Time to catch everyone up on the games here. Since last Saturday each of
the divisions has been playing its round robin games. A few things became
apparent. The South Africans remain dominant in both (Men's & Women's)
Masters divisions, which they have won since the divisions were created,
except for a brief interruption by Australia in 2000. Neither team lost a
game in the round robin, so they are clearly the gold medal favorites.
Similarly, defending champion Australia dominated the Men's division,
followed by France, which lost only to the Aussies. In the Women's
division, hometown Canada, passed through the prelims undefeated.
There was some excitement in the Men's Masters round robin, as Great
Britain, Australia, and Canada finished in a tie for 3rd seed. The
resolution of this was critical, as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd seeds get a day off
while 4th and 5th play off for a shot at the semifinals. And you know how
important a day off is to the elder generation. Canada won the tie on the
basis of having the fewest goals scored against them. The Brits immediately
started whinging about not being credited for goals they scored after the
game was over and claiming that the score hadn't been kept correctly in
previous games which they had lost. Perhaps they should instead have scored
enough goals so they didn't have to rely on tie-breakers.
But the most exciting game before the playoffs was the Colombia-Great
Britain game. For the last 4 worlds tournaments, Colombia has labored in
the second division, improving steadily each year. As top seed in the B
division this year, they had the opportunity to play the eighth seed from
the A division to try to advance to the quarterfinals. As anyone who has
witnessed a Colombian game will attest, they are spirited affairs, largely
due to their fans. The fans initially consist of the Colombian women's
team, but quickly grow as the infectious enthusiasm spreads. And the
cheering is wonderful. It's surprising how they make so much out of 2
words-- "Ai" (pronounced eye) and "Colombia". Before you know it half of
the bleacher section is yelling:
Ai, ai, ai
The game remained scoreless for the first 27 minutes. Then Colombia was
awarded a penalty shot. Unfortunately they committed an infraction and the
penalty shot was successfully defended. Now, most of the time, a successful
defense of a penalty shot fires up the defending team and deflates the team
which failed at the penalty shot. But in this case, Colombia took the next
strike and within 20 seconds scored the only goal of the game. Once time
ran out, Colombia had made it to the upper division (and theoretically a
shot at the gold), and the country which invented underwater hockey had been
relegated to the B division.
But the pool is not the only place where games are played. For instance,
the US Men's team had been playing in traffic quite a bit. Last weekend,
Timmy Burke was involved in a round of bumper tag with a local last week.
The local stormed back to the team van screaming and hollering, ostensibly
looking for a fight. He quieted down as the 12 team members and their coach
poured out of the van to see if they could help resolve the situation. No
one was injured, but the local was suspected of suffering low blood
Then, just yesterday, the boys accidentally encountered a FedEx truck.
Again no one was injured, and no one tried to get into a fight. But this
time the team van took the brunt of the punishment.
Heading back indoors, the US Men's team and the Canadian Women's coach got
into a heated, shall we say, debate. Apparently the brouhaha began when
Lyndon Rives allegedly "borrowed" Blair Armstrong's team jacket. Seeing the
US team in the stands shortly afterward, the Maple Leaf coach went mad and
started climbing his way toward the alleged offenders, appearing to be ready
to take all on. On his way up, he stepped on a Britchick, injuring her knee
(there are some that suppose this may have been the entire reason for the
attack-- to maximize collateral damage). Some bystanders temporarily calmed
Blair down, someone gave him his jacket back, and Daniel the Wonderboy ended
the altercation by threatening to write the coach a ticket.
But others besides the US Men's team were involved in altercations. James
Luce of the US Men's Masters team was quietly picking flowers the other day
when he noticed a lovely feather which he thought would be a good addition
to the bouquet he was making. When he picked up the feather he discovered
that a nearby prairie chicken thought it had rights to the feather and began
chasing James, chirping and crying like crazy. Knowing how protective birds
are of their nests, and thus in a panic, James dashed across the street to
safety, as the pedestrian light had changed, and being a law-abiding
Canadian, the prairie chicken refused to cross against the light.
Just a couple days later the US Mens Masters team went to the pool for a
warmup, a little bit earlier than they were supposed to begin warming up. A
frantic Canadian female volunteer began chirping "you know you aren't
supposed to be in the pool this early! Get out! Get out!" In a panic, the
team dashed into the Men's locker room, knowing the law-abiding woman would
not follow them there.
I have gotten a few inquiries as to why I haven't yet discussed the
differences in currency and measurements used by the US and its Canadian
suburbs. While this subject is near and dear to my heart, I have hesitated
up to this point because of the complexity involved. Just think about it.
If I get 30 miles to the gallon and it costs 70 Canadian cents per litre for
gas, how much will it cost to go from Lethbridge, Alberta to Butte, Montana,
accounting for the border crossing? See what I mean? But I'll try to touch
on the subject in upcoming reports.
So now it's on to quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship games. Good
luck to all.