RIP Jeff Blatnick

I got some sad news today; Jeff Blatnick died.

He was an Olympic wrestler who won gold in 1984. Now, I don't know the names of many Olympic wrestlers, let alone ones who competed almost three decades ago. But a year and ten days ago I was reading a book called Awaken the Olympian Within and came across Jeff Blatnick's story (click the link for the post I wrote about it). It left me moved and emotional and tearstained, and I suddenly had an immense attachment to a man who competed in a sport I rarely watch a full seven years before I was even born.

I don't remember the last time I'd even though about his story in the past year. But upon seeing tweets mourning his passing, it all came crashing back. This is the first time in a long time that the death of someone famous has personally meant something to me and I had to take a moment to myself to be sad.

There's really no point to this post, nor do I have anything else to report. Jeff Blatnick died, and I'm sad.  That's about the extent of it. But this is my small tribute to a man who overcame an Olympic boycott and cancer to become the best in his sport, and made a 20-year-old girl cry on a plane to Salt Lake City.

Rest in peace, Jeff.


Winter Wonderland

I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoys winter, and the winter Olympics is no exception. Just like I prefer coats and boots to humidity and sweating, I'll take skating and sliding over running and swimming any day of the week. And, yes, it's barely fall (and still well over 80 degrees here in Miami), but I spend the full year and a half lead-up to every winter Olympics in a perpetual wintry mood.

Has anyone else heard that the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee (because apparently that's a real thing) has recommended to the governor and Salt Lake City's mayor that Salt Lake City should bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics? Just me? Well, you're welcome.

I've been a little bit depressed ever since the USOC announced that there'd be no American Olympics bids for 2020. Because, really, 20+ years is way too long to go without an Olympics, America! And 2026 is still a bonafide lifetime away (I'll turn 35 during those Games -- holy crap), but Utah would need a formal bid process in place by... 2016. Okay, so, that's still way too far in the future. But if that's the best we can hope for than I'll start getting excited now, because the atmosphere of home field advantage at the Olympics is absolutely incredible. I never really felt it until I was there, but I can't even fathom how awesome it would be to cheer on Team USA in the USA. If you think going to a football game and cheering the home team feels like camaraderie, imagine that the whole country is the stadium.

Again, you're welcome. ;)

But in the meantime, we've still got Sochi to look forward to (in less than 500 days!). In the terms of an Olympic host city that's, like, tomorrow. So some exciting stuff is happening over there! The Sochi 2014 Winter Games Facebook page put up some photos of the Adler Arena and "Iceberg" Skating Palace.

So pretty! I love how the clean lines and whiteness of the building feel and look like ice.

Also recently released are the Sochi pictograms!

Call me a nerd (guilty as charged), but I'm so excited about these. They're ADORABLE! I said it in my post about Sochi.Park and I'll say it again -- I am totally head over heels with the Sochi design scheme. The font and the colors are perfect, and I absolutely love that the pictograms were inspired by the ones used at the Moscow Games in 1980.

Now, aren't you excited for winter too? :)

Breaking News (Sort Of)!: Co-Ed Swim Relays?

I can't believe I still haven't blogged about the Paralympics. I'm a little bit of a failure. I actually haven't even finished watching the closing ceremony yet; I'm about 38 minutes into it and have been for, oh, three weeks now. It's just so hard to find two hours of free time! But that IS coming... eventually.

In the meantime, however, I stumbled across something today that I'm actually kind of fascinated by. According to an article on, there was a co-ed 4x50m relay at the swimming World Cup in Dubai today. Teams will be made up of two men and two women and each team can put together their legs however they want, which could mean men swimming against women depending on each team's strategy/strengths. Co-ed relays might end up in seven other major swim meets later this year and, if all goes well, they could eventually show up in the world championships and the Olympics.

Basically, we're very far from having this event in the Olympics, since it would have to be a test event first (and I'm not even sure if Rio is far enough in the future for it to happen there). But WOW. I'm unbelievably thrilled at just the possibility!

Had I even thought about co-ed events in the Olympics until today? Honestly, I'm not even sure. For the most part, gender in sport is looked at from a "men vs. women" viewpoint. And yes, men are overall better athletes, so one man swimming against one woman would be an unfair race, assuming they're the same caliber athlete. World record times for men and women in 50m races differ by two or three seconds. This is pretty on-par with most sports; men just have an advantage.

But if teams are composed of men AND women... well, that's not really an issue anymore. What's a three-seconds-slower time if another team also swims a three-seconds-slower time? It's not like swimming is a contact sport; the women are in no danger of getting laid out by a man twice their size. If these girls can swim fast, they can hang with the boys. Pretty simple, no? The German team at the World Cup had a woman swim their anchor leg and they won by over two seconds.

Call me biased, but I think this could do really great things for women's sports in general. Women can be fantastic athletes, and throwing them into co-ed competition will prove that point. So I'm on board purely for this reason alone; I want to see girls kick some butt. But look at the strategy that's involved!
While smart money and zealous assumptions would suggest an American team made up of famous names like Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, and Ryan Lochte… a little math says that none of those gold medal swimmers would have made the cut for a hypothetical American squad in London.
Why? When you look at the results you realize that the disparity between men’s and women’s times in the backstroke and breaststroke is greater than in the butterfly and freestyle by a full second or two, so you’d want to put girls in the latter two strokes and the men in the first two.
In London that probably would have meant the Americans starting with Matt Grevers, who won gold with an Olympic record in the 100m back in London, followed by breaststroke bronze-medalist Brendan Hansen in the second leg. Then you’d definitely put world record holder Dana Vollmer in the butterfly (Team USA’s biggest advantage) and Jessica Hardy, who finished seventh in the 50m freestyle as the anchor.
Sure, you might not want to anchor with your weakest swimmer, so maybe you swap her for Cullen Jones – who won silver in the men’s 50m free – but then you risk giving up an extra second or two by swapping out Hansen for Rebecca Soni in the breaststroke. And can you really leave Phelps, Lochte, Missy, Soni, and Nathan Adrian off this team?
Mind = BLOWN. I mean, Michael Phelps is retired now, but still. I'm so intrigued! Can this PLEASE happen?!

What do you think?