World Cup Semi Finals Preview

semi final bracket

Brazil

World Rank #3

Brazil have had a challenging trip to the semi-finals. They knocked off two way talent Chile, with the likes of Vidal, Sanchez. And a brilliant Columbia team lead by rising star James Rodriquez. Besides a few moments in the group stages, Brazil have appeared unorganized, and lacking conviction. Still this team has more technical ability than any of the remaining squads, and with the pride of a nation on its back, they will be hard to beat.

Key Player: David Luiz

Neymar’s injury did more than take out Brazils biggest offensive threat, it hurt the passion and heart of this team. The pressure on Neymar, before his premature exit, must fall onto someone else’s shoulders. David Luiz is the man that will be called upon to carry this team. A charismatic, center back with an infinite amount of energy, Luiz will need two quality games if this team wants to lift the world cup on home soil.

Will win if: Play a more fluid game

There is a fear of losing that brazil has played with since exiting the group stage. They play a conservative game, and let their opponent do too much going forward. Brazil must spread the field more, and attack early and often. If brazil can play with the confidence that they are the best team on the field, they might just be.

Germany

World Rank #2

Germany have stumbled their way into the semi finals, for the fourth straight world cup. Prior to a lackluster and dull 1-0 win against France, where the side looked uninspired, they struggled against Algeria in the round of 16, taking the full 120 minutes to do away with the north african side. The german side is packed with talent, and the core of this team play with each other at the club level for Bayern Munich. To many, this squad has been favored up to this point.

Key Player: Thomas Mueller

The world cup brings out the best in certain players. One of those players is Bayern Munich’s attacking midfielder, Thomas Mueller. Mueller has 9 world cup goals in 11 matches, and provides a spark when this German team seem to be dragging themselves along. And with Ozil out of form and Schweinsteiger struggling for fitness, the pressure is on Mueller to provide goals for this german side in their final games of this world cup.

Will win if: They can figure out how to maximize the talent on the pitch.

Germany have the deepest squad in this world cup. So deep that you have to question what the best team available really is. Lahm is playing out of position as a holding mid, and there is no sure fire attacking option. Once this squad is comfortable together, they will be nearly unbeatable on the world stage. The question is, will that be figured out in the coming days?

Netherlands

World Rank #15

The Dutch seemed to shock everyone by absolutely thrashing defending champions, Spain, in their world cup opener, and they continued to impress through the group stage, proving critics wrong who said they wouldn’t be able to get out of their group. But it took a savvy and controversial call to see the Dutch through to the quarterfinals, where they looked horrible against Costa Rica at times. It is safe to say the dutch have cooled off considerably since the first game over 2 weeks ago.

Key Player Arjen Robben

The player of the tournament for the Netherlands by far has been Arjen Robben. He is playing with more confidence than anyone at this world cup. Robben can terrorize a defense. He has both the speed to spread a defense out and the dribbling ability to cause it to cluster and leave his teammates open. Until he runs into a superior defense, he will be able to capitalize on this movement five or six times per game. To be sure, though, the other remaining teams all have world class defenses that will be able to cut down Robben’s runs to the outside, as well as prevent him from dribbling in and out of the box.

Will Win if: Robert Van Persie and Huntelaar can produce goals. RVP still has not scored a goal for the Dutch outside of the group stage. If these next defenses they face successfully shut down Robben, it will be up to the two dutch poachers to score goals. This is a team that will need to out gun its remaining opponents to come out on top.

Argentina

World Rank #5

Argentina has lost in the quarterfinals each of the past 2 world cups. But this team is different. They have finally broken through to the semifinals with a fairly impressive victory against Belgium. This team boasts one of, if not the, best defense in this world cup, but they struggle to score goals. Aguero’s absence has been noticeable, as Argentina have struggled to win convincingly in the knockout stages. One has to wonder how Argentina will be able to keep up with an offense good enough to break them down and score goals.

Key Player: Lionel Messi

Arguably the best player of the tournament, Messi has truly carried this team to the semifinals. Even when Messi isn’t adding to the goal total, he is drawing the attention of everyone on the field, earning fouls and maintaining possession. He is a threat to any team in the world and can change the game at any moment.

Will Win if: The unit can produce goals.

Messi can not win the world cup on his own, but Argentina certainly has the talent to win it themselves. Higuain has to step up and show that he can score big goals, like he did in the quarter finals vs Belgium.

Tour de France 2014: The Contenders

“The Emperor”

Alberto-Contador

Alberto Contador

In 2007, a 24 year old Contador shocked the world winning both the best young rider and the overall victory in the Tour de France. In 2008 he was on the banned Astana team and was not allowed to participate in the tour. Then in 2009, Lance Armstrong ended his retirement and returned to professional cycling. Landing with his old captain Johan Bruyneel on the Astana team. A battle royal ensued as the team wasn’t big enough for both Contador and Armstrong. Contador fought the battle most riders can only imagine; battling both his team AND the competition. He ultimately had to rip the tour out of anyone else’s hands with consistent, viscous attacking.

Then in 2010 a duel with another precocious youngster in, Andy Schleck, treated us all to some of the best mountain battles we had seen in over a decade. In 2011 he decided to go for the Giro- Tour double. He won the Giro but ran out of steam in the Tour and faded to fifth place.

After much attacking and a fourth place finish in 2013… Could this be the year?

“The Comeback Kid”

andy schleck the mask background

Andy Schleck

The young gun.. He pushed a strong Contador to the limit in 2009 and 2010. Then again emerged as a dominant force in 2011. Taking the yellow jersey on l’alpe d’huez only to have it ripped from his slender shoulders in the final time trial by the veteran Cadel Evans.

A devastating crash in 2011 left him unable to ride. And a quick assimilation back to the top of the peloton proved not to be. Instead, two years of struggling to find form and even to finish races emerged. Some of the struggle was physical and some of it was surely mental. Either way, it was hard to watch. The brightest young talent cycling had seen since Jan Ullrich struggling to finish one day races.

In the 2013 we saw glimpses of of form and a top 20 finish. But now after over a full year injury free what can he do?

“The Favorite”

chris froome

Chris Froome

In stark contrast to the 2012 Tour de France which saw non-climber Bradley Wiggins have to race the perfect race in order to win. Calculated and conservative he managed a victory even as his teammate Froome seemed the stronger rider.

Then in 2013 Froome was the undisputed leader of the team and his performance brought back shades of yesteryear. He dominated in a way only the greats do. Merckx, Hinault, Lemond, Armstrong. Besting his rivals in both the mountains and the time trials. It was as inspiring to those watching as it was crushing to those riding behind.

Now in 2014 he has a chance to show that he is the next great tour rider. Can he do it again?

“The Italian Hope”

vincenzo nibali

Vincenzo Nibali

He sat out of the 2013 Tour de France to pursue the giro d’Italia. A race which he won. He probably would have been Froome’s chief rival in the 2013 tour if he had participated. And now he’s back with a new team (he races 2012 Tour de France with Liquigas) and giving it another shot. A great all-rounder and hawkish descender he has several weapons that could be tough for others to tame. Will we see him use his classics strength as well as his stellar climbing ability to try to stay near the top… and launch a late attack in the final week of the tour?

My Time Speed Rally Pt.1

32 B Great Race

Auto Rally

 

“The Great Race” This was just a phrase to me a few years ago. I had heard about the great race, but I didn’t think much of it.. I thought “well it’s not real racing, it’s for old people, it’s not that exciting.” A time-speed rally, what does that even mean.. it can’t be that exciting…

 

Boy was I wrong!

 

In early May of 2010, my dad approached me and asked if I wanted to do a VCRA (Vintage Car Rally Association) event with him in Bowling Green Kentucky. The event was to take place in the final week of July. I could tell that he wanted to do it, and I thought it would be nice to spend some time together so I said, “Sure, I’ll do the race with you”

My dad told me that my job would be to navigate. He said I would be the one keeping us on course and monitoring the time. I still wasn’t exactly sure what was involved but from what I heard it seemed like something that I would enjoy doing.

 

Leading up to the event my dad was putting a lot of time in getting the car ready. We would be rallying in his bright red 32 Ford with a 4-cylinder model B engine. This car was technically built for a Great Race that took place in the 1980’s, long before we owned the car. From what we heard the owner didn’t like the car for the rallying and had another car built for the race the following year. We didn’t know anymore.. and honestly probably wouldn’t have understood, if someone had told us.

 

My Dad spent a lot of time reading the rules and the suggested pre-race check list. I was less involved,  kind of assuming, “how serious can this be? These people aren’t like athletes or anything.. It’ll prob just be like a car show. Of which, I have been to many. Probably nearly one hundred of them over my childhood.

 

We picked up one of the Timewise Speedometers that are necessary to read accurate speed, and we made the chart. The chart is the standard deceleration/ acceleration chart. On the road you, mark a static distance and then time yourself in your 0-30 mph acceleration, 0-50 mph, 0-10 mph and any increments you want (no less than 5 mph increments are necessary) and them the same with deceleration. We also met with a guy who had been a navigator on The Great Race before. He gave us a few pointers about how to read the instructions we would be given. So, we had a bit of knowledge going into this first rally. But still, I thought, its just for fun.. probably will be just like going to the NSRA nationals.

 

 

The Rally

 

The first day we had a technical inspection then a quick lecture on the do’s and don’ts of the rally. Then we were handed a thin set of instructions and headed out on the half day practice run.

We drove out of the parking lot and made our way to the beginning of the timed section. I’m flipping through instructions realizing that I can’t really make a mistake or we will get lost. Then we get to the 30mph sign that denotes the beginning of the timed section. OK.

Then, 15 seconds later, a stop sign.

“Oh, Shit!” I yell out and we completely botch the first stop sign.

 

After the half-day practice day was over, we assembled back in the lobby of Embassy Suites and Convention center in Bowling Green, KY. It was here that our scores would be posted for the days run. We were in our first time-speed precision rally of any kind and sat in the rookie class but still awaited anxiously to see where we placed.

There were free cocktails, chips and pretzels for the rallyers as we milled around and waited for the results.

Finally, after about 20 minutes, rally master John came into the room and posted two pieces of paper on the wall, they were the official results.

 

Dad and I walked over to the results and scanned down from the top to the bottom looking for our name; a practice I am most familiar with being a distance runner.

42nd place!

We sat second to last in the rookies and third to last over all. We had 48sec of cum error for the half day practice run.

The awe and confusion that I have felt since arriving to the rally 48 hours ago began to dissipate quickly. I think to myself “How did we finish so low? I know we are new but third to last? How did this happen?”

I sipped on coke in a melancholy state, I grabbed a bowl of pretzels and began to chew them down. The thoughts began to show themselves; How did we lose so much time? Was it the stop signs? The speed changes?

 

Im not having as much fun as I was having half and hour ago.

 

We need to fix this problem. My dad is milling around with the other rallyers, all more experienced, trying to get some advice for our obviously disillusioned tactics. After some questioning and answering back and fourth the consensus is… they don’t know. We seem to be doing everything correctly. Maybe a recalibration of our speedo is in order tomorrow. To me that doesn’t seem to account for 48 seconds worth of error.

 

The next morning I awake at 6:00 am. I wanted to get a few hours of work in before breakfast. I needed to find the problem. Speedo calibration can’t be all of it. It just can’t. I flipped open my sharpie-riddled sheet of instructions and began to pry through them.

9 Mind-blowing Facts about Formula 1

 

1. Formula 1 cars are capable of going 0 to 100mph to 0 in under 5 seconds!

Formula 1 Ferrari

2. Formula 1 gas tanks are actually a kevlar bag. So they won’t break and can’t be punctured.

formula 1 gas tank

3. The seats have no padding and are made up of carbon fiber molded to the drivers body.

formula 1 seat 2

4. And the driver position is probably not what you think it is. As Nico Rosberg shows us below.

formula 1 driver position

5. The power to weight ratio is roughly 1275 hp per 1000 kilos. To put that into perspective a Bugatti Veyron’s power to weight ratio is roughly 530 hp per 1000 kilos!!

Formula 1 engine

6. Drivers can experience over 4 g’s while braking! Several drivers have said it feels like their lungs are being pressed against their rib cages. In fact at speeds over 160 the DOWNFORCE ALONE (just letting off of the gas pedal) produces 1 g of braking. Which is equal to the maximum braking of most road sports cars!

7. Formula 1 cars have so much downforce that at high speeds the downforce greatly exceeds the weight of the stationary car. In fact at just 81mph the downforce equals roughly the weight of the car. Meaning that, if they could get up to speed, it could drive upside down on the roof of a tunnel!

tunnel

8. The center of gravity is so low on the Formula 1 cars, the drivers sit only 2-3 inches above the ground!

9. They are just really, really fast. Check out this video:

7 Must See Commencement Addresses

Commencement Addresses:

It’s the good ones that really make us think. Commencement addresses are designed for young graduates, meant to be filled with advice for the future. But it is not only graduates that can benefit from them. There are some days when all of us could use the wisdom of a commencement address. Here, we have assembled a non-comprehensive list of seven great ones (in no particular order) for you to enjoy.

1. Jim Carey 2014 Maharishi University Commencement Address

2. Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address

3. J.k. Rowling 2008 Harvard Commencement Address

4. Ellen Degeneres 2009 Tulane University Commencement Address

5. Meryl Streep 2010 Barnard College Commencement Address

6. Neil Gaiman 2012 University of the Arts Commencement Address

7. Mack Brown 2014 University of Texas Department of Government Commencement Address

steve-jobs-stanford-2005