#usfaSN

Summer Nationals is nearly upon us, and given my past lack of success at liveblogging national tournaments, I’ve decided to try something a bit different this year.

Instead of the single daily posts I’ve done before (often written days later), I’m going to try short frequent comments on Twitter. I’ll be using the hashtag “#usfaSN” to mark my SN tweets, and if you’d like to follow my Twitter feed, all you need to do is click on the “Follow” button in the righthand column. (If you’re not familiar with Twitter, a hashtag is just a text string that can be used to search for tweets on a particular topic.)

I should think I’ll be able to handle 140-character comments every so often throughout even the chaotic SN days. (But then, I’m a congenital optimist.)

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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly About SN

A week from today, the 2011 US Fencing Summer National Championships will be underway in Reno. I keep changing my mind about whether I’m looking forward to it or not.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing (most of) the people I’ll be working with. (And even those I’m less fond of can be entertaining, though not always in a good way.) I’m looking forward to seeing some fencing, which I hope to have time to watch on days other than my days off. I’m looking forward to the quick drive up over the mountains instead of to a long day of flights and layovers.

But which of these are the good, the bad, or the ugly about SN? So many are like ambiguous visual illusions, such as the Necker Cube or Rubin’s vase, switching back and forth between incompatible interpretations.

  • Reno 2011 looks to be the largest SN ever, 3,427 fencers competing in 6618 individual entries and 359 teams. That’s bigger than both Atlanta 2006 and 2010, both of which were, shall we say, challenging.
  • Overlapping six days of our SN will be the Pan American Zonal Championships, to qualify individuals for the 2012 Olympic Games. The Zonals will be using a separate hall at the convention center but also a few of our top referees. (However, the BC staff that had been assigned to the Zonals were given back to SN, so we’ll be slightly better staffed—if more crowded—than usual. We’ll even have three BC chairs this time, which could mean that none of us will end up having to talk ourselves through normally easy tasks.)
  • There is not enough room in the venue for all 60 of our strips, so the finals strip and seating area and two pods of four strips each will be in a separate room attached to our main hall. It’s entirely possible I could end up missing this season’s too-large empty spaces in Dallas.

There are, of course, unknowns about Reno, too: How much will each day’s schedule slip from the mostly bearable projections? Will the officials’ food be reasonably decent? (One big advantage to Reno is that no matter how late events run, there will be restaurants open when we’re done.) Will there be enough referees when we need them? Will the board meeting end before midnight?

Sure, it’ll be fun.

I’ll just keep telling myself that.


The Wayback Machine

Every so often I run across this picture in my photos, and it always makes me smile. Someone who went sent it to me from one of the few national tournaments I did not travel to when my older daughter was still fencing. I’m pretty sure this is from the fall of 1999, though I’m not absolutely certain, but it would have been a Cadet event because that’s what Kate was fencing at the time.

What I find so entertaining is how many of these fencers are familiar faces–from left to right:

  • Gold: Sada Jacobson.
  • Silver: unknown
  • Bronze: Amy Macarrow—strong saber fencer in Y14 and Cadets, but gave up fencing; eventually attended Scripps College.
  • Bronze: Julia Gelman.
  • 5th: Mariel Zagunis.
  • 6th Place: unknown
  • 7th Place: Kate Griffith—Solid fencer who eventually quit due both to a chronic injury and to the fact that she truly didn’t care whether she won a bout or not, as long as she was having fun fencing—which drove her coach absolutely batty.
  • 8th Place: Valerie Providenza.
UPDATE 7/23/2011: Found them! Silver is Amelia Gaillard and 6th place is Veronica Padula. (I feel so much better now.)