The Ends Have No End (Yet)
February 23rd, 2010
When Canada’s Kevin Martin won his tense matchup against Great Britain’s David Murdoch on Saturday night, it was a big win for Martin: it meant that he moved to 6-0, which pretty much guaranteed him a spot in the final four teams heading into the medal round, and thus a good chance of making it to the gold medal game and potentially avenging his loss in Salt Lake City. It was also a big boost for Team Canada as a whole, as it was a pretty disappointing day: despite three skaters competing in Short Track finals, and a legitimate medal contender in the Men’s 1500m at the Richmond Oval, Canada walked away without a single medal, the first day it has been held off the scoreboard thus far in the games. Martin’s win helped right the ship, so the speak, and Canadians could go to bed (or, if they didn’t stay up past midnight in the eastern half of the country, wake up) to.
However, for Scotland’s David Murdoch, it was something entirely different: that loss, his third of the tournament, put the defending World Champion at the edge of elimination, turning his Round Robin tournament into a three-game bout of sudden death. Murdoch has had an uneven tournament, and his only option after that point was to bounce back from a game that was very winnable to win three straight in order to even have a shot at making it to the Final Four. If he loses one more game, he is an Olympic athlete playing for pride, like the short track speed skaters (or Snowboard Cross competitors) relegated to the “B” Final, forced to race to decide who finishes in the positions that no one is really going to care about.
And for the sake of a great curler in David Murdoch, I hope he is able to keep from falling into their ranks.
Day Seven: On the Edge of My Seat (Closing My Eyes)
February 18th, 2010
When Martin Brodeur stopped the final shot in a shootout which secured Canada an all-important victory in its march towards Hockey Gold at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, I was on Twitter.
I’d like to tell you that I spent the final moments of Canada’s tense shootout victory over Switzerland on Twitter because I was interested in researching how people respond to sporting events in tweets, but the real reason is somewhat more embarrassing. Truth be told, despite the fact that I had recused myself of all personal investment surrounding Canada’s quest for hockey gold – “It’s okay if they lose,” I said naively – my crippling inability to handle suspenseful sporting events continues to be my achilles heel.
In 2002, as Canada faced off with the United States for the Gold Medal in Salt Lake City, I spent the third period on the second story of the house alternating between pacing with my ears plugged and putting a pillow over my head to muffle out any possible sounds from my family watching the game downstairs. It’s a serious issue, perhaps even downright psychological, but I just can’t handle the pressure: even when I have no actual investment, where I’m quite fine if Canada is unable to win a Gold Medal, I somehow internalize all of the pressure that the diehard Canadian hockey fans feel, and the pressure that’s on the players (some of whom are younger than I am) to perform at a high level. Basically, I am a helpless vessel for the transferral of crippling anxiety when it comes to suspenseful and meaningful sporting events.
And so I learned of Sidney Crosby’s heroic Shootout winner over Twitter, and Martin Brodeur’s clutch save was communicated to me through the same medium. In order to make myself feel somewhat better about this, I want to talk about how people were responding to the game through Twitter, and how it’s changing (or, as it turns out, not changing) my Olympics experience.
Curse or Blessing? Predictability in Reality TV
November 6th, 2009
It’s been a while since I’ve stopped in with a Reality Roundup, which is symptomatic of the fact that my opinions about these three shows haven’t really changed. Survivor has been dominated by a single team to the point of proving downright uninteresting, Top Chef is still being dominated by the same four chefs, and Project Runway is something I didn’t even bother watching for a few weeks, choosing to read recaps instead. This hasn’t been a great season for any of the three shows on the level of really surprising me: in fact, they’ve all to different degrees become predictable (whether in which team will win, which chefs will dominate, and whether the show will be boring, respectively).
All three shows, however, feel ready to confront that sense of predictability in this week’s episodes, as Survivor rushes into a merge and Top Chef present a “volatile” Reunion special in an effort to shake things up a bit. And while Top Chef’s reunion show is predictably dramatic, Survivor’s merge episode is perhaps one of its best ever, unpredictable to the point of having no idea who is going home in the end.
And yet this leaves Project Runway, which has been predictably boring but almost entirely unpredictable in terms of the lack of consistent judging. As such, while the uncertainty of Survivor’s finale is downright exciting, the uncertainty surrounding who will be going to Bryant Park is actually problematic, and the end result dissatisfying if not necessarily wrong.