Category Archives: Sport

Talking Canadian Women’s Tennis

Tennis Canada is making headway in player development. Upon taking the Instructor Level One course in 2014, I sensed that the curriculum for the introductory player was strong. There have been advancements in addressing the needs of the young players. This year at Roland Garros, four Canadian women have merited entries into first round qualifying with No. 120 ranked Francoise Abanda leading the charge. In fact Ms. Abanda was seeded 16 in the qualifying tournament. 

Indeed, Ms. Abanda has ruffled some feathers of late in her claim that race has played a role in the context of her lack of exposure on the tennis scene despite her rise in ranking. She could be right. She could be wrong but she’s allowed to feel the way she feels. One can label her as a “victim” or a grandstander. In a facebook post just yesterday, I wished luck to the Canadian men vying for the French Open title but I did so having first checked the first round of the women’s draw having concluded that no Canadian woman made it through qualifying. I am sensitive this way knowing full well the current state of Bouchard’s game and the past history of Canadian women’s tennis. Bianca Andreescu just missed by the way.

I’m willing to cut Canadian sport reporters some slack given Canada’s tennis track record.  The most decorated Canadian tennis player, Daniel Nestor, did in fact move out of the country (for good reason due to our exorbitant tax system) and his residency would have been relevant in our sports reporters refrain from covering him. Have you heard of him?  Canada’s attention to the sport has paralleled the relative lack of players at the top level but it’s good to see that things are changing. More indoor facilities and grass roots programs will further improve the sport’s appeal.   

The Passing of Warren Miller

Without question, Mr. Miller and his annual ski movie editions were tantamount to the excitement circulating through the halls of Kamloops’ Sahali Junior secondary as friends and I anticipated the first snow and trips to local Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks Resort). The thing most distinct in my memory of his adventure movies was his calm yet drama filled voice and perfect annunciation fitting of the exuberant spirit of the sport. This self proclaimed “ski bum” grew his audience from modest beginnings by sharing with friends scenes captured from his eight millimetre camera taken at Sun Valley Idaho while working as a young ski instructor.

Over time, with success and a growing budget, he moved his sets world-wide and depicted wondrous winter landscapes as backdrops for elite skiers stunting or careening knee deep in breathtaking unmarked fresh powder. Now, I marvel at the planning which would have went into acquiring the miraculous footage when factoring in winter travel, weather, procuring skiers, cooperation from resorts and heli-ski operators. As teenagers, these things didn’t cross our minds while mystified by the possibilities of where our ski interests may lead along with the upcoming ski season.

In anything we do, there needs to be particular seeds of inspiration which compels us to move and to actualize the joy freedom offers. To this day, Warren Miller and his movie making team play a definite role in inspiring yours truly to seek winter solace and athletic prowess in the mountains ranges of Western Canada and to them I say thanks!   

       

Federer Berdych Highlights Aussie Quarters 2018

Roger was on the ropes throughout the first set but his iron clad mental toughness shone during critical points late. From the opening serve of the first set breaker, the wilting effect had hit Tomas perceptibly.

It’s rare that you see Roger make a poor shot selection. In particular, on this day his backhand was exacting short hop topspin loops with concise accuracy during particular episodes of desperation which proved more than just defensive at times. He used a well disguised backhand drop shot also which definitely caught Berdych off guard. 

There is never any inefficient energy expelled during the Roger Federer ground strokes.  At 36, his court movement is still lizard like tracking shots with the benefit of an anticipatory sense matched by nobody. You may have to be a tennis player to appreciate the extensiveness and exquisiteness of the Roger Federer grab bag of tennis shots. It’s one thing to possess the arsenal but to know exactly when and how to deploy it with blazing reactionary instinct is another. He never seems to waver when down a break and you’ll never see him quiver at the very rare miss hit.  He doesn’t short circuit stroke fundamentals in spite of his prowess and continues to glow in the glory of victory with a modest charisma destined to color the record books with distinction.    

 

X-Country Ski Tips Mild Weather

Waxing becomes more important as temperatures rise because the subtleties associated with stride length, kick wax surface length, wax application technique all play into your ability to maintain stride when course manoeuvrability becomes restricted.  You’ll find that you can really blaze in moderate temperatures if you’ve prepared your skis effectively for the conditions. 

If it’s old snow, you’re using glister as your kick wax.  This stuff is gooey and you don’t need that much. In fact, I recommend that you shorten from your cold weather kick wax length because of the power of this stuff. You want to be careful that you don’t get it in contact with your glide bases because it’s a nuisance to remove while anticipating your ski day.  On course it’s best to take breaks during the flats since restart will be easier since glister wants to adhere while stationery.  Take full advantage of the slick conditions by extending even further during stride. Aim for a 90 degree finish at the knee with aggressive poling. On a good track with nicely prepared skis, these are the days where you’re close to the athletic zone actualizing the benefits of this aerobic winter sport.

Don’t despair, “skin skis” (google it) are now all the rage allowing you to bypass the kick wax procedure should you want to just get out on the trails with no fuss.    

Stampeders Deserving of New Venue?

Now it’s the CFL commissioner who’s has been espousing what he thinks the city of Calgary needs to support the Calgary Stampeders. 

Well, if you fumble the ball at the three yard line with a minute plus left in the championship game negating the opportunity for a two score point spread and fellow players are indifferent to positioning themselves correctly on the field to defend against the possibility of a fumble – I’m not so sure that the “professionals” care enough about their team for me as a taxpayer to care about them? Seven of them had literally littered the right half of the field immobile. This is not good football. This is laziness and poor execution of backup coverage at the most critical moment of the most critical game in the season. Yes, the Argo scampered the full 107 yards for the TD. This indifference is not dissimilar to the Stampeder holding penalties at critical junctures in the game or the objectional conduct perpetrated by a player wallowing in disappointment over failed execution. 

Miraculously, the Stampeders found redemption with seconds left in the game after a dropped pass when a completion left them within field goal distance of tying. When a second down field goal could have put the game into overtime under poor play conditions, the team opted for the more risky play of throwing down field setting up the ultimate sorry end via interception. 

Any hard core Stampeder fan who witnessed a similar meltdown in 2016 must be questioning their season ticket purchase plan for 2018. I certainly would be.  In fact, I had given up my season tickets years ago not because of poor execution and player indifference but because of the continual interference of fellow fans as they made their frequent trips to the beer stands and loos during the action. For some it’s just a beer fest and the game doesn’t matter much anyways but for a sportsman such as myself, it’s simply too tough to watch at times other than the concluding spectacle. There’s certainly good grace in losing a battle fought with furor but this morning I’m in gratitude for my severed cable TV and having not given this team my attention during the season.            

Herd Mentality Takes The NFL

Of course the U.S President of the United States, Donald Trump, should have ceased reactionary tweeting when he took office at the White House. Of course he should not have waded into this anthem kneeling chicanery enacted by NFL players through twitter. However; he is entitled to have an opinion with respect to protocols, conduct, and assembly of Americans in witness to the ceremony of the country’s national anthem.

Americans exercising their civil liberty are entitled to their opinion regarding each others’ conduct. If a citizen has a grudge to bear against their country, they have the freewill to express themselves within their law abiding rights. Each American has the autonomy to choose which way they wish to fight their civil battles within their rights. I suspect that many Americans lacking weekly television exposure while administering their own rights for justice would rather see NFL players take their grievance(s) to the appropriate forum for resolution rather than grandstanding in front of folks enthusiastic about watching some football.

I, personally, stopped watching football in 2014 upon learning of an NFL player beating his wife in a casino elevator. There was much ado about whether the player should be suspended by the league or not. The story line had morphed from the strategy of defensive alignment, pass protection, finger tip end zone catches, and fourth down late game conversions into a gong show about the conduct of privileged elite players having difficult managing themselves.

Death In The Ring

Chris Iorfida of the CBC has penned a thoughtful piece on the death of “Mixed Martial Arts” fighter Tim Hague. It was with great sadness that we learned of this tragedy. There will be an investigation and it’s looking like somebody responsible for the sanctioning of the contest is going to be up against some hard questions but in spite of the grilling, I suggest that the public at large needs to take a hard look at the savagery of these bouts and the appeal they have for their entertainment dollar. When UFC (Ultimate Fighting Challenge) first came out, I was frankly aghast. Call me conceited or pollyannaish but my instinct at the time was, “don’t these people have better things to do than watch their kindred get pummeled? Where have we gone as a society? What are we teaching our children? What would our bona fide soldiers from history think of our sense of amusement toward their means of sacrifice for our liberty?”

I recall sitting in a first year “ethics in sport” university class among fellow idealists of youth while witnessing the result of a poll conducted by our professor. “Who thinks boxing should be outlawed?” The result was overwhelmingly in favor. Appreciably, as Mr. Iorfida points out in his article, there are governing bodies set up with criteria in place for the purpose of ensuring that mismatches do not occur.  However; something may have gone awry here and there’s nothing to say that the same outcome could not arise even if competitors are equally matched. I was a big football fan until the evidence started to pour in that men’s lives after football were being detrimentally affected because of the impact of repetitive brain blows.  It took a class action law suit for the NFL elites to finally pay attention. I do actually adjust my way of thinking in lieu of facts as they are presented. Hopefully, the market for this kind of thing starts to dry up because of people’s refute of indignity while the aesthetic purity and tight regulatory execution of formal disciplines of “martial arts” thrives.

Still Watching Hockey?

They chase a puck around a rink for multi-millions and reside in the U.S. preventing the imposition of Canada’s high rate of tax while you tote the j.o.b. for nickels in comparison. You pay into Canada’s social welfare state and sometimes irresponsibly pony up a three figure event ticket for an apparent privilege of sitting in beer and mustard stained seats. All the while your backdrop is emblazoned by the corporate logo of Scotiabank. Your neighbour to the left needs a pee break again because getting wasted is his idea of a night out on the town at the good ol’ hockey game. You lest not wait yourself for period intermission should the bladder be acute to line up anxiety. By the way – those multimillionaires want you to pay more tax for their new age arena and as for the Olympics….forget about it – the spirit doesn’t quite align with the profit motive and the violent spectacles for which you cheer, pay and celebrate. The hockey establishment has successfully marketed a strategy with a belief that in the absence of your own progressive realization of a life purpose, you will annually pay thousands for season tickets and the opportunity to witness another’s actualization of a capitalist ideal transmuted through a game.  As a bonus you might get to see a street fight on skates and the manifestation of legal thwarting and impunity from assault laws.

Reburbished Deleted Post Flames Arena

Naturally, the Calgary Herald deleted my sarcastic post on Gary Bettman’s Calgary appearance.  Hence; I reproduce it here.  Oh Yes, BTW Ken King of the Calgary Flames apparently used to work for the Calgary Herald.

This is what I said “Expect the Calgary Herald to delete posts representing articulate opinions against the construction of a new arena.  Apparently Gary Bettman knows what you need and cerebral folks have provided him a forum to patronize.”

Federer’s Backhand In Australia

Prior to his injury, Federer had dropped his number one ranking but today he has won the Australian Open.  Tennis pundits in recent years have bestowed the best one handed backhand drive in the game to Stan Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet.  Wawrinka most likely today generates the most power from the back hand wing and Gasquet utilizes more torque from a smaller physique.  However; Roger Federer today demonstrated the importance of a compact back swing and set up to deal with the immense power generated by today’s tour players.  While enjoying the highlights this morning, I noticed that Roger was always delivering the drive on the backhand side during service return when in years past he would often deliver the more defensive blocking style of return.  It’s evident that in the run up to his tour return that his team put a focus on absolute conviction of the backhand drive from every backhand position on the court.  This would have lead to more repetition in practice and mastery of set up.  Today he delivered fluid cross court backhand winners at will with acute angles while managing points with sustained depth from the base line all in the context of that human back board on the other side, Rafael Nadal.  Not only now a legend of the game, in Roger Federer tennis has never had a better ambassador of the sport.