Posted tagged ‘sports’

Attack* of the women’s sabre fencers.

August 12, 2008

You may or may not have heard that the first Olympic gold medal awarded to an American was in women’s sabre – and the U.S. swept the event, picking up the silver and bronze as well.  While the U.S.’s lack of a long history of fencing and pedigree in most of the weapons means they don’t often contend for a medal, the States were well ahead of the curve training young women to fence sabre, resulting in total dominance in these early years of international women’s sabre.

Mariel Zagunis, once again showing she’s at her best when the cameras are on her, beat her teammate, number one ranked Sada Jacobson.  Jacobson was widely expected to win the gold when women’s sabre first became an Olympic event in Athens, but she lost her semi-final bout to Tan Xue of China.  Zagunis snatched the first women’s sabre gold ever awarded without facing her higher ranked teammate in the final legs of the competition.  I can only surmise that Sada was more than a little dissatisfied with the bronze, and some of my own fencing friends were convinced that had she fenced Mariel, she would have beaten her.

Little did we know that that very scenario would play out at this games…in the gold medal bout, no less… and that Mariel would put a thorough beating on her teammate (final score 15-8, but honestly, it could have been even more lopsided).  This is now a true rivalry between two American fencers contending for the top spot on the world stage…something I’ve certainly never seen before.  Throw into the mix 18-year-old fencing phenom Becca Ward, and you’ve got an American contingent that dominates the way the Italians dominate women’s foil (they did not sweep this year, by the way, but Valentina Vezzali, probably the best women’s foil fencer since women were fencing in those funny looking bloomers, won her third straight olympic gold).

By the way, here’s NBC’s story about the Americans sweeping women’s sabre.

*Attack [verb/noun]: Movement towards your opponent with intent to hit (In foil and sabre, initiating the attack carries with it the “right” to hit one’s opponent.  The other fencer needs to defend the attack in some way to gain the right of way.)

Advancing* your sports knowledge.

August 12, 2008

Wow. Where do I start. I guess a good beginning would be why I would want to blog about fencing.

I’ve been fencing since I was twelve, competing locally and nationally, and was a starter on the Brandeis University fencing team. Since college, I’ve been fencing consistently, though not competing anymore. I also taught fencing for two summers at a local summer camp.

What is fencing? If I started to answer that question, this blog would become a book. I think rather than try to explain the rules, the actions, the three weapons, etc…, I’ll direct you to one of probably a hundred sites that do this more precisely than I can. Here it is.

So since I’ve started (religiously) watching the fencing events at this Olympics, I’ve had quite a bit to talk about with my wife (also a fencer) and brother (him too) regarding interesting bouts, personalities, updates to the sport, exposure of the sport, etc… One recent morning, Jennifer Lynn pointed out that many of the offhanded comments I’ve made while watching the events might be of interest to the fencing and non-fencing communities alike.  So here we go…hope I’m not being too tedious about anything (feel free to ream me out if I am).

For the next few days at least, I’ll post my thoughts on the competition (four events have already happened) and about what’s interesting about this latest forum for fencing on the world stage. Hope you enjoy it.

*Advance [verb/noun]: forward movement in fencing consisting of an initial step with the front foot followed by a step with the back foot, starting and finishing in the en garde position.

A championship, but does it count?

July 31, 2008

This morning on WHYY 91FM, Elizabeth Fiedler recapped the Philadelphia Soul’s big win in the Arena Bowl with this story:

As the clock ran down during Sunday’s Arena Bowl championship, the people of Philadelphia finally had a chance to celebrate a championship.

“D’orazio runs back, running, throwing…1….0…Take a listen Philadelphia! The Philadelphia Soul are the 2008 World Champions of Arena Football… They do it – they win Arena Bowl 22!”

Thousands of Philadelphia Soul fans cheered on their team, as they clinched the victory in New Orleans. Soul Communications Director Greg Wiley said that 11 percent of Philadelphians who had their televisions on during the Arena Bowl watched the game too.

He said there’s a reason the Soul has so many fans.

“It’s high scoring, fast-paced, edge of your seat action. There’s touchdown after touchdown, a lot of passing. A lot of hitting. It’s football in a contained area,” said Wiley.

“You’re not only worried about getting tackled. You’re worried about getting tackled into the wall. Players fall into the stands all the time. And you can catch footballs. You’re so far away from the action at outdoor football games that’s not going to happen.”

Wiley says maybe one day local sports fans will follow Soul wide receiver Chris Jackson and quarterback Matt d’Orazio with the same intensity they devote to the Eagles.

My question for you, loyal readers/listeners: does it count? Does this championship mean that the “drought” – no major championship since the 1983 Sixers’ victory over the Lakers – is over? Or does it only count if the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles or Sixers get their parade down Broad Street?