I'm a bit behind on my thoughts here because I have stuff I want to write about but it's from two days ago. I also have stuff I want to write about but it's from last night. But if I don't write about what happened two days ago, then the last night stuff won't make as much sense and then I'll just be confusing instead of my typical, crystal clear self and omg, I don't know if I could live with that and so I think I'll just continue to write this really long sentence that makes no sense but I can't seem to step writing and hold on.... and end scene.
There was a piece of fluff that NBC produced for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials that featured Tasha Schwikert's mom talking about how she thought Tasha needed to step it up if she wanted to qualify for the Olympics. For perspective - Tasha was a member of the 2000 Olympic Team, the national champion in 2001 and 2002 and a member of the U.S.'s first gold medal winning team at the 2003 World Championships.
So clearly, this is someone who needs to step it up, right?
(she actually did need to step it up - she was enormously talented but not that into work. She came around at a time when our team just wasn't all that strong and, as her mom told us in the fluff piece, had been "bluffing" her way through at times thanks to her extraordinarily competitive mind)
Ok, so.. yea? During that fluff piece, her marvelously eloquent mom (a Vegas dealer) said what has to be the best line used in a fluff piece ever. She said.... wait for it.... waiiiitt for it....
"This ain't no city championships, Tasha. This is the Olympics."
It is killing me that I can't find that video on YouTube right now. KILLING. ME. I need to see it!!!
Why? Oh, right - I'll get to that now.
China's men team has been the strongest team on the scene for years now. Just dominant. They almost always show up looking fit, strong and ready and even when they don't appear to have their mental game altogether there, they're still so ahead of everyone else that they can usually still run away with it. Annoying Japan all the way to the podium.
In prelims, China looked like I do after a night spent working the gate of Festa Italiana. Drinking, laughing with (at) Italians, those weird doughnut thingys and gross meat? Yea. That all means that I don't look great at 8am. And China looked worse.
As I watched and worked along with one of the gymnastics researchers, I started groaning (and tweeting) at the Chinese having such a craptastic competition. "Why aren't they even trying?!?!" And I'm not sure who quoted it first but, all of a sudden, we couldn't stop saying, "this ain't no city championship!!!"
It didn't make it any easier to watch, but it did make it funnier every time they would fail. Which was like, oh, every time they did gymnastics.
It was so disturbing – and annoying - to see this legend of a team suddenly look like they were competing for Alaska University’s club team. They just totally gave up and had zero fight in them. As a friend of mine, who is more eloquent than Tasha’s mom, says, “Please watch your dormant face!”
I mean, honestly, China – at least LOOK like you’re interested in the Olympics. This ain’t no city championships!!
Whatever, China. At least we still have Japan. Japan can win this thing and set right the world of gymnastics, right?
Oh, well great. Just great. Usually incredible Japan looks like they’re competing on Alaska’s club team too.
WHAT. IS. GOING. ON???!?!
Oh, hey, hey, hey. Hold the beam. What’s going on is that Team USA looks like they came to play! What, what?!??! They’re in first after the qualifying rounds? Seriousballs? That’s NEVER happened. Oh. My. Nadia.
Ok. So there was the silver lining of the evening. China and Japan sucked donkeyballs but our U.S. boys showed up looking ready to dominate the world. They were just on fire. So strong, so ready, so confident and performing like a team who understands they’re competing at the OLYMPICS.
We prepped tons of content talking about how the U.S. Men were in position to not only win an Olympic medal but a gold medal. Their first gold medal since the 1984 Olympics (when the Soviets and Eastern bloc countries boycotted so it’s always marred by that asterisk that basically says, “yea they won, but they totally didn’t deserve it” – Sorry, Bart.)
The men’s team final day arrived (way too quickly) and gymnastics row was fired up (gymnastics row being the back row of the nbcolympics.com and researchers room which includes 2 gymn producers and 2 gymn researchers – basically, live action gymnastics wiki). We had already devised a plan where I had promised to scrape them off the floor after the U.S. men won and then would hold them up by the scruffs of their necks while they feverishly put together highlights. It was flawless.
One problem – the U.S. men basically stunk up the joint by performing scared. They were so tentative and nervous – they were performing as if they had something to lose. Not something to gain.
Olympic lesson #42 – Olympic gold is always yours to win. Never yours to lose. You have to earn it. Every time. When you start trying to play a game of keep-away with gold, you’re definitely going to lose.
You cannot perform scared. The Olympic gods KNOW.
However, while the U.S. men were busy stumbling their way to a fifth place finish, China finally looked at the date and realized, “oh, hey guys – we’re AT the Olympics!” (I realize the weather is chilly but really, there’s no mistaking London for Alaska). But it was a great relief to see China finally show up and compete like China.
They won. Yay.
Anyway. The real fun was the Great Britain team killing it and earning their first Olympic team medal since 1928. The only thing that blew was that the judges failed to credit the last Japanese competitor (gym god, Kohei Uchinura – all hail!) with his dismount so at first it appeared that GB had won the silver medal when in reality, they won the bronze. Once they added back in the .7 points for Kohei, the Japanese moved up to 2nd.
But to the crowd, it absolutely appeared that GB was suddenly robbed of the silver medal – so an accomplishment that should have blown the roof off the joint ended up being a tad bittersweet for the audience. Not sure if the team felt that way (they didn’t look it) but that’s not the way you want to earn a medal. And of course, the press can’t shut up about it. Shut up about it already. You’re pooping on their moment!
Of course, the real loser of the evening was Ukraine, who ended up in fourth place after Japan got their points. But you know what, Ukraine – too bad. I don’t care. You’ve been breaking my gymnastics heart since 1997. Remember in 2000 when you had the all-around gold medal wrapped up and your athlete decided to trip and give it away?
Because I remember. She tripped! TRIPPED! (Viktoria Karpenko – 2000, Sydney, floor.)
So no sympathy for you, Ukraine. Sorry. I’m not sorry.
Today is the women’s team final and I’m very nervous which would explain this long rambly post that probably includes a lot of bad grammar. If the U.S. women’s team doesn’t win the gold today, something very, very bad will have happened and the researchers will be scraping ME off the floor.
Cross everything you have.