Olympic Torch Malfunction in Opening Ceremony at Vancouver

The Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver was relatively uninspiring, not counting the pants Azerbaijan was rocking. To be fair, no performance could have lived up to Beijing’s opening ceremonies from the ’08 Summer Games, but Vancouver was disappointing by any standards. There were only a few moments that I found myself in awe while the rest of the time I was more or less bored. The 3-D whales swimming across the floor were cool and the lighted constellations were nice but the rest just dragged on. The entire ceremony could be summed up by the malfunction when they attempted to light the torch indoors. As you can tell in the picture on the left, one of the cauldron lights didn’t work and it made for an awkward scene where speedskater Catriona LeMay Doan was left standing around. Steve Nash, Wayne Gretzky, and skiier Nancy Greene saw their torches light successfully. Gretzky later was transported to light the outdoor torch which you can see in the picture on the right. As you can tell, the outdoor cauldron has four posts for support, not three.

Between Friday’s death during luge practice and the torch malfunction, Vancouver isn’t exactly off to the best start around. At least they have two weeks to make it up.

Visit GawkerTV for video of the Olympic torch malfunction.

Azerbaijan Pants Rule!

I was watching the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and I was mostly unimpressed. That was until the Parade of Nations began and the Azerbaijans stole the show rocking their awesome pants! Check out these bad boys straight out of the 1980s:

I really have no idea about the significance of the pants other than they must be a cultural symbol but I sure like them. The Azerbaijans don’t even have to win a medal because they’ve already left their mark on the Olympics as far as I’m concerned. Nice going, guys.

Thanks to NBC Olympics’ photo gallery for the hookup. The AP provides another close look at the pants:

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Nodar Kumaritashvili Luge Crash Video

One of the saddest stories in Winter Games history took place today as Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a practice run. Kumaritashvili lost control and flipped around the track until he hit a steel beam which may have broken his neck or back. Here’s the Nodar Kumaritashvili crash video:

The Whistler track has been under scrutiny the entire Olympics because it has been called the fastest and most dangerous in the world. Kumaritashvili actually crashed in a prior practice run during which his average speed was 88mph and he was only one of several lugers to crash in practice. Though the Olympics are the home of the best athletes in the world, the IOC will likely be forced to adjust the track after the events that have transpired. Knowing that they reach speeds of 90mph going through the course — with no protection — it’s no surprise that Kumaritashvili wound up dying from his injuries. The luge is no joke and the participants risk their lives every time they take a run. This is a terrible way to kick off the games and some awful news.

Shaq on Dwight Howard: ‘Superman my Ass’, Upset over Double-Teams

UPDATE: Dwight Howard says he’s changing nicknames

Even at 38-years-old, Shaq is reluctant to cede the title of most dominant center in the NBA. Prior to Thursday’s Cavs/Magic game, Shaq said there’s really three good centers in the NBA — two were playing in Cleveland (Shaq and Dwight Howard), and the third was injured (Yao Ming). Going back to last year, Shaq and Howard had some beef when Shaq (accurately) accused Dwight Howard of stealing the “Superman” nickname. Later when the their teams met, criticism was heightened when Shaq was accused of flopping. On Thursday night, the game was tied at 96 with five minutes left. While Shaq took an alleyoop pass from LeBron James to give Cleveland the lead for good, Dwight failed to score over the final seven and a half minutes. That prompted some serious comments from Shaq who was upset after the game over being double-teamed. The comments via Brian Windhorst’s twitter:

Shaq on Dwight Howard: “Superman my ass.”

Shaq on getting doubled but not doubling Howard: “When I was coming up and there was Ewing and Hakeem, I never doubled anybody. You tell me who the real Superman is. Don’t compare me to anybody. I’d rather not be mentioned. I’m offended. Hakeem, Ewing, Rik Smits, Duncan, Robinson, the best of the best, straight up. I never doubled nobody.”

I guess Shaq wasn’t getting enough attention for a 13-game winning streak so he figured some words were necessary to steal the spotlight. While I’m not fond of Shaq’s ego-feeding ways, especially at the expense of others, there’s no doubt that this was a statement win by the Cavs. Howard ate them up in the Conference Finals last year but now they have a weapon to match him.

Pac-10 Should Add Utah and BYU

There’s no doubt that the Pac-10 has the talent and programs to compete with any conference in America across all sports in any given year. The one area where the Pac-10 can’t match other conferences however is TV deals. The Big Ten and Mountain West have their own TV networks. Most other BCS conferences get good TV exposure during the season and the ACC, SEC, and Big 12 already have conference title games. The Pac-10 doesn’t have the money-making game and worse, their games sometimes get lost on Versus, TBS (in the past), or local FSN affiliates where they’re even tape delayed! The Pac-10 is one of the elite conferences in America and needs to start acting like it. That’s exactly why they’ve announced their contemplating expansion.

I think it’s a fine idea to expand and I would make the suggestion for the conference to approach Mountain West powers Utah and BYU to join. The fit would be natural for several reasons. For one, both schools consistently field competitive basketball and football teams while BYU particularly has a strong football tradition. Secondly, the schools are natural rivals as are every other regional couple in the conference. Thirdly, both schools would fit well with the travel model the conference has already established; along with the Norcal, Socal, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington trips, schools would now add in a Utah trip. Lastly, the conference would then have divisions — the Washington, Oregon, and Norcal schools in the Pac-10 North and the Socal, Arizona, and Utah schools in the Pac-10 South. To me, this alignment would be perfect and it would add some nice juice to the conference.

I’ve read that the conference is targeting Utah and Colorado. I prefer BYU over Colorado for several reasons. BYU has been much more competitive in basketball and football recently. BYU and Utah also are natural rivals while Utah and Colorado aren’t; the Pac-10 is based on rivalries. I understand the appeal of Colorado because of the Denver TV market but BYU makes much more sense. That would be my vote for expansion. If the Pac-10 decides to let in the likes of Fresno State, San Diego State, or Boise State, then they will have ignored everything the conference is predicated upon and they will be expanding for the sake of expansion. Let’s hope they do it the right way and in the spirit of the conference.

Nets Attendance Barely Cracks 1,000

We used to pick on the Marlins for having three-digit attendance figures but at least they had a decent product on the field even if they didn’t have the fan base to match. The New Jersey Nets are a different story. Currently 4-48, the Nets are threatening to break the ’72-’73 76ers record for the worst season in NBA history (9-73). The Nets are on pace to go 6-76 and they really don’t have any reason to hope for a turnaround considering their roster is devoid of talent and many players have been battling injuries. Even in this season full of lows, the Nets still managed to achieve a new low on Wednesday night.

According to the AP, only 1,016 fans passed through the turnstiles of the IZOD Center for the Nets/Bucks game, rivaling the attendance for a college basketball game in Puerto Rico. Those who did show up were rewarded with a game that was close for two and a half quarters before the Bucks pulled away. The Nets actually have an excuse for the light figures considering there was a foot of snow in the area but snow doesn’t have as much of an impact on fans as losing does. For instance, the Capitals almost packed the arena on Sunday when they played the Penguins despite the blizzard in D.C. That’s the difference between having a 13-game winning streak and a 7-game losing streak. Fans are motivated to see a winner while nobody has a desire to watch a loser play. Particularly a loser laying claim to “worst team of all-time.” Now that’s pathetic.

Japanese Speedskater Miho Takagi’s G-String Sticks Out in Her Outfit

Over the next few weeks we’ll be exposed to athletes who will be the most important people on Earth. Three weeks from now, we’ll forget 99% of them. That doesn’t mean it’s too early to familiarize yourself with some of these athletes you’ll soon forget. One of whom is Japanese speedskater Miho Takagi who wore a see-through outfit to a training session, one that shows her underwear — a G-String. Here are the pictures of the S&M-style outfit, via Slanch Report and Sports by Brooks:

You think it’s just for a competitive advantage like swimmers shaving off their body hair? I bet it makes her more aerodynamic on the ice. Best of luck to Takagi in Vancouver and here’s to her skating fast in the Winter Games!