Thursday, February 10, 2011

Defending Champs

It was back in eighth grade, TigerBlog believes, that he had to memorize maps of the different continents for social studies. It might have been seventh, though TB is positive it was in middle school and pretty sure it was in eighth.

The map of Europe, for some reason, was always a bit problematic for TB, maybe because there were so many small countries as opposed to, say, Asia or South America. This was especially true of Central and Eastern Europe, and TB has strong memories of taking forever to figure out which country was which.

The funny part in looking back on it is that at the time, TB probably figured that the European borders were set in stone and couldn't possibly ever change. And now, the part of the map that TB struggled to learn hardly exists anymore.

The Soviet Union has split into 15 different countries. What was then Yugoslavia is now seven independent countries - TB will give extra credit if you can name five of the seven.

Czechoslovakia is gone as well. At least it's a less confusing outcome, with the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

One country that has enjoyed relative stability - except for an unfortunate alliance with Austria that sort of dragged the whole world into war back in 1914 - is Hungary.

In fact, Hungary is also one of the oldest countries on Earth, dating back to the year 895, and it has a culture and history that is to be expected of a nation that old.

Its role in the collapse of communism in Europe and in bringing down the Iron Curtain is very significant, particularly with its 1956 revolution against the Soviets and the decision to open its border with Austria in 1989.

It is bordered by seven countries, though that number was five when TB was learning the map.

Oh, and what was then Yugoslavia is now these countries: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovena, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. And back when TB was learning the map, he also had to learn that capitals, so the whole process is now that much more difficult.

If TigerBlog is correct, then all but three of Princeton's head coaches are Americans, many of whom, by the way, were All-Americas.

Of the remaining three, two are Canadians - men's hockey coach Guy Gadowsky and men's tennis coach Glenn Michibata.

The third is men's and women's fencing coach Zoltan Dudas, who is Hungarian.

Dudas is in his fifth season as the head coach of the two Princeton teams, and this coming weekend is a huge one for Dudas and his programs.

Princeton will be defending both the men's and women's championships at the Ivy League fencing matches, which will be held at Jadwin Gym Saturday and Sunday. The Ivy League fencing titles are decided by this format, with each team fencing each other over a two-day span at one site, which rotates among the seven fencing schools (no Dartmouth). This year happens to be Princeton's turn.

Of all of the sports at Princeton, fencing is probably the one that TigerBlog understands the least. About all he knows is that points are awarded for touches, there are three weapons and the team scores add up to 27 for a match, meaning that a team needs to win 14 bouts to get the win.

TB sat in the event meeting this week and heard about how the fencing strips would be brought from the fencing room on C level up to the main floor for the event and how each strip weighs 1,000 pounds.

Another thing that TB knows about fencing is that Ivy League teams are very good at it.

On the women's side, Harvard is ranked third nationally, followed by Princeton at fourth, Columbia sixth and Penn eighth.

The men also have four of the top eight teams. Harvard is ranked second nationally, while Princeton, Penn and Columbia go 6-7-8.

Still, Princeton is at home, and the Tigers went unbeaten on both sides a year ago. And with such a strong field, it's possible that no team will go through undefeated.

Jadwin Gym will be hosting all kinds of events this weekend, including squash, tennis and of course two big women's basketball games.

Fencing, as it often does, may drift into the background, a little off the radar for most people.

Still, it'll be worth checking out.

Two Ivy League champions will be crowned here at Jadwin this weekend. It could be Princeton on both sides - but it certainly won't be easy on either.


Anonymous said...

It always astonished me that you could draw any map using just four colors and not have any two countries with the same color bump up against each other.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Yugoslavian successor states,

Macedonia : Greece :: The College of New Jersey : Princeton University

therefore and furthermore,

Yugoslavia : Trenton State College.