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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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November 10, 2008 10:37 AM

Paralympic broadcast update

Posted by Ron Judd

NBC has informed us that they've decided to simulcast the feed of their Universal Sports coverage of the Beijing Paralympics online at That means viewers who don't get the Universal Sports cable channel -- and this includes everyone in the Northwest -- can follow along online instead. Well worth tuning in, if you have the time.

The broadcasts begin daily at 4 p.m. PST, and run through Sunday. See the Web site for more schedule details.

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , NBC , Paralympic Games |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

November 6, 2008 1:54 PM

Can a 2016 Chicago Obama-lympics be far behind?

Posted by Ron Judd

To all of the irrational (but understandable)-exuberance related expectations of a Barack Obama administration, add this one: Surely he'll make the 2016 Olympic bid a lock for his hometown of Chicago.

In some quarters, it's already leapt from "hope" status to an outright expectation.

"If Obama can find time in his schedule to crash (the October, 2009 IOC selection) party, fugheddaboudit, proclaims Dave Larzelere in The Sporting News. "Mayor Daley can gear up the kickback train, MJ can get ready for another comeback, and Oprah can start training for the triathlon, cause the five rings will be on their way to Chi-town."

Chicago bid officials, noting that much of a Summer Games in Chicago would take place within a stone's throw of Obama's victory speech in Grant Park, are equally giddy.

"I think the eyes of the world have been on Barack Obama and therefore on Chicago and the eyes of the world will be on Chicago more than in the past," Chicago 2016 bid chief Patrick Ryan told Reuters.

"Last night gave us a global opportunity to show the city's beautiful skyline, its lake and parks."

The hope -- bordering now on expectation -- is that Obama will make a personal appearance at the IOC meeting in Copenhagen next October, where delegates will choose a Games site from remaining candidate cities: Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid.

Former British Prime MInister Tony Blair pulled just such a stunt in 2005 to help London win what many consider an upset victory over Paris and other cities to land the 2012 Games. Russian President Vladimir Putin made his own pitch, in English, at an IOC meeting in Guatemala to help sew up the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi.

The scenario envisioned by veteran Chicago Tribune Olympic reporter Phillip Hersh:

I can see it now.

It is Oct. 2, 2009, in Copenhagen.

Chicago is making its final presentation before the International Olympic Committee chooses the host of the 2016 Summer Games. A video rolls showing a crowd of some 200,000 -- young and old, black, white, brown and yellow, gay and straight, men and women -- happily gathered in what is called the city's front yard, Grant Park.

Now the video shows the man they have come to see as he emerges from backstage and he walks out to greet the crowd.

And then, in Copenhagen, President Barack Obama, in person, walks out from backstage to join the Chicago 2016 presentation team.

Think that won't have a stunning impact?

Not only does Obama have a positive appeal for the IOC, but Sen. John McCain, his vanquished opponent, had a negative one, Hersh says, reminding us of the mercurial McCain's testy chairmanship of Senate hearings on the IOC in the wake of the Salt Lake bid scandal in 1998.

The optimisim is understandable. But as far as we know, at least, all of it has been generated without a single utterance from Obama himself about Chicago's bid. It's just assumed he'll be out in front of the effort.

"He has travelled around the world," Chicago 2016's Ryan enthused. "He is a very highly regarded international global figure. He loves sport and he is very proud of Chicago. I don't see any reason why he would be negative at all."

Well, we don't either. But the fact is, the guy has a lot on his plate, and this issue is probably not even on the edge of his table. It's understandable that Chicago's hopes are up. But we have a sneaking suspicion that other, darker politics among IOC members will play a role as great, or greater, than the ascendance of Obama.

Many IOC delegates are in a simmmering war with the American Olympic movement, for example, over what they consider to be a lack of wealth-sharing from the U.S. Olympic Committee when it comes to those big profits from TV contracts. A host of other less-visible political obstacles also could derail Chicago's bid.

But having Obama on your side when push comes to shove a year from now in Copenhagen certainly can't hurt. Can it?

Comments | Category: Chicago 2016 , International Olympic Committee , NBC |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 16, 2008 7:03 PM

Phelps wins 8th, silvers for Hoelzer, Jendrick; Sunday TV preview

Posted by Ron Judd

Saturday wrap:

With swimming wrapping up, the focus shifts to track and field, which presents interesting logistical challenges, to say the least, for distant viewers. Today's 100-meter men's final, discussed below, is a good example.

Several readers have asked if there's a schedule detailing exactly what time a certain event -- the men's 1,500, a certain U.S. women's soccer game, etc., will be on one of the many NBC networks. The short answer is no, not in a down-to-the-minute way for people seeking to record the game or event. The closest we've come, for NBC broadcasts, is this schedule.
(Note that you might have to register on the site to get it to display Disadvantaged Time Zone times, but when you do that, it also gives you local online Games stories and stats from KING-TV.)

The schedule (there's one on the bottom of the page for online streaming) at least breaks the volumnous network offerings into two-hour chunks, and uses local times.

For example, here's how it breaks down Sunday's NBC lineup:

10:00a - 12:00p
The U.S. women's basketball team plays New Zealand in a preliminary-round game (LIVE ET/CT). American women have won the past three gold medals in this event. New Zealand has made two Olympic appearances, finishing 11th in 2000 and eighth in 2004.

12:00p - 2:00p
The women's track cycling individual pursuit final. Four years ago, Beijing wasn't on Sara Hammer's radar. The pedaling prodigy who first raced competitively at age 3 had left the sport, burnt out and conflicted. But the California native, inspired after watching the Athens Games, returned to cycling and has become an Olympic medal contender. Also, coverage from rowing, equestrian, and table tennis.
Medal Event

2:00p - 5:00p
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele is the best in the world in the men's 10,000m. In Beijing, the three-time world champion seeks his second straight Olympic gold. Other coverage likely includes rowing "eight" finals and U.S. women's volleyball vs. Poland.
Medal Event

5:00p - 6:00p
Americans Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs play China in a women's beach volleyball quarterfinal match.

7:30p - 12:30a (8/18
The first night of gymnastics individual event finals, including men's floor and pommel horse; the women perform floor and vault routines. Also, track and field finals

Happy hunting.

Next Up -- first up? last up? -- track and field:

20:40: There's at least one world record involved in the men's 100 meters -- for longest delay of a worldwide major sporting event. East Coast viewers at this moment are watching the men go to the blocks for the race, which began just after 7:30 a.m. Seattle time. That's a 13-hour delay from start time. By the time NBC viewers in the Disadvantaged Time Zone see the race, it'll be a 16-hour and 10 minute delay. That breaks the old, 15-hour delay record for the opening ceremony broadcast.

If you don't already know: Usain Bolt of Jamaica wins in world record time, 9.69 seconds. And that's after pulling up to start celebrating with 20 meters still to go. Nobody on the track was even close. In second was Richard Thompson of Trinidad & Tobago; Walter Dix of the U.S. takes the bronze. Tyson Gay failed to make the final.

BTW: Can we declare a moratorium now on TV "Mom shots?
First up: Swimming

Men's 400 medley relay
Aaron Piersol established a small lead for the U.S. Breaststroker Brendan Hansen gives it up to Japan on the second leg. Phelps, swimming the fly, reclaims a narrow lead over Japan and Australia. And then Jason Lezak does it again, holding off all comers to claim the gold in a WR time of 3:29.34. Phelps' swim of 50.15, fittingly, is the turning point in the race. Australia takes the silver at 3:30.04 , Japan the bronze at 3:31.18.

Women's 400 medley relay
Australia blows away its own world record, swimming 3:52.69 to take the gold. The U.S. is second at 3:53.30. China is third at 3:56.11. It's Natalie Coughlin's sixth medal in Beijing -- a first for a U.S. woman. It also brings silver medals to King Aquatic swimmers Megan Jendrick and Margaret Hoelzer, who leaves Beijing with three medals.

Men's 1500 meter freestyle
Ous Melluli of Tunisia wins the long one at 14:40.84; Grant Hackett of Australia is second at 14:41.53; Ryan Cochrane of CANADA takes the bronze at 14:42.69. Larsen Jensen of the U.S. is fifth at 14:48.16.

Women's 50 freestyle
Britta Steffen of Germany, wins at 24.06, an Olympic record. Dara Torres is second at 24.07; Cate Campbell of Australia is third at 24.17. Libby Trickett of Australia is fourth at 24.25.

Sorry we're slow getting rolling tonight.

Some guys from NBC showed up at the front door, dark glasses, etc., wanted to talk about this blog's "attitude problem."

We told them to come back in three hours.

Actually, had to write Sunday's newspaper column, which will be a highlight reel of Week One of the Games. Not to be missed. Likely to be laminated. Joe Bob says check it out.

On tap tonight: The big Michael Phelps race for No. 8. Dara Torres in the 100. Full slate of track and field, including the men's 100 meters, which occurred approximately last Tuesday in Beijing.

A special shout out tonight to all our readers in Canada, where, after that first GOLD in women's wrestling yesterday, the medals came in a virtual torrent. Well, at least a steady trickle. More on this to come, as well.

Get your fans all pointed toward the couch (Dad, keep pushing the nurse button), and, as they say in ice dancing, get ready to rhumba...

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , NBC , Olympic Medals , Swimming , Track and Field |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

August 14, 2008 1:47 PM

Raise your hand if you're reading this at work

Posted by Ron Judd

Viewership stats confirm it: The great bulk of online viewing of the Olympics is being done by people doing some daytime "research" in the office.

Nielsen stats show that more than 2 million people lurked on the video section of on Monday, compared to about 850,000 on the weekend, CNET reports. Yahoo also reported an 86-percent traffic surge on Olympic sites from Sunday to Monday.

OK, now get back to "work."

Comments | Category: Beijing 2008 Games , NBC , Olympic media |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine







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Blogroll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.