High Points: Euro sports season
I, likely like you, was thrilled that the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001. Their six-game series win against the Tampa Bay Lightning was the stuff of legends. And the outpouring from their fans was heart-warming, one of the highlights of the summer thus far. Frequent Aspen visitor and Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke was able to add the Stanley Cup to a trophy case that already includes the Lombardi Trophy his Los Angeles Rams won in February.
But, as much as I like watching our local teams and our national leagues play, my favorite time of year to be a sports fan is July. Because that is the time of year when the euro sports take center stage. I don’t mean soccer, or football as they call it, but rather four of my favorite spectator sports: tennis (Wimbledon), cycling (Tour de France), golf (The Open Championship) and track and field (World Athletics Championships). All have their time in the sun, (well except occasionally for the Open), in July. The sports offer not only great competition, but vicarious trips to storied venues for the events.
If you are reading this on an early Friday morning you can tune in right now to ESPN and catch the one and only men’s semifinal match between top-seeded Novak Djokovic and the ninth seeded Britt, Cameron Norrie. The match is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. our time, which is seven hours behind London, and you can be sure the British crowd will be cheering hard for the favorite son, Norrie. Djokovic has won his last 26 matches at the All England Club and has not been here since 2017. My bet is he extends the streak to 28 matches with wins in both the semis and the final, and captures his 7th Wimbledon.
The second semifinal was supposed to feature Rafa, that would be Rafael Nadal, in a much-anticipated match against Aussie bad-boy Nick Kyrgios. But on the same day that Boris Johnson announced his intention to resign as the prime minister of the UK, Rafa announced his intention to withdraw from the match due to a tear in his rather prodigious abdominal muscles. Ouch. This sends the often ranting and raving Kyrgios to his first Major final. Must–see TV on Sunday morning.
Across the channel, that would be the English Channel, the boys on bikes have been putting on an already epic Tour de France. Finding it is a little more difficult unless you stream Peacock, NBC’s new service. I find I have to record the full four-hour show daily on the USA Network so that I can tune in each night for a riding fix. The Tour began in Copenhagen this week but is back in the motherland now. The mountains beckon in the coming days with spectacularly beautiful vistas in the Alps. If you watch just one show on this year’s tour, tune in next Thursday for Stage 12 from Briançon, the highest city in France, to Alpe d’Huez. Do you know who Tadej Pogačar is? You will.
That same day, July 14, the world’s best golfers tee it up at the “old course” in Saint Andrews, Scotland, for what is simply called “The Open Championship.” St. Andrews is as iconic a golf course as Aspen is a ski mountain. Well, maybe even more since it was first established in 1552, or 469 years ago. It is always fun to watch the storied golfers of our time as they try to avoid the 112 bunkers.
Then on Friday the 15th, nearly 1,200 athletes will converge in Eugene, Oregon (yes, I know that’s not Europe, but there will be a lot of Europeans), for the World Track and Field Championships. For two weeks the fastest and fittest athletes will run, jump and throw, showcasing all their skills at Historic Hayward Field.
Three weeks. Four events. One television. I’m happy it’s July.
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