Shooters love seeds, will do headstands
RENO, Nev. Sixteen names were drawn out of a hat to determine the rifle seeding in last year's ESPN's Great Outdoor Games. This year's format called for a return to a qualifying round to determine seeding, much to the pleasure of the participants.
Especially happy were Doug Koenig and Carl Bernosky, who won the gold and silver medals July 12.
"Last year, one side of the bracket was really stacked," Bernosky said. "The prelims are a great way to shoot for your spot. And I think it helps lead up to a more dramatic finish."
A year ago, with the random selection for seeding, Koenig had to face 2000 gold medalist Bob Mastroianni in the quarterfinals and Bernosky in the semifinals before losing to Jerry Miculek in the gold medal match.
The value of this year's seedings played out all the way through the rifle competition, as top-seeded Koenig beat second-seeded Bernosky for the gold medal and No. 3-seeded Mike Cumming defeated fourth-seeded Miculek for the bronze.
However, Bernosky stressed that he wasn't complaining and will follow any format required.
"This is a great opportunity to show our sport on television," said Bernosky. "If they want us to stand on our heads, we'll do it."
The 2003 Great Outdoor Games are the first for Jeff Heineman, who tied for fifth place in the men's Boom Run on July 13, and his gut told him as much.
Not only did he have some butterflies, but he spent the morning throwing up he blames some undercooked steak from the night before and was dehydrated most of the day.
Still, he said, his performance wasn't affected by his nausea.
"It's a different atmosphere from the world championships," the 24-year-old Canadian said. "You don't really notice the cameras when you're running, or anything. But if you look around, you get a little different feeling, especially in the stomach area."
Boom runners face the constant threat of sliding off the sides of the boom logs, leaving them vulnerable to the physics of gravity, coarse wood and their skin.
John Wells, who lost in the semifinals of Boom Run July 13, has tried to get his fiancée, Valerie Ellesson to attempt the sport. His legs are enough to convince her not to bother.
"I've got 21 marks all across my leg right here," Wells said, pointing to a meteor shower of pale scar lines above his knee. "It adds character."
In the consolation bracket of the men's Boom Run, Cassidy Scheer, the 2002 bronze medalist, found himself racing his dad, Fred Scheer.
While it made for a nifty rematch of last year's bronze medal round, the younger Scheer wasn't completely thrilled.
"He made a comment last year, 'I win, I win; he wins, I win,'" Cassidy Scheer said. "Today it's like, I win, I lose, because he will say, 'Oh, you pay your tuition now next semester with the money you make,' and I lose, I lose."
Indeed, the father beat the son, bringing their record in head-to-head competition matches to one loss and one win apiece.
"It's just cool to be there," Fred Scheer said. "How often does a father get to compete against his son at a world-class level? It's pretty damn rare, and kind of a testament to the novelty of our sport."
The science of boom running
Men's Boom Run silver medalist J.R. Salzman tried to keep his obligatory post-match interviews light for a sport that is "not something I take real seriously," as he said in one on-camera chat.
"I'm not going to go into the whole science of it, because there's not a person out there who has a clue what I'm talking about," he said later. "So, make it fun."