Tag Archives: Nick Suss

Kristin Hiller Story

Being a figure skating fan in Georgia is a difficult task. Being a figure skater in Georgia is even harder.

Yet, despite the relative obscurity of the sport and the non-conducive climate for outdoor competition, Kristin Hiller counts herself as a member of both factions.

Since she was eight years old, Hiller has been in skates and on ice. Turned onto the game by a cousin, Hiller skated competitively through high school and played an instrumental role in turning her sister on to the sport as well.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” Hiller said. “Skating requires so much, both physically and mentally.”

She should know this first hand. Hiller wasn’t just a figure skater; she was a pretty darn good one at that. She lists her crowning achievement as completing her “Senior Moves Test,” one of the highest honors an American figure skater can earn courtesy of US Figure Skating. That being said, Hiller understands her skating didn’t embody perfection.

However, she came close to perfection at the age of 12 when she finally got the opportunity to watch her hero, Michelle Kwan, skate in a showcase.

“She was awesome,” Hiller said. “The audience was so loud that you couldn’t even hear her music because everyone was cheering.”

In her years away from the sport away attending the University of Georgia, (Athens won’t have an ice rink until after she has graduated) Hiller has tried to stay active by judging two or three youth events each year. But as her involvement in the sport has slightly waned, her interest in other games has been piqued.

“Now in college, I’m not able to skate as much so I’ve had to look to other sports to satisfy my craving of the competitive spirit,” Hiller said. “I really enjoy going to the football games and have attended most other sporting events here at UGA as well. I like how a sport can draw such a large audience of people together.”

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Don’t Count out Oregon State

After a 49-46 loss to FCS opponent Eastern Washington week one, Oregon State’s season was thought to be over. It isn’t.

Ranked 25th in the AP preseason poll, the 2013 season looked bright for the Beavers. The preseason forecast turned out to be more accurate than the opening game indicated; the Beavers are the best passing offense in the nation by yards and touchdowns and rank ninth in the country in scoring offense at just over 44 points per game. However, the loss doomed Oregon State to a fate worse than irrelevance: a season as an afterthought.

Oregon State, now 6-1 and allowing just 23 points per game since its sole loss, is competing at such a high level for two reasons: the play of quarterback Sean Mannion and the relative ease of its schedule. Both of those successes will be tested this Saturday.

Oregon State has only played one team with a winning record over its six game win-streak, but Saturday eighth-ranked Stanford visits Corvallis, the first of five current or formerly ranked teams Oregon State will play to end its season. Luckily for the Beavers, Stanford is a below average team against the pass, allowing 247 yards per game through the air.

That total is just 30 yards greater than Mannion’s average performance for a half.

Playing well enough to prompt fans to create “Sean Mannion for Heisman” websites, Mannion has performed undeniably well in 2013, leading the country in passing yards and touchdowns and placing second in completions. This has eliminated any uncertainty about Mannion’s victory in the summer’s quarterback controversy between Mannion and Cody Vaz.

Obviously having made the correct decision, Oregon State now faces Stanford in a classic trap game for the Cardinal. One week after playing then-unbeaten UCLA and one game before facing unbeaten Oregon, Stanford sandwiches in an Oregon State team still considered to be in the purgatory of afterthought status.

Already having sneaked back into the BCS top-25, a win against Stanford likely will propel Oregon State back into the realm of relevancy. A loss doesn’t necessarily doom the Beavers either, with ample opportunities to beat talented teams throughout the rest of the season.

Win or loss, one thing is for sure for Oregon State – its season is not over.

Second Day Story Exercise

One second day story from the Pac-12 I particularly enjoyed this weekend was this column from Tim Kawakami about the impact of the catch made by Kodi Whitfield in Stanford’s victory over UCLA. This column was a great example of a second day story. Rather than lead with the implications the victory for Stanford had in returning to the Rose Bowl, Kawakami showcased the fantastic catch made by Whitfield, how important it was for his confidence and how his father reacted before slowly including the bigger picture. I appreciate the stance Kawakami took in this story, as the focus wasn’t so much on the catch itself, but the circumstances and the aftermath. It would have been an easy trap to fixate on the occurrence, but Kawakami explained the bigger picture, which I thought was a nice touch. Finally, the way that the column ended, both hinting at the family dynamic that Kodi and Bob Whitfield have and the future use of the underutilized Whitfield, reminded me that college football is still played by kids, which seemed to be the overarching theme of the article – it was a great moment for a young kid that he will remember his whole life.

The California Conundrum

Football has undergone an offensive revolution. But lost in the mystifying offensive explosion football has been experiencing over the past few seasons has been what happens to second-tier offensive powerhouses.

Defying all football logic, the University of California football team is averaging 515 yards of total offense per game but has yet to defeat an FBS opponent. That stat, which as recently as 2009 would have qualified as the second best offense by yardage in football, is practically unheard of, but is made possible by a weak California defense and a strength of schedule which would make even SEC teams tremble.

Cal’s defense is yielding 45 points per game, a stat which is inflated due to the team’s recent matchups with Northwestern, Ohio St., Oregon and a Mike Leach-helmed Washington St. And as easy as it would be for California to expect the worst to be behind them, the Golden Bears still have to travel to UCLA, Washington and Stanford.

The matchup against UCLA this Saturday may be the most troublesome for Cal. The California defense, ranked third to last in the nation at 524 yards allowed per game, must enter a hostile environment in Los Angeles to face the FBS’ fourth best offensive attack.

But Cal’s conundrum isn’t just their own. As ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook catalogs weekly, a deluge of teams across the collegiate ans high school ranks each week plays offense at near perfect levels and cannot win because of their porous defenses. Two weeks ago, FCS school Stephen F. Austin even gained 827 yards of total offense and lost to Prairie View A&M 56-48.

So is this the trend? Will more and more schools abandon defense in the hopes that their offenses will become proficient enough to play at an Oregonian level? Only time can tell that, but there is one prediction that is almost a lock: expect a shootout between Cal and UCLA.