Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Red Bull gives you wings – you bring the skates

Untitled-1Have you seen that short, very minimal commercial with a bunch of hockey players racing down a track in Quebec City? That’s Crashed Ice, a Red Bull sponsored extreme sport. (Update: between the time I wrote this and it being posted, Red Bull started running a new commercial, which is louder and explicit. Just pretend I mentioned whichever one you have actually seen.)

I kind of like the idea – I think a lot of Canadians could get into it. It’s fast, there are spills and chills, and while most of us have left our elite puck-handling days behind us, somewhere deep down inside a lot of us probably believe we could participate in a sport that rewards simple durability on skates. Heck, you even get to wear full hockey gear!

But how does an average Joe or Jane get to become an extreme sportsman/sportswoman like that?

Why, you try out.

Up until January 24th (11:59 pm EST) you can enter in a lottery draw to participate in one of 11 qualifying events across Canada, with winners going on to compete in Quebec City in March. And just in case, some entrants will win a trip to Quebec just to watch – so, worse comes to worse, you get a trip out of it I guess.

If you want a taste, you can always tune into the live webcast of the Crashed Ice finals in Munich, tomorrow. Or have a look at this video from last year’s championship.

Former England and Vancouver Royals manager Sir Bobby Robson dies

It’s understandable that the news of the death of Sir Bobby Robson, a legand of a footballer (soccer player) in England and a manager that ran some of the world’s top football clubs in Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Newcastle United as well as the English national team, would not make much of a splash in Vancouver.  Sure we love our Whitecaps and most people could probably pick David Beckham out of a police lineup, but aside from that it’s not our sport.

What I didn’t realize until today was that Robson, who passed away today after a long public bout with cancer [lg], had been a player-manager for the first year the Vancouver Royals [wp] played in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1968.  From managing the team that preceded the Whitecaps, he went onto run Fulham in the English First Division and later England and Barcelona.

While neither the Royals nor the Whitecaps ever really had the star power of fellow NASL team the New York Cosmos [wp], football in North America and Vancouver were drawing big name talent well before Beckham arrived in LA.

As with most things football, the Guardian has the best coverage on their football site [lg].

UFC Coming To Vancouver

The debate continues on with the potential of a UFC fight coming to Vancouver come June 2010.  Since 2007 there’s been a ban here in Vancouver on MMA and the sport remains unregulated in BC, however the UFC has set a tentative date for a match to occur here.

Mayor Robertson has shown he supports it by voicing his intentions to hopefully have everything resolved by 2010 in order to host the event.

I personally think a lot of the people who oppose MMA are those that have only been exposed to it in its earlier forms.  Since then there have been new rules implemented and matches in general are regulated better.  It definitely has gotten away from the “anything goes” type of fighting to matches that exhibit far more technique and tactics.

What do you guys think? The comments on the CBC news article have blown up with people weighing in on both sides.

Whitecaps down the Timbers

Late game push by the Timbers

Late game push by the Timbers

The Vancouver Whitecaps recorded their win of the still young 2009 United Soccer Leagues (USL) season last night with a one – nil win over the Portland Timbers.  The only goal of the game coming from a 63rd minute strike early in the second half from Whitecaps captain Martin Nash.

With the Whitecaps looking forward to the 2011 promotion to Major League Soccer (MLS) [mbv], they’re looking to build up the momentum of a few strong seasons in a row to help carry them up to the top North American league.  The chance of playing in the MLS if they can prove themselves now, is an extra motivating factor for the Whitecaps players.

Wes Knight is surrounded by Timbers players.

Wes Knight is surrounded by Timbers players.

Early on however it seemed more likely that the Timbers would be doing the scoring.  With one of the largest, and most vocal, traveling supporters groups I’ve ever seen at Swangard Stadium they had the best of the early going and after the first 45 resumed controlling the game.  Pinned back into their own zone the Whitecaps rode their luck a little until Nash’s goal eased the pressure off of them.

The Timbers kept pressing, with goalkeeper Steve Cronin joining the attack in the dying minutes as they searched for an equalizer.  However the Whitecaps defense managed to hold on for the victory.

Having missed the first game due to attending a wedding in Victoria, I was glad to be there for the Whitecaps first win.  With the team set to change both league and venue in 2011, it would be easy to start getting nostalgic for Swangard.  However it would be nice to see more turnout for the games.  With the Whitecaps setting a new MLS record for season ticket deposits for their major league debut season having sold 5,000 in 48 hours, seeing Swangard packed would ease any lingering concerns I have over the forthcoming change.

Having said that it was a great night, and a great game.

MLS, seasons tickets and an underwear model

Martin Nash gets ready to kick

If you missed it yesterday Major League Soccer is coming to Vancouver in 2011 [mbv], and you can reserve your right to be the first in line for seasons tickets starting tomorrow at the official site of Vancouver’s embryo of an MLS team [vm11].  Meanwhile the Seattle Sounders, who last year played in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) first division with the Whitecaps, played their first game in the MLS having made the jump to the big leagues this year.

They beat the New York Red Bulls, though I haven’t been able to figure out whether or not former Arsenal winger and Calvin Klein underwear model Freddie Ljungberg played for them [av].  He’s been nursing an injury, and basically has spent the last few years of his career in various states of injury.  Arsenal fans will remember him fondly, especially for this great goal in the FA Cup against Chelsea [yt].  Here’s another video of it and this one includes Ray Parlour’s goal [yt] and some nice shots of Tony Adams being Tony Adams and thus awesome.

Hmm… sorry wrong blog for that sort of thing.

The MLS is coming to Vancouver

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC

After years of rumours [mbv] it seems like Vancouver is going to get an Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.  Granted it’s at a slightly low point for the MLS, after the David Beckham experiment which was meant to prove that soccer in America was on its way to becoming as much of a force as it is in Europe has failed.  Beckham’s decided he prefers playing in the semi-retirement league that is Series A in Italy and is paying out of his own pocket to stay there.

 Meanwhile what this means for the Whitecaps we’re not sure.  The ownership group of the new team is largely the same as that of the Whitecaps with owner Greg Kerfoot heading the group that paid the $35 million dollar fee for an MLS franchise, but it seems like it’s not a sure thing that the new team will be called the Whitecaps and there’s clearly not enough soccer support to keep the two teams going in Vancouver. 

The new team will play in BC Place as opposed to Swangard, because if you can’t sell out Swangard you’re might as well go big and not sell out  BC Place.

The example of Toronto FC [mbv] shows that a Canadian city can support professional soccer, but the population and demographics are a lot different in Toronto than they are Vancouver.  The success of the new MLS team is hardly a sure thing, on or off the pitch.

Of course now this also means that there’s no way that we’ll ever get any sort of media accreditation for the Whitecaps.  While the team is great at calling me back to renew my season tickets, they’ve never once returned an email or a call about press accreditation for covering the Whitecaps games.  Any of the photos for the posts on the team I’ve taken have been with a camera that I’ve learned how to smuggle into games.

As a former (damn economy) season ticket owner I hope the new team succeeds.  I do think Vancouver hast the potential to support another major league sports franchise in town, and this will certainly be less of a fiasco than the Grizzlies were, and I am very eager for some higher level soccer to be played in town.  Even if there will be no David Beckham.  Even if I have to assemble my camera in a washroom stall so that I can cover the games.

Vancouver Five: new names for GM Place

GM Place

 With the fate of General Motors in doubt [nyt] the Vancouver Canucks’ home ice may soon be needing a new sponsor, or at least a new name.  Here are a few ideas for what we may be calling GM Place next season.

  1. Money Mart Place: In this economy Money Mart might be the only business with cash to spare. 
  2. Fat City Arena: See this eariler Vancouver Five for explanation [mbv].
  3. Rogers Place: There was a well fairly decent rumour that Rogers tried to buy the naming rights to BC Place, but the city would not let them change the roof’s colour to Rogers’ red.  But hey they need to do something with all that iPhone money.
  4. Happy Planet Juice Centre: I think the founder of that company might have some pull with city council [wp].  Plus wouldn’t that just please the pants off the rest of Canada who see us all as hippies anyway?
  5. Trevor Linden Memorial Rink: In the future when Trevor Linden signle handedly fixes the economy before leading the negotiations that see our alien invaders surrender, we’ll be quite happy to name the Canucks’ home ice after him.

Richmond Olympic Oval Is Open

It’s probably a busy time with family during this holiday and I hope you are all having a great time with friends and family.

In case you aren’t aware (and haven’t had enough of snow/ice), the Olympic Oval is now open to the public.  Parking is a bit of a pain and it’s probably best to walk here somehow or get dropped off. You can now skate the oval before the Olympian Athletes do.

The public skate times are posted here and for only $8 for adults / $5 for kids with rentals at $3, it’s a great family activity.

They also have public speed skating too, if you’re a speed skater.

Mats Sundin brings memories of Messier

While Mats Sundin may prove to be the missing puzzle piece that finally helps the Canucks bring the Stanley Cup back to Vancouver, he also might prove to be the vanguard of yet another disastrous period in Canucks history.  How does he stack up to Vancouver’s previous Horseman of the Apocalypse?
Mats Sundin playing for the Leafs

Mats Sundin playing for the Leafs

Mats Sundin

  • Age signing for Canucks: 37
  • Canucks Rival Played For: Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Team Leader Replacing: Marcus Naslund, Trevor Linden
  • Number of Stanley Cups Won: 0
  • Selection of Awards Won: Mark Messier Leadership Award, Regular All-Star, Regular for Swedish National Team

 

 

Mark Messier playing for the Canucks, remember that?

Mark Messier playing for the Canucks, remember that?

Mark Messier

  • Age When Signing for Canucks: 36
  • Canucks Rivals Played For: Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers
  • Team Leader Replacing: Trevor Linden
  • Number of Stanley Cups Won: 6 (all prior to coming to Vancouver)
  • Selection of Awards Won: Conn Smythe Trophy, Regular All-Star, Regular Appearing for the Canadian National Team, ranked as the 12th best player ever by The Hockey News.

 

 

 

Photos:
Mark Messier by: Håkan Dahlström from Flickr
Mats Sundin by: mlynaugh from Flickr

Glen Anderson makes the Hockey Hall of Fame

Glenn Anderson.jpg

I want to like the Vancouver Canucks, I really do. I want to feel like they’re my team, and try I’ve given it my all to root for them [mbv]. For God’s sake I’ve lived in British Columbia for the past twenty-four years, it’s about time I consider myself a Canucks fan. Right?

The thing is those formative years spent in Edmonton are powerful, and especially during the time I was there. Memory and nostalgia are a hard thing to overcome, which is why the good ol’ days always seem better than they were. It’s even harder to put aside the past when the past could kick the present’s ass on the ice any day of the week.

It’s not the Canucks’ fault that they’re not as good as the Oilers of my youth, because… well because nobody is. The team that I grew up with was the greatest hockey team the world has seen, and probably will ever see again until the NHL shrinks down to a smaller size. All the big money teams that the Red Wings or Colorado might try to put together will never compete with the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, it was just so good.

How good was it? It was so good that even the people who lived in the shadow of the giants like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey are bound for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yesterday Vancouver born Glen Anderson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame [nhl] as a further sign that there was something special about that team. He’s not the first name that pops to mind when you think of the Oilers’ dynasty, but he was an important part.

He was even a Canuck for a few days in 1996, though he was claimed by the Oilers on waivers.

While I’d love to see the Canucks lift the cup, and in a lot of ways I think there’s certainly a segment of the Canuck fans that deserve to see their team win, I have to admit I’ll never love them as much as I love the Oilers. They’ll never be as good as the team I grew up with, though let’s be honest the Oilers will never be that good either.

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