Archive for Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Late-night Olympic viewing

September 20, 2000

It doesn't seem like we can go home from work for the next two weeks and watch the Summer Olympics.

Because it's fall.

The leaves are falling. Temperatures are dropping into the 40s at night. School is back in session. The swimming pools are closed. Stores are stocked with sweaters and wool socks.

But it is that wonderful time between spring and summer in Sydney. The participants in my favorite Olympic sport the horses on the eventing team have been in Australia since the last day of July, and curiosity has led me to routinely check what the weather has been doing "down under."

It's been cool, and until the past few weeks the temperatures reached only into the 50s definitely not what we would consider summer. It's warmer now 70s and people like me all around the world are anticipating their favorite event.

But, I have come to accept that I may not get to watch eventing at all in the next two weeks. It's one of those oddball sports like handball and shuffleboard (I'm pretty sure the latter isn't an Olympic sport, but you get my point), and is televised only for a few minutes around 3 a.m., give or take an hour.

If I am lucky, I might be able to watch thorough coverage of the event in two years on the Animal Planet channel; or during some Olympics, coverage of the equestrian events is offered on pay-per-view.

I'll be almost as happy to watch gymnastics, swimming and track and field. But for those who have never watched it, eventing which is three sports in one has just as much, if not more, action.

The dressage portion (horse ballet in a flat arena) of three-day eventing is beautiful and awesome to equestrians like me, but would not excite the average person in the average household. However, the cross-country jumping (miles of galloping over large, solid jumps) can please even the most macho football-basketball-wrestling fan.

I learned that in college, when my VCR was confiscated by upperclassmen the first week of my freshman year. In order for my horsey friends and I to watch eventing videos (yes, we led a pitiful social life), we had to fast forward to some of the horrendous falls and collisions with the mammoth jumps that are not uncommon in the sport. The suite of four "macho" men were hooked. They related to the falls and collisions as if they were a game-winning tackle or a sacking of the opposing team's quarterback.

My friends and I, between the fast forwarding, at least got to watch the sport for how it should be appreciated for the athleticism and talent of both the horse and rider, and for the perfect, fall-free rides over the course of jumps.

So if you are awake at 3 a.m., turn the TV on and catch a few minutes. You might just like it, too.

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