The 2012 Olympics kicked off on Saturday—if you don't count soccer, which you should—and a lot of things happened. It's not easy to keep up with it all, especially since NBC's streams have been especially screwy, so here are the five things you should know if you were only going to know five things about what happened over the weekend in London.
1. Kim Rhode, the 33-year-old shooter from California, became the first American to win a medal in five straight Olympics. She hit 99 out of 100 targets in the skeet shooting competition to win her third gold to go along with a bronze and a silver. Rhode won her first medal (a gold) in Atlanta at 16, and she plans to compete in Brazil in 2016.
If you watched the Amgen Tour of California, you might have seen a catchy advertisement from Spy Optics that pitted outgoing U.S. national road racing champ Matthew Busche against freestyle rider Mike Montgomery. The ad starts with footage of Busche racing down an asphalt road before cutting, as if we're going inside Busche's head, to scenes of what looks like Busche doing tricks and flips on a jump course. In fact, that's Montgomery (dressed up to look like the road race champ) doing all the stunts.
With the ESPN X Games and the Teva Mountain Games, we've gotten used to seeing athletes with more skill than fear pulling physics-defying stunts. But the sight of a biker doing doubles and backflips on a production-model road bike is still a bit breathtaking. Which is probably why Spy decided to release this behind-the-scenes documentary, with even more stupefying footage.
I admit it: It’s a little hypocritical for a blog about raising adventurous, outdoor kids to be reviewing TV commercials, but I can’t resist reposting this ad, “The Next Ones,” which aired on the sly during the Super Bowl post-game show yesterday. The commercial, for NBC Sports Network, pays tribute to up-and-coming backyard athletes, aka “the scrappers,” who are busy doing the real work of childhood: playing hard outside. It’s a goosebumpy, 60-second ride through kid land as it used to be, and should be still: pushing go-carts up ridiculously steep hills, running fast through the neighborhood, and playing pick-up pond hockey on perfect black ice.
So here’s to “the unknown phenoms, the enforcers, the feared, the ones you didn’t see coming”—role models, we hope, for an increasingly sedentary, screen-bound generation of kids. Gotta love their spirit.
Jeb Corliss flying near Tianmen Hole, Courtesy of Jeb Corliss
Yesterday, we posted a super slowmo video of Jeb Corliss fying in a wingsuit so low to the ground that he was able to hit the string attached to a small cluster of balloons held by his friend. We then asked him if the touch was planned. He said yes, then revealed it was practice for an upcoming jump in China.
"I needed to train precision so I set my camera man up at the entrance to a late crack in the earth between a few trees and had him hold a set of balloons with a 5 ft string that was 2 cm wide," Corliss said by email. "The goal was to hit the string between the balloons and the camera man before entering the crack."
The flight he's preparing for involves zipping through the cave beneath his right shoulder in the picture above. Tianmen Hole is a 360-foot-tall, 96-foot-wide, and 260-foot-long formation located near the city of Zhangjiajie in central China's Hunan Province. Corliss will jump from a helicopter hovering at 6,000 feet and attempt to glide through the hole. He will not be able to pull his chute for two-thirds of a mile and has a very small margin of error.
Danny MacAskill's mountain biking videos have racked up millions of views on YouTube—his Inspired Bicycles clip is closing in on 27 million hits—and for good reason. Aside from the fact that his two-wheeled porn is beautifully shot and features great music, MacAskill exhibits within each clip a level of skill and precision that's jaw-dropping. He practices some individual stunts for eight hours before attempting them on film. In his latest video, MacAskill rolls and hops around an old ironworks factory and abandoned railway yard, jumping from rail to rail and riding across a cable on his bike. Stu Thomson of Cut Media directed the Industrial Revolutions clip for Concrete Circus, a documentary that aired on Britain's Channel 4 this week.
If you have questions about how Macaskill does these tricks, check out the videos below. It helps to see his answers supported with visuals. If you'd rather just watch in awe, click on the video above.