The 2008 cycle of Olympic gymnastics has begun, and it started on a high note, both as a couch potato and as a spectator (the two activities having subtly different emphases).

A Chart is Born!In couch-potato terms, I finished one of my 2 big summer writing projects and printed out a draft of the other to read for sentences that are too long (always my last step). I also came out on top in my epic struggle against the cables-and-lace pattern that I’m hoping will accompany the first official sock pattern with my new heel turn (a very small, very incomplete sample at right, just to make you salivate a bit). Pretty damn impressive for a 24-hour period of time, but it’s really just a bunch of projects that have been percolating all coming to a close at nearly the same time.

In gymnastics spectator terms, I finally got to see one of Alexander Artemev’s pommel horse routines without having to scream to no one in particular about how horrifying it is that he fell. Artemev–and to be fair, quite a few of his competitors–has what we call “extension” and “amplitude” in the gymnastics world, words which the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad NBC Commentating Trio toss around but never really define.

You can try out both extension and amplitude for yourself at home: think of the difference between reaching out with a straight arm to grab a pen and reaching out with a straight arm for a wall that’s several inches away and has a million-dollar bill taped to it (but without ever moving your shoulders). That difference in tension and the length of your arm is the difference between “straight” and “fully extended.”

Now imagine how high you’d jump if you were just asked to jump over that pen, and how much higher you’d jump if the million-dollar bill were hanging 3 feet above the tips of your fully extended fingers…. That’s amplitude, which can also refer to how far away from the equipment you can push your body–maintaining full extension, of course–even if you still happen to be physically touching the equipment.

If you just watch gymnastics every 4 years, the inexpressible difference between “Meh….” and “My god!” will–given the same difficulty level–probably come down to an athlete with OK extension and amplitude vs an athlete with full extension and amplitude. Artemev’s pommel horse routine–when he hits it–has both. The Chinese men are unbeatable because they have both on all 6 events.

Not only am I’m excited to see how this home-court advantage will work for a very deserving Chinese men’s team, I get to be excited about gymnastics and my knitting at the same time! Favorite things, indeed.

Tomorrow, more about how to make gymnastics scoring make sense, a rundown on the women’s prelims, and actual photos of actual socks made of actual yarn.

2 Responses to “These are a few of my favorite things….”

  1. Nicole says:

    You know, I wasn’t aware that the treasury was making million dollar bills. Clearly, moonlighting as Miley is having an effect on me.

    I’m excited to see the socks!

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