Hello and welcome to “Podium Moments”, a series that discusses the performance of the three athletes or teams that place on the podium after a competition. Today’s article will cover the three teams that finished on the podium for Event 7 of the 2020 Marble League!
As in Hurdles, each team that podiumed in this year’s edition of Block Pushing has done so in past seasons. The O’rangers’ gold medal from three years ago resembled a turning point for a team that had struggled in the first half of the season—they broke a record, jumped to fourth overall, and did not let up in seeking and winning their first Marble League championship.
The O’rangers’ bronze medal here, which very nearly could have been a silver, comes at a period where the team has succeeded in the first half of the season, medaling in more than half of the events. With nine events to go, the O’rangers are in an impeccable position, even with the Crazy Cat’s Eyes, Midnight Wisps, and Minty Maniacs less than a medal behind.
Team Momo has proven, on nearly opposite sides of the standings, that performance in Qualifiers does not always translate to a team’s performance in the main tournament. After a false start where the starting gate malfunctioned, causing Momomomo to hop up as the flag stopped the team in its tracks, Team Momo set a distance of a paltry 54,8 centimeters, causing them to place last overall. Thanks to Mo’s gold medal in Funnel Endurance, the team qualified for the main tournament by the thinnest margin in Marble League history.
“I never expected I would be able to replicate that performance,” Mo admitted. “Was I expecting to place last after qualifying? No, I wasn’t—but when you’re competing in the Marble League, anything can happen.”
If anything can happen in the Marble League, does that make Team Momo’s silver medal in this event an accident? Not necessarily. The team earned a silver medal in Block Pushing 2017 by using a similar strategy—keeping Mo and Momo close to the front and Momomo and Mimo behind in a slightly more separated formation. Although Greg Woods described the team’s form as “disjointed”, it was clear that Mimo’s “momomentum” was enough to give Team Momo a final push, which put them five hundredths above the O’rangers.
With that, Team Momo has earned their first medal since Curling 2018, returning to the top half of this year’s standings and proving, if anything, that the team’s will to push through adversity remains “Momo Strong.”
The Midnight Wisps earned two gold medals last year: in Hurdles and in Block Pushing. Although the team just missed out on defending their title in Hurdles this year, they have earned a gold medal with a distance of 85,8 centimeters and broken the record set by the O’rangers in 2017. The Wisps are starting to create their own legacy within this particular event—they even won the Block Pushing part of this year’s Qualifiers. How are they so successful?
“We call this tactic the Iron Willow. It’s so risky, but if executed perfectly, strong and graceful,” explained Wispy. “We come apart after pushing the block up, nearly off the track, so that we maintain our momentum, and then come back together for one final push. If you watch the replay footage, you’ll see how we accomplished that in the first heat. It takes so much out of us that we were winded during the second heat, but it was worth it.”
By earning their third medal of the season, the Midnight Wisps have risen into fourth overall in the standings and are in hot pursuit of the lead. When there’s a will, there’s a wisp.
As the top five becomes more and more separate from the rest of the standings, with a twenty-point gap between fifth and sixth place, it may be easy to assume that the current frontrunners of this year’s Marble League will remain at the top for the rest of the season. Whether or not this is the case, however, it is still important to remember that the tournament is about more than who wins. It is a celebration of international marble sports and the talents that each athlete brings forth in their performances. When a team makes the podium—regardless of their potential to win the championship—that means so much.
In conclusion, it is indeed a milestone to see three teams at the end of each Marble League event stand above the rest, because they—through months of training in the offseason, working to qualify, and dealing with the unquestionable presence of fortune that affects any sporting event—have preserved and put their best roll forward. They deserve their “podium moment”, but more than anything, they deserve their chance to shine.
Until next time, keep on rolling!
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