Tag Archives: sports

Alicia Sacramone Rocks the Body Issue

Alicia Sacramone Rocks the Body Issue

On hearing the news last month that Alicia Sacramone (you know, the hawt one from the Beijing games) was slated to pose in the buff for ESPN the Magazine’s 2011 “The Body Issue,” the dirty perv inside of me (you know him as Ernie Goodale) made a rude gesture with his hand and shouted, “Fuck yeah! Alicia Sacramone’s finally getting naked!” Meanwhile, my overly-respectful fanboy persona (you know him as Theo Smole) was thinking, “Ew. I hope it’ll be tasteful—like, church-naked and not adult site 30-day trial naked.” Now that the magazine has hit newsstands, I can safely say my creepy expectations have been far exceeded.

This was supposed to be Hope Solo’s issue (she’s on the cover), but Sacramone has totally stolen her thunder. And I’m not just saying that because I happen to be a sweaty, greasy, cave-dwelling Sacramone fan. The other athletes featured all have swag—but in the Hope vs. Sacramone debate I think Matt Faulconer puts it best in his Bleacher Report editorial:

If I saw [Hope Solo] standing in front of me like that, I would be horrified. The look on her face alone makes me want to run away and hide.

Plain and simple: Solo got snapped in an awkward pose. These things happen. Meanwhile, there’s Sacramone over there looking all perfectly poised. I daresay hers is the most gorgeous spread in the entire issue (Sylvia Fowles’ is a close second), besting out everyone else in terms of elegance, lighting, decor, and, yes, that rocking bod.

Added bonus: Now that the clothes have come off, gymnastics fans are taking to forums across the Net and vehemently shoulding all over the place, both for and against the idea of a USAG athlete going bare-bottomed.

Well done, Miss Sacramone.

Drama in the Gym

Ivana Hong, poised

A reader asked me about the various inspirations behind Heroes’ Day, and whether or not any of the book’s characters were based on real athletes. Short answer: no. Long answer: sort of. I like writing about underdog heroes, unlikely heroes. Matters of conflicting opinions rather than simple right vs. wrong. Stories like this one, from the Gymblog site, tend to catch my attention:

“They kept telling me that nothing was wrong with my foot,” Ivana said. “I knew what was wrong with it, but I wasn’t going to be like ‘I have a fracture in my foot and I’m not gonna train.’”

Fong discouraged Ivana from seeking medical treatment. Against his wishes, Ivana’s mother took her to a doctor, who confirmed she had a fractured ankle.

With the Olympics looming, Ivana thought she had no choice but to trudge on.

Ivana Hong seems to me (and this has been mentioned elsewhere before) to be something of a fringe athlete, always in the shadows of the other national team members. In that respect, she was a partial inspiration for Monica and Alana in Heroes’ Day. I had a whole subplot regarding the apathetic relationship between Alana Chang and Darren Hades, but it detracted too much from the main plot, and so I took it out—and in doing so I realized that once again an Ivana was being relegated to stand in the shadows.

(Sorry for the melodrama, but there is a reason they call me The Great Exaggerator.)

Then there’s the whole beaten-to-death, but still rampant issue of coaches over-taxing their athletes. It really is a fine line separating self-motivation from self-deprecation when one’s coach knows how to twist his words just right. The junior elites and level 10s are more likely (repeat: likely) to step back when they reach their carefully-monitored limits than are the Olympians, who have all but surrendered themselves to that basic paradoxical equation: sacrifice the self for the self, and glory can be yours.

Alana Chang left Olympus when she reached her limit; Monica Sardinia stuck it out—but who emerged the stronger individual? Perhaps both characters reached the same goal via different routes?

(Flame bait? What flame bait?) ;)