Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sadly, the TOC is over...

Another year, and another great tournament. Many memorable points, and to my mind the semifinals night had two of the best matches I've ever seen, one after the other. I wasn't there live, so, lacking tickets, hurried home to watch the games on Squash TV, which I must say again is a marvelous accomplishment by the PSA.For about $100 you get very clear visuals in a broadcast of the highest standard for a full year. It is worth the money, by far. 

The final was also terrific, with Ramy demonstrating once again his tendency for slow starts, and Gaultier displaying the reverse. Ramy came within a hair's breadth of losing the match ignominiously in a shutout, but then the Egyptian superstar emerged, and Gaultier, who had some tough matches earlier in the TOC, suddenly found his tank empty, and Ramy pretty much cruised to a win. The best point, which you've no doubt seen before, is here at the 5:10 mark. But the best moment is Ramy's stare at the wildly appreciative crowd, and his air guitar, which is at the 5:25 mark. 

The great thing about this is the fact that Ramy is clearly having a little fun, but Gaultier is too -- watch his reaction as he lightly pushes Ramy away. I for one think it is great that these top athletes can occasionally pull out of competition mode and have some fun. By so doing, they're also celebrating the sport.

I also had the opportunity to talk to Peter Nicol and Jethro Binns at the booth. They asked me how I liked it and I spent a couple of minutes telling them how transformative I thought the site has been. Its appearance on the scene has shown everyone what a well-executed squash site can accomplish, and personally I love it. Indeed, I told Jethro that the site may in fact have too much information on it. I told him that more than once I have gotten on the court, trying to put in practice some of the advice I had seen on the site, only to have so much information going through my head that brain freeze developed and I became more or less paralyzed. I told him that they might want to start a special thread for idiots like myself who can't handle all the information.

Jethro very politely said he would take that suggestion under advisement.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Greatest Terminal in the World

Grand Central Terminal is the epicenter of the squash world right now, and so far the 'TOC' has been predictably fantastic. John Nimick and his Event Engine crew always do a great job, and this year is no different. 

But it might be worth pulling back a second and thinking a bit about the venue in which this tournament is taking place. 

Every morning I have the pleasure of commuting into this wonderful terminal, whose main hall includes a ceiling upon which is depicted the stars fully 13 stories above the Terminal's floor. (The stars, by the way, were placed in reverse, by accident. Few notice this, and no one seems to care.

Grand Central Terminal is the world's busiest and biggest terminal, but it is also a work of art in a city that more often than not doesn't necessarily slow down long enough to appreciate such things. On any given day you can go into the Terminal and see hardened New Yorkers, staring up at that magnificent ceiling, high enough to almost be part of the heavens itself. 

Here's a great piece on Grand Central, whose centennial birthday approaches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hey Olympics! Squash Cycling!

In an interesting development, Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee and former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, was quoted by Reuters as saying it is possible that the sport of cycling might get the boot from the Olympics program.

If Lance Armstrong, now in full confessor mode, implicates the International Cycling Union in any improprieties, Pound warns, then the sport might be squashed from the program, at least long enough to get cycling back onto the straight and narrow. Cycling, as everybody ought to know by now, is one of the most corrupt sports around, and that corruption is not limited to Lance and a few of his buddies.

That would leave an opening in the program, which got me thinking.... Perhaps a sport that has never demonstrated any problem with doping; that is truly international, in a way that very few are; that at the highest level is played by some of the fittest athletes on the planet; that is relatively inexpensive to add to the program; whose court construction is a moveable feast, allowing set-up in virtually whatever locale the planners would like; and whose fans are some of the most ardent around.... perhaps a sport like that would make a great replacement? 

Naaaaaaaahhh....., what on earth am I thinking?