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text 2018-11-25 01:20
24 Festive Tasks: Door 8 - Penance Day, Task 2 (Favorite Sports Teams and Pennants)
QUIDDITCH

 

First things first (though I'm not the first here to post about this) -- as a proud Gryffindor, I obviously support my house team ... and I salute my fellow Gryffindors Darth Pony and XOX

 

I've been able to verify that the house's last victory of the Hogwarts Inter-House Cup took place in the 1996-1997 season.  They also had a solid winning run in the seasons prior to that one, winning the cup both in 1993-1994 and 1995-1996 (in 1994-1995, the Inter-House Cup tournament was replaced by the Triwizard Tournament).


 

That said, outside the wizarding world and in no particular order:

 

FOOTBALL / SOCCER

 

Borussia Dortmund

Most recent successes:

German national cup (DFB-Pokal) winners: 2017

German national league (Bundesliga) champions: 2012
-- also national cup (DFB-Pokal) winners that same year

German supercup winners: 2014

UEFA Champions League winners: 1997
(finalists last time in 2013)

 

German National Team - Men

Gosh, am I glad this task is asking about the team's successes ... let's just forget about 2018, shall we?!  So:

 

Most recent successes:

World champions: 2014
(4th time total)

European champions: 1996
(semi-finalists 2012 and 2016)

Confederation Cup winners: 2017

 

German National Team - Women

Most recent successes:

World Champions: 2007 and 2003

Olympic Champions: 2016
-- also 3 Olympic bronze medals (2000, 2004, and 2008)

European Champions: 2013
(8th time total)

 

 

... and a few competitions where team and individual events are equally important, and where the individual competitors are drawn from the ranks of the team:

 

HORSEBACK RIDING

German National Equestrian Team

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2016 team dressage; 2012 team eventing***; 2016 and 2012 eventing individual - Michael Jung / Sam

* SILVER MEDALS: 2016 team eventing; 2012 team dressage; 2016 dressage individual - Isabell Werth / Weihegold

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2016 team show jumping; 2016 dressage individual - Kristina Bröring-Sprehe / Desperados; 2012 eventing individual - Sandra Auffarth / Opgun Louvo

Overall, in 104 years (1912 - 2016), with 41 gold, 23 silver and 27 bronze medals the most successful equestrian team in the history of the Olympic games.

 

 

World Equestrian Games:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2018 and 2014 team dressage; 2014 team eventing
-- Plus individual team members:
2018 dressage, Grand Prix Special (no dressage freestyle competition in 2018) - Isabell Werth / Bella Rose; 2018 show jumping - Simone Blum / Alice; 2014 eventing - Sandra Auffarth / Opgun Louvo

* SILVER MEDALS: 2014 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2014 dressage, freestyle - Helen Langehanenberg / Damon Hill (both); 2014 eventing - Michael Jung / Rocana 

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2018 team show jumping
-- Plus individual team members:
2018 eventing - Ingrid Klimke / Hale Bob; 2014 dressage, Grand Prix Special - Kristina Sprehe / Desperados

 

 

European Championships:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 and 2013 team dressage; 2015 and 2013 team eventing
-- Plus individual team members:
2017 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2017 dressage, freestyle - Isabell Werth / Weihegold (both); 2017 eventing - Ingrid Klimke / Hale Bob; 2015 eventing - Michael Jung / Takinou; 2013 eventing - Michael Jung / Halunke

* SILVER MEDALS: 2015 and 2013 team show jumping
-- Plus individual team members:
2017 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2017 dressage, freestyle - Sönke Rothenberger / Cosmo (both); 2017 eventing - Michael Jung / Rocana; 2015 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2015 dressage, freestyle - Kristina Bröring-Sprehe / Desperados (both); 2015 eventing - Sandra Auffarth / Opgun Louvo; 2013 dressage, Grand Prix Special and 2013 dressage, freestyle - Helen Langehanenberg / Damon Hill (both); 2013 eventing - Ingrid Klimke / Escada

* BRONZE MEDAL: 2015 team dressage

 

(Can ya' tell I'm kinda vicariously proud of the German equestrian team?)

 

*** Eventing is a three-day competition formerly known as "military," which combines a cross country parcours on day 1 with a dressage and a show jumping competition on days 2 and 3.

 

 

NORDIC SPORTS

My mom first took me skiing before I'd even started school, so winter sports are a big, lifelong favorite of mine ... even though my own skiing days are unfortunately over, as a result of a completely messed-up bone structure in my feet, which has made skiing boots the equivalent of Spanish torture boots to me ever since I was in my early 30s.

 

Downhill skiing races are events dominated by individual, not team competitions, of course, so I won't include those here and only note that they're still one of my all-time favorite competitions to watch, ever.  That said, in recent years I've also become a big fan of the Nordic competitions, where team events have always played an important role ... and where, go figure, it turns out the German national teams are actually doing pretty well.

 

All German Nordic sports teams are united (together with the downhill skiers) in the German Skiing Association (Deutscher Skiverband).

BIATHLON

Biathlon evolved from Nordic ski hunting; it combines cross country ski racing and target shooting (and is, incidentally, the only context in which I can countenance the use of guns, because here the focus is entirely on a civilian competition hinging on the athletes' fine motor skills -- with bodily control made decidedly more difficult by the fact that they've got several kms of cross country ski racing in their bones by the time they get to the shooting arena -- and gun safety is taken extremely seriously).  I find it spellbinding, not only because it requires proficiency in two vastly different skill sets, but also because even after a race lasting anywhere from 7.5 to 20 km (4.7 to 12 miles),  the outcome frequently turns on a single failed shot -- or mere fractions of seconds of running time.

 

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games

* GOLD MEDALS: 2018 sprint, women and 2018 pursuit, women - Laura Dahlmeier; 2018 sprint, men - Arnd Peiffer

* SILVER MEDALS: 2014 team relay, men; 2018 mass start, men - Simon Schemp; 2014 individual race, men - Erik Lesser

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2018 team relay, men; 2018 individual race, women - Laura Dahlmeier; 2018 pursuit, men - Benedikt Doll

 

 

World Championships

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 mixed (= 2 men, 2 women) team relay; 2017 and 2015 team relay, women; 2015 team relay, men
* SILVER MEDALS: 2016 mixed team relay; 2016 team relay, men
* BRONZE MEDAL: 2016 team relay, women

 

 

Biathlon World Cup

(= one entire season's worth of events)

- 2017-18 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); best relay team, women; third best team men (all events, aggregate)

- 2016-17 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); best relay team, women; best team men (all events, aggregate), best mixed relay team

- 2015-16 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); best relay team, women; second best team, men (all events, aggregate); second best mixed relay team

- 2014-15 SEASON: best team women (all events, aggregate); second best relay team, women; second best team, men (all events, aggregate)

- 2013-14 SEASON: best relay team, women; third best team men (all events, aggregate); best relay team, men

 

... plus a host of world championship medals as well as world cup race and seasonal victories won by the individual team members in their solo races.

 

With 23 Olympic gold, 27 silver and 18 bronze medals since 1960, when biathlon first became an Olympic sport, as of 2018 the German national team is the most successful Olympic biathlon team (surprisingly even more successful than Norway, where the sport originated).  Ditto in the world championship rankings since the first biathlon world championships in 1958 (82 gold, 57 silver and 47 bronze medals).

 

 

SKI JUMPING

I admire the sheer chutzpah of these guys ... and ladies (!); even more so, after having myself stood at the tops of the Oberstdorf and Calgary jumps and looked down.  It's a truly awe-inspiring view: in and of itself, but even more so if you consider that by the time you reach the bottom of the jump -- by which time my heart would have dropped to somewhere in the vicinity of my feet -- you're not actually done but you're propelled into free flight for another 100 - 230+ meters (330 - 755+ ft), depending on the hill size,*** during which you're sustained in the air by nothing other than your own skill, technique and body (and a bit of headwind if you're lucky), and you're supposed to land gracefully when gravitation ultimately gets the better of you after all.

 

*** "Normal hill" => results in the 100 m (330 ft) range

"Large hill" (men only) => results in the 125 - 140 m (410 - 460 ft) range

"Ski flying" (men only) => results in the 200+ m (650+ ft) range

 

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games

* GOLD MEDALS: 2014 large hill, team (men); 2014 normal hill, women / individual - Carina Vogt; 2018 normal hill, men / indiviual - Andreas Wellinger

* SILVER MEDALS: 2018 large hill, team (men); 2018 normal hill, women / individual - Katharina Althaus; 2018 large hill / individual - Andreas Wellinger

 

 

Ski Jumping World Championships:

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 and 2015 normal hill, mixed team; 2015 large hill, men / individual - Severin Freund; 2017 and 2015 normal hill, women / individual - Carina Vogt

* SILVER MEDALS: 2013 large hill, team (men); 2017 large hill, men / individual and 2017 normal hill, men / individual - Andreas Wellinger; 2015 normal hill, men / individual - Severin Freund

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2013 normal hill, mixed team; 2017 normal hill, men / individual - Markus Eisenbichler

 

 

Ski Flying World Championships

* GOLD MEDAL: 2014 team

* SILVER MEDAL: 2016 team

* BRONZE MEDAL: 2018 individual - Richard Freitag

 

 

Ski Jumping World Cup

(= one entire season's worth of events)

- 2017-18 SEASON: second best, individual (all events, aggregate) - Richard Freitag

- 2016-17 SEASON: second best, ski flying / individual - Andreas Wellinger; 3d place, Raw Air 2017 - Andreas Wellinger

- 2015-16 SEASON: second best, individual (all events, aggregate) - Severin Freund

- 2014-15 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Severin Freund

 

 

NORDIC COMBINED

The so-called "royal" or "crowning" Nordic event, consisting of the two most traditional of all Nordic sports, ski jumping and cross country skiing.  I'm not a major fan of cross country skiing as such, but the jump at the beginning of the competition -- and the combination of the two things -- adds a considerable amount of spice, as this event, too, requires proficiency in two different kinds of skill sets ... and although the results of the jumping competition are "translated" into time handicaps (the shorter your jump, the more your start into the cross country race will lag behind the start of the winner of the jumping competition), it's by no means certain that the ski jumping winner will also win the competition overall: in fact, a top Nordic combined athlete may well win despite going into the cross country race with a time lag / handicap of a minute or more.

 

The members of the German team managed "clean sweeps" (securing all 3 medals) in the 2018 Olympic large hill / 10 km individual and the 2017 World Championship normal hill / 10 km individual races.

 

Overall, with 11 gold, 6 silver and 9 bronze medals, they're the second most successful Nordic combined team (after Norway) in Olympic history; ditto in World Championship history (21 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze medals).  In addition, 3 German athletes (Johannes Rydzek, Eric Frenzel and Ronny Ackermann) rank as nos. 1, 3 and 5 in the list of the all-time most successful Nordic Combined athletes.

 

However, as women have only recently (and much belatedly) been admitted to ski jumping competitions, it may be a while yet until we'll be seeing the first major Nordic Combined women's events; for the time being, this is unfortunately one of the last remaining "men only" sports events.

 

Most recent successes:

Olympic Games

* GOLD MEDALS: 2018 large hill / 4x5 km, team; 2018 large hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek; 2018 and 2014 normal hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel

* SILVER MEDALS: 2014 large hill / 4x5 km, team; 2018 large hill / 10 km individual - Fabian Rießle

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2018 large hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel; 2014 large hill / 10 km individual - Fabian Rießle

 

World Championships

* GOLD MEDALS: 2017 large hill / 2x7.5 km team sprint; 2017 and 2015 normal hill / 4x5 km, team; 2017 large hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek; 2017 and 2015 normal hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek; 2013 large hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel

* SILVER MEDALS: 2015 large hill / 2x7.5 km team sprint; 2017 normal hill / 10 km individual - Eric Frenzel

* BRONZE MEDALS: 2013 large hill / 2x7.5 km team sprint; 2017 and 2013 normal hill / 10 km individual - Björn Kircheisen; 2015 large hill / 10 km individual - Johannes Rydzek

 

Nordic Combined World Cup

(= one entire season's worth of events)

- 2017-18 SEASON: third best individual (all events, aggregate) - Fabian Rießle

- 2016-17 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; second best individual (all events, aggregate) - Johannes Rydzek

- 2015-16 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; third best individual (all events, aggregate) - Fabian Rießle

- 2014-15 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; third best individual (all events, aggregate) - Johannes Rydzek

- 2013-14 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel; second best individual (all events, aggregate) - Johannes Rydzek

- 2012-13 SEASON: best team (all events, aggregate); best individual (all events, aggregate) - Eric Frenzel

 

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text 2017-12-27 20:38
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 14 - Dies Natalis Solis Invicti
The Black Stallion Adventure Set: Four-Volume Box Set - Walter Farley
Winnetou I - Karl May
Durch die Wüste - Karl May
Black Beauty (Scholastic Classics) - Anna Sewell

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Find the sunniest spot in your home, that’s warm and comfy and read your book. –OR– Take a picture of your garden, or a local garden/green space in the sun (even if the ground is under snow). If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, take a picture of your local scenic spot, park, or beach, on a sunny day. –OR– The Romans believed that the sun god rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds. Have you ever been horseback riding, or did you otherwise have significant encounters with horses? As a child, which were your favorite books involving horses?

 

When I was very little, horses slightly intimidated me, but -- like everything moderately scary -- they also fascinated me enormously.  By the time I was in elementary school, there was a riding stable and school just a few houses from ours in our street, with one of the pastures coming up all the way to the walkway (we weren't living in Bonn proper but in a village nearby at the time).  One day, as a dare, some friends and I climbed the fence of that pasture and mounted the two horses grazing there -- as luck would have it, they were two extremely friendly and patient fjordhests (Norwegian fjord horses) named, as I would later learn, Charlie and Suraba, who bore our antics with all the goodwill that horses of their breed are capable of, which is surprisingly much.

 

My mother, upon hearing my guilelessly proud recital of the episode, took this as a sign that maybe rather than going on to naively approach animals considerably bigger and stronger than myself, I ought to have some proper instruction in horsewomanship, and this is how I came to be enrolled for my first riding classes -- for the very first couple of which, as coincidence would have it, I would find myself (this time with due license) again on the backs of Suraba and Charlie.  On their bare backs, that is: riding instruction in this place started you out without a saddle, so as to improve your sense of balance and build up your leg muscles quicker than might have been the case if you had had stirrups to hold you.

 

I had tremendous fun, but I've never been one for building up proficiency in anything slowly and gradually, so within a few weeks I demanded to be included in one of the several-hour-long jaunts offered by the stables every weekend.  My mom inquired with my riding teacher whether I was ready for this sort of thing (not necessarily hoping to get "no" for an answer, but obviously, to get a genuine assessment).  My teacher thought I was ready and added, "she'll just have to learn how to canter for short periods, which hasn't been part of her instruction just yet."  So, to catch up with the other folks going on the excursion, I was given some extra instruction in cantering. 

 

The problem, as it would turn out, was that during that lesson I had been in a saddle for a change, as a result of which I still had absolutely no clue what a gallopping horse's movements under you feel like when you do not have a pair of stirrups to give you extra hold ... and just how much harder it is to stay on the horse's back as a result.  Well, you guessed it -- come Sunday, it was back to "no saddle" (thank God, on the back my Norwegian friend Charlie).  Which I enjoyed just fine as long as we were just walking and trotting along leisurely -- but the excursion's first gallop was a major wake up moment.  I managed to hold on (and would have been way too pigheaded to give up anyway), but I was apprehensive of the next time nevertheless; and what had to happen of course promptly happened ... halfway through the second gallop I was no longer able to hold on, and I fell.  For a seemingly eternal moment, I watched Charlie's hooves flying over me: horses will instinctively try to avoid stepping on humans (and all smaller creatures) in their way, and ordinarily Charlie would very likely have stopped and / or veered sideways, but the path was narrow and there were other riders directly behind us, so he probably felt pressured forward, and as a result he did the only thing left to him -- he jumped right over me.  Thankfully, he managed to avoid hitting my head or anything else truly vital -- but one of his hooves left a horseshoe-shaped mark on my right shoulder, and my right collarbone was sprained.  Once my shoulder was righted, of course that horseshoe mark turned out a badge of honor (which I exploited for all it was worth), but I learned the biggest lesson of all horsemanship on that day: Whenever you have fallen, it is vital for you to get right back onto your horse -- if you don't, you'll never go riding again.  (Of course, for the trip home I was given a saddle, and to everybody else's chagrin there was to be no more cantering that day.)

 

I continued to ride all through my school years until my graduation from high school and abandoned it, much to my chagrin, only when assignment and study pressure in university got too big for me to still be able to invest the considerable amount of time that this particular pastime requires, but I immensely hated having to give it up -- and if by now my backbone weren't a mess of herniated discs, I'd still like to go back to riding.

 

As far as favorites go, while I (still) love horses of all breeds and colors, I've always had a particular love for the two breeds most prominent in the riding stables where I started out -- Norwegian fjord horses and Haflingers -- as well as Mustangs, and, at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, purebred Arabians, particularly if raven black.  There was a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing going on with my favorite horse-related reading and TV ingestion when I was in elementary and middle school (I loved Walter Farley's Black Stallion series, the adventure novels of Karl May, whose heroes Winnetou and Old Shatterhand / Kara Ben Nemsi own peerless black stallions, and the various TV "adaptations" -- to use the term loosely -- of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, which basically made Beauty an equine version of Lassie), but in any event, for years I used to dream of owning a black stallion myself -- preferably, a purebred Arabian.

 

Unfortunately, virtually all of my horse- and riding-related photos were in one of several albums drowned in the floods of a broken pipe in their place of storage while I was living in the U.S., so literally all I have left is a photo taken by a French penfriend, whose family owned horses and whom I visited shortly before graduating from high school -- and a photo taken a few years earlier, during a vacation in Austria, where I made friends with a mare and her filly that we passed on a walking trip (I was unable to walk by any horses without trying to get their attention and pet them at the time):

 

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