Friday, November 30, 2007

Three Women's Volleyball National Championships end today

Yesterday I discovered yet another collegiate women's volleyball national championship. This one is from the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association), so today there will be three college volleyball teams that will each become national champions... the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball National Champion, The NCCAA Division I Women's Volleyball National Champion, and the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Champion.

The NCCAA division I championship is being held in St. Paul, Minnesota from November 29 - December 1, 2007, with eight teams in the championship. Their division II championship was from Nov. 8-10, 2007 and was held in Omaha, Nebraska. Clearwater Christian College from Clearwater, Florida is the 2007 NCCAA Division II Women's Volleyball National Champion.

Division I

Division II

Thursday, November 29, 2007

USCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship

There is yet another collegiate national volleyball championship. The USCAA (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) had their Women's Volleyball National Championship finals on Saturday, October 27, 2007 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This event has the eight best ranked Division I and Division II teams in the USCAA compete for the title in single elimination. I don't think there are any more collegiate national volleyball championships other than the ones I've mentioned in this blog, but if you find some, let me know because that would be interesting.

2007 USCAA Women's Volleyball National Champion
Florida College, Temple Terrace, Florida
(3rd National Championship in 3 years)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lumberjack World Championships and STIHL Timbersports Series

Timber anyone? The timber industry used to be very large in the United States and it is still an important industry here and in many parts of the world. Modern day lumberjacks and timber experts are very dedicated to their sport and have a loyal fan base and there are many timbersports competitions around the world.

The Lumberjack World Championships is held in Hayward, Wisconsin in July at the Lumberjack Bowl and is part of ESPN's Great Outdoor Games. Competitors come from all over the world and compete in sawing, chopping, pole climbing, log rolling, and boom running, for several men's and women's titles (more than 21 events), and compete for the best time in most events. I'm not sure how the participants are selected. Apparently log rolling is being taught at schools in some places, and it seems that many of the champions come from families with a history of timbersports winning.

While the Lumberjack World Championships produces a world champion for each type of event, the STIHL Timbersports Series produces one all-around world champion lumberjack in their professional World Championship (they also have a collegiate championship). The participants are selected from applicants from around the world who must compete in other timbersports events and produce a resume showing how good they are, and the top 32 applicants are invited to the competition and compete in eight events. You can watch a recording of the STIHL Timbersports Series is shown on ESPN2 if you can figure out when it is on, but I've got too much going on to watch.

I remember a long time ago I got to use a single bucking and a double bucking saw at a scout camp near Sarnia, Canada and also at the BSA's National Jamboree. It's a lot of fun to saw against some friends. If I did sawing like that every day then I would be in really, really good shape. I had a friend who wanted to get into shape really quickly, so he started chopping wood every day and it worked.

A few years ago I lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Western Wisconsin) for six months and I also lived up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (Northern Minnesota) for eight months and the timber and logging industry is definately a strong part of the heritage of Wisconsin and Minnesota and is still a major part of the economy there, though modern lumberjacks use things like cut-to-length timber harvesters and other large machines that are very efficient at clearing timber. I stopped and watched one once and it was almost mesmerizing. The thing grabs the tree at the base of the trunk, cuts it, tips over the tree, shoots the tree through and cuts off all the limbs, and shoots it back the other way and then slices the tree into pieces of equal length, and someone told me the machine's computer records how many board feet and how many logs were cut. Then another machine picks up the logs and puts them on a truck. It only takes about two people to clear timber with this method.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NCAA Women's Volleyball National Championships

NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball
The NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball National Championship begins on Friday, November 30 with 64 teams competing. Finals will be held on December 15, 2007 in Sacramento, California.

Full Bracket

NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball
The NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball National Championship finals will be held from November 29 to December 1, 2007 in Topeka, Kansas.

Full Bracket

NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball
The NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball National Championship finals were held from November 15-17, 2007 in Bloomington, Illinois. Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri) won this National Championship and it is their 9th NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball National Championship.

Full Bracket

NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship

NAIA (The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) will be holding their 2007 Women's Volleyball National Championship from Wednesday, November 28 to Saturday, December 1, 2007 at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri with 20 teams competing in the event. There are about 300 colleges involved with NAIA. You can watch this volleyball championship live over the internet if you want to.

Monday, November 26, 2007

NJCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship

I had never heard of it before, but the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) does exist and it recently had its women's volleyball championships. These events were held simultaneously on November 15-17, 2007.

NJCAA Division I (held in Scottsdale, AZ)
NJCAA Division II (held in Scottsdale, AZ)
NJCAA Division III (held in Rochester, MN)

2007 NJCAA Division I Volleyball National Champion
Western Nebraska Community College, Scottsbluff, Nebraska
(1st Volleyball National Championship)

2007 NJCAA Division II Volleyball National Champion
Kishwaukee College, Malta, Illinois

2007 NJCAA Division III Volleyball National Champion
Central Lakes College, Brainerd, Minnesota
(3rd Volleyball National Championship in 8 years)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

World Ice Climbing Championships

I was wondering about ice climbing and guess what, it is a relatively recent international competitive sport. Ice climbers compete on either speed or difficulty, with men and women competing for separate titles. The World Ice Climbing Championships/World Cup have been held by UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation/Union Internationale Des Associations D'Alpinisme) for a number of years with outdoor competitions.

More recently The North Face, Inc. has sponsored The Ice Climbing World Cup, which is an indoor competition where participants also compete on speed or difficulty. About 2000 spectators can watch in person. The UIAA seems to endorse this event because their logo is on the website.

I have noticed other sports where there are two different 'top' championships for the same sport. Perhaps in the future one event will become more prestigious and the other will disband or the two will merge. Maybe this is already occurring in 2008 and I just don't know. For other sports where there are multiple national or world championships, it would be nice to know which is considered more reputable or prestigious by the participants.

Here is a quick video from the 2006 UIAA World Cup

UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup

North Face Ice Climbing World Cup

Friday, November 23, 2007

The World Equestrian Games

Yesterday I noticed a rebroadcast of show jumping on TV. It was interesting how these riders could jump their horses over all of those different fences and other obstacles, and having the horse barely touch one will reduce their chances of winning quite significantly. And then one man completed the course without knocking down any of the rails and won a lot of money. I had no idea that such events happened up in Calgary, Alberta.

I discovered that show jumping is one of several equestrian games and is even an event at the Summer Olympics, but some consider the FEI (Fédération Equestre International) World Equestrian Games to be more prestigious than the Equestrian events at the Olympics.

The FEI World Equestrian Games are held every four years in between the Olympic Summer games, with competitions in seven areas:
  • Dressage - how well a horse responds to the rider's aids for requested movements while staying relaxed. This type of a competition tests the horses ability to be an excellent riding horse. Horses are tested on obedience, balance, suppleness, and rhythm.
  • Show Jumping - how well and how fast a horse and rider jump over fences on a course.
  • Eventing - tests dressage, show jumping, and cross country. The cross country event has the horse and rider jump over a variety of obstacles that are more permanent than the fences in show jumping, and over a longer distance.
  • Endurance Riding - controlled long distance races. Races are typically 50 or 100 miles and the first horse to cross the finish line wins.
  • Vaulting - vaulters do gymnastics or dances on horseback while the horse is moving.
  • Combined Driving - also called horse driving trials. This event has a team of horses pull a carriage and driver. The driver must negotiate the team around a course while only using their hands and voice to lead the horses.
  • Reining - the rider has the horse perform a set pattern of movements while moving quickly: circles, spins, and stops. The horse is judged on its responsiveness to the rider.
I have never know very much about the equestrian type sporting events, and there are more equestrian events than those held at the World Equestrian Games.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bands of America Grand National Championships

Right now Nationals is going on in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for high school marching band. This is the last year that the event will be held in the RCA dome because a new arena will be replacing it. Nearly 100 schools are participating in preliminaries on Thursday and Friday. Saturday night will be finals. Watching the finals show is stunning and spectacular, even if you don't normally like this sort of event; it's just because everything in the finals show at Nationals is done at a level tremendously higher than most local events.