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 2 of the 2020 Marble League!
The Halfpipe is an atypical event, previously appearing only in the 2018 Winter Marble League and both editions of the Hubelino Tournament. The Minty Maniacs, who have turned out to be quite the atypical team, appeared in all three of those tournaments, and their experience in descending the slippery slopes and curves has proven beneficial. The team earned their second medal in the second event, breaking a Marble League record in the process. With a current total of 41 points in first place overall, they show no signs of slowing down.
Although it’s still far too early to tell whether the Maniacs will remain championship contenders throughout the season, there is so far no reason to question their potential and their determination to win. In fact, after speaking to their coach, Minty Hint, we found out one of their key motivators:
“When the sponsorship with John Rolliver was announced to the public, we were so moved by Rolliver’s pledge to donate money to community food banks. That night, we decided that we were going to do the best that we possibly could so that the funds could be donated on our behalf.”
It’s empowering to hear that the Minty Maniacs are competing for the right reasons. So far, it’s working out about as well as it possibly could for them.
While the Minty Maniacs are getting the most attention out of the newer teams, the Crazy Cat’s Eyes have also shown up, earning their first silver medal. Either of their Halfpipe successes against the Hornets would have broken the Balls of Chaos’ record, and their first heat would have broken the Maniacs’ record. Green Eye’s performance in their second heat, while not record-breaking, was one of the best among individual marble athletes.
Much like the Midnight Wisps, the Crazy Cat’s Eyes are a team that has not been the most consistent, even after medaling five times in the past two years. Despite being in the top five for much of last season, they finished eleventh overall due to a string of bottom tier finishes in the final three events and other lower-half performances throughout the season. It is reassuring to see that the Cat’s Eyes, after placing second in Qualifiers, have already medaled after placing fifth in Balancing. Consistency is shaping up to be the name of the game in the 2020 Marble League, and if the team can continue to place in the top half, let alone the top five, the Crazy Cat’s Eyes will be able to remain in contention throughout the season.
The beginning of the 2020 season is not looking good for teams that have been in the League since its inception. The teams that podiumed at the end of 2016 are currently the bottom three teams in the overall standings, and the Oceanics and Team Galactic are not far ahead. There is only one team of the “all six” that is within reach of overtaking the Minty Maniacs at this point, and it’s a team that happens to be one of the most popular: the O’rangers.
The O’rangers have a long and storied history in marble sports, from their Fruit Circuit days to placing third in the inaugural season of Marbula One. Their most important tournament yet was the 2017 Marble League, where the team won the championship in the final event, denying the Savage Speeders a repeat championship and cementing their legacy in the League. The O’rangers have never placed outside of the top half of the standings at the end of each season, and their fanbase—as raucous as it may seem—is also one of the most dedicated, staying with the team from its rough start in 2019 through their gold medal in Collision.
After breaking the Maniacs’ Halfpipe record and dominating over the Speeders in both of their heats, it’s clear that the O’rangers are in a much better position at the beginning of this season. In fact, the O’rangers have never been this high in the standings after the second event; they are a team that typically performs well in the second half of the season. Will the team burn out early, or will the O’rangers continue to be a pressing force to be reckoned with throughout the season? Regardless, I am sure we’ll hear O’s reverberating throughout the Andromedome for events to come.
The Halfpipe is a very particular event, one that tests varying speeds during different points of the event and factors in balance, collision, and restraint all at the same time. It is a true challenge to do well in not just one heat, but two heats, in order to set the longest combined time down the slope. That these three teams were able to do so well, improving from their 2018 performances and breaking two records, is far from a small feat.
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!