A lovely piece. Just watch.
Short but elegant video from the KCultureChannel depicting the making of traditional bamboo arrows for use with gakgung. The bamboo used is actually referred to as ‘arrow bamboo‘, and the maker has to be careful to select wood of exactly the same age and knot spacing in order that the arrows will spine correctly.
The KCultureChannel also have brief videos on bowmaking and the Bucheon Bow Museum, amongst much else. Although, if you are interested in this kind of thing, you really must watch the 20 minute doc The Bow And Arrow Of Korea, made in the 1980s and narrated in cut-glass English. Apparently there’s not that many of these guys left still making bows.
So I went to the very last Wroclaw World Cup to work for the World Archery comms team; the third time I’ve done this gig after stints in Antalya and Shanghai – although it’s not my first time in Wroclaw.
It was hot. Seriously, if you’d turned up in Poland, of all places, for a lying-by-the-pool sun holiday you wouldn’t have been disappointed. 35ºC / 95ºF and sunny all day right up until Sunday which was mostly overcast and muggy. Sounds great: until you have to sit in a sweltering tent, with sweat running off you, with every laptop and server fan screaming, desperately trying to keep the infrastructure working, and everything getting covered in dust. All. Day. Long. Every afternoon we kept dreaming of the lovely air-conditioned hotel and its infinite supply of lovely cold Polish beer.
You can read what we wrote about it and find all the results here. It was a much quieter affair than previous World Cups and the World Championships in Copenhagen. Many nations were saving their budgets or their archers for a double bill of the Medellin leg and the Rio test event.
Several familiar archery nations were absent (Korea, Chinese Taipei, Great Britain, Australia), fielding alternate teams (China, Japan), missing many/all of their usual recurves (Denmark, the Netherlands) or even flying solo self-funded without coaches (Mexico, Canada). Many team line-ups saw at least one change from Copenhagen.
The USA were particularly prominent on both finals days, and took home a spectacular recurve haul on Sunday. At least a couple of the performances were really strong and would have tested the best Asian first teams. The individual finals on Sunday were probably the highlight, and you can watch them here.
Previously I’ve extensively typed up what I got up to, but I’m not going to do that this time. I took a lot of photographs, and for the first time had a decent set of lenses which (mostly) worked pretty well, although I could have done with about another 100mm of focal length. I’ve been working on keeping things a little simpler; trying to improve the workflow and the image detail. It started slowly, but 1500 shots later I got a few I was pretty pleased with.
Naturally, Dean was there doing his usual superb work. I didn’t try to directly duplicate what he does, and tried to look for other things and other angles – although I couldn’t resist a ‘sunglasses-target-reflection’ or two. But I couldn’t resist borrowing (OK, stealing) a few of his ideas. Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that. OK, enjoy.
Thanks, as usual, to Chris Wells, Dean Alberga and the rest of the WA team.
You can right click to open photos in a new window / tab. All photographs are © 2015 The Infinite Curve. You can re-use them non-commercially, it would be nice to let me know if you do. Cheers!
“I will cut you.”
(not really. Also, both stand-up guys to interview.)
I caught this picture just after what was clearly a bad shot when she turned towards the camera. The next frame is more of a scowl. I’m basically an asshole.
Still not sure what to do with expanses of scrubby grass. I love the lines and the rare chance to get a completely clean shot of an archer with anyone else or a lot of scopes getting in the way. But a lot of grass looks odd in a colour shot. Monochrome seemed the way to go.
Sophie Planeix had a slightly fussy, almost ‘prim’ style which took her centre of gravity forward. Still, can’t argue with a finals place.
The Brazilian team had been on the road over five weeks. There were some great perfomances, but you could sort of sense they were all ready to go home.
Usquiano was way off her previous form in the final, and looked upset and uncomfortable throughout. I almost had an amazing shot of her bowing her head with Avdeeva punching the air. Is it remotely in focus? Is it bollocks. The ones that get away. (Chris was very pleased with this one.)
The fountains behind only properly erupted once an hour. Never quite managed to get the perfect shot of them and someone on the line. Tried, though.
Finally, after a few years of trying, I manage to get an image of Brady Ellison that gets close to capturing the intensity of the performance. He’d not seemed entirely comfortable in the anchor role all week, and a couple of team chances went begging. It looked at times like Collin was the one holding the team together. You could sense the pressure – probably self-inflicted.
But when he needed to deliver it, on the last arrow, it was there. He found it. It was great to be that close when he did.
A left hander on the German team I’d not seen before. I enjoyed his confident and elegant draw.
Delivered the fightback of the week against Mackenzie Brown in the final. She’d been nailing the shootoffs all Thursday long, not out here though.
Richter has a habit of closing her eyes, being very still and going ‘into the tank’ between head-to-head shots. It was great to watch. And it worked.
Great archer, great to watch, really nice guy in person. As good as it gets.
Another slighting disappointing finals day performance, another berating in the Indian media.
Bye bye Wroclaw. Hope to see you for the World Games in 2017!
So I went to Copenhagen. I wasn’t going to miss that. It’s a beautiful city.
The camera worked. World Archery were kind enough to let me in with the real photographers. I got some shots I really liked, and some I thought would have been great if only I had four-grand’s worth of full-frame camera and glass, and knew just a little bit more about what I was doing. Still, onwards and upwards. I was in the right place for this sequence, anyway. I also got to see the Holmegaard bow, the oldest extant bow in existence, about which more will follow at a later date.
I was originally intending to make a podcast based around the world championships, but after a lengthy parade of technical disasters, I’ve decided not to. The Zoom H2n recorder I bought sounded good and worked pretty well until it didn’t, which was at every crucial opportunity: refusing to save files, batteries draining off despite a claimed 20hr battery life, and featuring terrible handling noise for a hand-held object. (I’m sending it back). A lot of interviews I recorded on the field were marred by too-loud background music, a planned meeting at the museum had to be abandoned after the curator was unavailable, athletes I was hoping to get some words out of stormed off in a fury… on it went. Some of it was my fault, some of it was bad luck, some of it was just dumb and frustrating. I also could only be in Copenhagen for the last four days of the worlds, and I realised a bit too late that to do a really proper job I would need to be there the whole week.
I have always tried to produce (or select) the absolute best content that I can for this blog, and after getting home and reviewing all the audio from the weekend I decided it just wasn’t good enough to do something with. This was despite the American archer Ariel Gibilaro going the absolute extra mile and making a handful of on-the-road recordings for me in the weeks leading up to the championships. She took the time, and I’m annoyed that I can’t follow through with it for her. I will have another try at this next year once I’ve got some more practice with live audio in, and hopefully I can incorporate some of the material that did work into something else.
Back to the sport: the finals weekend stayed dry and bright after some seriously apocalyptic weather earlier in the week, and recurve Sunday brought an almost unparalleled display of Korean dominance. During the week the great white sharks had had to fight some serious battles, but on the big day no-one seemed to be able to bring a game to them, and Sunday did lack a bit of drama compared to the much-harder-to-call compound finals on Saturday. Kim Woojin joined the elite list of double world champions, and didn’t seem all that bothered. But no-one begrudged Ki Bo Bae fighting off the visible stress and nerves to complete what must be the archery equivalent of a career grand slam. She didn’t give a perfect performance, but she gave a fighting one, and it was enough. Afterwards, she said she was just about managing not to cry. That changed when she got to the podium.
There was an ironic moment after the ladies team matches, when the Korean ladies and their coaches sat down in a row of empty seats in the athletes section of the crowd and got insistently moved on by a officious volunteer because “these seats are reserved for VIPs”. :-/
After the team events, I took some photographs from the cloisters at the warm-up range behind Christiansborg Palace shortly before the individual finals. This turned out to be a good idea: I could get shots from a great angle and slightly above the shooting line, the afternoon light was starting to look good, and it was all business. No one spoke, just the sound of arrows being launched. You could sense the tension in the faces, the sense of importance, the fear.
Bye bye, Copenhagen. You were great.
Thanks to Chris Wells, and a ridiculously long list of charming people I finally got to meet. Thank you!
Tokyo has unveiled its logos for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and they’re awful.
From the awkward Clarendon-esque serif font – positioned too close to the image – that looks like something you’d see at the top of a stereo manual from the 1980s, to the simplistic, drab colour planes of the figure that look like something an unimaginative biotech company would leap on, it’s a hideous, retrograde mess.
The half-negative Paralympic figure is less bad, but they managed to screw the pooch by mixing the already-bad serif font with an gimcrack Gothic sans serif, the most overused, badly applied typeface style of the last ten years – and some commentators have suggested that it has been Frankensteined out of several other well known fonts. Mixing sans and serifs is always tricky – here it’s terrible, like two strangers forced to share a bed. It makes the much maligned London 2012 logo (which grew on me a lot) look like Swiss poetry in comparison.
It’s a shame, because it seems to want to reference the logo Tokyo developed for the 1964 Games; perhaps the single greatest piece of Olympic communication of all time.
The rising sun logo by Yusaku Kamekura, with its tightly condensed sans-serif brought modernist, minimalist design and typography to the world, marking a Games where Japan really came out of its post-war slump. He also designed several great posters which have influenced Games designers ever since.
Even the relatively unchallenging candidate city bid logo, with its cherry blossoms, ’64-aping red dot, and conservative DIN font, was better than the current final choice:
Still, perhaps it’s a grower. As mentioned, the engaging, divisive London 2012 logo grew on me a lot, although the typeface never did. It just seems like a missed opportunity to show the world a semblance of a new Japan, still reeling from nuclear disaster and long-term economic downturn.
But if the plans for the equally bad stadium design can be revised, maybe this can be too. Rant over.
Someone on Twitter suggested another inspiration for the logo.
More about the logo and a short film here: http://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1028916/tokyo-2020-unveil-olympic-and-paralympic-games-emblems
You can read what I wrote about Olympic archery pictograms here.
Brady Ellison vented his frustration to ESPN about the set system that saw him lose the gold medal match to Luis Alvarez in Toronto at the Pan-American Games, despite Alvarez failing to get an arrow off in time in the fourth set. Full details here:
“I outshot the guy by 11 points,” he said. “We’re a score-based system where you can miss and win — and that’s what happened. I don’t agree with it and it’s probably one of the reasons I’ll be done with this sport unless it changes. It’s kind of B.S. in my opinion. You can’t make that big a mistake in the gold-medal match and win. He shot well the other sets. But you miss and win, I disagree with that.”
The former No. 1-ranked archer and two-time Olympian said he might leave recurve archery after the 2016 Olympics if the scoring system doesn’t change:
“I’ve been thinking about it since we went to sets in the team rounds. It’s taken away our world records, and fun toward shooting,” Ellison said. “A lot of my contracts are up in 2016 so unless something changes or I get some really big contract, I’ll probably go back to compound.”
The quote from Luis Alvarez is worth reading:
“A lot of people said that a running score is better. Because I just missed a shot and I still win. How can an archer that missed one arrow win?” he said. “It’s two sides of the same coin. But in the end, the set system requires more concentration. If my shot was to miss, the other archer has no pressure because I already will lose by shooting a miss. But the set system helps you make a bad shot and recover in the next one and that’s more competitive.”
“Some archers say it’s not OK, some archers say it’s good. But in the end, competition is like that. It was good.”
This also sparked a lively discussion on the Infinite Curve Facebook page. I don’t have time to search through all Brady’s H2H matches for the last few years, but I find it difficult to believe that he’s never won a high-level match while still scoring less than his opponents. But maybe that’s the case.
Brady also makes a tennis analogy. It turns out that around five percent of professional men’s tennis matches since 1990 have been won despite the winner scoring less total points than the loser, because of the set system (it’s even possible to win a match winning less total games than the loser, if you won something like 0-6, 7-5, 7-5). This anomaly is referred to as Simpson’s Paradox, and there’s a particularly interesting article about it here. Does anyone have the number crunching ability to track through IANSEO and see the proportion of H2H matches where this occurred? Would be very interesting to know.
The purpose of changing to a set system in H2H recurve matches was to improve archery as a spectator sport, of course – but that was a change that was agreed and tested with athletes. Brady Ellison is one of the biggest draws on the circuit, and has won three World Cup finals using the very same set system. I also know Brady rides the waves of his emotions, he’s the very opposite of a cool, machine-like shooter. That’s one of the things that make him a great sportsman and a great human being, and I suspect this outburst, no doubt shortly after the match, was born out of deep frustration at not quite achieving the incredibly high standards he sets himself.
I came across the BDDW Club Of Archers And Handmade Bowyers when searching for archery clubs in city centres for something else, and was intrigued by pictures of custom painted targets and archery competitions indoors and out.
BDDW CAHB appears to be a child of the BDDW furniture company based in New York, founded by a renaissance man called Tyler Hays, a woodworker, ceramicist and beekeeper, who also branches out into high-end hifi. The resonant imagery of arrows and targets, the deep satisfaction of bowyery and the sheer joy of being part of an archery club are just some of his interests. An interview with the WSJ last year yielded this:
“Every other Tuesday, BDDW hosts an evening of archery in the showroom. It’s a sort of hipster riff on the corporate softball league: Nearly 20 teams show up for each match, from institutions as varied as HBO, Helmut Lang, Thom Filicia and the Moth. The bows are hand-carved, of course, and the smoked meats are driven in from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. “It often ends with us singing karaoke until the small hours,” says the fashion designer and sometime-archer Phillip Lim. Once in a while, an arrow lands in the neck of a tripod lamp, and within a week someone will have asked to buy it that way. At the end of the year, the top 30 teams get seeded for a final tournament, accompanied by a huge, semiformal outdoor weenie roast upstate for hundreds of competitors, friends and family. “It’s like Burning Man meets The Great Gatsby,” Hays says.”
There’s some photos of one of these tournaments online, but that’s about it, and most of BDDW CAHB’s great looking website is locked off. Even more intrigued, I emailed them and asked for an interview. They were very polite, but said “sorry, no press”. I don’t really count as press, but hey. I can understand why. It would spoil the magic.
On the eve of the Pan-American Games, Crispin Duenas takes us through three of the core exercises he uses for archery strength: