December 6 – Oil Spill

What a Year!

With the arrival of December, it’s time to reflect on the year that was. While most stories only hit the mainstream when they’re of the negative variety, there are some groups and people that had amazing calendar years. Here are the folks that had the best 2014:

#5: Hockey Canada

The Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey team has the utmost pressure on them each and every Winter Games. While Russia, as event hosts, would have loved to walk away with the gold, hockey is Canada’s game and anything but a tournament victory would not have sat well with the entire country. Therefore, it was much more palatable to watch the gold medal game, starting at 4am Vancouver time, when the boys easily defeated Sweden 3-0. It should also be noted that the Canadian Women’s Olympic hockey team took home gold, as well, thanks to some last minute heroics.

Gold In Here

#4: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

It was the fad of the 2014 summer and it was about more than cooling off and finding relief from the heat. If you were nominated to participate, you typically had 24 hours to dump a bucket of water/ice on your melon, before challenging the next round of participants. Whether you completed the task or not, you were encouraged to donate to charity. While not everyone agreed with the movement – citing the lack of money that would actually go towards curing ALS, the waste of water, health issues the challenge could result in, etc. – the Ice Bucket Challenge certainly raised the profile of ALS around the world. Mission: Accomplished!

#3: Germany Football

Winners of the 2014 World Cup of Soccer (which I predicted from the start!), Germans will hold football bragging rights until at least the 2018 contest in Russia. Mario Götze, who scored the lone goal for Germany against Argentina, to clinch the title, will be a national icon for the country for the duration of his life, and likely, long after. Germany went undefeated through the World Cup, highlighted by a 7-1 drubbing of host county and competition favourites Brazil, in the semi-finals. At the same tournament, Costa Rica became underdog fan favourites with stunning defeats over Uruguay, Italy, and Greece, before bowing out to the Netherlands on penalty kicks.

meanwhile-in-germany

#2: John Oliver

Thanks to his HBO series, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver is quickly becoming the most trusted source in news. That’s pretty good standing, given he’s a comedian anchor and his show is largely centered on making fun of the news. Mrs. Sip and I have enjoyed Oliver’s segments on FIFA, Scottish independence, student debt, and Middle East translators, among others. Oliver’s HBO contract runs through 2015 with the option for more years. And to think, all of this largely came about because Oliver was the guest host of The Daily Show in the summer of 2013, leading to rave reviews and his own program.

#1: Chris Pratt

With two monster hit movies – The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy (third and first, respectively, in highest grossing films of the year) – to go along with his role as goofy, loveable Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt is riding high in 2014 and the sky is the limits for this talented actor. Thanks to his success, Pratt was tapped to host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, in September. 2015 could see his star continue to rise, as he will play the lead in Jurassic World, the next installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, as well as wrap up Parks and Recreation with a 13-episode seventh and final season.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Oil Spill

Oil Spill Shot

Of course, the Sip Advisor could have also topped this list after yet another rock n’ roll year, but I’ll let the others have the spotlight! Next week, we tackle those that had a horrendous time in 2014 and probably can’t wait to see the year come to an end.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Simply layer the Jagermeister on top of the Goldschalger and you have an oil find that would make Jed Clampett blush! I think this shooter turned out pretty well image wise… the taste wasn’t bad, to boot!

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Iceland – Katla

Viking Power

I’ve always been fascinated by the World’s Strongest Man competitions. Iceland, is home to two of the sport’s greatest icons, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Magnús Ver Magnússon, who combined won the event eight times (four each), ranking Iceland at the top of the powerlifting game. Let’s take a look at these two hulking men and their contributions to strongman lore:

Jón Páll Sigmarsson

Born in Hafnarfjörður (just don’t ask the Sip Advisor to try and pronounce the word), Sigmarsson was the first to win the World’s Strongest Man event four times, doing so in a seven year span. His lowest finish in the tournament was third place in 1989. From humble beginnings, Sigmarsson’s legend grew as he participated in events around the world, including Scotland’s Highland Games.

Sigmarsson was a showman and loved to put on a performance. His charisma came through the TV screen with roars, shouting, and celebrations. During one event of the 1985 World’s Strongest Man, an audience member made the mistake of calling Sigmarrson an Eskimo, to which the powerlifter replied, “I am not an Eskimo, I am a Viking!” before snatching and seemingly with ease, lifting a 495kg cart.

Sigmarsson

Sadly, Sigmarsson passed away at the young age of 32, from a heart attack. He died doing what he loved, lifting, in his own gym, Jakaból (which means Giant’s Nest). While steroid use played a role in his death, there was also a heart defect that others in his family had suffered from. Sigmarsson was survived by a son, Sigmar, and I wonder if he ever followed in the footsteps of his dear ol’ dad?

A fascinating documentary was made on the life of Sigmarsson, titled Larger than Life. The Sip Advisor actually watched it en route to Iceland and it gave me a different perspective going into the country. Sigmarsson was enshrined in the World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame in 2012, one of only three competitors to be selected thus far into the hallowed halls.

PIPES_grande

Magnús Ver Magnússon

Hailing from Egilsstaðir (again, I don’t even know where to begin with the pronunciation of this place name) and already owning one of the greatest villainous names in entertainment history, Ver Magnússon seemed like the perfect fit to take the torch from Sigmarsson and become the next great Icelandic strongman. Like Sigmarsson, Ver Magnússon travelled the world in his early years of lifting, winning competitions across the globe.

Equaling Sigmarsson’s achievement of four World Strongest Man titles (between 1991 and 1996), it should be noted that Ver Magnússon also ranked as the event’s runner-up in 1992 and 1993. That’s domination if I’ve ever seen it. The two Icelandic warriors are only surpassed by Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland, who has five wins to his name.

magnusson

Ver Magnússon reached mass American audiences, not only with his World’s Strongest Man accolades, but with an appearance in a Coors Light commercial, as well as an appearance on The Daily Show, in 2008, where he showed off his still formidable strongman skills. There are rumours that Ver Magnússon has been trying to raise funds to film a movie about his life, titled ‘My Way.’

In the meantime, Ver Magnússon has gone on to own the Jakaból gym, replacing Sigmarsson, and training the next generation of Icelandic Vikings. One of his protégés is Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, nicknamed ‘Thor.’ Bjornsson recently appeared on Game of Thrones as the fearful Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain. Ver Magnússon also judges strongman and powerlifting competitions internationally and remains a face of the sport.

Iceland: Katla

Katla Cocktail

  • 1 oz Brennivin
  • 0.5 oz Kahlua
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Garnish with a Lemon Slice

I can’t even imagine lifting some of the items these two behemoths tossed over their shoulder or hurled through the air. Simarsson even set a Guinness World Records by lifting the largest whiskey bottle… that’s a feat the Sip Advisor can truly appreciate!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
Brennivin is also known as Black Death, which I don’t fully understand, given the spirit is clear and doesn’t taste bad at all. Icelanders might disagree with me on the taste experience, but I think I know my liquors. This cocktail is named after an active volcano in Iceland, but it will certainly not cause you to erupt and is actually quite nice.