Get on the fence

I’ve been interested in fencing for a long time. I even took it as an elective PE course in college for a couple of quarters. That, combined with the fact that Olympic Fencing tickets are not terribly expensive, prompted me to buy a couple of them and take a friend. I sent her a couple of Wikipedia links to get her started, since she knew nothing about the sport. With the recent success of the American women in the sport, maybe more people in the US will start paying attention to it.

Taking a lesson from my Beach Volleyball experience, we had a big early dinner at a restaurant near my office, then took the subway to the Olympic Green. Beitucheng is the closest stop of the regular subway system. You have to go outside and through a security checkpoint where they scan your ticket to get onto Line 8, the “Olympic Spur” line.

The Olympic Green station puts you right in the middle of the sponsor pavilions.
The Samsung stage had a series of performers of different kinds.
Incidentally, the CNPC (China National Petroleum Company) building is an example of Green Architecture.
Really Green Architecture.

The Spectator Guide said that due to the fencers’ heavy padding, the Fencing Hall is kept at a very cool temperature, so I decided that I’d like to swing by an Olympic gear store and buy a jacket. As it turned out, the nearest place to buy stuff was about a half mile away, past the China Mobile and Volkswagen buildings.
You can kind of see it in that picture. It’s the red spot past the second traffic light. Not the first red spot, the second one.

We had to wait in line to enter the Olympic Super Store, which is really big.
And it turned out they only had one style of jacket and were completely out of it, so the long walk was for nothing. At least we got to see a little of the lay of the land. Every once in a while we saw a little electric shuttle go by, but there were no signs about them and we couldn’t tell if they were for public use or just staff and VIPs. We hiked all the way back to the Fencing Hall, where we had already missed a couple of matches.

The seats we had were very nearly the worst possible seats in the place, close to the side wall where you can’t even see the video screen, and with a really steep angle to view the strip.
But as it was a typical Beijing “sold out” event, we simply sat in some better seats in our section.

The first one we saw was Women’s Épée Semifinal, with Li Na of China against Britta Heidemann of Germany.
Heidemann (far side) won 15-13. During the break we moved to somewhat better seats.

Next up was the other Women’s Épée Semifinal, Hungary’s Ildiko Mincza-Nebald taking on Roumanian Ana Maria Branza.
Like I said, better seats. Branza (near side) got the win 15-14.

Then it was time for the Men’s Foil Bronze Medal match, with Zhu Jun of China and Salvatore Sanzo from Italy, which we saw from seats that were slightly better still. I could swear I took some pictures of this bout, but they don’t seem to be on the memory card. Zhu had a tough time of it, trailing for much of the bout, catching up for a while, and then losing 14-15. Italy takes the Bronze.

The Men’s Foil Gold Medal match was next. The German Benjamin Philip Kleibrink vs. Ota Yuki of Japan.
Ota (near side) never had a chance, and while I found Kleibrink’s style abrasive, I must admit he was the better swordsman. He loves to get in tight spots and then whip the foil behind his back so it bends and gets the touch on some unexpected part of the opponent.
The final matches were the Women’s Épée medal bouts. For the Bronze, Li Na got off to a good start against Ildiko Mincza-Nebold, holding the lead at the ends of the first two rounds, but didn’t get a single touch in the third round to the Hungarian’s six.

A heart-breaking loss for the home team.

The women’s championship bout, of course, pitted Britta Heidemann (far side) and Ana Maria Branza against each other.
This one was a one-sided rout leading to another German Gold.

Having never seen one in person, we hung round for the medal ceremonies, which happened after some entertainment featuring Chinese sword dancers.

The ceremony was kinda cool.
Then we got some acrobatic fuwa while they prepared for the women’s ceremony.
I think Jingjing was trying a break dancing move and couldn’t get up.
By that time it was 10:30, and out on the Olympic Green, the fancy new buildings were all lit up.
Pretty nifty, huh?

And, like my previous Olympic experience, this one ends with a rant. Just as at Chaoyang Park for Beach Volleyball, the Olympic Green is much easier to get into than out of. By the time we finished taking pictures and gawking at things, it was after 11, and the subway was closed. There was no sign to tell you that, but the escalator going down was turned off and the lights were out. We walked to the bus stop, but all the signs said the lines stopped running at 11. So we, along with a hundred other people, set out to find taxis in a part of town where there are very few to be found. We had to walk quite a way and wait a long time before we found one. I’ve checked the schedule, and there are a lot of events that don’t finish until after 11, so why the subway stops running then is beyond me. And if they’re going to do asinine things like that, they should at least put up signs informing you of it, and offering alternatives. But propaganda, not information, is what these Olympics are about.

I suppose the food situation is a little better at Olympic Green than it was at Chaoyang Park, as there are a couple of giant McDonalds locations on site, so as long as you like that or microwave popcorn, you could practically live there.

Of course, the merchandise situation is difficult, with tiny booths inside the venue and one mega store a long distance from anything else. It’s like they really don’t want you to spend your money.

Incidentally, we had heard about the Olympic Green Day Pass, which will allow people without event tickets to at least come and see the cool buildings. However, the volunteer we asked about it could only suggest that they were available at a booth inside the grounds, which doesn’t seem very practical. How very typical that they would offer something like that but provide no information about where or how to get it.

Okay, that’s my rant for Olympic Day 2. Wait till you hear the next one. Yes, I’m sorry to say, there is a next one coming.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we walked for about half an hour in a random direction to search for taxis but I just assumed that with 91,000 people leaving together, taxis would be hard to find. I didn't try the subway although I too am surprised they wouldn't force the subway to run till later, at least the Olympic line. But it didn't spoil my night. Nothing could spoil seeing the fastest man alive (or dead).