Muse & Metallica ice dancing

During the pandemic somewhere early last year I came across a mesmerizing ice dancing routine set to Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters on a quiet rink with no one around in New York City. It is skated by American teen siblings Oona and Gage Brown and I have watched that video several times. It flows so beautifully, the camera follows every movement so closely and there is a magical and intimate quality to it all…

I came across it again today, was as mesmerized as when I first saw it, and now find that they have recently also made a video set to Exogenesis by Muse! It is just as mesmerizing to me, even though that Muse piece is less known than the Metallica song to most people…

Wow, I like these youngsters and their ice skating music choices. I wonder if they will one day end up winning World Championship and Olympics medals. I, for one, would give them one!

Apparently these videos are made by a former ice skater turned videographer, see his YouTube channel here for some more mesmerizing videos with other skaters.

Legend

Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst has set a stunning record today: for the first time ever an athlete has won gold medals in five consecutive Olympics!

I was in an online meeting when it happened and I half heard it on TV. As soon as the meeting ended I was able to rewind the programme (yay for digital TV!) and watch her race and the following three races where she had to wait to see if she would actually take the victory. And she did!

Ireen Wüst has been winning Olympic gold medals from when she was 19 to now, at age 35. And we have seen them pretty much all in the past 16 years. We watched the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin in Italy when she won her first gold there on the 3000 metres. It’s the first Olympics my son was aware of and he was completely into it. He even re-enacted the speed skating start over and over again, wearing oven gloves and swimming goggles. He was four years old.

My kids don’t know a world without Ireen Wüst winning Olympic gold medals. In 2016 we even saw Ireen Wüst and our other legendary skater, Sven Kramer, live during the Dutch speed skating championships (he has also been winning Olympic medals for that long, though is yet to gain a medal at the Olympics this time around). She has two more races to go in these Olympics and who knows if she’ll win more medals. No matter what happens next, she’s a legend already!

The Dutch TV commentator said just after she won, “The world has Wonder Woman, we have Wonder Wüst!” and he was right.

Olympics

I caught more of this year’s Olympics on TV than I ever thought I would and maybe more than I’ve ever watched before.

These Tokyo Olympics have been the best Olympics yet for The Netherlands. “We” have won a staggering 36 medals (10 gold, 12 silver, 14 bronze) this time around, placing us at number 7 in the overall medals table, higher than ever before. There have been some great victories in cycling and sailing and hockey and rowing and riding but the ones I enjoyed most where the Dutch athletics medals. “We” have never been this good at athletics before and one woman was responsible for 3 (!) of those medals. I especially was fascinated by the amazing runner Sifan Hassan who won gold on the 5k and 10k runs and bronze on the 1500m run, which is a trifecta no one else has attempted before. This woman is so determined and so good, it is truly inspiring to see how she challenges herself (in sports and in life) and how it has paid off! She has truly been the superstar of the Olympics over here.

There have been disappointments too but especially lots of great moments for the Dutch at the Olympics…

I’ve been disappointed to not see the Dutch football and handball teams progress further and I have also missed a lot, like seeing any of the tennis tournament part of the Olympics. But then there were also some lovely, heartwarming unexpected moments I saw, like the Italian and Qatari high jumpers deciding to share their gold medal or Simone Biles bravely showing her humanity by admitting to mental health issues and how she dealt with that or British diver Tom Daley knitting away during breaks or last night when, just before the finish line, Dutch marathon runner Abdi Nageeye encouraged his Belgian running partner and friend to follow him so that he too could win a medal. I’ve seen sports I only watch once every four years (if that) and that’s been fun too.

It was nice getting up in the mornings and switching on the TV during breakfast to see what had happened at the Olympics overnight and then popping in now and again during the day to see what else was going on. I didn’t think I’d enjoy watching what I did as much as I did. And now, this coming morning (I’m typing this really late at night, it’s 2.45 am) there will be no more Olympics updates to watch. So, what do we do with ourselves now that it’s all over?

Of course, I can stop being like Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice now…

And I guess I can use the time tomorrow to sort through junk in the attic, something I’ve been putting off doing for a very long time, but I’ll miss the excitement of the Olympics…

Stirring news (good and bad)

My son is over the moon excited that his favourite basketball player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, won the NBA championships with his fave team, the Milwaukee Bucks. His instagram stories are filled with pictures celebrating that (I took screenshots)…

And also a little video of Giannis celebrating…

Junior has been walking around the house in his Giannis jersey, basking in the win even now, two days later. This is good excitement!

Less good is the news from a day or two ago that the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined for playing in shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

I hope other teams will join them in their protest and that the (misogynistic) rules will indeed change!

And then today I read some Eric Clapton news…

I had no idea he was in the covidiot category and I now find that he is a racist too. Apparently there was even a Rock Against Racism movement in the 1970s formed directly in opposition to what Clapton had said. I had somehow never heard of this before. Bowie in the seventies also made some controversial statements (I did know that) which also led to this anti racism movement but he retracted them vehemently later, something Clapton does not seem to have done. Not that I have ever been a huge Clapton fan but I do like some of the songs he made and reading this caught me by surprise (not in a good way) and made me cringe. I have never given Eric Clapton that much thought or have known that much about him but somehow I had never pictured him being someone with views such as these. Is it a coincidence that there seems to be a big overlap between covidiots and racists? Another example for me that these views aren’t only held by a few fringe lunatics but are more mainstream than many wish to believe. That is scary. So, yes, go ahead, cancel his concerts if he doesn’t want to abide by common sense Covid rules, I’d be fine with that.

Let me end on something more positive: a librarian from Northampshire got a Richard Armitage life-size cut out for her retirement! Lucky woman.

And ooh, I am just reading some more Armitage excitement: Guylty has received a package from the man himself that will go into the upcoming birthday auction that she is organizing! Pop over to her blog to see. The excitement builds! It looks like it may be an item related to this role… or not…

Isn’t it great that there is always some good news to balance the not so good?

Victories, tennis discoveries, and holidays

Last week’s victories

One: On Sunday I got my second Covid vaccination and it feels like such a relief!

Two: My sister in law (well, not officially, but she is my younger sister’s awesome partner) has an autoimmune disease and it was uncertain whether she could even develop Covid-19 antibodies. She’s had two vaccinations and was tested earlier this week and it turns out the vaccination has indeed worked for her and she does have the antibodies now. Yay!

Three: after broad consideration and lengthy discussions my son has decided on a gap year once he receives his diploma in September and we fully support it. He is proactive about it too, has made an initial plan, and we are proud of his ability to follow his gut and do what’s right for him. It was a really hard sell for my mother and aunt, who had all sorts of opinions on it, and then it also became a whole big thing with my mother on other fronts not to do with my son. This has cost me an inordinate amount of energy last week, on top of being ill with the flu, but after a lot of reassurance and explaining, all is right with the world again and I am feeling better (flu-wise and mother-wise). Most importantly, though, my son’s choices have been accepted, which I hope will counteract any possible negative family gossip.


Tennis discoveries

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been following what I could of Wimbledon these past few weeks and there is some really exciting new young tennis talent coming up! I was especially struck by the 18 year old English player Emma Raducanu, who made an impressive Wimbledon debut but had to pull out.

I also loved the 17 year old American quarter finalist Coco Gauff, who had aleady impressed at age 15 two years ago (so, technically not a new discovery for me) and who is only two days younger than my niece in London…

The 25 year old Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won the women’s singles title this year, has also wormed herself into my heart. I probably should know her as she’s the number 1 female tennis player, but I’ve been out of it with the tennis for a long time and didn’t know her before Wimbledon. Now I do and I hope she’ll win more as well.

With the men, the new ones (to me) were the 25 year old Italian Wimbledon runner up Matteo Berrettini who was impressive…

… as was 20 year old Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime (who lost to Berrettini in the quarter final).

And 24 year old Polish player Hubert Hurkacz impressed by beating Roger Federer in the quarter final in three sets, winning the last set 6-0!

I think it’s time to dip back into following tennis more again (a long time ago I used to do so avidly). Now that these awesome young players are coming in, I feel a sense of excitement coming back into the sport for me and it will hopefully not only be the same ones winning all the matches anymore (although, don’t get me wrong, I love Roger Federer and I always root for him). They could all theoretically be my children, especially the younger players (Raducanu, Gauff and Auger Aliassime) who are the age of my own kids. Yikes, I’m really old.


Holidays

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, we have plans to go to France for our summer holidays in a month. We were doing really well here with our Covid numbers and then our government let go of many restrictions, and WHAM! Covid infections are on a steep rise again!

Source

65% of the Dutch population has received one dose of vaccination and about 39% is fully vaccinated but by far not enough people are protected yet. So, the infection numbers are sky-rocketing, especially amongst younger people who have been going out en-masse to discos and nightclubs where most of the infections have been happening. Last Friday during an emergency press conference some restrictions have been put back into place. This sky-rocketing of cases means that our country may become ‘red’ in Europe, which in turn means that travel restrictions for the Dutch may be tightened and this whole France holiday we have planned may have to be canceled. I really hope not, I really hope infections will drastically fall again, and I really hope we can still go on our socially distanced holiday as planned… I love my house, am comfortable in it, but I so need that break abroad. Fingers crossed.