Sunday Funday: The Pre-Daytona 500 Edition

It's all about the moguls.

Alright, so most of the following thoughts were meant to be held off for a weekend recap on Monday. However, with the Winter Olympics two days in, and with NBA All-Star Saturday Night officially pronounced dead, I simply could not wait that long. The Daytona 500 is approaching quickly, and if I don’t write something before then, my mind will be on fringe sport overload.

I would like to begin by issuing a very special “Happy Valentine’s Day” to one Eldrick “Tiger” Woods. I hear Elin really loves this year’s present, her very own small country.

In all seriousness, the Winter Olympics are entering their third day, and I am already completely captivated. Friday night’s opening ceremonies were breathtaking and proof that it’s not completely necessary to make your participants rehearse in diapers (although it does help). Regardless, the opening ceremonies left me with several theories.

We have all heard about the “comparatively hot” situations. For as long as there have been female athletes, decent girls in ugly classes and token women in sporting press boxes, some womens looks have been overrated to extreme heights. ESPN writer Bill Simmons officially refers to girls of this nature as “sports hot.”

I am pondering if there is a seperate entity for “Olympic hot.” As is usually the case for the Olympics, I was initially drawn into the opening ceremonies during the introduction of the athletes when I began noticing that the vast majority of participating countries were smothered with attractive female athletes.

It’s no secret that I am generally overcome with lust during the summer games with its generous helping of volleyball players, gymnasts and swimmers. However, is this phenomenon migrating into the winter games as well? It appears so.

U.S. Figure Skater and Ratings-Booster, Tanith Belbin

Who new that skeleton racers were so good looking? When did women snowboarders become models? Are these girls really so great, or will their appeal fade along with the conclusion of these 12-day games? Let the debate begin, Sports Guy.

Another fascinating part of athlete introductions at the Olympics is when remote, tiny countries are announced. These countries are occasionally unheard of and possibly not real, but their athlete[s] march out with more pride than anyone. The scene goes something like this:

Bob Costas: Now entering the stadium, represented by just two athletes, here is the nation of Cyprus.

Matt Lauer (side note: Matt freaking Lauer? Seriously?!?!): Funny thing about Cyprus is, it’s really damn small.

Costas: Oh yeah, Matt? How small does your giant note sheet say Cyprus is?

Lauer: About 1/8 the size of Rhode Island, Bob.

Costas: Fascinating. Did you know that there are 6 First Nation governments in Canada?

Lauer: Actually, there are over 600 First Nation governments, Bob.

NBC Miscreant

Amazingly enough, there are more to the winter games than frantically dancing natives, parading beauties and Costas-Lauer dialogue. On Saturday, the countries got down to business.

The Olympics got off to a tragic start on Friday when Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luge sled rider from the Republic of Georgia, lost his life during a practice run. I found the courage of the guys that took to the same track just one day later mind-blowing.

While obviously dangerous, luge looks like a ridiculous amount of fun. They are going down a giant ice slide at 90 MPH.

Think about that for a second.

Remember when you were a small child going down water slides and it felt like you were flying? Then, when you got up the nerve to ask one of your parents how fast you were going, the answer was “Eh, maybe 10 MPH tops.” That was a crushing moment, but think about that 10 MPH and then think about it multiplied by nine. Insanity.

After watching Saturday night’s speed skating events, I had readily declared speed skating as my new favorite winter sport. Apollo Ohno’s finals race may have been one of the more thrilling things that I have watched recently. In case you missed it, Ohno medaled for one reason. Two Korean teammates skating in front of him wrecked each other on the final lap, leading to the most hillarious Asian television moment since “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” went off the air.

It ain't easy being a speed skater.

However, my loyalty to speed skating lasted about as long as Andre the Giant’s 1988 WWF title reign (45 seconds). That is because a fascinating thing called ski moguls soon entered my television screen. Before I begin to discuss them, I will readily admit that I have no idea how to use the term “moguls” in a functioning sentence. Is “moguls” the name of the sport, or is it a plural term? If you hold the key to this knowledge, please let me borrow it.

Moguls was basically created by some guy that said “Hey, cool tricks, now I’m going to time you while you do them.” It was also apparently invented for the skier with elastic, unbreakable ankles. It opened my eyes to an entirely new brand of competition. A competition that times AND judges.

I think this should be instituted in more sports. Just imagine the greatness.

Hey Jimmie Johnson, nice win but it didn’t look cool enough. Sorry, but you take second.  Nice run, Adrian Peterson, but I was really looking for a nice dive into the endzone. Take the touchdown off the board.

Of course, moguls will likely be remembered in the U.S. this year for bringing in the first winter gold medal for an American in these games. Congratulations to Hannah Kearney for that, a moment that I missed because I was occupied at the time by watching the death of one of the few NBA events that I look forward to.

Yes, NBA All-Star Saturday Night is dead, and Nate Robinson is kissing the ashes. This year’s dunk contest was the basketball equivalence of Ambien. Except maybe it’s more of a generic alternative to Ambien, because unlike its participants, you’ve heard of Ambien before. Once the flagship event of All-Star Weekend, the dunk contest has slowly gone downhill since Vince Carter and every other notable star not named Dwight Howard stepped away from it.

However, there was nothing slow (figuratively, at least) about Saturday night. the contest finally hit the ground after base jumping sans parachute. If it is still at all relevant to discuss dunk contest history, Robinson has now won the competition more times than anyone in history. If your breakfast is not sitting in between your feet after reading that, then you’ve probably grown numb to the NBA much as I have.

Obviously the greatest dunker of all time...

Seriously NBA, make the stars change out of their courtside Armani for a moment and participate in this thing. Otherwise, please don’t waste valuable television time by holding it again next year.

On a final note, NASCAR’s biggest race is about to begin. Here is my completely unobjective brief prediction sheet.

Zephyrhills' Favorite Son

What I want to happen: You’ll hear this name repeatedly throughout the season, but I want David Reutimann to win more than I want to spend an evening in Olympic Village. Okay, that might be an overkill. But still, a Daytona win would be monumental for the “regular-guy” Zephyrhills driver. Is it likely? Probably not, but a boy can dream. I also want Kyle Busch to wreck, obviously.

What will happen: The Hendrick cars look to be dominant per usual. They hold the top three starting spots in today’s race, and there is not any real reason to bet against Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR’s historic elite. Look for Tony Stewart to also be a force.

Great day to be an American.


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