Friday, June 27, 2008

Awaiting the Flame

Lots been going on in the world of Olympic sports recently - and I've to say with six weeks until the Opening Ceremonies, I'm pretty well excited.

Still no official word from NBC on the specifics of its coverage. I think they've given us the numbers and told us we can expect to see coverage on MSNBC, CNBC, USA and Oxygen, along with the regular coverage on NBC. Total hours is supposed to be right around 2200 of coverage or something. That should keep you busy.

But the other interesting announcement they made earlier this week is about their web coverage. Sounds like they are going to cater to those of us who want to watch things live, or ON Demand on the Internet. I don't think you'll be able to watch the media darling sports (gymnastics, track & field, swimming, beach volleyball) but I do think you'll have the opportunity to watch the rest on your schedule. One of the articles I read talked about downloading events and saving them for later viewing, and gave the example of the viewer watching the Games on their morning train commute. Supposedly the service is free. NBC has been saying this coverage will be available on 25 sports. Pretty cool stuff.

In the meantime, NBC and its cable affiliates have been showing lots of Olympic Trial action. Last weekend it was diving and gymnastics, highlighting the coverage on the main network with Wrestling and Judo getting some coverage on MSNBC. This weekend, Track and Field and Swimming kick off.

The US men's gymnastics team was selected after the trials in Philadelphia. There was a little bit of controversy. Both the Hamm brothers (Morgan and Paul) from the 2004 team are back on the team despite recent injuries, also making the team were Joe Hagerty, Jonathan Horton, Justin Spring, and Kevin Tan. Missing from selection were Raj Bhavsar and Alex Artemev, who were both named alternates along with David Durante. The team is constructed in an effort to maximize skills on the individual aparatus, and it will be interesting to see if Artemev's pommel horse routine is greatly missed. I did not believe that Morgan Hamm had done enough in his recovery from injury to deserve inclusion, and also questioned the naming of Spring to the team. Yet I think both of those athletes have the capabilities to dramatically increase the US chances at medaling. However, my concern is that the US team has too many injury question marks and not enough stability. But with that said, I'm certainly no expert, and I know that the decision was one that the committee put a lot of time and effort into, so we'll anxiously await the results.

The women's team won't be named for several more weeks. We do know that Shaun Johnson and Nastia Liukin have secured spots. Three other spots appear headed to Chelsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, and Alicia Sacramone. The final spot will likely goto one of the trio of Jana Bieger, Bridget Sloan or Shayla Worley. Ivana Hong still has a chance, but the U.S. is likely to choose an uneven bars routine, and that category is not one of Hong's strongest. Chelsea Davis is also a favorite of the Karolyi's and could be a dark horse, however unlikely.

I did see one report this week, where there was a medals projection that had China winning more medals than the US at these games. Obviously, as the host nation, that has been a goal of the Chinese. But I'll be rooting for the Red, White and Blue to hold on.

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