THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE #83 – Winter Olympics

A lot of Winter Olympics has been the sporting staple this week, with some Australians actually winning something! Yes! Really! A bunch of sports are nearing the end of their seasons, cricket is still going, the AFL is just beginning, as is Super-14…
            With so much sport on TV, is it any wonder I weight in excess of 100kg?
            No, don’t answer that. Instead, read this:

Winter Olympics
            Yes, Winter Olympics here in an Australian sports column again! Well, I feel I can safely talk about it because Australia has won some medals.
            Neither of our two medallists shocked anyone by winning what they did in the world of winter sports because they are quite accomplished in their fields of expertise. But to the vast majority of Australians it was a case of “Who?” “And they did what?” This, of course, boils down to the fact we, like every other country in the world, find sports we cannot relate to (as in the case here: sports played in –5 degree temperatures? When does it ever get below 20 degrees?) obscure and therefore irrelevant… except, of course, when we start winning things.             So our two winners are: Gold to Torah Bright for the Snowboarding Women’s half-pipe, and Silver to Dale Begg-Smith in the Freestyle Skiing Men’s moguls.
            Look, a quick word on the men’s snowboard half-pipe. Holy crap, what is Shaun White on? He was more than awesome. His victory run with the final 1260… wow! As I said last week I love me some gymnastic-style sports, and this was all that and more. White had me glued to my television. And then when I saw him interviewed later, he seemed like a nice guy. Wow!
            Okay, back to the Aussies. While Begg-Smith is a Canadian by birth, he seems to be accepted by the Australians and has accepted the Australians in turn. But the moguls – who needs knees? That looks like one tough sport.
            Bright, on the other hand, has model good looks and flew through her half-pipe like the female version of White. It was great to see. But, as in most sports of this nature, why was the difficulty of the skills the females doing so much lower than the males? Surely they could be a little closer in skill level.
            And then there was the Australian two-man bobsleigh team, who made all the news services by riding the entire length of the track on their side or their heads. I’m happy they finished, it’s just that I’m pretty sure those little skate things at the bottom of the sled are supposed to be on the ground…
            Another week to go. Looking forward to it. Especially with the Australian women aiming to do so well in the aerials.
            And here’s the overall medal tally. And the main reason I am putting this up is because Australia actually appears on it. Ahead of Great Britain.
1 United States 7 gold, 7 silver, 10 bronze
2 Germany 5, 6, 5
3 Norway 5, 3, 4
4 Switzerland 5, 0, 2
=5 Canada 4, 4, 1
=5 South Korea 4, 4, 1
7 Sweden 3, 1, 2
8 Netherlands 3, 1, 1
9 China 3, 1, 1
10 Austria 2, 3, 3
11 Russia 2, 3, 2
12 France 2, 2, 4
13 Slovakia 1, 1, 1
14 Australia 1, 1, 0
15 Czech Republic 1, 0, 2
16 Great Britain 1, 0, 0
17 Poland 0, 3, 1
18 Latvia 0, 2, 0
19 Italy 0, 1, 3
20 Japan 0, 1, 2
=21 Belarus 0, 1, 1
=21 Croatia 0, 1, 1
=21 Slovenia 0, 1, 1
=24 Estonia 0, 1, 0
=24 Finland 0, 1, 0
=24 Kazakhstan 0, 1, 0

Cricket
International
Rose Bowl [New Zealand in Australia] 4th One Day International

Australia Women v New Zealand Women
New Zealand 162 (48.3 overs); Australia 0/163 (32.3 overs) – Australia won by 10 wickets.
            Well, there’s embarrassing and then there’s this. 10 wickets. No Australians were out. Nitschke got 44 from 82 deliveries while Poulton hit 104 from 116. There’s not much more I can say about this, really…
Rose Bowl [New Zealand in Australia] 5th One Day International
Australia Women v New Zealand Women
            Match reduced to 45 overs a side due to weather.
Australia 8/240; New Zealand 137 (34 overs) – Australia won by 103 runs
            And it stayed that bad for the final match. Australia did not just win this series 5-0, they humiliated New Zealand’s women and made them look not even in the same class as the Australians.
5th One Day International
Australia v West Indies
Australia 5/324; West Indies 199 (36.5 overs) – Australia won by 125 runs
            Well, West Indian captain Chris Gayle predicted a 4-1 result. I just don’t think he thought that would mean 4 wins to Australia, one match washed out. The West Indians showed they have the talent to do what is needed to once again climb up the world cricket rankings, however, what this series has showed is that they lack the discipline. And after a surprisingly close test series, this one day series was quit the let-down. A disappointing end to a disappointing summer of disappointing international matches. Disappointing.
1st Twenty20 International
Australia Women v New Zealand Women
New Zealand 7/117; Australia 7/115 – New Zealand won by 2 runs.
            First, this was actually shown on the main cricketing network, a TV station that has, up till now, not even acknowledged that women play the sport. It was the precursor to the men’s event, and so had a good crowd. And they got a close game, much closer than previous results would have indicated. And New Zealand won! After their showing in the one-dayers, this was a huge surprise and maybe even something of an upset.
1st Twenty20 International
Australia v West Indies
Australia 8/179; West Indies 8/141 – Australia won by 38 runs
            And so Australia continues the undefeated summer streak. The game looked closer than it actually was. Australia seemed to lose it at the end of their own innings, and then bowled well enough to get the job done. An underwhelming game.
Sheffield Shield
South Australia v New South Wales
New South Wales 6(dec)/565; South Australia 288 & 103 – New South Wales won by an innings and 174 runs
            It was over on the first day when NSW completely dominated with the bat. They scored more than 400 runs in a day. Now, while this is a shame from a South Australian viewpoint, it shows yet again the standard of out domestic cricket. New South Wales enforced the follow on, and South Australia just crumbled completely, being completely decimated by the Blues. The South Aussies missed Tait, and the Blues really only fielded a second-string side and yet they still managed to cruise to the easiest of victories.
Western Australia v Tasmania
Tasmania 261 & 246; Western Australia 233 & 204 – Tasmania won by 70 runs
            This was a tight game, literally anyone’s on the last day. Again, another fine example of the long form of the game in the Australian domestic scene. Tasmania are finishing the season with a flourish.
Ford Ranger Cup
Western Australia v Tasmania
Western Australia 7/231; Tasmania 5/234 (49.5 overs) – Tasmania won by 5 wickets
            One ball remaining! Another good, close game of domestic cricket. So while our current national team may struggle against the better nations, the up and coming players are more than showing their wares.
Queensland v Victoria
Victoria 4/325; Queensland 300 (48.1 overs) – Victoria won by 25
            Another good game, highlighted by Hodge’s 136 from 118 balls for Victoria. He was the difference in a game where Queensland tried very hard, but just could not quite do it.

Australian Rules Football
AFL Pre Season Cup
            For some-one from Melbourne who took umbrage, I repeat – I won’t be using the official name for the competition because why should I give free publicity to a bank that rips people off. Here is the completed round one of the pre-season competition:
St. Kilda 15.4 (100) def Collingwood 14.12 (99)
            Collingwood were 43 points down, but it took a last minute goal to put the Saints over the line. Both these teams are looking good for 2010 if this is any indication.
Sydney 9.11 (71) def Carlton 8.11 (59)
            Again, this result is something of a surprise.
Geelong 12.3 (81) def by North Melbourne 13.11 (95)
            A huge surprise, with last year’s premiers going down to a team that is really middle-of-the-road.
Fremantle 14/10 (7) def Melbourne 6.8 (50)
            Good to see that Melbourne have started 2010 where they left off in 2009 – going down in a screaming heap.

Netball
International Series
Test One

Scotland v Australia
            Scotland 22 def by Australia 78
A nice, easy hit-out for the Australians against a team that really are minnows on the world stage. Some younger Australian players received a chance and this game was a good one to get them settled into playing after such a long break.
Test Two
Scotland v Australia
            Scotland 18 def by Australia 76
Another easy game, but this may actually lead to some complacency even this early on in the international campaign.
Test Three
England v Australia
            England 41 def Australia 40
And lo, it came to pass. This was Australia’s first netball test loss to England since 1981, and didn’t the English just love it! With the scores all even at half time, it was a tough, close fought contest and even though the result was something of a surprise, it was still a good English effort.

Rugby Union
Super 14 Round 2
Highlanders 15 def by Blues 19
Reds 42 def Crusaders 20
Sharks 20 def by Cheetahs 25
Lions 65 def by Chiefs 72
            Wow! I mean, wow! This isn’t a rugby score, it’s a basketball score. I did not see the game, but in the hell happened to the defence?
Hurricanes 47 def Force 22
Bulls 50 def Brumbies 32
Stormers 27 def Waratahs 6

Soccer
            We’re into the finals, with 6 of the 10 teams through.
Major Semi Final – Match A: 1st v 2nd (1st Leg)
Melbourne Victory 2 def Sydney 1
Semi Final – Match B: 3rd v 6th
Gold Coast United def by Newcastle Jets
            0-0 after full time, then Newcastle won 6-5 on penalties.
Semi Final – Match C: 4th v 5th
Wellington Phoenix def Perth Glory
            1-1 after full time, Wellington won 4-2 on penalties.

 

Basketball
NBL Semi-finals
            Into the finals series, where each is a best of 3 mini-series. So these are the first matches in said series. But before then it seems zadelaide have sacked their coach by announcing it to the media before telling him. Nice to see some of that old basketball class still shines through, even in the so-called new NBL.
First Semi-Final
Perth 81 def Gold Coast 68
Second Semi-Final
Wollongong 87 def Townsville 68
WNBL Finals Week One
Elimination Final
Townsville 84 def Bendigo 73
First Semi-Final
Bulleen 72 def Sydney 55
Second Semi-Final
Canberra 70 def Townsville 39

Motorsports
V-8 Supercars
The series opener has now been held… in Abu Dhabi! The crowds at the Yas Marina Circuit were apparently very good and the response was excellent in the Middle Eastern country, so it could well be another expansion of this form of closed-wheel racing. However, the one thing that still seems odd is the drivers either have Holden Commodores or Ford Falcons. There is nor other variation. We need to see more manufacturers brought in to make the sport not only more open bit also help increase the international appeal.
Race 1
1st Jamie Whincup (TeamVodafone) Commodore VE
2nd Craig Lowndes (TeamVodafone) Commodore VE
3rd Mark Winterbottom (Orrcon Steel and Dunlop Super Dealer FPR) FG Falcon
Race 2
1st Jamie Whincup (TeamVodafone) Commodore VE
2nd Mark Winterbottom (Orrcon Steel and Dunlop Super Dealer FPR) FG Falcon
3rd Shane van Gisbergen (Stone Brothers Racing – Irwin Racing and SP Tools Racing) FG Falcon

That’s this view – Feb 8 through 15.

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