At long last, the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives in June. Hold tight to your koozies, boyz. We got sports in 3-D! I’m hoping for a goalie’s eye view of the World Cup, which begins June 11.
If you have any interest at all in NHL hockey and haven’t yet tuned into the playoffs, you’ve missed some crazy excitement, amazing upsets, miraculous comebacks, etc. Tune in chrissakes! It’s down to the championship round! Blackhawks vs. Flyers. Whodathunk?
MR JONES: Perhaps in honor of a pro cycling season in full-swing, the April 19 premiere of Dhani Tackles the Globe featured Dhani Jones, a 235-ish pound NFL football player, training all of one week for a bike race in Italy called the Gran fondo del Monte Grappa.
If you’re a cyclist, the entertainment value of this is obvious. We’re talking a pro football player nearly twice the weight of a pro cyclist trying to crawl up a 27-kilometer hill (~17 miles) along a route that includes stretches of 10-percent grade.
FIXIE NATION: Cycling enthusiasts will have caught a couple suspicious details for a man plugged as having limited cycling experience. Dhani had no issues whatsoever with his clipless pedals – the kind your shoes lock into. He also sat upright on his bike to take off his jacket no-hands – a feat a person has typically spent significant mileage on a bike to acquire the balance for. Turns out Dhani’s been “riding all my life.” In fact, he rides a fixie bike to football practice rain, snow or sunshine.
BOOZE NEWS: Overlooking a second reference to Dhani, i discovered he endorses a new product called TY KU Sake. He says, “As an athlete, I love that TY KU Sake is all natural.” I recently had a chance to taste the stuff and it’s kinda sexy. The premium liqueur version is green and comes in a stylish bottle that illuminates when you pick it up. I know! Tastes melony and includes a bunch of antioxidant fruits like mangosteen and goji berry. ‘Bout half the usual calorie count.
The most recognizable participants were four Garmin-Transitions riders from their U-23 development team, competing for a purse of $9K ($6K for the ladies – going to Durango’s Carmen Small). Albuquerque’s Luis Amaran won the big bucks in men’s. Earlier in the week, I passed the Wounded Warrior Cycling Team on a ride. Turns out they were training to compete in the Classic’s time trial.
The following weekend Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Dave Zabriskie battled 60+ mph winds in the Tour of the Gila. Even Lance claimed he might not have ever raced in similarly dramatic conditions. Regardless, Leipheimer finished on the high podium a second consecutive year.
Then it was off to the Tour of California, where competitors battled some of the precise weather conditions the race was rescheduled for May to avoid. Still, it’s better than the mayhem that is 2010 Giro d’Italia weather.
News from the ToC is Leipheimer didn’t win a fourth consecutive year, perhaps due to the altered placement of the race in the season. Lance crashed out altogether.
This Lance crashing business is intriguing. In seven Tour de France wins, Armstrong had to be one of the luckiest cyclists ever. Sure, they weren’t without incident and he had his crashes, but it wasn’t until he came out of retirement that he suffered the most common injury among cyclists – a broken collar bone – and he never once abandoned. In the ToC, he did what he Twittered was “a face plant,” sending him home before the race’s end.
My question is this: Why has Lance’s “luck” changed? Is it that he’s older? Less focused? More hesitant? Is he due for an appointment with the team sport psychologist?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
GOOD GUYS: On April 17, the Hunstville Havoc secured the Southern Professional Hockey League championship under the leadership of former CHL New Mexico Scorpions assistant coach (and Hockey Hall of Famer – look it up!) Randy Murphy, with a little help from former Scorpions defenseman Vladimir Hartinger and priceless support from equipment manager Paul Farias.
So, was this past season one to build on, or simply a miracle for the Phoenix Coyotes? I’m hoping the former. At the very least, their non-traditional fans discovered the thrill of backing the home team en masse. I attended my very first NHL game years ago in Phoenix, when more fans wore the away-team colors than not.
TIMBITS: Here’s where you want to look for the world’s most entertaining golfer (and i don’t mean in a Tiger sort of way), Steve Elkington, to provide free instructional golf tips and to interact with other golfers.