No morning links or Friday roundup today -- oh, if you're up in the neighbourhood of York U on Saturday and have a couple hours to spare, the York Lions are playing McMaster for the Ontario women's basketball championship (6 p.m.), both teams already ticketed for the nationals in Frederiction next weekend.
Instead of the usual linkage and tomfoolery, I've emptied the mailbag, which after last week's text commentaries of the Olympic hockey is virtually bulging. Here's a few of the ones I've been holding since the Olympics (and the fallout from) have interrupted the flow around here.
First, here's Robert Simpson breaking down some Olympic numbers:
"Haven't heard these in the media, but I am VERY proud to be Canadian when I see stats like this:
In Turin, Canada ranked FIRST among all competing countries in the following categories:
-Most total medals received (counting a 4-person team as receiving 4 medals) with 69 - Sweden second with 65*
-Most individual athletes with a medal (Cindy Klassen counts only once) with 61 - Sweden second with 60*
(*Sweden's 2 hockey medals helped these numbers. Oh, and if you factor out the Hockey numbers we still finish on top in both of these categories)
And the one that gives us the most hope for Vancouver:
-Led in number of the 15 sports to be awarded a medal in (Ice hockey, Bobsled, Short Track Speed Skating, etc.) with 10, USA second with 9
I haven't broken these down by gender, but I would guess that our women would come out on top in most categories for women as well."
I'd agree that last bit about the breadth of sports is the one that matters, Robert. The rest are fun with figures. And I suspect you will have as much to say about e-mailer Andrew Clark's take, terming Canada's Olympic haul "tinny" in a blog entry that fell through the cracks when I compiled Thursday's all-blog edition of the morning linkage:
"Yep we got the width but let's face it not in the Blue Riband events. To my mind these include
Downhill Skiing - zilch
Figure Skating - one bronze
Men's Hockey - we all know what happened
Curling? Is it a sport? One of the great philosophical questions of our time.
Regular correspondent Steven Dykstra wants to weigh in on the Raptors' hiring of Bryan Colangelo:
That quiet sound you heard was Richard Peddie falling on his sword (finally). ... One chance at redemption and he may have finally done something right for the Raptors.
Bryan Colangelo is the single most important signing in Raptors history. They couldn’t get a guy with a better pedigree. ... Phoenix consistently gets better players than it should for its draft position (Amare at #9, Marion at #9, Nash at #15, Finley at #21). Almost without question each of those guys should have gone no worse than 5th (in hindsight). Let’s hope Bryan, and his ability to choose and supervise scouts, is the reason for this drafting excellence. ... Colangelo’s biggest problem will be patience. Every new GM wants to make a big splash and he has a pile of money to spend this summer on a terrible free agent crop. We’ll see if he can resist the temptation for a quick fix by spending money on bad free agents. If he shows restraint next year, and saves some money for the 2007 free agent class, he’ll earn my respect.
I asked Dave D'Alessandro, blogging buddy on the Nets and one of the NBA's sharpest observers, what his take was on the Colangelo hire:
"You have to first know that a little over a year as owner, Robert Sarver has dressed up as both a gorilla and a chicken, so that should tell you about his credibility as an owner, and why Bryant would leave behind such a good thing."
And finally, Kevin Sabet of Oxford, England, was one of many who were along for those text commentaries I mentioned, and went so far as to send a couple of text messages from the arena in Turin during the Canadian men's final flameout. I asked him to send along a blow by blow of the trip he took to get there, along with his Canadian girlfriend Shahrzad, who acted as his hockey tour guide. Here it is, long but worth it, I reckon, 43 hours of crash and burn, which is a hell of a lot longer than that Team Canada lasted:
11:00pm, Tues.: Kevin and Shahrzad realize that they have bought TWO sets of TWO tickets each to the WRONG hockey games. When they figure this out, they figure they shouldn't buy the real Canada match tickets until they get there, because they really need to sell the tickets they do have to make up some of the $$$. So, they don't panic, but things aren't looking too good!
1:00am, Wed.: Kevin proceeds to the bus station in 0 degree weather, with rain and hail accompanying him his whole way there in the dark.
1:30am: Kevin and Shahrzad board the bus and begin a 3-hour foray to Stansted airport
4:30am: Kevin and Shahrzad arrive at Stansted, Shahrzad begins studying, Kevin finds a bench and sleeps on it in the airport
6:45am: They board RyanAir flight 466 to Torino
7:30am: Kevin gets on the P.A. system of the airplane. While passengers stare at this curly-haired arab-esque looking man in horror, Kevin calmly explains that he has 2 sets of tickets he is trying to get rid of. Shahrzad is still reading and studying.
7:45am: Two people ring their call buttons on the plane, and it looks like the tickets may be sold to a Slovak and a Brit.
9:55am: The plane lands; weather is about 3 degrees C (approx 37 degrees F) and very cloudy. Still, K/S are excited to be in Torino. The Slovak and Brit follow K/S and the plan is that they will take them to the ticket stop to sell the tickets to them (and hopefully buy the Canada tickets from the booth)
10:30am: the Slovaks figure out they don't want our tickets anymore, but the Brit is very keen. In fact, a friend of the Brit picks him up (unexpectedly to the Brit!) from the airport and we are invited for the free ride to the centre of town. While in the car with their friend, Maria, she expresses some (but not really any) interest in buying the tix originally intended for the Slovaks. This is good news to us, but she is wishy-washy, so we take it with a grain of salt.
11:30am: Kevin sells 2 tickets at face value to the Brit. One down, one set to go. Shahrzad finds some Americans in line who are interested in the other set. We plan to sell it to them, but then the Brit is annoyed we have overlooked his half-hearted friend Maria. So he calls Maria and we wait for him to do this; no answer, we split and sell the tix to the Americans, after a 30 min bus ride to the OTHER ticket station.
12:00pm: We are now ticket-less, so we hunt for Canada tickets. We get one of the remaining last tickets.
1:00pm: We wander around the Olympic area (bad area of town, is this really the OLYMPICS?!) but FINALLY find a taxi who takes us to the restaurant with the gnocchi and gorgonzola!
1:30pm: We arrive at Porto di Savona and order the pumpkin flan with cheese, the special pasta, and their specialty, boiled meat. The boiled meat is pretty bad, but everything else is very good. We order the gnocchi to end the meal.
2:30-5:00pm We walk around Torino, sample some gelato, buy some shoes (Shahrzad), and then find Al Bicerin, now swarming with tourists. We muscle our way into the tiny cafe, and order their famous bicerin (chocolate, coffee, cream) and it was worth waiting for.
5:00-6:15pm: We wait around for my friend to meet us at Km5 for our beloved aperitivo. She never shows up, neglects to call us, and so we proceed to the Olympic village.
7:00pm: We arrive at Torino Esposizone for Canada v Russia
8:30pm: the game starts, though we notice that the Russian fans outnumber Canadians by about 3-1. They are belligerent, annoying, loud, drunk, and just plain awful!
8:30-10:30pm: A very, very close game, still 0-0 after 2 periods. Kevin is converted to hockey. What a game. The Russians score midway through the final period, and the stadium erupts. The Canadians can never quite find their grounding in that period, and with 1 minute to go, the Russians score again. The crowd goes bonkers, beer flies everywhere, and, with 20 seconds to go, Kevin and Shahrzad race out of the stadium in despair and disgust.
10:45pm: National Canadian news approach K/S to which Kevin yells to the 30-million member audience in Canada: "They outnumbered us 3-1. It was a Russian conspiracy! Next time in 2010 we'll have Home-Court advantage, and we'll be back!!!!!"
10:47pm: Shahrzad informs Kevin that no one ever has Home-Court advantage in hockey, but rather home-ice advantage.
11:15pm: Kevin and Shahrzad hop on the bus and walk 30 minutes to the Gran Madre church, where we're meeting my friend who we're staying with
12:00am, Thurs.: We finally meet her and go to a great pizzeria and order 4 Stagione and Bufala pizza. And Tiramisu. Yum.
1:15am: We head to her house, wake up her poor husband, and finally head to bed.
7am: Shahrzad wakes up, probably does some more reading for school
7:30am: Kevin wakes up and, seeing as there is no breakfast, heads out to the local breadmaker (called "Not just bread!"), makes friend with the young owners (Michele and Muriel) and buys 20 Euro worth of bread, juice, and milk for the 4 of us.
8:15am: In 35 degree weather, we sit outside and sip on cappucino and bread.
9:00am: Marylin's husband sweetly insists on taking us to the airport.
10:30am: We board our plane after waiting 1 hr in line at immigration
11:00am: Shahrzad begins reading again; Kevin goes to sleep
1:00pm: They arrive after having circled for 30 minutes due to SNOW in London. They miss their bus to Oxford
2:00pm: They grab another bus and proceed on a 4 hour journey to Oxford. Kevin sleeps, Shahrzad does yet more reading.
6:00pm: They arrive back into Oxford. Beyond exhausted. And Shahrzad still has more reading to do.