Monday, January 21, 2013

Speed in Switzerland

Does a thundering drum roll followed by a pumping string mix-up of Bach's Fugue in D Minor get your heart racing early on a Sunday evening? When you hear the word 'wax' do you immediately want to add '...up your skis'? If so yesterday's Ski Sunday offering was an absolute gem. Famous as the longest downhill ski course in the world, overlooked by the infamous Eiger,the Lauberhorn now boasts another accolade: the first run on which the 100mph barrier was broken during a race. On Saturday, in Wengen, Frenchman Johan Clarey became the first skier to ski at more than 100mph during a World Cup race. Despite his record-breaking speed of 100.6mph Clarey's overall time was insufficient to win on the Lauberhorn as he slid to fifth place overall on the 2.7 mile course. Confident Clarey believes that his competitors have snow chance of beating the record and that he will "hold this record for a long time now". Given the perfect conditions of hard packed snow and clear visibility he may have a point.
See BBC for the video or get yourself onto iPlayer to watch the Ski Sunday episode in full:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Elementary my dear BBC

The BBC may not have Downton but it is generally pretty good on its sport. However I have been irritated by recent errors in its online coverage. Yesterday's gem of a statement was 'Andy Murray returns to action this week for the first time since winning the US Open on 11 September, eager to round off his career-best season on a high.' True Andy Murray returns this week and it is the first time he's played competitively since the glorious moment when he claimed his crown as King of the Court in the US Open. BUT that momentous day was not the 11th September. I realise that as an avid Murray fan who has sobbed through his defeats and wept with pure joy at both the Olympic and Grand Slam victory I am more likely than most to remember the date of his victory. In addition to all that it happened on my birthday... or at least it would have done if I'd been in America! I had to stay up long into the night on the 10th/11th September 2012 watching on a Sky Go account on the smallest laptop in the history of the world. So I vividly remember that it was on 11th September in the UK but 10th September in the US. An understandable mistake I hear you cry. Well, maybe yes, but it was very definitely 10th September where Andy Murray was. Quite frankly I would happily have the anonymous tennis reporter's job and would do my utmost to sweat the little things and get it right. Obviously the fact that said reporter remains unnamed suggests that it could well be an intern who wrote this erroneous article, but as the poor payment, or non-payment, of journalists for their skilled work is a major aggravation to me I think I'll save that topic for another day.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking the plunge

It is a common feature in films: the protagonist moves towards the edge of a huge waterfall, carried along, inch by inexorable inch, towards certain death in a swift flowing river from which there is no escape. For one professional kayaker this scenario is the stuff of dreams rather than nightmares.

Jesse Coombs deliberately took on the 96ft drop at the Abiqua Falls in Oregon. So confident was he of his ability to take the plunge that he took his friend and photographer along to capture the momentous moment on camera. He followed in the footsteps of Tim Gross who had attempted to kayak this fall once before.

According to The Sun the Abiqua Falls is known as a very difficult waterfall descent. When Gross attempted it he dislocated both knees due to a bad landing, nevertheless Coombs decided to take the plunge. Coombs successfully completed the jump but did not emerge entirely unscathed as he suffered a shoulder fracture and collapsed lung.

After Coombs completed the jump world record holder Tyler Bradt took on the same falls. One could be forgiven for thinking that this was a rather fallish move as Bradt proved once more that you cannot attempt this jump without expecting injury (he broke his back but is now expected to make a full recovery.)

The entire fall took just three seconds (canoe imagine the exhilaration?!) but was captured gloriously on camera. (See The Sun website for more pictures)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't forget your Passport!

Yesterday two friends of mine (we’ll call them Mr B and Mr C) were supposed to set out on their adventure to cycle around Australia. This is a wheelie huge task with more than 12,600 miles to pedal starting from Darwin in the Northern Territory and travelling round Australia through some harsh terrain (not to mention the difficulties of avoiding stopping for too long down the famed East Coast.)

Flying out via Bali with their bikes and several panniers crammed full of essentials, the first few days were going to be a relaxed affair to prepare for the months of toil and tent-sharing ahead. However, as you may have noticed from the ‘hypothetical’ tone employed in this post everything has not gone to plan.

While the attempt to circumnavigate Australia on two wheels certainly qualifies these two for the Odd Balls Blog it is an error of epic proportions which has inspired me to write about them. After months of gentle teasing about their unpreparedness the day finally dawned for them to set off to Australia. On arrival at Mr B’s house, Mr C was asked if he had everything, passport, money, bike etc. Tyred of being mocked about being ready he pulled out his wallet and phone and responded flippantly “I expect these will help me get through most things.”

So together they travelled to the airport. While standing in the check-in queue Mr C turns to Mr B, and with panic rising within him stated: “I’ve left my passport in my scanner at home.” Now home for Mr C was an hour and a half away. It is an impressive feat to have been able to refrain from obsessively checking his passport on leaving his house/arrival at Mr B’s house/throughout the journey to the airport/any number of other moments when even the least neurotic person would have checked this small but essential item!

Mr C, who henceforth shall be known as The Muppet, headed home in an attempt to recover said passport and returned 25 minutes after the check- in had closed. He was not allowed to board the flight and will now be joining his compatriot (who had to board the flight alone and will be spending his time in Bali without The Muppet) at the weekend.

It would be fair to say that things have not got off to a flying start but I will keep you updated on whether Mr B has in fact killed The Muppet and indeed on their progress around Australia.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Retirement going swimmingly

Some people find themselves all at sea when they retire from working life but a retired surgeon from Guernsey has his own answer to this, having set himself a series of challenges to keep ‘fit and healthy’.

In the latest feat he made a splash in the media as he became the oldest person ever to swim the English Channel. According to the BBC, Roger Allsopp, aged 70, set off from Shakespeare Beach in Dover and swam the channel in 17 hours and 51 minutes in an ‘incredible personal challenge’.

Mr Allsopp completed the swim in order to raise money for cancer research at the University of Southampton. He spoke of his retirement as ‘wonderful’ but emphasised his determination to keep ‘active in mind and body’.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Birdman Competition Really Takes Off

The Worthing International Birdman competition got off to a less than flying start after wind-stopped-play on Saturday. Although plans for the tournament were up in the air for a time, sunshine and a reduction in wind speed brought ideal conditions for contestants competing to fly over 100 metres on the Sunday.

According to Sky News there were nine serious competitors in the event who jumped off the side of Worthing Pier in West Sussex from a tower measuring 35ft in height. Several thousand people turned up to spectate at the event, witnessing contenders leap from the pier dressed as anything from David Hasselhoff (in the obligatory Knightrider car) to a BLT Subway sandwich!

With a potential jackpot of £10,000 for any contestant who travels more than 100m it is certainly worth dropping by to have a go. Alas for this year’s fearless fliers the jackpot went unclaimed. However Bill Brooks was awarded prize money amounting to £3,250 for spending more than 14 seconds in the air and travelling a distance of 78.4m.

See Guardian or Sky News for more pictures

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brit Breaks Butterfly Record

Fear not, dear reader, I have returned. After a prolonged absence due to a sporting injury of my own I am now able to type once more... and it transpires that there has been no dearth of strange sporting occurrences during my recovery.

Butterfly is not always the stroke of choice for swimmers, many of whom prefer the gentler action of front crawl, back crawl or breaststroke. However, according to the BBC, Dr Julie Bradshaw has racked up her 20th world record swimming butterfly around Manhattan Island in New York.

The Loughborough-based lady had attempted the feat before, in 2004, but a thunder storm put pay to it. This time, however, the time seemed to fly-by as she became the fastest woman to achieve the feat using this stroke, with a time of nine hours, 28 minutes and 37 seconds.

It isn’t the first time that Bradshaw, who raised money Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough, has made a splash in the swimming world. In 2006 she was awarded an MBE for services to swimming and charity fundraising.