Monthly Archives: May 2012

Press pass is here!

This trip to the Olympics just got real!

My press pass arrived today, along with a pass, aka “Oyster Card,” for the rail lines. I’m so excited, I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to sit at my desk today and get anything done.

London, here we come!

 

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Archery video

For those of you who missed it, there was a video to go along with my story on archery. Christina Gullickson, a former Sports chick who now works in web production put it together, and I think it is great. Check it out, but see the one on the Sentinel site if you’d like the words and lips to match up.

Also, if you’re wondering how you can try archery — and I definitely recommend you give it a shot — check out the Santa Cruz Archers website or stop by the archery range near DeLaveaga (check out the website first for directions) on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m., where Randy can give you an introduction.

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Pretending to pole vault

Well, that’s another Olympic sport I have in my back pocket. Last week, local high school pole vault coach Paul Friedenbach took me under his wing and attempted to teach me how to vault at Santa Cruz High. Did you know women weren’t allowed to compete in pole vault until about 10 years ago because they supposedly weren’t strong enough?

James Tensuan/Sentinel
Julie Jag clears the crossbar at Santa Cruz High School after getting some pointers from the school’s pole vaulting coach, Paul Friedenbach.

I wasn’t so worried about strength as speed and agility. This is one sport I never thought I would be able to do, and yet… Well, let’s just say I got over the bar.

Most likely that story won’t run for a couple of weeks, but I’m knocking off another one each week (or at least that’s my goal). Keep the suggestions coming in. One reader thought judo would be a good one, and another suggested table tennis. I’m also interested in any of the equestrian events, rowing and synchronized swimming. If you know anyone who can help me explore these, drop me a line at jjag@santacruzsentinel.com or leave a comment here.

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The Olympic Flame

The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch relay. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.

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Olympic -caliber table tennis near our town

If you want to catch some Olympic-caliber table tennis in person, this is your weekend. The ICC California State Open is scheduled to be held Friday – Sunday at, where else?, the Paddle Palace in Milpitas. Milpitas has a strong table tennis community and a 16-year-old girl from there just qualified to compete in London.

Here’s a video of what you might see. Try to get past the first couple of whiffs to the good stuff:

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Pole vault variety show

This is Russia’s Yelena Isinbaeva

Russia’s Yelena Isinbaeva competes in the finals of the women’s Pole vault during the Athletics Golden Gala in Rome’s Olympic Stadium on July 11, 2008. Isinbaeva set a new world record of 5.03 meters at the time. She now holds the current record of 5.06.
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

in the midst of pole vaulting to a then-world record of 5.03 meters during the 2008 Golden Gala in Rome. Isinbaeva, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, has since improved her record by .03 meters.

On Wednesday, I will be headed to Santa Cruz High to attempt to pole vault as part of my Lesser-Known Olympics series of columns. When I told two local high school pole vaulting studs — Hailey Fish of Soquel and Nicole Trenchard of PCS — at the CCS Trials last week that I was going to give it a go, they were ecstatic.

“In what other sport can you feel like you’re flying?” Trenchard asked.
Well, we’ll see about flying. Judging by my core strength, I’ll be luck to get more than a meter (roughly 3 feet) without breaking something — hopefully the pole, not the body. I’ll be sure to post back here on Wednesday to let you know how it goes. Then, stay tuned to our Outside section on Fridays for the full scoop, along with photos and video (Let’s be honest, it’s probably more like a blooper reel).
Wish me luck!

Categories: Olympic Preparation, Olympics, Photos, Track & Field Events | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Olympic Torch

Olympic Torch

This photograph made available by LOCOG shows Carol Bowery carrying the Olympic flame on the leg through Bath England Tuesday May 22, 2012. . The Olympic torch relay is on its fourth day as it traverses Britain ahead of the July 27 opening of the London Games. (AP Photo/Yui Mok/LOCOG)

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A look into the lesser-known Olympic sports

It’s finally happening! No, not our trip to London for the Olympic Games, that’s not until July. But, for me it’s almost that scary. Starting with Friday’s paper and Thursday night’s online edition, we are launching my series of columns that looks into some of the more neglected Olympic sports. You know, the ones whose results barely register on the ticker and in the daily recaps, the ones happy to get 15 seconds of fame, much less 15 minutes. The ones you may not have even known — and may not believe — existed as Olympic sports.

I’m kicking the series off with my column on Trampoline. It’s the newest and least known of three gymnastics disciplines within the Olympics (the other two are artistic and rhythmic). I went to the Vargas Academy near the Sentinel offices in Scotts Valley and Vern Vargas tried his best to teach me the basics. It’s tougher than you’d think for something that’s usually considered the domain of kids. And, it’s kind of dangerous. While showing off for our photographer, Shmuel Thaler, I landed face first on the trampoline and got some nasty floorburn — on my nose.

I’m hoping by the time you read the column and the sidebars that tell you everything you’d ever want to know about the sport — like the dates of the competition, frequent terms and a history and explanation of the rules — that you’ll actually understand what’s going on if you see it briefly flicker across your TV or computer screen.

Trampoline is just the first in the series. I’m hoping to run one a week — every Friday — until the Games begin. That’s ambitious, but it’s good to have goals. Some of the others in the works:

Weightlifting

Archery

Fencing

And some I’m considering:

Synchronized swimming

Rowing

Table Tennis

Equestrian jumping

Steeplechase

If you can help me experience these sports, drop me a note. Or, do the same if there’s a sport out there you’d like to see explored.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Olympic Preparation, Olympics, Photos, Video | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Rowing practices

In this photo taken, Monday, May 7, 2012, Giuseppe Lanzone rows with the United States eightman crew as they practice in Oakland, Calif. The Americans have endured some choppy waters, all right: a rigorous schedule of 11 rowing workouts a week in San Francisco’s East Bay suburbs as they look to secure the last Olympic berth for London in their event – the first time U.S. Rowing has faced this unique position of failing to qualify for the Summer Games through the world championships. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

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