Coming Thursday: JJJ, the Pittsburgh dealer

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Jenny Johnson Jordan has a bit of a problem when asked where she lives these days.

“If they ask where I live, I say Pittsburgh, but if they ask where are you from, I say L.A.,” said the veteran AVP beach volleyball player, who grew up in West L.A., starred at UCLA and was living in Tarzana until moving to Wexford, Pa., a Pittsburgh suburb, last summer.

The move was a leap of faith because her husband, Kevin Jordan — the former UCLA football standout receiver — accepted a job as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team chaplain. His prayers must have been answered — the team won the Super Bowl, and coach Mike Tomlin gave him plenty of credit for establishiing unitity on the roster.

JJJ, who with longtime partner Annett Davis finished second at the AVP’s stop in Manhattan Beach three weeks ago, is gearing up for this weekend’s Hermosa Beach Open (finals are Saturday, Channel 4, 1:30 p.m.).

We caught up with her — she and the family are staying with her parents, Rafer and Betsy Johnson, in Sherman Oaks — and have more on the adaptation process from beach to steel city in Thursday’s newspaper editions and online.

By the way:

As part of the AVP preliminary events on Sunday, before the men’s final, a USC vs. UCLA alumni match is taking place at 11:30 a.m. on centre court.

Six former USC women’s volleyball players are on the current AVP Crocs Tour, including Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. Other former Trojans include Keao Burdine, Tracy Lindquist and Katie Olsovsky. AVP Legends who’ll be there include Tim Hovland and Steve Obradovich.

UCLA alumni on the AVP Crocs Tour include Johnson Jordan, Davis, Kevin Wong and Jeff Nygaard. Beach volleyball legend Sinjin Smith also attended UCLA and will be on hand at the event.

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Deford has spoken: ESPN, lighten up

“ESPN does so much quality work, but at a certain point, in whatever field, if you become omnipotent, and if you are secure, you stop being a conceited smarty-pants and start exhibiting a measure of grace.”

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What’s taken ESPN so long to hire Frank Deford as its new ombudsman? Probably because this will be his best shot. The rest would be tough to match as critical commentary — or much substance.

A link to the esteemed sports journalist’s take on the Worldwide Leader from this morning NPR “Morning Edition” under the headline: “High-and-mighty ESPN Should Take It Down A Notch” (linked here). It’s also a four-minute commentary that you can listen to, to get the full Deford nuances.

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The curling outtakes

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Andy Holzman/Daily News

Splashed across the newsprint like a 99 Cents Store sale, I’m a bit embarassed with all the attention from today’s sports section coverage of my attempt to make the 2010 Olympic curling team (story linked here).

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But I can turn that frown upside down.

There’s a technique that must be learned that, after a few attempts, shouldn’t be that tough to master. But it involves physical strength and the confidence that you won’t slip and fall in your non-ice skates that really is the secret to starting this with some sort of success. Those who’ve grown up walking on ice have a distinct advantage. Those of us who slip in the shower are set up for failure.

This is what happened after one of my first attempts, a splashdown as if I was an Apollo astronaunt who found a pond in Alaska more comfortable than the Pacific Ocean. This is what those birds must feel like when they fly over Boise State’s blue football field and mistake it for a lake:

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That luge thing doesn’t look so hard. I’m already on my back, and I’m cold. How much more work could that be?

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A follow-up to curling in August: Homer and Marge are gonna do it

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From Daily News Wire Services

Curling will be receiving some prime-time exposure just prior to next year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver as Homer and Marge Simpson take up one of Canada’s favorite sports.

An episode of the long-running comedy “The Simpsons” featuring the cartoon power couple playing the game is scheduled to run in early February on the Fox Network.

“We wanted to do a show at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and my initial idea was to have Homer and three of his buddies do a four-man bobsled,” said writer Rob LaZebnik in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“Then we decided there’s a lot more interesting story having Homer do something with Marge. One of the head writers suggested curling and we all liked it. I learned about mixed curling and it seemed kind of perfect.”

In the episode, Homer and Marge form a mixed-doubles curling team with Principal Skinner and his mother, who are experienced curlers. It turns out that Marge is a natural, while Homer is a disaster on the ice.

Marge is faced with a difficult decision: Possibly win a medal by asking Homer to leave the team or ruin their chances by keeping him.

Continue reading “A follow-up to curling in August: Homer and Marge are gonna do it” »

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Coming Wednesday: Romancing the stone

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Andy Holtzman/Daily News

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Don’t fret, America. My curling days aren’t over. I’d just prefer to look at the rink as half-full, without innocent bystanders pointing and laughing. I’m still in the reinventing stage.

But with six months to go for the 2010 Winter Olympics, I’m behind schedule. More accurately, I’m sitting on my behind. On a block of ice. Trying to figure out why this isn’t as easy as it sorta looks.

Let’s see, just Google “Vancouver . . . 2010 . .. schedule.” Passport? Who needs a passport these days to . . . never mind. Here, the curling competition runs from Feb. 16-25, with the medal event two days later.

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By my calendar, there’s probably enough time left to learn the sport that I’ve seen plenty of times in past Olympiads, qualify for the U.S. team, attend more training camp somewhere in Wisconsin, play in a few warm-up games against Poland, and clean up on the medal stand.

I dream big.

Which makes the pre-training session at the Iceoplex Easy Street rink in Simi Valley (liked here) the other night kinda look more like a nightmare. Or just a minor setback. It depends on how you interpret dreams.

The SoCal Curling Club (linked here) had its “learn to curl” session for anyone over 12 and with $20 to invest lured a couple dozen contestants who may have thought they were trying out for a Canadian reality show. The reality was, just because you owned a pair of warm gloves and thermal socks, there’s no guarantee this club would even take you on as a regular participant once league play opens this weekend.

The club started four years ago, right as curling became appointment TV viewing during the 2006 Turin Games in Italy, since Fred Roggin made it all look so campy. That’s about the time when Carrie Cresante, a Westlake Village attorney smart enough to make it through Pepperdine law school, thought she had the foresight to link into an Olympic-level sport and see where it could take her.

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As a founding member of these SoCal Curlers, she’s been to Canada, where she picked up a pair of $200 specialized shoes with special sliders on the bottom, but better than what you’d find in the rental department at the local bowling alley. She’s also become quite fond of her carbon-fiber broom, because it’s much lighter to move down the ice than those old wooden-handled jobs.

“Most don’t have these shoes, but if I play, I use the right equipment,” the 31-year-old said. “I’m competitive. I wouldn’t be a good lawyer if I wasn’t.”

Plus, she said, the shoes were insulated. For that price, they’d better come with a warm-up act and two-drink minimum.

I really had no time, or patience, to learn all about the foreign terminology. The stone — that a 44-pound piece of granite with a handle attached — is supposed to be headin’ to the house. If you accidentally touched it with a broom as you were sweeping, it’s called “burning the stone,” but since you’re on the honor system, you have to call the friction infraction on yourself.

There’s the lead, second, vice skip and skip yelling at you. The hack line is 21 feet to the hogline. . . .

Blah, blah, blah. . . . All hogwash.

Continue reading “Coming Wednesday: Romancing the stone” »

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