2012 sailing: Take me away to where I want to be …

A couple of things to know about sailing:

1. The World Championships are held once every four years, and we don’t have one until December in Perth, Australia.

2. The Tornado (two-sailor, mixed) and Yngling (three-woman) classes are out. Enter the Elliot (three-woman) match-racing class.

3. One boat per nation per event. A lot of berths will be earned at Worlds.

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The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 9: Shocking end

We start fast, with Zach telling us he may keep things standing against Chuck since he took him down last time. In other words, he wants to do the opposite of what he did when he beat him. Chuck says he’s giving half of his win bonus to Charlie because Charlie has been going through a rough child support situation. Charlie says he can’t take it. Quick look at training: Brock tells Chuck to use his head to pin Zach’s head against the cage. Then we’re already at the walkout for the fight, though Zach puts a couple of holes … Continue reading The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 9: Shocking end

2012 rowing: More medals for sitting British athletes

If Mitch Hedberg had made observations about rowing rather than NASCAR, I think he would’ve asked this question: Why do all these folks have to go backwards?

The World Championships are annual, even in Olympic years. The 2010 event was in New Zealand last fall; the 2011 event will start Aug. 28 in the ominous-sounding town of Bled, Slovenia.

World Cup competition is starting soon, and the powers that be have put together a handy preview.

MEN

Single sculls: The three medalists from 2008 and Britain’s Alan Campbell must be awfully familiar with each other by now. The 2010 Worlds finished in this order: Synek, Drysdale, Campbell, Tufte. Synek was unbeaten in 2010, while Olympic champion Olaf Tufte aims to peak in the big events.

2008: Olaf Tufte (Norway), Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic), Mahe Drysdale (New Zealand)

Projection: Czech Republic, Britain, Norway

Top Americans: Kenneth Jurkowski made the B final in 2010, finishing 12th overall.

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2012 pentathlon/triathlon: Modern times

Modern pentathlon and triathlon have a few things in common — running, swimming and the inevitability of being lumped together when people like me are doing sport-by-sport breakdowns.

Aside from that, they aren’t too similar. Triathlon has become the trendy way for people to show how fit they are. If you know anyone who has said, “Hey, I’m raising money for charity by doing a pentathlon,” please let me know.

At the Olympics, modern pentathlon is held in a couple of venues through the day, and they can’t really be choosy. In London, for some reason, they’ll have the fencing in the handball venue. Then it’s across the Olympic Park to the main Aquatics Centre for the swim, then over to the equestrian venue at Greenwich Park for the remaining events. (That wasn’t an option in Beijing, where the equestrian venue was in Hong Kong.)

Beijing triathlon venueThe triathlon, meanwhile, is held in a scenic venue like the one in this picture. Beautiful, isn’t it? One of my favorite days in China.

London organizers are opting to hold the triathlon in Hyde Park. Pretty cool.

Triathlon also is much simpler. Swim 1,500 meters. Bike 40k. Run 10k. Cross finish line. Collect medal.

Modern pentathlon has a more complex scoring system, but as they do in Nordic combined (and really should do in the decathlon), they convert points to seconds and start people in the final race in the order in which they currently stand. Build a big lead in the first three events, then try to run alone.

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The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 8: Not how you shut someone up

Missing TUF in its regular time slot is one thing. Forgetting to record it is another. The site doesn’t upload the full episode for a few days, and then you’re stuck watching that Miller Lite ad with the drill sergeant training female lifeguards to save men from making poor beer-drinking decisions. No time to ponder the many ironies of all that — we’ve got two fights this week, and though I know the results, I’m looking forward to seeing them. Shamar Bailey hurt his back in training. He’s whispering because Chris Cope, who has already been accused of spying on … Continue reading The Ultimate Fighter: Season 13, Episode 8: Not how you shut someone up

How and how not to change the U.S. soccer landscape

(Yes, I’ll get to WPS, magicJack and even promotion/relegation in this post. But it needs some background.)

The United States has been a graveyard of soccer leagues. The reasons are many: The scattered population and ensuing high travel costs, the cultural antipathy toward a game that wasn’t invented here, and the dominance of the Big Three and a Half team sports.

Another reason is that it’s nearly impossible to get everyone on the same page. Plenty of people have their own ideas on how to run a soccer league, and inevitably, the leagues, teams, players and fans get caught in the crossfire of egos. Let’s spend wildly on players! Let’s go indoors! Let’s go indoors but change the scoring system! Let’s blast music during the game! Let’s confine players to a particular region of the field and give them ankle bracelets so they don’t veer outside that zone!

(If you don’t find my summary here or in Long-Range Goals sufficient to make this point, read David Wangerin’s Soccer in a Football World. And note that he has another book out on the USA’s missed opportunities.)

Though the state of U.S. soccer in 2011 is a bit better than it was in 1988 or 1960 — or just about any year you could find prior to World Cup 1994 — we still have plenty of people who are convinced they know better. “X, Y and Z failed,” the argument goes, “so I must know better.”

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MMA and drug testing: The good without the bad?

Josh Gross tackles drug testing in his latest podcast (check right column here), bringing on U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart as a guest. Tygart makes the pitch that the UFC and state commissions should go whole-hog with blood testing, saying athletes otherwise have no incentive to steer clear of human growth hormone and other substances only detectable by such tests. That depends — HGH use is still illegal unless you’re under a doctor’s care, and a good raid on a black-market dealer could put any customer at risk. That said, blood testing is indeed a better deterrent. But Tygart … Continue reading MMA and drug testing: The good without the bad?