cool things down a bit and try something different. But I just kept thinking the opening only something that would really thrill the local audience. Turns out NBC thought so too and tuned out a part, alluding to 7/7 attacks, and thus managed to irritate a big chunk of the British. I guess maybe mittens was in the control booth.
I wonder too about NBC’s decision to stream all the events as well as have nearly continuous and multi-channel coverage. Normally the networks have to find ways to sell more but I’m wondering if NBC is anticipating that social media will steal so much of their thunder they have to run more free coverage. It’s a good thing though because I rarely to get to see enough rowing and getting up at 4am for the live coverage would test my enthusiasm. Trouble is, though, I haven’t had a lot of success with the streaming but did manage to pick up the U.S. men’s eight. But what I really wanted was the men’s lightweight four. Amazingly when I rowed crew I was a lightweight (you’d never guess that looking at me now). The best lightweights could hope for was an invitation to the Henley Regatta so it’s good to see they can make the Olympics now. Given the prestige of the Henley race it’s disappointing to see crew on this man-made (but very good) course, but the Thames is too narrow for anything but match races.
I actually raced once again much of the U.S. Olympic team. When the Head of the Charles race first started the Ivy League would not allow other sports on the same day as football. So none of the Ivy League colleges put boats in the Head of the Charles and so we were guaranteed to win both sets of medals since there were no other lightweights. So since we had three boats one (the seniors boat) went into the championship (heavy-weight) division. I remember going to weigh-in in the morning and seeing these relatively huge guys, but particularly the guys from Vesper Boat Club, many of whom had been in the Olympics. They had a huge rivalry with Harvard but Harvard was not officially in the race. Turns out most of the Harvard crew did it but under the name of one of their houses.
Head of the Charles is a long race (3 miles) and timed. So Vesper was supposed to start 20 seconds behind us. Any good heavyweight crew would be much faster than us but Olympic level heavyweights would wipe the floor with us. So we were rather surprised to discover Vesper was only catching us around two miles, meaning they were only 10 seconds a mile faster than us. We were just passing the Harvard boathouse when they were moving on us. The Head of the Charles rules said the boat in front, unless obviously being passed, gets the right-of-way around curves and there was a curve just beyond the Harvard boathouse. So people were going crazy cheering wildly for us which was strange but rather fun (they were hoping we’d slow Vesper down to give the Harvard boat a better chance). So the cox and stroke decided we’d pick up the pace so that Vesper wasn’t passing us and thus take the inside of the curve, which is precisely why the Harvard crowd was cheering, to get us to block Vesper. At our maximum effort we just barely got around the curve before they passed us, with several rather nasty remarks, and they charged by as we were out of gas and just paddled the last half mile. Later we discovered they’d missed their starting position and so started last, about 3 minutes behind us. So instead of only beating us by 10 seconds a mile it was more like 90 seconds a mile. Had we known that we’d would have been so out-classed and demoralized we probably just would have gotten out of their way completely and saluted as they roared past, but thinking we were somehow able to come close to Olympic level oarsman, plus that crowd, fueled our delusional thinking. When we crossed the finish line and a few of the Vesper guys were yelling at us, we decided it would be best just to paddle back down to our boathouse instead of stopping.