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Archive for September 2009

Decompression in Danish

It’s roughly 9:10 in the morning here in Amsterdam as I start this update. It’s been over a week since I let the world know what was going on with my trip to Denmark for the 2009 Wrestling World Championships. So much to catch up on and I still have four stories to write for W.I.N. Magazine — three from the tournaments that came and went in Herning, and of course, my column.

I guess I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment. The last 11 years, I’ve covered the biggest wrestling tournament (as far as numbers go) in the world in the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals in Fargo. It’s 8 days of hell.

For the last seven days, I worked along side USA Wrestling’s Craig Sesker in covering the 2009 World Championships, my third worlds. The first was in 2003 in New York City, the second was two years ago in Baku, Azerbaijan.

I didn’t get to cover my first Olympics in 2008, but I did watch intently from the live stream when I was home in Poquoson, Va., and moving to Minnesota. I have a Doug Schwab Olympic shirt with the date of his competition, 8-20-08 … the same day I turned 29 and the same day I moved to Minnesota.

In all, my efforts with the team at USA Wrestling provided the wrestling world with 50 interviews and messages from our U.S. coaches, athletes and parents. I even sprinkled in some miscellaneous video and an international interview, although for us in the states, interviewing a Canadian is hardly considered “international.”

I developed a lot of future story ideas and a few I have to work through.

But a little about the competition. Jake Herbert finished second at 84 kilos, giving him his first World medal in as many attempts. Same with Tervel Dlagnev, who finished with the bronze at 120 kilos. Both of them came in freestyle. “Chocolate Chrome” Dremiel Byers won his third world medal late last night — a silver — to go with his world title in 2002 and the bronze he won in 2007.

The energy in Herbert’s semifinal win over the Russian is something I’ll never forget. Watching him and Dremiel wrestle for world golds is right up there with one of the best feelings you can witness as a wrestling fan.

There’s a lot to wrap up … but as far as the event goes and Denmark goes, I’ll say once is enough for the little country. It’s super expensive and Herning was ill-equipped to handle things. Most things close early and we frequented only one pub — Murphy’s — a pseudo Irish bar serving Danish beer overrun by wrestlers. The scene was similar to the Landing in St. Louis, only there’s no one speaking English and the beers are about $8 a pop.

One good thing about the trip is it’s given me about 20,000 frequent flyer miles if you couple in last month’s trip to South Africa. I’ve spent about a total of four hours in Amsterdam, but haven’t seen anything beyond the airport, but while my passport got a Dutch stamp, it never got a Danish one. Odd. No stamp, no customs in Denmark to speak of.

With roughly an hour before I board my nine-hour flight back to Minneapolis, where hopefully Abby will be prompt on her arrival to pick me up, I’m just figuring out how you survive such a grind.

One thing that complicated things was this killer sinus cold I picked up along the way. It took a toll on my energy and the sore throat that accompanied it, made broadcasting the last three days incredibly tough.

Yes, I can add “broadcasting the World Championships” to my resume (ok, webcasting if you want to be a turd about it). We fired it up the last three days, testing one day and then realizing, “Hey, we CAN do this,” although it put me into a work-overload kinda mode. I think I did ok. That type of work day leads to improper preparation, so if anything, I think I “faked it” well.

Also notable was I’m now at the six-month mark in the relationship, of which, either Abby or I have been out of the country away from each other on three of them. She was in Australia and South Africa, I was in Denmark. What the hell? Oh well, whatever we got, it’s working, and while I’m trying to figure out what life will lead to in terms of the job search, I know one thing’s going for me … someone who can put up with me.

Craig, who I roomed with all week and snores like a banshee (I’m no slouch myself), said she must be a saint for putting up with me. I guess so.

I didn’t take too many pictures, because the long days lead to very little sight seeing. I rode in about 6-7 BMW’s (cabs) and learned that the Danish Kroner is much stronger than the U.S. Dollar … and they abuse the hell out of it. A 3.2km cab ride cost the equivalent of 20 bucks. That’s highway robbery. Even the schiester cab drivers in Baku would negotiate in their death mobiles.

Oh, that reminds me. Coming into the Billund Airport this morning, I’ve never been so scared on a bus in my life. Seriously, this thing was weaving across the small two-lane road in backwoods Denmark at 4 a.m. in the rain with oncoming tractor-trailers barreling towards us the other way. I was pretty freaked out about it … but I’m in Amsterdam, so I survived.

I haven’t been to sleep since Saturday night. I did catch about an hour nap on the plane from Billund to Amsterdam. I have a window seat and leaned up against it and passed out before the in-flight instructions. I woke up when we hit the ground. I don’t know if I was snoring or not, but I feel for the person who’s got to sit next to me for the next 8-9 hours back to Minneapolis. If all goes well, I’ll sleep the whole way.

My body hurts and I need a day to officially decompress.

And to hell with spell check, I’m just hitting “publish.”

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Written by Jason Bryant

September 28, 2009 at 2:26 am

DK! And I’m not talking Dead Kennedys … I’m talking Denmark

Although I am a fan of the Dead Kennedys, the “DK” I’m referencing is my home for the next 10 days — Herning, Denmark, site for the 2009 Wrestling World Championships.

This will be the third World Championships I’ve covered, the first in 2003 in NYC, the second was in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2007 and now this one, in Herning, a city of roughly 50,000 people.

My trek was a tiresome one. I flew out of Minneapolis at 3:10 p.m. Central direct to Amsterdam. When I landed, it took me about 45 minutes to get through passport control and then meet up with the rest of the U.S. delegation I was meeting up with. The Amsterdam airport is pretty cool, but already I felt the sting of the U.S. > Euro conversion rate. A 16 ounce (or whatever it was over there, I didn’t even look) Vitamin Water was $5. Seems reasonable.

Anyway, I met up with Paulie Kieblesz (one of these days, I’ll spell his name right) and U.S. official Tom Clark. They were already mingling with some other national delegations who were on the same flight from Amsterdam to Billund. From Billund, we would be transported to Herning.

Tom, Paulie and I crammed in with five members of the Russian delegation and took the roughly 45-minute ride to the venue to get our credentials. This … WILL … be a problem. At least, with the credentialing. It’s a zoo, it always is. Don’t get me started on all the problems in Baku two years ago.

Anyway, after credentials were figured out, Paulie and I ended up heading over to the Hotel Scandic. Apparently, it’s nice, since that’s where FILA, the International Governing Body for wrestling is staying, too. Well, it’s basically a lot like the dorms in Fargo, with carpet and a private bathroom. So for the next nine or 10 days, Craig Sesker of USA Wrestling and I will be sharing this workspace. At least the internet is fast, so we can do our work with relative ease (crossing fingers), but it won’t be like the couch set up in the lobby of the Hotel Absheron in Baku (which Paulie informed me, has been leveled and is a new hotel entirely).

I really need to rest. My body clock is severely out of whack right now.

The flight from MSP to Amsterdam wasn’t too bad, as far as eight-hour flights go. Sat next to some woman reading a book in a language I couldn’t decipher and a guy named John, who was joining up with some of his friends from St. Thomas (Go Tommies!) in Munich for Oktoberfest. That’s gotta be cool.

Anyway, tournament starts Monday. Here we go.

As for now, I’m listening to NOFX’s “The Decline,” one of the longest punk songs ever. It’s a good one, too.

Written by Jason Bryant

September 19, 2009 at 6:12 am

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with ,

Just call me Air America

No, I’m not specifically referring to the Mel Gibson-Robert Downey Jr. movie with the same name, but that is where I drew my inspiration for the title.

I’m in the middle of packing … again.

Yes, this time I’m heading back across the pond and settling in Denmark for 10 days. Denmark? Really? Really? Yes, Denmark.

I’m heading over there to cover my third Wrestling World Championships. I covered the first one back in 2003 when I was still in college and the event was held in New York City. It was devoid of Greco that year. In 2007, I went to Azerbaijan to cover the Worlds, even though it was technically my vacation. Baku, the capital and host city, was a bit of a dump.

Now, we’re going to Herning, a small city in Denmark.

I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels in preparing for my second international flight in a month. As you might recall, I went to South Africa in late August and celebrated my 30th over there with Abby.

Now this is a wrestling trip. I’ll be working with USA Wrestling on their coverage team, providing different looks, video, maybe some blogs and of course, photos. I didn’t get to go to the Olympics last year in Beijing, but hopefully future Games will be on my calendar.

So I’ve mowed the grass (which will undoubtedly be long by the time I get back), started laundry and continue to work away from home. I don’t have the ‘net at the house right now, and it won’t be re-connected until after I get back, so the work I’ve been doing with the NWCA on their All-Star Classic stuff (See video post below) had to be done from Caribou, Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread and my old office.

Yes, I said old office. I haven’t made this abundantly public as yet, but I’ve stepped away from the Wrestling 411 project after a year here in Minnesota and I’m pursing new employment. I’ll post more about that in the future when things are a little more clear. By the way, it’s still a worthy effort — we need wrestling on television by people who know what they’re talking about.

Anyway, the last time I was at Worlds, the U.S. Greco team won the World Championship — I hope that happens again, so I might be able to say, “Hey, take me every year,” to the folks that are assisting me in getting over there.

So I’m about to pack up and head home to start packing, secure my passport and try to stash 10 days worth of clothing into my two bags.

Oh by the way, Abby got a look at my total wardrobe last night while she was helping me with my laundry while I was mowing the grass, and man, she totally wants to chuck some of my clothes, although a few shirts are a bit juvenile for people my age. I’ll have to rifle through them and veto her suggestions. Some are good to go, some, I want to hang on to.

Yes, I can have 500 t-shirts for no reason.

Then again, I’ve donated a ton of clothes to Goodwill over the past two years, so if there are any random wrestling shirts floating around Poquoson, Va., and Lancaster, Pa., I wonder where they might have come from.

The weather should be cool in Denmark, with temps in the 50s at night and the 70s during the day.

Most of my stuff (if not all of it) will be on themat.com, as well as I’ll be providing blog updates to the donors from the Living The Dream fund, which is set up to aid athletes as they pursue Olympic and World medals.

Written by Jason Bryant

September 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with

NWCA All-Star Classic coming to Fullerton

Written by Jason Bryant

September 17, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Catching up: Well, I’m 30 now

Since my last post, a lot has happened.

I went to South Africa, turned 30, walked around London, had to deal with U.S. Customs, drove to Virginia, hit up some roller derby and attended my alma mater’s first home football game in nearly 70 years.

Yes, that’s a lot of things. I’m going to try to sum up the last 20 something days, which mind you, is a lot, so I’ll just break it up into sections for easy reading.

South Africa
This was the trip of a lifetime, or at least, it has been so far. When I was telling people I was going to South Africa for a week, the reaction many had was “why?” Well, I’ve been dating my girlfriend for just over five months. Things are going great and I really have found someone special. All sappiness aside, Abby had planned to do some volunteer work in South Africa during the summer. She’s planned all this before we met, so as our relationship started to blossom, the idea of me coming over there for a week while she was planning to vacation in Cape Town after her volunteer work in “The Crags” came to an end become more and more of a reality. Let’s just say it turned into quite the birthday present.

Nick Slack, my buddy from Augsburg, gave me a ride to the airport on August 17 … I landed in Cape Town late on August 18. It’s a seven-hour time difference from here to the Twin Cities and the travel time was nutty. MSP > Atlanta > Johannesburg > Cape Town. By the time I landed … missing the JoBurg-Cape Town connection … I really don’t know how many hours I’d been traveling.  Abby had bought tickets for the Robben Island tour for the 19th, but weather kept the boat from launching that day, so we rescheduled for the Saturday following.

Well, upon landing, I went to the rental car place and got our vehicle. I got an International Drivers Permit from AAA here, allowing me to drive in South Africa. We rented a VW Polo … and all the vehicles over there are manual transmission. This meant after 40-something travel hours (or something nuts like that), I had to drive on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road. Abby doesn’t drive a five-speed … I can. TomTom led us who knows where, but we made it to the hotel.

The 19th, as I mentioned earlier, we were supposed to go on the Robben Island tour, but with that cancelled, we walked around the V&A and then decided to head up to wine country near Stollenbach and go wine tasting. The area there is gorgeous, vineyards for miles and miles. I think the brochure had over 100 wineries to visit. We hit two — and they were great. I’d love to go into more detail, but those of you who have me on Facebook, can see the pictures there.

The 20th, we awoke pre-dawn and drove to Aqulia Game Reserve for a safari. This was my 30th birthday … it was great. Lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, springboks, wildebeests, ostriches, giraffes, hippos … then a great dinner at Mama Africa where I sampled their “game grill” … and ate ostrich, kudu, springbok and crocodile. YUM. Springbok was the best.

We did so many things to list there, it deserves its own blog. After a great week, we had a layover in London and saw Big Ben, Parliment, rode the Underground and flew back to MSP.

I couldn’t get some of my wine sausage back through customs. Thankfully I declared it, or else I’d have been hit with a hefty fine.

Virginia
I went to Virginia for a week after arriving back from South Africa. We had the annual “Twinkfest” which is a play on my nickname and an event David Carter (a local musician) puts on for me when I come home. I went out with my sister, got everyone the gifts from South Africa and vegged out for two days.

One of the best little surprises about the trip was roller derby. You know I’ve got an affinity for the sport since announcing it in Lancaster, Pa., for the Dutchland Rollers. Well, when I was looking at the schedule of when I was going home, two things worked out for me.

One of which was my old roommate’s band, Funkin Jonze, opening up for “Dangerous: An All-Metal Tribute To Michael Jackson.” Matt Wright is the lead vocal and bass and hit a killer opening set. Good to see my old roommates and friends from Newport News. Find them on myspace!

Then there was roller derby on Saturday … the Dominion Derby Girls based in Virginia Beach hosted …. THE DUTCHLAND ROLLERS! Got to see my girls make a killer comeback, down 22-0 to start, then hold off Dominion on the last jam without several members due to penalties and no jammer. The after party … great to see the friends I’d made back in “my home town,” even though I grew up 30 miles from Va. Beach.

Saw some friends during the week, played some disc golf with my buddy Billy. I shot even par at Newport News. Great round for not having played the course in about a year.

… but right now, I need to take a break. I’ll post about the rest of the week, specifically about ODU’s football game, because there’s a lot to say and not enough space for me to be even remotely accurate.

That was the good start to the week away.

Written by Jason Bryant

September 8, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Blogging, Disc Golf