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catching up: Olympic moments

my heroes

my heroes

I’ve recorded just about all of the Olympics and I’m trying to catch up on my viewing.  My heroes of this Olympic Games?  May-Walsh.

These ladies dominate the beach volleyball like nobody else.  THey’re phenomenal, in that they haven’t lost a game in almost a year, and they just do things that no one else can do.  It amazes me every time one of them dives into the sand and the next moment – they’re back up – digging that ball again.

But when did equestrian events enter the olympic arena?  I was fast-forwarding through commercials and talk and stumbled upon this strangeness.  How are equestrian events in the Olympics?  The horse is doing all the work.  In fact, the horse would have an easier time if the human wasn’t on its back.

I saw Phelps win his 7th gold (and 8th, but the 7th was the crazy one).  Watched Torres win her silver medals.  Saw Fountain win the first American medal in the women’s heptathlon since Jacki Joyner-Kersee.  It’s been an exciting games so far.  Which is interesting, since I’m not really that into sports.  I used to be a lot more into the Olympics than I am now.

I don’t really get how they do some of the judging for diving and gymnastics.  Gymnastics used to be my favorite event.  [Back when the two Dominiques were our American stars…and Kerri’s amazing vault.]  But now?  No one has really grabbed my attention.  I don’t even know their names.  I’ve never been into men’s gymnastics.  I think they look kinda goofy.

My sister has called me several times to complain about the injustices involved in the gymnastics judging.  I just watched it myself and it seems like there’s been some shady stuff going on.  (Cheng Fei vaults (badly) – lands on her knees – and still gets a score > 15.  Bela Karolyi is incensed – he keeps calling the judging error a ripoff.  And then there’s the whole age thing.)

Oh, and I forgot about the trampoline.  I had no idea there was a trampoline event in the Olympics.  [Or maybe I did and I forgot.]  It looks really fun, though.

But I’m still puzzled about the equestrian events.

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2 thoughts on “catching up: Olympic moments

  1. Equestrian events have been in the modern olympics since 1910. The ancient olympics also definitely involved horses.
    It’s hard for someone unfamiliar with the sport to realize how much work is involved on the part of the rider, especially since part of being a good rider is making all work as invisible as possible. If you can see what they are doing; they could be doing it better. Steering the horse and rating its speed involves a lot of leg and arm strength; some horses pull constantly against the rider to try to go too fast, some require constant squeezing leg pressure to keep them going at a proper speed. The rider has to be very, very strong, not just to control the horse, but to remain in the careful balance that allows them to remain on top of a 1200+lb animal jumping a 5’6″ jump, where a tiny shift in rider weight could cause the horse to have a rail down. That takes a lot of core strength, as well as leg strength. The power that the horse puts into the jump puts a ton of force on the human body.
    The other part that is completely unclear to those watching without education is that the rider must determine the take-off place for the horse at each jump, and place it exactly at the right spot by rating its pace correctly. It’s very, very exact, because the right spot varies by the type of the jump and its place in the course of 15-18 jumps. The distances between the jumps are measured and the rider must make a plan when walking the course as to how many steps their horse is going to take between them in order to jump them cleanly, and then ride the horse according to plan. A mistake in pace or error in placement can lead to a major disaster. And sometimes the horse has other ideas. Plus, the rider must do all this while remaining under the time allowed, or, in the jump-off, going faster than everyone else without having any rails down.
    It’s a hard sport to understand from viewing, especially since so many people only have a passing acquaintance with horses in general.

  2. yeah. I guess I was being somewhat facetious. I don’t know much about horses, except that they’re measured in hands. But I know riding is a legit sport. I just like to give equestrians grief.

    No other sport gets to have animals. 🙂

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