The Olympic Buffet: Saturday, August 16

Aw, Alain Bernard. How can I stay mad at you when you comfort the sobbing Brazilian who just beat you for the 50m freestyle gold by unzipping his superswimsuit? Blast the Olympics–I always want to bake for all the athletes by the end of the day. Michael Phelps looks like he could use a cupcake after that race.

Saturday’s Blue Plate Special: Hey, did you know that Dara Torres is old? You may not be able to watch her compete in the women’s 50m free, because I know you’re sensitive and if the announcers are telling the truth, she’s the Cryptkeeper. So if you’d rather watch something else, the title of Fastest Man on Earth (literally, rather than in the water) will be decided today. American Tyson Gay, whom you kind of have to love for remembering the spirit of Jesse Owens, was injured at the US Olympic Trials–will he be able to bring his best? Will it matter, with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt putting up a sub-10 second heat while looking like he’s jogging to catch the bus? Will Bolt’s somewhat forgotten countryman, former world record holder Asafa Powell, steal the thunder that seems to be following Bolt? Or will we all be shocked by an upset? The race will be over in 10 seconds, but the electric buildup will be worth it. WARNING: NBC is showing this in primetime, but the actual race will be long over by then, so be careful if you hate spoilers.

Saturday’s Chef’s Special: Welcome to the Terrordo…er, the Velodrome. First off, “velodrome” is just a cool word. Second, track cycling has all of the mind-boggling muscle and lung capacity of its road racing cousins coupled with pinpoint strategy and wobbly weirdness as competitors stalk each other and try to balance at close to a full stop to force stalkers to take the lead (the latter in the sprint event). They don’t even have brakes, for heaven’s sakes. I confess to having a favorite in the race being shown today, 18-year-old “Mini Phinney,” Taylor Phinney. Yes, it’s adorable that he’s an 18-year-old competing here. Yes, it’s adorable that he’s the Nastia Liukin of cycling, the son of 1984 road race gold medalist Connie Carpenter-Phinney (who also competed in the Winter Olympics in speed skating) and 1984 time trial bronze medalist Davis Phinney (who just happens to be the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France). But, darn it, I remember Connie and Davis competing, and it hurts to know that Davis Phinney is now fighting Parkinson’s disease severe enough to keep him from some of his son’s races and lead to experimental brain surgery. He’s recovered well enough to travel to Beijing to watch his son compete in the Olympics, which was not at all a sure thing. They are such great champions and seem like such a lovely family…oh. I don’t know if Mini Phinney is really in the medals race, but…come on, kiddo–just be good. Listed for 1-2pm EDT on NBC; watch out for spoilers.

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