6:13 PM EDT
Still plowing through tape, and I found about 5 minutes of BMX coverage that made me really glad I watched it on live stream yesterday. Granted, perhaps there’s more coverage somewhere on my DVR, but I’m really shocked that I’ve only been able to watch BMX finals, whereas seemingly every program I’ve recorded so far apparently has to have some water polo on it (water polo’s fine, but I’m not enthralled enough to watch every. single. second.
I am, however, enthralled with BMX. Just like skicross in the Winter Games, this is really exciting to watch, and you never know how it’s going to end. Races are less than a minute. Racers who crash will ride their bikes (if they can) or literally run them across the line because in the preliminaries, time doesn’t matter–it’s points. When you have to ride several races, depending on what happens to your competitors, even having a bad race might mean you can still make it to the finals.
And what finals they were! On the women’s side, favorite Mariana Pajon from Colombia got the gold–to the excitement of the fans. The men’s race was crazy, and the favored Australians who’d been crushing it all competition long didn’t even make the podium. That honor went to American Connor Fields.
3:15 PM EDT
Women’s Race Walking/Rhythmic Gymnastics
I’m still watching tape (I’ll be watching tape until the Paralympics, it seems) and have started with women’s race walking and rhythmic gymnastics. It’s a fitting pairing, as both are really perplexing. Maybe they could be less so with better announcing–though as each event goes on, you glean more.
Race walking is fascinating because you have to wonder what constitutes a “walk.” While the NBC announcers talked about proper form, it took them a bit to actually describe what it is: When you put your foot on the ground in front of you, it has to be straight. It must remain straight while you shift your weight until it’s directly underneath your hip. Then you can bend it on the backswing.
The route (well-attended by fans, likely because it was free) is peppered with judges, who are there to make sure people are actually walking. They can get penalties for not meeting the standard, and if they get penalties from three different judges, the chief judge will step out and flash a red paddle and pull them from the race.
OK, figuring that out was interesting, but at the end of the race, the walkers sped up! How–just how–do they do that? No clue, but I want to know. Give us a shout if you’ve got insight.
Another perplexing sport for me is rhythmic gymnastics, and the announcers weren’t great at explaining the ins and outs of the sport while it was going on. What can and can’t the gymnasts do? Why are there apparatuses? What’s difficult? What’s a deduction (beyond dropping something)? More information would help because it’s really hard to call this a sport–oh, I know it can be argued, but at the moment, I just don’t get it. I think I have some more on the DVR though, so hopefully it comes with enlightenment, but the dead airtime from the announcers hasn’t helped the sport’s cause in my mind.