Monday, February 10, 2014

The bizarre events of the Winter Olympics

Hockey, figure skating, alpine skiing and even bobsled are exciting events people identify with the Winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics has some great events but it also has its share of weird sports, boring sports  and, in some cases, events that don't even classify as a sport. Some of these events make us groan, some make us giggle... but they all make us change the channel.

Curling - *forehead slap* I’m sorry, but… no. Any event that uses a cleaning apparatus as a part of competition isn't a real sport and doesn't deserve to be in the Olympics.

Skeleton – An event for the daredevil with a death wish. In this competition, participants hurtle down an icy track at 80+ miles an hour HEAD FIRST. Can also referred to as "opposite luge."

Doubles Luge – Don’t even get me started. This is luge, but one guy lies on top of the other – no need to contain your giggle.  I think we have found something that overtakes men’s synchronized diving as the most homoerotic sport in the Olympics!


Team Figure Skating – This event makes me mad. Like most living, breathing women, I love Olympic figure skating. But team figure skating? To me, it’s just a pathetic (and transparent) attempt to boost TV ratings by adding four more days of figure skating to the lineup. A event should not be in the Olympics when that is the only time it occurs during four years. Many of these other sports are strange, but at least the athletes train specifically for them, and have events throughout the year. It actually offends me that people will win an Olympic medal in team figure skating.

Biathlon – Look, I know cross country skiing it is extremely difficult. That said, when adding a gun to your event can’t even make it interesting, you’re doing something wrong.

Ski Jumping – Impressive? Yes. But I’m still not convinced that anyone with the guts to try the sport (which isn’t most people) can’t be good at it. Like, what qualities make a great ski jumper? I think the following: 1. Have the guts to try it. 2. Have the time and money to do it over and over. 3. Have no excess weight to bring you down (literally). 4. Have strong legs to land on.

Nordic Combined – I had to look this one up – not a good sign. The Nordic combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. So, basically, you can cross country ski and ski jump, but not good enough to do either on its own, so you practice both and become passable at each – Nordic Combined!

Moguls – Real conversation at a party Saturday: “Wait, this is part of an event, right? It can’t be someone’s goal to be just a moguls skier, can it?” Yes, yes it can. Plus, don’t your knees and back hurt just watching it?

Long Track Speed Skating –Short track makes me dizzy, but at least there’s some contact so I can kinda get into it (still not really). But long track is painfully dull to watch, and unless you’re from The Netherlands you probably don’t care about it.

Honorable Mention: Snowboarding. I’m sorry, but I can’t take a sport seriously when it’s announcers (and athletes) sound like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s about “gnarly tricks” and the definitely-not-high athletes who are “so stoked” to be at the Olympics. Plus, it’s a subjective sport, which is annoying; like fellow judged sports figure skating and gymnastics, I DO enjoy watching but prefer sports where the winner can’t be argued. That said, some of the best looking athletes - and undeniably the most fun - are snowboarders.

All of this said, I appreciate the commitment and dedication that the above events have to their discipline. But that doesn't mean I don't groan when it comes on during NBC's Olympic coverage - or giggle, in the case of luge doubles.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

This one's for the ladies: Twelve reasons to watch the 2014 Sochi Olympics

It's that time again, those glorious two weeks I wait for every two years - the Olympics!!! It's been (give or take) 1,073 days since the closing ceremonies of the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and about 543 days since the closing ceremonies in London. I'm ready for two weeks of skiing, skating, jumping, twirling, and sliding. I'm warming up my pipes to sing the National Anthem, and waiting for all the tear-jerking Bob Costas stories (I eat those things up with a spoon).

Every Olympics, my friends and I discuss the most important thing to female sports fans - who are the hottest male athletes, and when are their events? I've seen many lists going around the internet, from Cosmo to PopSugar, with many overlaps (hello Henrik Lundqvist!) and some that leave me shaking my head (Evan Lysacek? Sorry, but no.). So, as I did before the 2012 London Games - relive the 2012 list here - here is my list of the Hottest Olympic Athletes in Sochi, in no particular order:

Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden, hockey

Because... duh. Lundqvist may be the best-looking hockey player of all time, and coming from me that's quite a compliment. On the ice, he's arguably the best goalie in the world - as starting goalie for the NHL's glamour team, the New York Rangers, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL in 2012. He's a three-time NHL all star and has been the Rangers' MVP every year since 2007, led Sweden to an Olympic gold medal in 2006 and in December 2013, the Rangers made him the highest-paid goalie in the NHL with a seven-year, $53 million contract extension. In addition, he's been named one of the best dressed men in the world by Vanity Fair, among other magazines, and he was one of People's 100 Most Beautiful in 2006. Oh - and he has an identical twin brother, Joel.

The puck drops on Henrik's Olympics Feb. 12, when Sweden takes on the Czech Republic.

Bode Miller, USA, downhill skiing

This one is a given. A staple on hottie lists since his Olympic debut in 1998, this New Hampshire native has a love-hate relationship with the media. An Olympic and World Championship gold medalist competing in his fifth Olympics, Sochi is likely the last hurrah for the handsome, laid-back 36-year-old. Still a top skier, he has a chance to medal in downhill - he is ranked second in the world, behind our next athlete...

Bode's likely final Olympics begin Feb. 9 with the men's downhill event.

Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, downhill skiing

This Norwegian is a two-time overall World Cup champion (2007 and 2009), an Olympic gold medalist in Super G at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and a five-time World Champion in downhill, giant slalom and super combined. With his victory in the downhill in 2013, Svindal became the first male alpine racer to win titles in four consecutive world championships. Now for what we really care about - this viking is single! He recently broke up with his long-term girlfriend, American gold medal skier Julie Mancuso. We'll get our first glimpse of this hottie as he carries his national flag at the Opening Ceremonies - well done, Norway.

Aksel's Olympics begin Feb. 9 with the men's downhill event.

Steve Langton, USA, bobsled

I have to admit, this one is a bit biased, since I was friends with Steve in high school. That aside, no one can deny his rightful place on this list. A college track star at Northeastern, the Massachusetts native decided to "try" bobsled in 2007 - and hasn't looked back. This will be his second Olympics, and this time around he's part of the "Night Train," the sled driven by Steve Holcomb that won gold in Vancouver. The sled won gold at the 2012 World Championships, and Holcomb and Langton partnered to also win gold in the 2-man, as well. This freak athlete was named "The Most Powerful Winter Olympian" by Men's Health Mag, and after watching that video, I dare anyone to disagree. Not only a beast in the weight room, Steve also has a funny side, which you can see on his YouTube page with roommate John Daly. Go Steve!

Steve's Olympics take off Feb. 16-17 with the two man event, and continue Feb. 22-23 with the 4-man event.

Aleksander Aurdal, Norway, Freestyle Skiing

This high-flying Norwegian will compete in the "slopestyle" skiing event. He's not expected to medal, but will look pretty awesome flying through the air doing crazy tricks at high speeds. Bonus: this hottie has a big heart - he is a mentor for the Heroes of Tomorrow project in Norway, which aims to support and encourage young people with talent.

Aleks flips onto our screens Feb. 13 with the Men's Ski Slopestyle qualifications

Christopher Fogt, USA, Bobsled

People often mistakenly call athletes "heroes." However, in the case of Sgt. Christopher Fogt, the title is accurate. He is an incredibly accomplished athlete, including representing the USA in the 2010 Olympics, and, more importantly, a captain in the Army and a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program. At Utah Valley University, Fogt was a track star, as two-year captain he set records in the 100m and 60m in the process ... oh, and had time to do ROTC *swoon*. Immediately following the 2010 Olympics, where he was part of the USA-2 that finished in 10th, he stepped away from bobsled for 18 months, much that on a year-long deployment in Iraq with military intelligence. Now he's back to compete in the 2014 games - this time as a member of the "Night Train" aka gold medal favorite. I mean, come on! If he doesn't make you proud to be an American, I don't know what does.

Sgt. Fogt's Olympics begin Feb. 22-23 with the 4-man event.

Tim Burke, USA, biathlon

First off - biathlon is a cross-country skiing and shooting competition. Second, Tim Burke is not only nice to look at, but America's first-ever legitimate chance at an Olympic medal in biathlon. The three-time Olympian won the silver medal in the 20 km Individual competition at the 2013 World Championships, the second American man ever to win a World Championship medal. But sorry ladies, this hottie is taken by a fellow biathlete - German Andrea Henkel, a four-time Olympic medalist.

Catch Tim Feb. 8 in the Men's Sprint 10km and Feb. 13 in the 20km.

Dylan Moscovitch, Canada, pairs figure skating

Kirsten Moore-Towers is a lucky girl to have such a studly partner! The pair placed second in the 2014 Canadian national championships and came in fourth at the 2013 World Championships. No, figure skating isn't the most masculine sport... but at least it's pairs, right?

Watch Dylan and Kristen in the pair's competition Feb. 11.

Bobby Brown, USA, freestyle skiing

Every little step I take... wait, wrong Bobby Brown. In 2010, this Bobby Brown became the first skier at the Winter X Games to win two golds in one trip - big air and slopestyle - vaulting him to freeskiing poster boy status. The four-time X Games gold medalist is hoping to add Olympic gold to his trophy case - I, for one, can't wait to watch him try.

Bobby's Olympics begin Feb. 13 in the slopestyle qualifications

Matt Margetts, Canada, freestyle skiing

This six-time X Games veteran is the first skier to land a double cork 900. He earned his first FIS World Cup medal in January 2014 when he won the bronze in Calgary as part of a podium sweep by the Canadian men. This laid-back hottie is known for his "infectious happy-go-lucky personality, A+ brand of humor and never-ending smile" - what a bonus.

Mark tries to impress us beginning Feb. 13 in the slopestyle qualifications

David Backes, USA, hockey

I went through the whole USA hockey roster, and, IMHO, Backes is the hottest on the team (followed closely by USA captain Zach Parise) . The forward is a native of Minnesota and went to my husband's alma mater, University of Minnesota-Mankato, which earns him a special place in my heart. Each season, the 6'3" captain of the St. Louis Blues is among the top in the league in +/-. This is his second Olympics, after winning a silver medal with USA at the 2010 Olympics. Off the ice, Backes and his wife (boo) are devoted to animal rescue and each have their own rescue organizations: Kelly's Kats and David's Dogs.

David and team USA skate into our hearts against Slovakia, Feb. 13.

Neville Wright, Canada, Bobsled

Apparently the thing to do after your track career is over is to try bobsled! Neville was  a sprinter since the age of seven. After failing to qualify for the Olympics in Beijing 2008 (missing by .02!!!), he decided to pursue another sport and in the summer of 2009 he tried bobsled and a year later was competing in the Olympics, where he was part of the 4th-place finishing Canadian 4-man team. He will compete in the 2- and 4- man in 2014, with his best shot at a medal coming in the 4. He looks more like a football player than a runner, and if I needed a bodyguard I'd love to have Neville protecting me!

Neville's Olympics begin Feb. 22 with the 4-man event.


I don't know about you, but after looking at all these hot athletes, I'm even more excited for the Olympics! I just came across this link Gold Medal Abs and got even more excited! I hope these hotties all avoid the water in Sochi.

Make sure to vote on your favorite in the poll and let me know who you think I missed!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Your Daly Nitro episode 10

An old friend of mine from high school, Steve Langton, is now an Olympic bobsledder. Go figure. Turns out he's pretty funny. This is the 10th in a series of videos of he and a teammate - watch the previous 9, too.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why Chris Kluwe was really released

This week, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote a scathing article for Deadspin, saying that he believes he lost his job as a result of his very public support of gay rights.

Is Kluwe the second high profile person to learn in recent weeks that the first amendment gives us the right to say what we feel, but it doesn't make us immune to the consequences?

I don't think so.

Kluwe, who is on the opposite end of the spectrum as Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on this issue but is also known for speaking his mind, is accusing his former position coach, Mike Priefer, of being a "bigot" and holding his public support of marriage equality against him – even berating him in front of teammates. He also accuses his former head coach, Leslie Frazier, who was fired as Minnesota Vikings head coach Monday, and general manager of being “cowards” and trying to “keep him quiet.” There’s too much detail to cover, so please read Kluwe’s account of what happened here: I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot

Kluwe was replaced as the Vikings punter before the 2013 season. His account of the 2012 season and offseason certainly shows that not everyone in the Vikings organization supported his public fight for marriage equality and gay rights.

But I don't think that was the reason he was released.

For those who don't follow football and simply read Kluwe's article, it certainly sounds like he was released because his coaches didn't "appreciate" his public support of gay rights. But what the former punter left out of the article is the quantifiable reason he was released - the numbers.

I read Kluwe's article and was sympathetic, and I appreciate his support of a topic he believes so strongly in. If Priefer did make the comments Kluwe claims, he should be punished, just as the Miami Dolphins did to Richie Incognito was for bullying a teammate and using the “n” word. The alleged comments made by his former position coach are hateful and the reason that no gay NFL player – and we all know they exist – has felt comfortable enough to be "out." While everyone is entitled to their beliefs, there is no room for hatred.

Of course, we've only heard one side of the story, and we can’t just take Kluwe's word as gospel. Priefer has responded, and his response deserves to be heard. In a statement released Thursday evening that he "vehemently denies" Kluwe's allegations, that he "does not tolerate discrimination of any type" and that he is "respectful of all individuals." Some of the current Vikings have also stated publicly that they've never heard Priefer use racist or homophobic language. Take that as you will.

Now for those numbers, the real reason I don't think the Vikings released Kluwe based on his support of gay rights: Kluwe averaged 45 yards per punt in 2012, ranking 22nd in the league. The Viking's 2013 punter, Jeff Locke, posted an average of 44.2 yards per punt this past season, ranking 24th in the league. However, being a rookie, Locke cost the Vikings $405,000 this year, whereas the Vikings would have had to pay Kluwe $1.45 million in 2013. Strictly by these numbers, releasing the veteran in favor of a rookie with the same output at 1/3 the price is a no-brainer.

In addition to the average-at-best play, I think Leslie Frazier did see Kluwe as a distraction; coaches tend to prefer players who keep a low profile and make football their primary “cause.” From his own account, Kluwe went against his boss’s wishes, no matter how just the cause, even refusing to take advice from the PR department. On a football team, someone who is a distraction and has only average performance is expendable.

Kluwe's points about the team telling him to keep quiet about his support of gay marriage, or to only show his support in certain ways, certainly show they were clearly uncomfortable with his "well-earned reputation for speaking his mind." Was it bigotry, as Kluwe accuses Priefer, or management wanting to avoid controversy at all costs? Was either the reason he was released?

Kluwe also wrote that team owner Zygi Wilf, the man who signs the checks, supported his beliefs on said subject. That fact definitely puts a large crack in the foundation of Kluwe's argument that he was released solely based on his outspoken support of gay rights.

So we’re brought back to the $1 million question: Was Kluwe cut because because of his outspokenness on the subject of gay rights? Or was he released because the Vikings were unhappy with his merely average output and lofty salary?

I think Kluwe was an aging veteran with a high salary and below-average performance; that partnered with the fact that the coaches were unhappy with the distraction they felt he brought to the team made it an easy decision. From a financial standpoint, cutting a 31-year-old veteran punter in favor of a rookie who could play for the team for many more seasons for less than 1/3 the salary is, frankly, a smart business decision. So even if he was the outspoken person that he is, I still think Kluwe would have been released. And that is the bottom line. Football is a business, and Jeff Locke was the better option.

All this said, I support Kluwe's public support of gay rights and marriage equality. But that wasn't the reason he was released from the Vikings.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Patriots Wishes and Caviar Dreams

It’s that time of year again; the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that my sports wishes, soon will be here.

This year I've had to think long and hard about what I want, because last year my wish came true. As 2012 came to a close, my wish was that the Red Sox would climb out of the AL East cellar. At the time, I just hoped for them to battle for playoff contention. My wish came true times 1,000, with Boston taking the 2013 World Series title. From worst to first, it was a season of the ages.

 This year, my wishes are of the football variety. My Patriots are playing pretty well, and despite some major season-ending injuries, they are winning. But despite the record, something is missing. Primarily, there’s the absence of two 250-lb+ game-changing tight ends. One of them I can hope to see back next season. The other? Well I think right now he’s just hoping he’ll see the outside world sometime before he dies.

For my 265-lb freak, I wish a healthy 2014; one free of surgeries and full of catches, touchdowns and fiestas. Because we all know Rob Gronkowski es un fiesta. I hope his back, knee, forearm and whatever else ails him are good to go next year, and we are graced with a season full of Gronk.

My second request is for tall guys who catch good, and Gronk would say. For Tom Brady’s sake, I wish for a decent received corps. I don’t mean a mish-mash of average talent who are elevated by the play of a great play-calling qb; I mean 2007-esque talent, when The Freak was out there breaking all-time records with Tom Terrific. He deserves to end his career with some great receivers, instead of the mish-mash of talent he’s dealt with since Moss left. I mean a true receiver, not some little slot guy like Welker. Though great at what he did, I want to see someone who can make spectacular grabs like Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall.

 Speaking of ending his career, I wish for a Fountain of Youth. At 36, I know that the end is drawing near for the Patriots with Tom Brady at the helm. I can’t imagine he has more than a couple seasons left in his arm, and I’m already freaking out. But my biggest fear? That Bill Belichick will decide to leave at the same time as his muse. Then I really don’t know what I’ll do. If Tom leaves but New England still has Bill, I feel like we can make it; without him, the dreaded “rebuilding” will begin. We've been a bit spoiled in the last 12 years, and I don’t think I can take a season of renovation. Every year since 2001, my football team has been a playoff and Super Bowl contender. I can’t remember a time when I “couldn't watch” the Patriots, or that each game didn't mean something. So I need Tom to drink some H2O from Ponce de Leon’s legendary spring and continue to be an active Patriot for life. Since I know this isn't logical, I hope that Belichick doesn't retire at the same time as the best quarterback ever (I’m not biased at all).

 A guy who can run 100 yards a game… without dropping the ball. I am so tired of the Patriots’ non-existent running game. They have spurts here and there over the years, but they haven’t had a consistent runner since Corey Dillon. I trust Belichick, but his incapability to draft a decent running back is killing me. I know he thinks other positions are more important, which is obvious since the Pats never draft a game-changing WR or RB, but for once I’d love to have a guy on the field who I knew could just run up the gut and score some TDs. As Tom gets up there in years, having a reliable runner to take some of the pressure off would be a God send.

A new hip for Aqib Talib. One of my favorite Patriots, I fear Talib is going to play the rest of his career on one leg. A legitimate option for Defensive Player of the Year before he got hurt Oct. 13, Talib was completely shutting it down in the backfield – in consecutive weeks, he held Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham to a COMBINED six catches and 62 yards. Through the first six games of the season, with a healthy Talib, the Patriots defense allowed just 16 points per game. Having a guy who can shut down the opposing team’s best player can’t be understated. Then Talib hurt his hip flexor, missed three games, and hasn’t been the same since he returned. That said, Talib on one leg is still better than ¾ of the other corners in the league. But imagine if he was 100%? That is my wish.

So, Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers, with your curled-up, fat, balled-up little fists pawing at the air … don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant and so cuddly, but still omnipotent… please hear my prayers for Tom, Bill, Gronk, Aqib and the rest.

And finally, my wish for all of you is that you have a very Merry Christmas, a belated Happy Chanukah, and a very happy and healthy new year. Here’s hoping for some great Bowl games, some kick-ass NFL playoff matchups, and, hopefully, Tom hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end. Amen.