Category: sports

Wowed by the Greatest

michael phelpsSorry I haven’t posted this week but I have been in love with watching the Olympics in Rio. I have been in love with the Olympics since I was a little girl- both summer and winter. I used to beg my parents to get cable TV just so we could watch the Olympics every 4 years.  There is something about the sacrifice and intensity that inspires me and is like nothing else. Every other competition they have another shot but this is 4 years in the making, which is unbelievable.

This Olympics in Rio we have been able to see not just the best win a gold medal but we’ve seen some of the best gold winners ever.  I mean what Michael Phelps has done is awe inspiring. He was already a hero to most Americans but to see him mount a comeback of all things ups the ante even more. His life was off track, he figured things out and then he’s back on top. How inspiring is that? 22 gold medals. I can’t even put my mind around that. Just wow!

simone and alyAnd then over in gymnastics it has been awe inspiring. Dubbed the Final Five, the ladies not only one the team gold but did it with positivity and team spirit that really impressed me. Simone Biles is so great the other gymnasts are asking her for autographs and shaking her hand. Tonight her and Aly Raisman went gold and silver in the all around and what an amazing achievement. It’s like the judges had to go searching for deductions they were so good. The crazy thing is if the stupid 2 per country rules wasn’t there than we would have probably swept the podium. It’s just been tremendous to watch.

kerri-walsh-jenningsThe last amazing story I’ve enjoyed watching (along with a million other ones) is Kerri Walsh Jennings over in beach volleyball. The 3 time gold medalist and mother of 2 is looking for gold 4 and whether she ends up with it or not it’s been incredible to watch her play. She has never lost a game in Olympic play and I think only lost 2 sets! That’s just mind blowing. I love the fact that she has used it to help her be a better mother not a distraction. She says she’s good at “having babies and playing volleyball”. Ha! She’s also so gutsy when she had some injuries on her shoulder I believe and yet she keeps going strong. She’s just fearless.  She’s at these games with a new partner but seems to be doing well with her as well.  It’s nothing short of impressive.

What athletes and stories have stuck out in your mind? There are so many so please share in the comments section.

And by the way USA is totally rocking it in the medals count!!!  Wahoo!

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Movie Munchies 1: Apricot Chicken/Blind Side

Hi guys!  I wanted to share with you a very exciting video I just posted on my youtube channel.  It’s called Movie Munchies where we will review a film and make a recipe on the same video.  This week to celebrate the Super Bowl we are talking about 2009’s The Blind Side and making my favorite apricot chicken drumsticks- perfect for game day.  This was a huge challenge for me and I would love to get your feedback.

We’ve already got episode 2 filmed and will probably do this a couple of times a month.  If you have any ideas for good movie/meal parings please let me know!

Making this video required a whole new kind of editing and filming for me so I learned a lot but I’m really excited for the future.  I loved my chemistry with Jacqueline and found the entire experience very rewarding.  I know each episode will only continue to improve.

Thanks for checking it out.

Recipe-
3 lbs drumsticks or other meat
1 cup onions diced
1 cup bell peppers diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c firmly packed cup brown sugar
1/4 c molasses
1/4 c honey
1 14 ounce bottle ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
1 jar apricot preserves
Olive Oil
Heat up onions, peppers, and garlic till translucent. In separate skillet sear the chicken on high heat to get a golden brown color. Add all ingredients except for jam, heat and then let simmer till it thickens.
Add apricot jam to mixture and poor over chicken.
Bake at 400 degrees for an hour, remove tin foil at 30 minutes. Test with thermometer. Want chicken 165 degrees or higher.
Enjoy! Let me know if you like it and I’ve made it with wings, pork, ribs etc.

Medal Hangers

This post is kind of a product shout-out that I am excited about.  You will all probably remember that I recently completed my 10th open water swim race. Until today I had those medals on 2 nails on my wall.  The idea was that looking at the medals each day would help  motivate me to keep swimming and trying to stay in shape.

Well, a few weeks ago my friend over at http://www.disneyinyourday.com/announced a giveaway on her blog for a medal hanger from https://www.medalhangers.com/.  I had never heard of a medal hanger and I thought they were really beautiful. I entered the giveaway and to my delight I won!!! I never win everything so it was so exciting!  I used my prize and added a little bit to make a custom hanger and I love it so much!

medals4I came up with the saying ‘Water Knows No Size” because I think it encompasses my swim philosophy.  There is no other place where I could win 10 metals but in the water and in that sense the water knows no size.  In the water it is about how fast I move my arms and legs not how much I weigh. I’ve always felt at peace in the water and most girls are self conscious in a swimsuit but oddly enough it is where I feel the most confident. Go figure!

I went with 2 layers on my medal hanger but you can have more than that.  There are also a number of fonts and icons that you can pick from.  Here are some others on the site I liked:

Anyway, I know a lot of you race and I thought I’d share this quality product.  They have 100% satisfaction guarantee and they are built to last.  Your medals are something to proud of and this is a way to show them off and hopefully be encouraged by them.  I think it would be a great thing for kids to see and hopefully encourage them to enter their own races or other athletic enterprises.

If you get a medal hanger I would love to see what you chose.  (I’m not receiving anything from them.  Just thought it was a good product and I’m really enjoying mine.

Bear Lake Monster Swim Trip

bear lakeHey guys!  I got back today from my little vacation up at Bear Lake.  For the last few years they have had an open water swim up there but I have always had a family commitment.  Well, this year I didn’t so I decided to go for it.  (Plus, they were doing a 1/2 mile swim which was super nice of them).  I found the only motel in town which looked like something out of Bates Motel but it was somewhere to sleep and headed up there Friday afternoon.  (I also saw Ant-Man and Mr Holmes this weekend so make sure to check out the movie blog for those reviews).

It’s kind of a weird tourist destination because aside from the lake there isn’t a ton to do.  There are only 4 or 5 restaurants and a few little shops.  No movies, bowling, or other activities for tourists.  I guess the lake is more than enough but Friday and Saturday afternoon it was raining and so it dragged a little.  I don’t know if I would want to get a place up there because when I couldn’t swim it would be kind of boring.

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But luckily this trip the rain didn’t stop the race and I did get to swim.  You can see from the photo up above I finished and got my medal! With the weather it was very choppy waters and so I was glad I went with the 1/2 mile instead of the mile. I finished in 39 minutes which I was proud of.  I know technically it is slow but for me that was a pretty good time.   Here I am in the water:

bear lake8It was a small group of 1 mile swimmers but everyone was so friendly (as is always the case in open water events).  It was neat about 10 minutes into the swim I noticed a girl stopping and it didn’t seem like an ordinary stop.  She was gasping a little bit so I stopped and asked her if she was ok.  She said she was swallowing water and her asthma was bothering her. I’ve been there so I told her to do some breaststroke for a little while to get her confidence back and calm down the nerves.  She did and she finished the race! Afterwards she told me my encouragement had meant a lot to her.  That’s what is great about open water swimming- the community spirit that accompanies the sport.  Even though I am far from a typical athlete I probably was the best one to encourage someone like her to finish her race.  As I always say ‘if I can do it so can you!’.

Here’s a picture of all of us swimming the 1/2 or 1 mile races:

bear lake7I made this little video after the race.  It’s what I call old school- just my laptop and chatting, so don’t be too tough on that part of it.  The internet was very bad up there so I would have done more if I could.

Here I am showing my medal to Jim Hubbard who first introduced me to open water back in 2011 (I call him my open water missionary).

bear lake6After the race we all chatted for a bit and then I went back to the hotel room and had some breakfast and a good nap. Then later on in the afternoon the sky cleared up so I decided to go back to the beach and wear my glorious sun hat I bought a few weeks ago.

bear lake11 bear lake 10The lake was beautiful and the sun felt great. I wish I could have laid out in it even longer! But alas the sun went down and this morning I had to drive back home.  Still, it was a nice little break and I hope to do the Bear Lake Monster Swim next year and hopefully eventually get up to the 7 mile full race instead of just 1/2 mile. My next race Deer Creek Open Water Swim will be my 10th open water race! Can you believe it?  I can’t.

In Defense of GSL

I was asked at work to write a blog about a fun thing to do in the outdoors in Utah. So I put together this post on the GSL.  Most of it will be review for regular readers but I thought I might as well share it.

In Defense of the GSL

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Utah?  Most Americans would probably answer 1. Mormons and 2.  Great Salt Lake (maybe skiing or the Olympics for 3rd?).

I’ve lived in Utah for most of my adult life and the interesting thing is until 2011 I had never been to see the Great Salt Lake.  I had driven by it but not stopped to take a look and certainly not swam in it.  I would bet 80-90% of Utahns were like me and had never set foot near the Great Salt Lake.  This is funny because daily buses of Chinese tourists come up to take a look at it.

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Why don’t people go to the Great Salt Lake? Well, the long and short of it is- it smells.

One blog said:

“Yea, I was going to say, who would want to stink like the Great Salt Lake!??! You can smell it as you start to drive near it. My daughter went on a field trip there, and her shoes stank for at least a week. A co-worker once went out there and her shoes stank up the whole office afterwards.”

Sounds pretty unpleasant right?  WRONG!

finish-gslI was in the ‘who swims in GSL?’ camp most my life but in 2011 I discovered open water swimming and my life has never been the same.  As great as pool swimming can be (I love any kind of water) there is something special about being out in nature where the water is unpredictable and full of surprises.

And no body of water is more unpredictable than the Great Salt Lake. It’s a totally unique and exhilarating experience.

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You step in the water and your skin prickles.  My friend calls it going for a quick pickle. Every pore in your body reacts and burns (people think it is like the ocean and it is not at all). It’s a wild experience but to me that is part of the fun of it.

There are so few times in life we can do something special and when I swim the GSL I can honestly say I’m 1 of only a handful of dedicated swimmers who have that same experience each year.  That’s pretty cool! Plus, it really is beautiful.

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The older I get the harder it is to be genuinely surprised by anything and each time I swim in the Great Salt Lake (or any open water) it feels new and unexpected.

Every year on the first Saturday of June my swim club Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) sponsors a 1 mile swim in the Great Salt Lake and it is tough in every way.  But it is also exhilarating. I have done it 3 times and each time goes down as one of the best days of my life.

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To challenge and conquer nature is an experience every human being should have.

Some tips:

  1. Make sure to go early in the summer (May and June) because later there are too many spiders and bugs.
  2.  Always go with friends when open water swimming and wear a safe swimmer so you are visible to boaters.
  3. Keep a swim to an easy return level because conditions can change rapidly at the GSL (windstorms can come on and I’ve been in 6 foot swells without warning)
  4. You will have brine shrimp (only living organism in the lake) on your body and suit but it washes right off.  (There is a hose to rinse off in. Rest comes off in the shower. No big deal)
  5. Contact SLOW on facebook and find out when swimmers are going and join in.  There are members of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club who swim GSL year-round!
  6. Have great goggles. I usually tuck an extra pair into my suit because you do not want to have goggle problems at GSL
  7. Drink lots of liquids before and after because that salt will dehydrate you fast
  8. Where possible have a kayaker accompany your group giving water, checking safety etc
  9. Count your strokes.  This has helped me so much with open water. The shoreline can feel like a mirage but when you focus on 20 more strokes, 50 more strokes, you will get there.  I promise!
  10. Sighting can be helpful but GSL is tricky since nothing grows around it that’s why best to go with group.
  11. Smell does not last for weeks.  Take a hot shower and launder your clothes in hot water and you’ll be fine
  12. Oddly the smell is much worse just outside the lake than when you are swimming in it.  I don’t know if you just don’t notice it but it really is a non-issue in the water.
  13. Wouldn’t recommend shaving anywhere right before going in the GSL.  It will burn!

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I’m probably not making it sound like very much fun but swimming in the Great Salt Lake is an adventure.  It’s something you can gather with friends and take on together.  It’s a beautiful part of my home state and I recommend everyone give it a shot, smell and all.

Open water swimming also teaches me about life every time I am in the water.  The shoreline can feel so far off but if I push through and don’t give up I will prevail.  That’s one of many lessons I’ve gotten from the sport over the years.

Oh and you do float which is kind of cool!

interview-photo

Here I am getting interviewed after my 2013 race, which was incredibly difficult for me to finish but I did it!

Next time you are in Utah let me know and let’s swim GSL together!

GSL 2014

Another amazing open water swim race has come and gone.  Honestly I’m so exhausted I don’t know how much I can write but I will do my best.

I’ve often said I race partly for my swim family, partly for nature, partly for fitness but mostly for life.  Every swim teaches me something profound about life and this was no exception.

Here I am before the race:

before raceI was really nervous as I always am.  Great Salt Lake is so unpredictable and my last 2 years have been very tough for me, even 2012 when I was so well prepared was a beast. Both of those years there was wind advisories and the races were nearly cancelled.  I was praying so hard that we would get smooth water for once…

And my prayer was answered. Smooth water!

When you enter the Great Salt Lake it is like no other experience I can describe.  Your whole body screams with all the salt.  Your tongue swells up, your nose burns, and any soft skin let’s you know quickly it doesn’t like it.  All this adds to the challenge.

But luckily I decided to go for it and this year my friend Anna came with and she did amazing! A lot of my other friends weren’t in town or didn’t swim for one reason or another.  In fact, it looked like over half the swimmers were new to GSL.  There was one group from California that flew in for the race.  They go to races as friends all over the country.  How fun is that!

So they started the race in an odd way.  We had to climb over all these rocks and I had flip-flop sandles on.  I felt like I was going to slip and break my ankle.  It was kind of nuts.

Here I am trying to get down to the start:

DSCF5601Then the race started and within the first 5 minutes all the sudden my whole right side cramped up.  I felt like I could hardly move.  It seemed like I would have to pull out with that much pain so early on.

Luckily there was an awesome kayaker who helped me calm down and encouraged me to try another stroke so breaststroke it was. It seemed to strain my side less and after about 3 sets of 100 the cramp was mostly gone. (I count strokes in batches of 100)

I was still doing a lot of breaststroke but then worked in 100s of freestyle and even got a 150 in.  It was so shallow that it was hard to do a freestyle stroke for a lot of the race.

There’s me in all that water. Surrounded by nature and all that water.  It will never get old.  So beautiful!:

S0015609See how close the kayaker was?  He was a lifesaver and was so encouraging.

I also decided to not worry about sighting and just swim.  The current was very light so I didn’t have to worry about getting pulled inward like I did last year. I was confident enough in the kayaker that I knew I could just swim.  With my lazy eye sighting is not my strength but it’s especially hard at GSL because there are no trees or big objects to sight on so it’s sort of a fruitless enterprise.  I’m glad I abandoned it all together.

So, I kept going in batches of 100 strokes.  Another one and then rest 20 seconds, and another.  Finally I got to the spot to run in and it was probably 200 yards.  I actually speed walked because I was worried about turning my ankle on that type of rocky/sandy beach. (Plus I was exhausted).

Eat your heart out Bo Derek! 🙂

DSCF5621Here’s the crazy thing- cramp, stops, breaststroke and all I finished in 1 hr 4 minutes.  Last year it took me 1 hr 23 minutes!  Almost 20 minute faster this year!  I still can’t believe that!

It just goes to show a lot of obstacles can be in your way at the beginning of your goal but if you keep going, do 100 more, and then another, and another, you will finish.  Like I said, swimming teaches me about life. And what a perfect lesson to learn this week starting a new job for new company, doing something new!

I will never forget crossing the line and knowing I did it!  Cramp and all I did it! Please take my story and set a bold goal.  People of all shapes and sizes can do awesome things.

Thank you to the organizers, kayakers and my friends for cheering me on both at the race and away. I might not have done the race at all if it wasn’t for all the wonderful encouragement.

It feels good to be Rachel today!

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A brick of salt for a salty race. Love this photo
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My awesome kayaker. Such great support
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Anna did amazing. 35 minutes first GSL/open water race!
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We did it! I love my open water family

Destination Swims

SLOW Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1

I am very fortunate to be the editor of the newsletter for our local open water masters swimming group Salt Lake Open Water or SLOW.

Each quarter I get the task of assigning articles and profiles to members and I enjoy making my little contribution to the community that has helped me so much.

This quarter I put myself in charge of writing an article on Destination Swims.  I think it turned out pretty well so I thought I would share it with all of you.  It is a great way to travel, make new friends and see the beautiful lakes and oceans with fellow masters swimmers.

Destination Swims by Rachel Wagner
One of the benefits of being a member of SLOW is not only meeting up with open water swimmers here in Utah but around the globe. With a little research and reaching out to new people we can have fun and rewarding experiences in the water wherever we travel.

There are several types of approaches to destination swims. Josh Green and Kate Pettipiece both met up with masters groups in Colorado (Grand Junction and Montrose respectively) when traveling there for other reasons so they could stay in shape and ‘not miss a swim’.

Other SLOW members have planned their vacations and travels around open water swim races and groups. Erin Jensen has done 4 swims as far distant as Florida and Hawaii:

“For all four, I knew that I wanted to go on vacation, but I didn’t care when. I wanted to make sure that there was a swim happening or else why would I go? The last time I had a destination swim was in Florida.”

Especially oceanic/lakeside vacations will often have established masters groups and open water swims and so it is easy to contact them and plan your trip without too much effort. Of her most recent swim in Florida Erin said:

“Using Google search, I looked up the different Master Teams websites. I found two in Florida, but on opposite sides of the state that worked within my free time. In looking at cost of the trip, I ultimately decided on which one was going to be cheaper for me to get too So, last May I swam the 2.4 mile Hurricane Man swim. It was fabulous and a wonderful experience”

Developing relationships with other open water swimmers can be particularly helpful when it is a location we often visit. I visit my parents in Sacramento area frequently but have never actually lived there. In 2012 I looked up ‘Sacramento open water’ on google and came up with a meet up group called The Sacramento Swimming Enthusiasts who met about 15 minutes away from my parents’ house at Folsom Lake.

destination swim

This proved to be particularly helpful in 2012 because I was getting ready for my first 5k and I did my first test 5k during that trip. They were all much better swimmers than I was and so not only did I have a great time but I learned some new techniques, got some tips, and trained hard while visiting my parents (plus got a break from the fam…).

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to meet up with them again because my visits to home have been brief and crammed with stuff but I hope to and really enjoyed my experience.
This May I am traveling to Tampa to visit a friend so I searched facebook for a masters group there and found Tampa Bay Open Water

Swimming and have already contacted them and plan swimming together. They are a new group so were very receptive to meeting me and learning about SLOW. I’m really looking forward to it.

There are many ways you can come into contact with swimmers when you travel. Social media platforms like facebook, twitter and meet up.com all feature clubs and races with a simple search. Google can take you to websites and blogs for groups and individual swimmers.

Also, the USMS website has a club finder section that can be helpful. In fact, that’s how I first heard about Deer Creek swim in 2011 and met Jim Hubbard.

So on your next vacation see who you can swim with. You will find it enriches your trip, produces meaningful relationships and helps you become a better swimmer.

Sleep and Spoilers

This is kind of a random post with 2 topics that don’t really go together. But this is my blog and I can do that if I want… 😉

Any reader to my blog knows I have struggled for years with insomnia.  Pretty much my whole life but it’s been particularly bad the last 3 years at times leaving me with little to no sleep for days at a time.  This can be very stressful and mentally debilitating.

Since 2012 I’ve tried everything from sleep labs to to medicine to psychoanalysis to solve the problem with nothing really providing any complete solutions.  This has led to my latest solution- stop caring so much!  I’ve decided recently to just go to sleep when I need to sleep and enjoy the time I am awake.

Naturally I still have to work in the morning but I’ve also stopped planning anything if I can help it before 9 am. I used to think ‘oh, i can do it just this once’ and then I would end up not being able to show up for a swim or being late to where I was going. (Sorry friends I’ve stood up in the past).

Anyway, since I made this decision I have been happier and less stressed over my sleeping issues.  We’ll see how it goes but for the moment it is working.  It also helps me be less dependent on sleep medications, which are very tempting but only work for a brief period of time and then they fail spectacularly.

So if you notice me posting late or engaged on social media at 4 in the morning don’t be surprised, I’ve surrendered to the Sleep Godss.  If you can’t beat them, stop fighting!

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SPOILERS

And now to my totally unrelated rant.

I want to talk for a second about spoilers.  This has been a topic that has annoyed me for some time but I haven’t found a way to work it into the blog, so here goes…

Since I became more involved with twitter last year it seems there never goes a day where I don’t hear someone crying ‘spoiler alert’ over a tweet, video or facebook status.  As annoying as it can be to have something spoiled I am finding these protests to be even more annoying.

First, let’s define what a true spoiler is.  That is where a key plot development is uttered before you have the chance to view said entertainment.  For years this was only a sports phenomenon (mainly due to the fact that VCR’s weren’t popularized until the early 80s).  So, if you knew you were going to be out for the big game, you’d record it and hope that nobody told you the score/big plays. If someone did that would be a spoiler.

However, even then a spoiler would not have been someone telling you how the weather was or who played in the game.  It would also not be a spoiler if someone said ‘that was a good game’.  Such a comment is so broad that it could mean good defense, offense, refereeing whatever.

So, let’s move up to modern times.  Social media is everywhere and a huge part of our everyday life. This gives great potential for spoilers.

That said, just as wildly accessible and obvious details about a sporting event are not a spoiler back in the day, neither is it now.  If I tell you that Toby McGuire or Daniel Radcliffe is in a movie, that is not a spoiler.  If I say Michael Phelps swam in a race, that is not a spoiler.

It is also not a spoiler if something has occurred with enough of a time-lapse for most people to enjoy it.  There has to be a time limit on spoilers. An example from literature would be Dumbledore dieing in Harry Potter.  Giving that away when the book was released, major spoiler.  Talking about it now that movies have come out and it’s been years, not a spoiler any more! I mean at a certain point I’m allowed to talk about Vader being Luke’s father.  It can’t be a spoiler forever…

During the Olympics this was especially annoying.  I get not wanting to know events before the primetime broadcast but if it happened yesterday and we’ve moved on to the next day of competition I’m allowed to talk about yesterday’s events.

On facebook the US Olympic team would post photos of victorious Olympians and it never failed to get hundreds of spoiler comments.  Urgh…so annoying.If you don’t want to know what happens to the US Olympic team during the Olympics than unfollow them for 2 weeks and don’t be spoiled.  I mean what are they supposed to do pretend like we didn’t win anything until everyone has a chance to watch it? Then people would be complaining they are ignoring our Olympians.

The other thing is that part of the fun of watching events these days is sharing them with a social media group of fellow fans. For example, If you know I always tweet about Survivor, do not read my tweets Wednesday night and then be mad at me for spoiling. I am not going to put Spoiler Alert before every Survivor tweet. That’s just obnoxious.

I feel like the Spoiler Alert Kings are simply finding one more thing to complain about. Sometimes part of being a grown up is not being surprised any more.  Sometimes we know what is going to happen but we have to find a way to enjoy the experience any way. I personally am someone who is almost impossible to spoil.  In fact, I am quite the opposite.  At times I enjoy knowing what’s going to happen because I can relax and just enjoy the game/movie/whatever.

Other times I like the suspense of not knowing what is going to happen.  I was grateful nobody told me about the twist in Sixth Sense or the surprise at the beginning of Phantom of the Opera (the stage production).  Both of those scenes are obvious to most human beings as spoilers and most people at least make an effort not to spoil them.  If they do, again take a grown up pill and enjoy it anyway.

It is also not a spoiler if it is a detail that any non-idiot should know.  For instance, it is not a spoiler to say that 12 Years a Slave is about a person who is a slave for 12 years.  It’s getting to the point where you can’t talk about anything in an intelligent way because you are so afraid of spoiling it.

Using 12 Years a Slave as an example- when I wrote my review I gave a spoiler warning at the beginning because I went into detail about characters, motivations, settings, and scenes.  That alert was appropriate but again I think any rational person knows the difference between the types of analysis.  If I tell you the ending of Inception and we discuss it that deserves a spoiler.  However, if I merely say the movie is good and I liked the ending, that the ending surprised me, that is not a spoiler.

So, in conclusion spoilers are a part of life, so work around it.  Stop complaining, be a grown up and enjoy the entertainment spoiler or not.

There I said it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Olympic Thoughts

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So any out there that follows this silly blog knows how much I love The Olympics, both Summer and Winter.  I am not overstating it when I say one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life was attending and being a part of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games.

It was unbelievable to see the athletes and root for my country and I hope to one day have a similar experience in the Summer Olympics.  I’ve even thought about going to Rio in 2016.  We will see.

One odd thing about the Olympics is with all of their drama there aren’t that many movies about the Olympics.  Strange hah?  I can only think of a few- Cool Runnings, Cutting Edge, Miracle and Chariots of Fire.  What am I missing?   You would think there would be more.

Pablo Morales or Dan Jansen’s stories would make such good movies.  I wonder why they’ve never been made?

I've loved watching the hockey.  I may be a hockey fan!
I’ve loved watching the hockey. I may be a hockey fan!

Anyway, with that long introduction I must admit to being kind of bummed out as a viewer of these games.  Not disappointed in our athletes.  They have my total support but the results and lack of competition in many events.  There hasn’t been much that is real close and I’ll be honest I like it when my team wins.  I do and minus snowboarding and slopestyle we haven’t been doing a lot of winning.

Thank goodness for the snowboarding and slopestyle which have provided some of the only real entertainment.  Everything has been so lopsided and usually not in our favor.  It’s just been hard to watch. Sad 😦

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I wondered this week if maybe I have outgrown the Olympics.  Double sad but I hope not.  I hope it is just an anomaly because I love what they represent and I love our athletes.  There is something about everything in Sochi including the outrageous propaganda piece called The Opening Ceremonies that has felt corporate and stale.

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Part of that is the fault of the terrible NBC coverage but also so many seem to be going through the motions.  It was so great today to see Noelle Pikus-Pace who is not only a Utahn but a great example for all young people.  She came back after an injury and a miscarriage to win a silver medal.  I’ve missed that warmth and spirit these games.

Another highlight was seeing  Erin Hamlin get a bronze in luge, America’s first in that sport. I loved her attitude and spirit.

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NBC FAIL

Now let me rant a little bit about NBC.  There are 15 categories of sports in the Winter Olympics.  This is drastically less than the 26 in the Summer Olympics; however, there are many of those summer events that get little to no coverage such as ping pong, field hockey and handball.  I think the number of covered sports is probably not that different.

Nevertheless, NBC has decided to air the events in the morning when they are taking place and then a highlight reel spliced together with other events for their primetime coverage.  This means in the skating for instance you only see 5 or 6 of the skaters where in the morning you get 20 something.

I recently read a report saying that 79% of the people who have paid tv have a DVR service in their home. This means, NBC, people can record the morning shows and watch them the way they deserve to be seen!  Why not give us something new in either the morning or primetime instead of simply repeating a diluted version of what most of us have recorded from the morning!!  I have found myself not watching in the evening at all because it makes me so crazy and why when I’ve already seen it?

NBC sigh...
NBC sigh…

The most frustrating part is their two best commentators are on the hockey and cross country/biathlon events and if people only watch primetime they don’t see hardly any of that.  No wonder everything feels corporate and staged because NBC is chopping it up and feeding you the sports center version.  The athletes deserve better.  They’ve sacrificed their lives for a moment and NBC can only give a primetime highlight reel.

It really irks me because I know there are heats, meets, games and matches we could be seeing that we aren’t, and that most people who only watch primetime are getting such a weak version of the truth.  Don’t show us something twice NBC! At least I have the DVR and can watch the actual coverage of the events.   I’m sorry NBC but your  primetime coverage is an embarrassment.

Ok. Rant over.  Things I have liked are the slopestyle addition into the Olympics (US is sure grateful for that, almost half our medals are from that new event), Pikus-Pace, the new team figure skating competition, US hockey men and women, and Jeremy Abbots inspiring finish of his program after a hard fall.

I feel bad for Shaun White.  He has been a great champion.  I love him and am sad when we feel a sense of glee at the fall of our heroes.  It is a most unsightly part of our culture. I never saw him be anything but graceful and kind, even exuberant towards those who beat him.  It reminded me of Michael Phelps 4th place finish in his first race in 2012 but unfortunately Shaun doesn’t have 6 or 7 more chances to prove himself like Phelps.  I’m still a fan and I think we all should be.

suits brittany bowe

I also feel bad for our speedskaters.  Ever since watching Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen in the 90s the races have been one of my favorite parts of the games.  I also love Apollo Ohno both as an athlete and person.  What a class act. I admire how he always was happy to get on the podium.  Competitive as ever, but thrilled with a bronze medal.  That’s great to see.  So, it was with some excitement that I watched race after race and to see our athletes do so poorly  was disheartening.

Some have said it is the slow ice.  Some have said it is the suits and I honestly have no idea but something doesn’t feel right.  We have 4 world record holders and no medals?  And it’s not just no medals but world champions like Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson finishing 24, 32nd it’s strange.   I just don’t get it?  Why weren’t they prepared for slow ice?

They knew it was coming so why not practice on it?  I know they tested the suits but the fact they were untested in competition boggles the mind.  How could that happen?  You don’t test out new equipment at the Olympics!  There should be no question on such issues.  It’s really quite outrageous and I feel bad for the skaters.

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a let down of  an Olympics.  Plus, all the reports of the terrible preparation, shoddy hotels, mess, mangy dogs everywhere.  I think of the glee that I had when I went downtown to watch the games and SLC and it is a shame.  The Olympics deserve better than Putins scraps and 30 billion gone to who knows what.  Unbelievable!  The Olympics deserve better.

Hopefully week 2 will be better than week 1 but I’m telling you guys if you have DVR record the morning broadcasts not the primetime.  You are selling yourself and our athletes short by only watching the primetime.  Trust me on this!

Favorite Olympic Moments

So you all probably remember that I love the Olympics.  I love the pageantry, the message of nations coming together and the intensity of a 1 in 4 year shot to win.  There is nothing like it!

When I was a little a girl my parents would go spats of 2 years or more without TV and then the Olympics would come (they used to be only every 4 years for both winter and summer) and I would beg my parents to get TV so I could watch the Olympics.  I love both the summer and winter.

Of course the highlight of my Olympic fervor was in 2002, which was a great year for me all around because I’d had such a tough 2001 and I graduated from  BYU (where does the time go!).

The Olympics was really a dream come true for me and I went to as many events as I could and spent as much time downtown watching the events on a big screen they had outside the arenas.  All and all I saw several cross country races, ice dancing, hockey matches and it was so great!  I’ve been thinking about going to Rio to experience a summer games but we’ll see how finances are in 2016 but that would be a blast.

There were some great moments at the 2002 games.  The opening ceremonies was like a love song to the culture I grew up in.  So many I knew were participating and volunteering.  I’ll never forget when Sarah Hughes won the gold.  My friends and I cheered and then booed when the Canadian pair didn’t win the gold (a later scandal would eventually give them a gold medal).

Apollo Ohno was the big stars of those games and I was watching outside for a number of his races including the one in this video.

The great thing about Apollo is he has said repeatedly that anytime he gets on the podium it is an honor and something to be proud of.  He always has a big smile on his face and yet he is as competitive as someone could be.  I will miss him at these games but it will be fun to hear him as a broadcaster.

Anyway, he is one of my favorites.  Team USA on their youtube channel has been posting videos of gold medal moments and there are lots of good one’s but here are some of my favorite:

There are so many more I could pick!  What are some of your favorite Olympic moments?