Ali Wood's Olympic Report - Aug. 10, 2008
BEIJING (Aug. 10, 2008) - Today the mood today has been understandably somber. We are all so saddened by the tragic attack on Wiz and Hugh's family, and praying for her mother's speedy recovery.
Yesterday the temperature soared to over 95F and what seemed like 99% humidity in the afternoon. EY and Nic were the first US team to play last night, and dispatched of Netherlands in two. It was about 85F and really humid. Kadjik was serving really well, but not well enough to counter Nicole and EY's powerful net play as the US team were in control the entire match.
Next up, Todd and Phil played a very inspired Latvia. Team USA came out a bit flat and Latvia rallied behind great defense to pull off the upset of a lifetime. While it was a tough loss for Todd and Phil, it does not dash their chances of winning their pool. We've seen them lose early before and then win the tournament... an early upset is better than a late one for sure.
This morning it poured rain through Misty and Kerri's match against Japan. The air was thick and the ball was heavy making it difficult to put away despite the power that all four athletes were swinging with...frustrating for them, but great for the audience, as there were several amazing defensive rallies. Team USA prevailed in two as Kerri and Misty added another win to their 102 match streak.
Jake and Rosie played at 9 pm tonight. It was absolutely raining cats and dogs with intermittent lightning. We kept wondering if they would call the match, as the crew was having to dig channels in the sand to redirect the giant puddles. Despite rain jackets and ponchos, we were all soaked to the bone. Jake and Rosie started off strong with a consistent side out game and some phenomenal one arm jabs from Rosie, not to mention a few lefty tap downs. Jake played up some key points off his block and the Dutch never had a chance. Team USA won in two.
I came a bit early tonight to catch the match between China's Xue-Zhang Xi and Greece's Koutroumanidou-Tsiartsiani. In the pouring rain the 12,000 seat stadium was nearly full for an opening round match. The Chinese fans were on their feet cheering every good play, especially whenever Xue blocked someone. If this is a preview of the next few days, I guarantee beach volleyball will be one of the hottest tickets in town.
The Chinese fans are very pro American, which is a nice change from some of the countries we visit. The fans and volunteers have been so friendly. Everyone wants to help and to say hello and ask what we think of Beijing. We have these two drivers who are so accommodating and will work all day every day if we ask. The organizers have thought of every detail...it's amazing!
The Village is very nice, spacious apartments with Kohler fixtures and beautiful landscaping. The food is quite good and there is a lot of variety. The cafeteria is 24 hours and has a McDonalds with a McCafe coffee bar...my favorite. We actually moved out of the Village and into the Hilton a few days ago. It is right near are venue which is pretty necessary since the matches go from 9am to midnight the first six days and we are constantly shuttling the athletes back and forth for training and competition.
Tomorrow both USA matches are in the pm session, so we can get some rest in the morning.