Last weekend I attended the Strongest Man contest in Vroomshoop. Even as a complete outsider, I even think I was the only one there who’s never been to a gym, it was very entertaining. The twelve competitors had to complete seven events, varying from the dead lift to pulling a truck. The local favorite and five-time champion Jarno Hams was injured so he couldn’t defend his title in front of his home crowd. Without him the competition turned out to be a lot more exciting, because all the other athletes were quite evenly matched. Not in size though, one poor fellow couldn’t even reach the highest platform of the stone challenge, while others almost bumped their head on the Hercules hold. Everyone had a weak event, but was also capable of winning the next, so it was very hard to predict the overall winner. The speaker didn’t help much either. He was far too busy with himself than to give updates about the competition. And he when he did announce some scores, he regularly messed up. In between events and attempts the crew took a long time to get everything ready again. A nice break for the athletes, but a bit dull for the crowd, as there was hardly any entertainment. Just a dance cd from a decade ago and a very brave dance crew. We’d expected the event to be completed around 6 pm, but it wasn’t decided until 7.30 pm. We then quickly left during the victory ceremony so we’d be able to get some food on the road.
I’ve been watching sports. My favorite ice hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, have overcome adversity during the regular season, hired a new coach (Dan Bylsma) and some new players and still reached the play-offs. In the first round they eliminated their state rivals Philadelphia Flyers and then they were matched up against the Washington Capitals with their star player Alex Ovechkin, who doesn’t get along too great with Penguins superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. I got to see two games of this seven game series. One of them live at 1 am in the morning, but it was no trouble at all to stay awake during the intense action on the ice (the commercials on the other hand…). Besides the two games I saw the Penguins also won two others, including Game 7 and thus advanced to the Conference Finals.
They had the Carolina Hurricanes beaten before I could even make arrangements to watch a game, but because of this I did get a chance to see a couple of games of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Detroit Red Wings also had little trouble with the Chicago Black Hawks and finished the series in five games. Because both conference finals were done so quickly the real final was pushed forward by almost a week. Good news for me, because in the original schedule all games were during my holiday (and I don’t think they show much hockey in the Sinai desert).
The Stanley Cup Finals 2009 is a rematch of last year, when Detroit beat Pittsburgh in six games. But with more experience and less injured players the Penguins should have a better chance this time. In Game 1 they proved to be evenly matched, but unfortunately the Red Wings had more lucky bounced and won 3-1. However, the series is far from over. I’m currently downloading Game 2 and hope to be able to watch it before I leave. Game 3 is on Tuesday night and I might be able to watch Game 4 live Thursday night. Then I’m off to Egypt and have to wait til after my holiday to discover the outcome of the series. Go Pens!
At more convenient hours I followed the Giro d’Italia, the cyling tour of Italy. It was more exciting than ever, with almost all big names present (Armstrong, Basso, Menchov, Di Luca, Cunego, Leipheimer to name a few) and a challenging route, including finishes at Block House, the Vesuvius and the ancient city centre of Rome. It came down to a battle between local favorite Di Luca and blant Russian Menchov, who proved to have some fire in him when he eventually crossed the final finish line as the winner (he almost lost it with a fall on the final kilometre of the slippery Roman roads). Canadian rider Michael Barry did a good job for his team mates, who won more stages than any other team. Canadian sponsored team Cervelo also had a lot of succes with four stage wins. It could have been five if sporting director Van Poppel wouldn’t have told Serge Pauwels to wait for team leader Carlos Sastre while he was on the decisive break.
Don’t worry. Post 97 wasn’t my final one, despite that it’s my favorite number. I’ve just been busy with work, organising an event for my former track and field club and lots of other things. So, sorry for the lack of updates, but otherwise I would have nothing to report about.
I’m not a member of the track and field club anymore (it’s for students only), but the former members try to get together regularly. Last year we went to the Belgian Ardennes and this year we’re spending a weekend at the coast of Noord-Holland, my home province. Even though I’m not a student anymore I did compete in the national indoor athletics championship for students. I borrowed a friend’s identity, so I would have the opportunity to run in the new stadium in Apeldoorn. Maybe it’s a bit illegal, but I wouldn’t have done it if they would have just built the thing sooner. And I wouldn’t have missed it. The stadium is great and the event was organized pretty professionally. There even was a call room and although the stands were pretty empty the feeling entering the arena for the 60 meters was quite special. With a time just above eight seconds I wasn’t much slower than when I actually trained for it. I wasn’t even last in the final standings. The arrears to the other sprinters in my heat was substantial though.
This weekend I’m competing again, but this time in an event I’ve never trained for and don’t even enjoy. I’m going to run five kilometres. The only reason I’m doing it because the race is on Circuit Park Zandvoort, the notorious race track in Holland, where I usually go to see car races. I figured it would be a nice way to see the track up close. Hopefully I’ll reach the finish before the time limit expires.
I've just received confirmation that the tickets I've requested for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games have been confirmed. This means that I'll get to experience the great games of curling and ice hockey in their 'natural habitat'. Providing that I find transportation to and accomodation in Vancouver, but I'm sure that will work out. I only have to be in Vancouver for a couple of days, as I've selected a compact array of events. On February 23th I'll be attending two sessions of curling, the next day I'll watch two ice hockey quarter finals and I'll see both curling finals on the 26th and 27th. In between the games I'll just wander around the city, where I expect to find plenty of entertainment.
Because I’m not going on holiday anywhere this year (we’ve postponed a trip to Egypt til next year and I’m saving for Vancouver 2010) I used my days off to watch the Summer Olympics. Most of the finals were at decent hours, but a couple of days I got up at 3am to see some of my favorite events, like the decathlon and volleyball. Overall the Games lacked a bit of atmosphere, no matter how hard the Chinese tried, but the athletic achievements were remarkable. Especially those of Phelps and Bolt of course. The Dutch did pretty good. As usual the expectations were sky-high, but despite not reaching the predicted medal count we had nothing to complain about. At least we did a lot better than the Belgians, who only got two medals, at the very end of the Games. For a long time it looked like Canada, my ‘second home country’ weren’t going to score any medals either, but the recovered well in the second half of the Olympics. In the end they even had more medals than the Netherlands, but less golds, so it depends on where you live which country ended higher on the medal table (just like China and the United States both declare themselves winners of the Olympics).
I also did some sporting activities myself. I went mountain-biking in Schoorl and sprinted up the Klimduin (a steep sand dune), which wasn’t a particularly bright idea as we still had quite a few miles to return to our starting location. And I played a round of ten-pin bowling. I improved my personal best to result to a staggering 149. Which could have been even better if I hadn’t missed the only remaining pin on my final throw by a hair.
I hadn’t been to a Grand Prix for years, because of the insane ticket prices and because Michael Schumacher always won. But now the excitement has returned to Formula 1, with four drivers still in contention for the championship, and the opportunity to combine it with a music festival and trip to London, I gave it another go. The moment I stepped out of the coach that brought us from London to Silverstone, I remember why I kept coming back to Formula 1 races years ago. The sound, the speed and even the smell were superb. And this was just the GP2 Series, the main event was still to come.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great, it was raining cats and dogs, but this actually was an advantage, because it always guarantees an eventful race. And a lot of the action happened right in front of us. We stood on the Luffield Terrace, at the exit of the last corner before start/finish, directly in front of the pit entry. Felipe Massa managed to spin his Ferrari three times at this exact same spot, but Honda-driver Jenson Button provided the best 360. Nick Heidfeld, one of my favourite drivers, twice overtook two drivers in this corner on his way to second position.
Not that we knew he was in second position. The rain and pit stops had stirred up the field quite a bit and we lost track as we were watching the track in front of us. There was a video wall, but it was far away and low to the ground and there was no way we could read the captions. That Hamilton was leading was pretty obvious, not only because he was driving so well, but also because of the huge cheers of the crowd every time he went by. But because he had such a big lead it wasn’t so clear who were trailing him. So we pretty much missed the very strong performance of Rubens Barrichello, who clinched third place in his Honda.
It’s too bad Silverstone has lost the British Grand Prix to Donington, because it’s a great track and the infrastructure isn’t as bad as people often say. It only took us two hours to get there and three to get back to London (Victoria Station). I wouldn’t have mind to go back, but I don’t think it will happen next year. But maybe Donington is just as exciting and if not, there are still a lot of other tracks and countries I haven’t been to yet.
It all came down to one point in the championship. Gemini-S only needed two more points (sets) to clinch the title. However the pressure took its toll and after three sets, they were 2-1 behind. Their opponent had a chance to win the fourth set, but a controversial decision from the referee at set point kept Gemini-S in the game. They finally clinched to set and also took the fifth set for the victory, but by then the championship was already decided.
Because we finished second, we got to play a play-off game against the team that finished in tenth position in the league above us. The winner would go (or stay) in the second class and the loser would go (or remain) in the third class. Because all of sudden summer had broken loose in Holland, it was incredibly hot in the hall. So I was very glad that we won the first two sets quite comfortably. One more set and we could take a refreshing shower and head towards the cafeteria. But our opponents had other plans. They started to score more points and we were making more mistakes, so it all came down to a deciding fifth set. Unlike the first four, the fifth set only goes to 15 points. So it’s not a good thing, when you’re 8-1 behind. However, we didn’t give up and fought back to equal terms. The referee then made some questionable decisions, including a yellow card for the coach of our opponents, which eventually gave us set point. Which I made use of with a killer block.
We’ve lost a game. After seventeen straight wins, we suffered our first defeat. And it was a big defeat. Not as much because of the score, but because it wasn’t the game against our main rivals, but against one of the lower ranked teams. And because it was completely unnecessary. Last time we beat them 4-0 and even despite the absence of our captain there was no reason we shouldn’t have repeated that score. But we did. We just gave it away by our own faults and internal conflicts. The slim chance we still had to become champions had no completely vanished.
The positive side to this story is that we had nothing to lose against our biggest rival and we were after revenge. After a very close opening, where we came back from behind to win the first set and just failed to the same in the second set, we crushed them in the third set. They were so shattered by that embarrassment that we could also simply take the fourth set to complete a very (bitter-)sweet victory. If we hadn’t lost the previous game, we might have still had a chance to win the championship, but on the other hand we might have also have lost this game because of the tension. We’ve finished the season on top with another commanding win. But the other team still has one game to play and they only need to win two sets to clinch the title. But finishing second is of course still a very good result. And it means we get to play another game to try and move up a league.
Read the introduction. Links Portfolio LinkedIn Hyves Facebook Last FM Idiomag My Movies (IMDb) Moose Top 97 Tracks (Jan 2008) Albums (Dec 2008) Movies (Jan 2009) In Dutch: Moose werkte vroeger bij McDonald's. Daar voelde hij zich echter niet meer thuis en daarom is hij voor zichzelf begonnen. Van zijn grote passie, schrijven, heeft hij zijn beroep gemaakt, al verdient hij er geen cent mee. In zijn vrije tijd houdt Moose zich vooral bezig met muziek, films, sport en reizen. Moose heeft een nogal eclectische smaak. Daarom schrijft hij ook over het beste van alles. Maar natuurlijk ook over minder goede dingen, wat dat is vaak wel zo leuk.
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