Archive for Olympics

Arianna Rosenbluth’s hit

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2021 by xi'an

“old” vs. “new” sports

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2021 by xi'an

The Paris 2024 Olympics Committee has removed the 50km men race walk competition from the program, towards a mixed competition, possibly another walk. The argument is bringing more parity to the game (even though 50km women race walks are taking place, as seen above at the 2019 World championship, which was run under hugely inappropriate temperatures) while reducing the number of athletes. While I do realise this is not a very popular sport, I remain impressed by the athletes (who manage to walk over 20km  almost faster than I ran my best ½ marathon times!). Other new mixed competitions will include skeet shooting, two extreme canoe slalom events, three mixed events in sailing, and a new women’s weight class in boxing will replace a men’s class. (In my opinion, boxing should be banned altogether, given its demonstrated and devastating impact on athletes’ brains.) Other new sports include skateboarding, sport climbing (bouldering+lead climbing being separate from speed climbing) and surfing as well as break-dancing, grouped as “youth-focused events”, the last item creating a wee bit of controversy for being one of many forms of athletic dancing, and furthermore proving hard to judge in an objective way, while barring sports like squash from entering the list. Given that the list of Olympic sports is finite (and shrinking) there will obviously be more losers than winners, with some incomprehensibly over-represented disciplines (like, e.g., 18 wrestling competitions!), but it is somewhat annoying to see a rise in spectator sports that are more enjoyable to watch but harder to rank. (Although I do not particularly care for the Olympics and hope to stay away from Paris at the time! Like, attending JSM 2021 in Portland, Oregon.)

terrific coincidence!

Posted in Mountains, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2020 by xi'an

As it happens I am staying for vacations this year at the right place and the right time since the finals of the climbing World cup. In Briançon, southern French Alps, on the French-Italian border. All other events of the World cup have been cancelled and this will be the only competition of the year (which should have seen climbing becoming an Olympic sport, although sadly in a one-fit-all-skills competition). The competition here remains centred on the hardness of the route, with Adam Ondra one of the advertised competitors. I hope we can be part of the 5000 happy few authorised to enter the competition arena tomorrow, for pandemic reasons…!

on an absurd climbing competition

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2020 by xi'an

The New York Times has a very interesting piece on why Adam Ondra, arguably the best sport climber in the World, who climbed the very first 9c route in 2018, with a supernatural move involving hanging head down, actually has little hope of winning the Olympics. Assuming there will be Olympics this year. It is essentially because there is only one single medal for the sport, merging the radically different skills of bouldering, lead climbing and the absurd addition of speed climbing, which involves a single route, always the same, not particularly hard (6b) but to be climbed as fast as possible. To be a top contender on two categories is already pretty rare, with Ondra an exception. To master all three… Only cumulated athletic categories like heptathlon or pentathlon compare, but they come on top of existing competitions for every single of the seven or five events they are made of. Ondra came second or first in bouldering and lead, but closer to last for speed climbing. At least he made it through the qualifications.

wanton and furious cycling

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2017 by xi'an

A cyclist was convicted of “wanton or furious driving” last week in London after hitting a pedestrian crossing the street, leading to her death a few days later. The main legal argument for the conviction was that the cyclist was riding a “fixie”,  a bike with no front brake and fixed-gear, as used in track cycling. Which is illegal in Britain and, I just found out, in France too. (He was actually facing manslaughter, for which he got acquitted.) This is a most tragic accident, alas leading to a loss of a human life, and I did not look at the specifics, but I do not get the argument about the brakes and the furious driving: if the rider was going at about 28 km/h, which seems a reasonable speed in low density areas [and is just above my average speed in suburban Paris], and if the pedestrian stepped in his path six meters ahead, he had less than a second to react. Front brake or not, I am certainly unable to react and stop in this interval. And braking hard with the front brake will invariably lead to going over the bars: happens to me every time I have to stop for a car with my road bike. And would if I had to stop for a pedestrian.

Incidentally [or accidentally], here is the item of British Law from 1861 on which prosecution was based:

“Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”

And here are the most reasonable views of the former Olympian Chris Boardman on this affair and the hysteria it created…