During these Olympics, Poseur will spend each day watching and reviewing one sport. He also promises to stop referring to himself in the third person.
Today's Sport: Canoe/Kayaking
Canoeing and kayaking racing is one of those sports that you can't believe how long it's been part of the Olympic programme. 1936, in case you were wondering. That means if you want to make a fan of kayaking angry, just call it Hitler's sport. Though, historically speaking, this is a very German sport.
The Germans lead the all-time medal count, and that's before you count those Cold War medals from East and West Germany. While rowing is dominated by prep school kids and the like, kayaking is for outdoorsman and adventurers. Though, since America kind of sucks at kayaking (and is good at rowing), it is fair to ask why our thrill seekers are so lame? Come on, bro.
While rowing is racing on still waters in a straight line, kayaking requires multidirectional steering over rapids (including some backwards gates). OK, so Olympic canoes and kayaks look precisely the same to me, but it doesn't mean the sport is any less cool. It's people racing down a (artificial) raging rapids. What's not to like?
The Favorites: Slovakia
Pavol and Peter Hochschorner, a pair of Slovakian twins, are defending Olympic and World champions. They have won virtually every competition for a decade straight, and are looking for their fourth consecutive gold medal, which would put the among the greatest Olympians in any sport. Seriously. You didn't see Michael Phelps winning four straight golds in the same event. These guys are legends in an admittedly minor sport. I was extremely excited for this one, the Men's C-2 Slalom.
The Gold Medal: Great Britain
Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott* finished sixth in the qualifying runs which, lucky for them, got them the final slot in the finals. Being the lowest qualifier, they went out first and set the time to beat at 106.41 seconds. To be honest, I didn't think the run would hold up because, come on, low qualifier.
*Yeah, a British rower named "Etienne". His mother is French Canadian. Nobody's perfect.
First came the Chinese, who hit a gate, and posted a much higher time anyway. Then the Polish team hit a gate and fell behind the British pair. And at this point I'm thinking, "cool, the British underdogs will medal!" So the Hochschorner twins stormed down the rapids and... came in second, thanks to a time penalty. The highly partisan British crowd just erupts because the only pair left is another British team and now the home team is guaranteed a gold. The top qualifiers raced down the rapids and finished just behind Baillie and Stott, good for a silver medal.
Upon crossing the line, the British team raised their oars into the air, the crowd somehow got louder, and Baillie and Scott were gold medalists. The foursome jumped in the water and splashed around like kids. Their two coaches then dove in to join the celebration, as the whole venue just shook from the sheer joy of watching the home team pull a huge upset to win gold.
Off to the side, the Hochschorner twins paddled their canoe to a corner and wept, thinking of what could have been. It was the most emotionally affecting moment of the whole Games for me. It was just amazing and if you didn't like this event on this day, you simply don't like sports.
Poseur's Enjoyment Level: Almost Moved To Tears
Words do not do this justice, or at least mine don't. This was, for me, the single greatest moment of the Olympic Games so far. There's nothing quite like a huge upset pulled off on native soil. Canoeing and kayaking isn't always like this, but the C-2 Men's Slalom finals were perfect.
Swimming and Track Update
USA! USA! USA!
The Americans had a dominant night in the pool and even better, they had a dominant night while Ryan Lochte failed to win a race. Look, I'm sorry. I don't like the guy. He even pushed the Posette from anti-Phelps partisan to back in the Phelps camp with me. He's just a hard guy to root for. And his dad looks like an angry Andy Capp. Lochte still takes home two medals, but Tyler Clary came out of nowhere to win the 200m backstroke and Phelps won the big 200m IM matchup. Like a boss.
Rebecca Soni broke her own world record in the 200m breaststroke, a record she set the night before. So, three races, three golds. Not a bad night for the Americans. OK, Missy Franklin failed to medal in the 100m freestyle, but no one honestly expected that and come on, let someone else win something. And how can you root against someone named Ranomi Kromowidjojo?
The huge night in the pool put the Americans not just in charge of the swimming medals, but back on top of the overall medal count in all sports. The US and China are now tied with 18 golds, but the US has a 37-34 lead in overall medals. For the first time in the Olympics, the US sits atop the medal table.
USA! USA! USA!
Next Up: Trampoline. No, I can't believe it either.