Sports Synchro Smackdown
posted by August 23 at 0:12 AMon
So, Jen Graves and I are very stupid and our laptops are not equipped to handle Cover It Live. This will be old-school liveslog. Comment in the regular comments.
Annie: Whew. I am exhausted. I have been watching teenage Jen Graves point her toes and spin around upside down for a half hour, and I now feel prepared to handle the NBC broadcast of the team technical event. So what is the techical event, Jen?
Jen: Technical event is, you know, technical. Less free than the free routine. Which is happening right this second. So if you’re watching on a computer that has an Intel processor, for the love of god, then you can see that. We here have an incredibly complex setup that involves one Intel-enabled live feed, one television, and two computers, neither of which can handle, you know, simple live-blogging programs. But we digress.
WHO IS EXCITED???????
Annie: I was pretty excited by that fireball the news had on just now. I have no idea what was on fire. Oh well. So, the NBC broadcast starts at 12:30 and it will be some stuff that happened, like, 24 hours ago. If you don’t have an Intel processor and want to see the free routine (after which the medals will be awarded), then you have to wait until tomorrow between 9 and 5. Very helpful. If you do have an Intel processor, you can click here and be 24 hours ahead of us.
What I want to know is, does the technical event involve people being thrown around the pool? Obviously, the only cool thing about synchro is people being flung willy-nilly across the pool.
Jen: Yes, there will be throwing. (And for those of you watching the Intel version, did you see that back-flip toss just now? Whoa. That closeup of a bunch of wet, smiling ladies is upsetting, but not as upsetting as the words “wet, smiling ladies.” I am so sorry.)
So the NBC broadcast starts in two minutes. Annie and I have heard that a pair of Americans chose as their theme “The Rebirth of Christ.” I wish we could see that. Instead, I believe we are about to see some Spanish “gangstas.” Yes. Get. Ready.
Annie: Any sport that allows its athletes to title their routines is, by definition, ridiculous. A sport does not need a title. A book needs a title. An artwork needs a title. A sporting performance should be autonomous.
Jen: Ah, the lame diversions from the actual athletics begin. The question is, you dirty ex-gymnast, can you even tread water?
Annie: Yes, I can tread water. Can you do a roundoff backhandspring double-full layout? I can’t either. But I used to be able to.
We have no idea where the synchro is either, people. We are still watching channel 5 and praying
Jen: NEW AGENDA. We are watching the live feed on the computer—on that URL we pasted into the top of this thing—because NBC is showing women’s volleyball, Cuba versus China. But this will be better! No gangstas. But at least we will not have to pretend we do not know the results.
What I’m seeing is a lot of head bobbing. I am not impressed. Our feed has to buffer every once in a while, which is brutal on synchronization—oh! some kind of eight-person dolphinish wave thing!—because every little detail is plain to see when the screen freezes.
Annie: I will now discuss the live-feed leotards. I mean, swim suits. The Japanese suits are blue and white and the pattern is like a battered butterfly. No, I don’t like it. Whoa, they got the exact same score for their technical and free routine. That must not happen often. They must be exactly as obsessive compulsive as they are free. Yes, that sounds like the Japanese.
Jen: Not tribal heads on their bosoms! OMG, are they a head totem pole? WHY DID IT JUST CUT TO AN AD?
OK, so the Spaniards, out of nowhere (I always knew the champions to be the Russians, the Canadians, and the Americans), are vying for gold.
They, I believe, are trying to convince us that they are in a rain forest. This is fairly distracting, considering that what they are doing is actually INCREDIBLY fast and difficult. Remember, when legs are straight up in the air—WHOA! did you catch that straddle line???—is when it’s the hardest. Both legs or both arms, the straighter, the harder.
Annie: I like the Spaniards. They seem hardcore. Some of the music sounds like squeaky rubber birds. I especially liked the double-straddle business. Jen was telling me that there is more splashing nowadays than there used to be. Splashing is good. It will convince people that synchro swimmers are not obsessed with being effortless. Some part of these judged sports should look effortless, but other parts should look freaking difficult. Otherwise, who cares? Plus, splashing is like percussion. You can add your own music, basically.
Jen: Annie is totally, totally right about the effortlessness problem. Except that I would like to reiterate that synchro has NOTHING in common with certain other judged sports, those sports being rhythmic gymnastics, which is from Satan.
AND DOES EVERYBODY ELSE HAVE TO WATCH THE SAME GE AD EVERY FIVE SECS?
Hey, nice lift! Wow, they are really not fooling around with this splashing. I think I’m actually torn—it makes them look like they’re just flailing. For the first, like, decade you spend doing synchronized swimming, you do look like you’re drowning, so when you’re actually good, you want it to look sort of amazing.
Look at that Russian woman’s hip dislocation on that lift! When I was swimming, Russian coaches would sometimes come to workshops or camps or whatever, and they would always smush your body down in a split as if the Cold War depended on it. I sort of loved it. They were no fooling. And now, all these years later, they still corner the market on flexibility, but they have the strength, too.
WHOA. Do you see those perfect 10s???? I’m anti. That was so not perfect.
Annie: I had a Czech gymnastics coach once who totally sat on me. But there was all sorts of sitting on people in gymnastics—usually your lighter fellow gymnasts would be recruited. I used to do overextended splits, where first I would be in the splits and then I would put my front leg on a block like a foot off the floor. Shawn Johnson needs some of this.
So the Russians got perfect tens from everyone except.. was that Kazakhstan?? Wow. I don’t understand this judging at all. I mean, the Russians were fantastic, but surely somebody broke the synchronization somewhere? I don’t know, the live feed was too jumpy.
It’s true that indoor volleyball is way better than beach volleyball. There’s all that faking out. And the tiny shorts are cute!
Jen: Indoor volleyball is patently superior. I used to play this sport, too, coincidentally. I was the digger. In the back. Center. You know, the one always flinging herself to the floor. I am constitutionally incapable of a good spike.
However, back to the subject at hand, I would like to say that it is moments like these when I desperately miss my synchro. Oh, my synchro. Now when I climb out of the water it takes longer. I feel this is something that should never happen to a body.
Annie: I mean, synchro should obviously never happen to a body. Gymnastics certainly should not happen to a body. But happen it does! I started gymnastics at the age of three because my hip was rotated inward, giving me pigeon toes and problems walking. Gymnastics straightened me out, more or less. I also could have done ice skating or something else, but at the age of three, I preferred gymnastics. The next nine years of my life were set.
I think Jen was plucked from the pool at the age of 4 because she could float good. Is that right?
Jen: Yup. Not only good, but vertically. This is important. When the woman who was teaching me how to swim (and who had a private synchro team, too) dropped me into the deep end of a pool to see what would happen, I just lay there like Christ (the REBIRTH!) with my legs straight down and my arms along the surface out to the sides. I competed in my first meet just after I turned five. I competed in my last meet just after I turned 20. My whole life as a little kid I wanted to go to the Olympics, but I didn’t hang on. Oh, I feel … embarrassed.
Annie: Wow, that is a disturbing image, of Jen the floating Christ. I’m trying to remember when I first competed. I was on a Class IV that trained at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion by the age of 6, but I’m not sure I competed until I moved to Phoenix. Then I started at level 5 (new regimen, but also now outdated) at the age of 7. I really wish NBC would play this indoor volleyball when people are awake. Beach volleyball is clearly less interesting. If the indoor girls had to wear bikinis and the beach babes had to wear shirts, that would be the real game-changer.
Jen: Beach volleyball should not even be called volleyball, because there are no volleys.
Okay, WHERE IS MY NBC SYNCHRO? I have nothing but love and respect, as you can see, for volleyball, and for the fine athletes of China and Cuba. But I want my stale, last-night’s synchro replay tidbits.
So Annie: Are you convinced, finally, that my sport rocks the casbah over your sport? Is that how one spells “casbah”? What is a casbah, anyway?
Annie: A casbah is the native section of a North African city. There is a really good movie with Jean Gabin called Pepe le Moko in which Gabin plays a French gangster who hides in Algiers’s casbah. Very atmospheric.
Am I convinced that synchro rocks? No. The deal-breaker is this solo synchro thing. Something that is done by oneself can not be synchronized; it is clear that this is done merely so that synchro can have primadonnas. I also hate the titles, and the little hats. The fact is, gymnastics is an ancient sport descended from the Greeks. Synchro is descended from little theatrical events in the first half of the 20th century in the United States. That is not very distinguished. Synchro is, however, better than rhythmic gymnastics, which is just gross.
Jen: Oh, you don’t convince me with your lists of tangential hatreds. I can tell you like it and want to make it gymnastics’s VP.
Did you get your text from Obama yet?
Annie: No, Obama clearly hates me. VP Synchro has real foreign policy experience, as its podium had a country that recently legalized gay marriage, a country that recently invaded its neighbor, and a country that recently lied about its underage gymnasts and reeducated some old ladies for requesting a protest permit. President Gymnastics is a little bit more hegemonic. But hey, North Korea won the gold on vault!
Jen: VP Synchro accepts, with thanks.
And with that, we gotsta go. NBC is not giving us what we WANT and DESERVE and WERE PROMISED, and you should see the state we’re in here. Sleep must be had. Right on this couch.
Our nation declares war on NBC and to you we give only love. Good night!