Book Club Claire is back with our last selection for 2021: Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu, which a nice tie-in with our year-long look back at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. Question is, how angry will Alison get this episode?

Claire also has our book club selections for 2022, which you’ll be able to find at our bookshop.org storefront (commission-based link)

We also have an Atlanta history moment of diva proportions that will give you the power of the dream: Yes, it’s Celine Dion’s performance from the Opening Ceremonies, and she’s got a little revelation about that moment.

We also learn that Celine applied to sing at the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremonies. Who was chosen? This memorable number:

Makes you wonder what’s on tap for Beijing 2022 (but please bring back those drummers!)

In news from TKFLASTAN, our Team Keep the Flame Alive, we’ve got updates from:

Our Beijing 2022 update is full of what they said vs. what’s happening – oh, and a Polish luger had a horrific accident during the test event.

And we officially have a new novela with plenty of soapy goodness: It’s the modern pentathlonovela! How much more will the International Modern Pentathlon Union president have to backtrack to get his story straight with the athletes? And does the international federation already have a sport picked out to replace the riding segment?

And if a new novela wasn’t good enough, organizations in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy are waking up to the fact that the Winter Olympics will be in their city in about four years, and they’ve got a massively expensive project on their hands in the renovation of the sliding track. Stock up on popcorn, because this will be fun to watch!

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

RESOURCES

The scoop on Celine

Milan-Cortina: Those bobsled renovations are going to cost some money

Modern Pentathlonovela fun


TRANSCRIPT

Note: While we try to ensure accuracy, know that these transcripts are machine-generated and may contain errors (also, there’s a lack of laughter here). Please cross-reference the audio file for accuracy.

Episode 213 – Book Club Claire on Dominique Moceanu’s “Off Balance”

[00:00:00] Jill: Hello fans of TKFLASTAN and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely cohost. Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?

[00:00:40] Alison: We have calmed down from our book club discussion and I have a feeling I’m about to get all riled up again.

[00:00:48] Jill: Probably. But it was a good one. So we will get to that in a second. But first we would like to thank our Patreon of the week. Our patron this week is silver medal, patron Patrick Alog, which you might know as Patrick from Green Bay, but now he’s going to be Patrick from Chicagoland.

[00:01:05] Alison: I know he moved and confused us all.

[00:01:07] Jill: Patrick’s been a listener since I think before PyeongChang and he was an early listener and sent us a lot of voicemails during PyeongChang. He’s great. Very supportive has a lot of great suggestions for us and uh, we really appreciate his support. Thank you so much, Patrick, for being part of the show and supporting us financially as well.

If you would like to be a patron of the week, check out Patreon.com/flamealivepod. Patreon is for people who make a contribution to the show every month. And we do really appreciate that, but we also understand that ongoing contributions aren’t viable for everyone. So we’re adding more options for one time donations, check out flamealivepod.com/support for our PayPal link.

And we also have added Venmo. We are @ flamealivepod on Venmo.

[00:01:58] Alison: We’re so fancy.

[00:01:59] Jill: That music means that Book Club Claire is back to lead our discussion of Off-balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu, who is one of the gymnasts in the Magnificent Seven team that won gold at Atlanta in 1996. We’ll also be revealing our titles for 2022. So you’ll want to hear what’s on tap. Take a listen.

Claire, welcome back. We’ve got Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu. Take it away.

[00:02:27] Claire: Thank you. I am looking forward to taking a gander through this book with you ladies. I just finished reading it. So I’m very curious. Overall, don’t get into too many details, but what did you think about this book that was written and published in 2012?

I should clarify that for the listeners. What did you think?

[00:02:48] Alison: I thought for one of our ghostwritten books, it was actually pretty good as a book. Oftentimes when we have these athletes and then their ghost writers, you don’t get a good feel. And I feel like I really got a good feel for the athlete on this one.

[00:03:05] Jill: I would go with you that the ghost writers were good. I think there were parts of the book where they just didn’t know what to do. I think Dominique has a barrier up. That’s what really came through. Like, we’re not going to show our true feelings. We’re not going to lay it all out on the line.

And I think that is something that she just grew up with trying to protect herself from from Bela and all of that stuff growing up, that she just naturally is going to have a front that she’ll show you. And I think there got to be times, especially after the Olympics where stuff just randomly happened and you went, Huh. Okay. But I do think the writing team did a good job.

[00:03:45] Alison: Yeah. I agree. Those couple of years after the Olympics, I got very confused between ’98 and like 2001, what was happening when that was very confusing. I do agree with that.

[00:03:56] Jill: Right. So props to Paul and Teri Williams, her writing team.

[00:04:01] Claire: Interesting. I disagree with you both on that.

I was looking at the writing of this and was really struggling with

who is projecting the thoughts out, is this going to be an explanation of something? Is this going to be a feeling of something? And it just seemed almost too cookie cutter to me. Uh, Especially I, I did mark a couple passages where I’m just like, this just doesn’t sound right.

It does sound like. It didn’t get the polish that it needed. So as I read it, I appreciated the overall story that was presented, but I didn’t appreciate the writing as much. But I’m glad we disagree.

[00:04:38] Jill: Yeah, and I would think that that comes through because that, to me seemed like Dominique’s voice, which was not necessarily polished or could necessarily help the writers. I think there were probably times where they struggled in what to get out and what to put in the book to make it as long as it needed to be.

[00:04:57] Claire: And maybe I’m just learning that I don’t like autobiographies because it just seems like, whoever is writing it, no matter if it’s an Olympic athlete or someone else has an agenda. And so I’m always taking it with, you know, you’re not going to get a journalist who is going to maybe get both sides of the story. You’re getting just one side, and maybe I just don’t appreciate that. And I want to get the whole story. So if independent journalists were to do a biography of her, to get both sides, to get the complete story where you do see where she struggled and that a lot of it almost all of that is based in fact.

But when she’s talking about her friends and how wonderful they are and how glorious they are, there was some friction there. You, can say that that’s okay. You know, It’s not gonna offend them. So it’s just those kinds of things where it just, it just needed to be polished a little bit more.

Okay. now that you’ve read the whole story about Dominique Moceanu and her relationship with her parents and her relationship with the Karolyis, Bela and Marta, how has that changed your thoughts on the Karolyis especially?

[00:06:05] Alison: I’ve got thoughts.

[00:06:06] Claire: Oh, go, for it.

[00:06:07] Alison: Okay. So we all know Bela and Marta are abusive monsters. That was not a surprise. What was a surprise to me was how bad coaches they were, they have this reputation of yes, they were cruel. Yes, they could be cold yet, but they were actually really absent, un-involved dictators who had terrible equipment, who did not protect the gymnasts’ bodies. And it seemed like the gymnasts succeeded, despite everything that Bela and Marta did. And the thing that struck me the most was that because they had the reputation, they were able to get the best gymnasts in their gym.

And that was the key to their success. It wasn’t anything that they did. It was this halo around the Karolyi Ranch saying if you go to the Karolyi Ranch, you’ll become a gold medalist. But the people that they brought into the ranch probably would have won a medal and done it with a lot more sanity and safety had they been anywhere else. I don’t think the Karolyis were doing anything to make USA Gymnastics better there. They were doing a lot to make it worse.

[00:07:17] Jill: Yeah. And I was really shocked with the bad equipment that they had. We know the stories of Marta obsessing over everybody’s weight and really getting on them for eating anything.

And it’s interesting that that is, I think that mentality is of a time. I’m not sure if it’s totally infiltrated gymnastics where we’ve learned in other sports, like, Hey, you have to eat in order to have enough fuel in your body to do what you need to do. And especially with the tricks that gymnast are doing these days. What really got me was just the sense that USA Gymnastics knew what was going on and really did not do anything about it.

And they knew early, and we get that from the Larry Nassar thing. But I think they’ve known for a long, long time how abusive the sport is and just did not care.

[00:08:06] Alison: Okay. And not only did nothing, but in fact, kept giving Marta, especially, more and more power I mean, the fact that I’m going to reference something that’s at the end of the book. The review committee is Marta, Kim Zmeskal, who was one of her gymnasts and clearly was still in her thrall, and then a coach that she had trained. So it’s like the people doing the reviewing were all Marta’s people.

So the decision she’s made is being reviewed by her minions. What kind of review is that? So USA Gymnastics not only did nothing, but just made it worse and worse and worse. I mean, she, Marta was the national coach until what? 12 or 16?

[00:08:46] Claire: 16.

[00:08:47] Alison: Come on.

[00:08:48] Jill: Yeah, we need a really good book about the Karolyis now.

Especially if we just need to be angry for awhile, but yeah, I mean, it’s astounding and we, and granted, we’re only going to get Dominique’s perspective and you do wonder what was the shine that the glow that made the Karolyis keep persevering with the way they were treated. And I guess it’s just isolating the gymnasts and putting fear into them so they don’t talk to anybody.

But at some point you would think that all of these elite gymnast would kind of break, but I don’t know.

[00:09:24] Alison: It’s funny you say that because as I was reading the book, even though she does talk a lot about the abuse she suffered from the Corolla, she still talked about being eight years old and doing 35 hours a week at the gym with her first coaches as being okay. So even though she recognizes the abuse that the Karolyis inflicted, she doesn’t recognize the abuse that the sport inflicted. I mean, she is still a coach. Her son is an Olympic hopeful. So she is still entrenched in this sport. So I don’t know if she’s got that perspective.

You know, it’s It’s funny because when you listen to gymnast of her era, talk about the sport, a lot of them have their kids in it. A lot of them still talk about the love of the sport. And when you hear gymnasts from 2016 and 2020, they all say my kids will never do this. I will not support USA Gymnastics.

So there’s a generational break where they’ve stopped buying into the idea of this glow around gymnastics, which I think is the only way gymnastics is going to change.

[00:10:31] Claire: You talked about the coaches, you talked about the not just the Karolys, but Dominique had several coaches that she did really enjoy. She talks about Luminita Miscenco as one of the coaches that had a positive impact on her, but she also talks about her as somebody that you probably wouldn’t want to room with.

Just because she was turning into a mothering type, she had that Romanian quality But she was able to kind of read Dominique’s physicality, and kind of say, okay, you’ve done enough. We can’t really do this too much. She also talks about Alexander Alexandrov and also Jeff LeFleur, who, she could not talk enough amazing things about Jeff LeFleur, but the guy that was doing 35 hours a week of gymnastics with her.

The coaches that she does mention in here do you think that they had that USA Gymnastics in their ear or where they kind of work? It seemed like they were working more independently where they would work with the gymnast and then they would get dismissed because well, for LeFleur they moved away, but for the other two, they got fired . Do you think that the coaching has also been impacted by USA Gymnastics’ kind of tight control?

[00:11:44] Alison: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because all the gymnasts had to go through the Karolyi ranch ultimately.

So if you could get to the Karolyi ranch first, before you were actually trying to get on the national team, the idea was you had an advantage.

You know, the idea was she could go only so far with the LeFleurs and then when she was 10 and really wanted to make the national team, was a ’96 hopeful. You had to move on to another level of coach and poor Alexander. I mean, it sounded like the Karolyis is just had– Dominique refers to it as a revolving door of the actual coaches who were doing the work because the Karolyis just kind of sat in their office and ate rolls apparently and yelled at people.

And the people who actually did the work were a revolving door. And I wonder if unbeknownst to her, the revolving door had to do with some pretty widespread abuse that was going on. You know, that if they said anything to the Karolyis, they got fired, or if they left because they were uncomfortable. That we don’t get from this book because we don’t know that other perspective.

So when you’re saying we need a really good story of the Karolyis , why was there that revolving door?

[00:12:54] Jill: And we’re also talking about, you know, late eighties, and you’re still in the influence and think coaches and elite coaches are still under the influence of the Soviet Union and the Soviet system where the gymnasts were basically professionals in a sense, even though they were children and young, young women and they had to, they just did nothing but train.

So I think the mentality of, oh, there’s nothing we can do to catch up to this whole Iron Curtain of gymnasts except for train as much as we possibly can, because that’s how you win. I think that has something to do with it as well.

[00:13:32] Claire: When it comes to gymnastics as a whole. And I was reading some articles this afternoon about why the abuse seems to come in the places like gymnastics and figure skating. And a lot of it is because they get these girls started early, not just that, but they’re competing at an elite level early, so they don’t have the maturity to understand that what they’re doing or what is being done to them is wrong.

They just know that that’s what happens. And so It has to be up to parents who give their child to the coaches to make sure to stay up with the coaches and realize what was going on. I know Kerri Strug’s parents had talked to the Karolyis before ’96 and said you don’t mess with our daughter.

And that was kind of an ultimatum. And I remember Dominique kind of mentioned my parents just have to say, stop it. And the Karolyis will stop doing this? But she was never going to get that.

[00:14:30] Alison: But let’s also be fair, whatever Kerri Strug’s parents said, her abuse did not stop as we all saw in 96. So her parents may have been aware, but it’s not like the parents saying something actually did much with the Karolyis.

[00:14:46] Claire: And that was happening for the next 25 years where parents were coming up with things, but coaches were talking them down or were silencing them, not, not like literal silence, but making them be quiet about it and kind of covering it up a little bit. So there’s that pressure in gymnastics that unfortunately, you know, it kind of started with this and then it created an environment uh, in the late two thousands and early 2010s where someone like Larry Nassar could come in and take advantage without any idea that he could get caught, which is very scary.

And I feel really bad for those gymnasts. And I’m glad that they finally were able to stand up. Did you read any articles that were post 2012 with Dominique Moceanu? Talking about like the, the Nassar scandal and about the book?

[00:15:39] Alison: Not specifically about the book, but she had several interviews that went something, like I told you so, where people, referring to the book in the sense of she published a book in 2012, she filed the grievance. I believe it was in 2007 and 2008 in reference to 2006 nationals. She had been very public complaining about the Karolyis for many years and nobody listened and nobody believed her and look where we ended up.

I mean, there was enough abuse happening before 2006 and then so much that happened after that shouldn’t have happened.

[00:16:16] Jill: You mentioned Kerri Strug’s parents, but, and I think the problem with the parents is that their child is so close to this dream and we put so much money into it.

How many stories have we heard that people uprooted their whole families or uprooted half of the family to go live in Texas so that their child could train with the Karolyis. And it’s really tough. I think there’s an element of, oh, we’re going to say something, but I really want my kid to succeed because it’s their dream.

[00:16:46] Alison: And that was in this book. I mean, how many times did they move for Dominique’s career, which is ridiculous that you’re talking about an eight, nine, ten-year-olds career. Come on. It is not right for a ten-year-old to be. Or a family to have the, ten-year-olds be the focus of the entire family. That’s not fair to that kid.

That’s not fair to anybody involved. The one thing I missed a lot in this book is I would like to have heard from Christina, her sister.

[00:17:14] Claire: Right. We heard about Jennifer and the, opening to the book was Jennifer contacting Dominique and saying, Hey, I’m your long lost sister.

And how that all came to be. I thought that was a great opening by the way. But you’re, right, we never really did hear from Christina except that one time when Dominique mentioned that while Dominique was getting interviewed and she was packing up to go to the ranch, Christina pipes in and says, yeah, she’s going to the ranch and she’s never coming back.

[00:17:41] Jill: And that’s all we really hear.

[00:17:43] Claire: It would be interesting to hear her side of things,

[00:17:46] Alison: And just that whole idea that their entire family is focused on one of the children and that we’re moving halfway across the country for a ten-year-old who then has, 40 plus hours a week at the gym of a full-time job.

[00:18:01] Claire: Well, let’s talk about the parents because her father had a lot to do with this story. And a lot that I was not aware of and really was sad to read about and mama to who didn’t really have the gumption to take her steps because she was always getting pushed back.

So she never had that. What do you call it that drive to help? Although she did have the drive to help the Karolyis and serve them, it seemed like. What were your, I, you probably have strong words about Tata as what he was called. Did that make sense with what we saw the Karolyis that there was that connection there between the two Romanian families?

[00:18:43] Jill: Oh, gosh. Yes. This is total classic Eastern European family, especially Romanian. I mean, it’s every not stereotype, but just that very harsh, the male is in charge of everything and very demanding and, harsh. And there’s not a lot of love. That did not surprise me at all. And I think we see that in Bela and that, that comes out in the Karolyis coaching, I think as well.

What floored me is how’d they get out of Romania? It was just kind of like, oh, they went to Greece and then they got out. What? How did they get out of Romania?.

[00:19:15] Alison: I thought the same thing, this was -so they would have left, I think he, they said he left in ’79, but they married and I’m like, that was Cold War, and he just left. They all just went to Greece and they got married and it was fine.

[00:19:35] Jill: Yeah. I imagine that is something that Dominique kind of heard the bits of growing up, but not necessarily the whole story.

So we don’t get the whole story here. And I bet the authors just talked with Dominique for the book and they didn’t talk to other people necessarily. And we that story to me, it was just like, WHAT?! And all I could think of was how hard it was for Bela and Marta and Nadia Comaneci and their choreographer person who also defected with them, how difficult that was to plan and execute.

And it just seemed like, oh yeah well, you know, they just went to Greece and they got out.

How?!

[00:20:15] Claire: So clearly you were looking for more, but this is, this is generally Dominique story. So you, all you need to know is what was written in the book really.

[00:20:24] Jill: Right, right. But like none of the whole, like mother super talented runner, all of her dreams get kind of quashed and you know, they didn’t have any boys.

So what happens is Dominique’s the oldest. So kind of the hopes get pinned on her for some kind of success or notoriety or something, because Dad’s just scraping by at all these little jobs around. And so you pin hopes on her, you have another daughter who you say, oh, she’s got no legs.

We’re not keeping her. And then you have a third daughter. And, and I think that’s just, you have a family of women. And if there had been a boy, I wonder if Dominique would have been focused on as much

[00:21:07] Alison: That also confused me and this confused me with a lot of gymnasts of that era. So she starts gymnastics class at three.

I also started gymnastics class at three. I put my daughter in gymnastics class when she was very small. There is a big step between doing once a week, fun play gym gymnastics to all of a sudden that’s seven years old competing. And how does that leap happen? And that was missing in this story. How do you go from, yes, I’m good.

Yes. I like to do it. It’s fun to all of a sudden, very quickly, very young being a competitive gymnast and not just like a fun club competition either. And they didn’t have the money. Where was this money coming from to pay for all this? Those are not cheap.

[00:21:57] Claire: This is where the coaches come in, where the coach says, Hey, your child has potential. Give me a bunch of money and I will make them Olympians. That reminds me of the movie “Stick It,” which I love. But you know, Jeff Bridges is playing the coach that is saying that exact thing, your child will be great if you bring them to my gym and pay me all the money and you get that side of parents that are like, nothing’s happening.

Is my child any good? Are you going to make this, girl star or what? So they put their faith in their coaches. They realize, Ooh, potential. Even if there is no potential, I think that’s where the, it all winds back down to the environment of gymnastics, where you start them young, you start them competing young. They don’t know any better and problems ensue. So I, it just kind of all revolves around that.

I was shocked by the father’s behavior just because my dad was raising me at the same time. This would have all been happening. So I know my dad, he’s got a tough personality, but he’s a sweetheart too. And us kids were able to see both sides. When we needed discipline, we were being brats, he made sure to give us a look, but when we were going to the movies, and we were goofing around, you know, he wouldn’t tell us to shut up or anything. He would just kind of let it fly. And that’s the goofy personality that I have today with my siblings. And, to see how that family dynamic was so different from what she had to deal with. It really, it really crushed me because even looking at the pictures and going, oh, my dad would have worn that outfit. But thankfully my dad did not act that way.

And I know you, you are a few years older than me, so it’s the experiences you would have had with your parents would have been just a little bit different, but growing up in the nineties and late eighties it, that’s what I latched onto. It just, it made me feel so bad for her.

[00:23:51] Alison: What made me the most angry actually in the whole relationship with her father was how quick she seemed to be in the writing to forgive him and excuse him. The fact that he was at her wedding and walked her down the aisle made me sick to my stomach. As unfair as this is because it’s her family and her life, he did not deserve to be forgiven, to be honest.

And the fact that she did made me sad for her, because I felt like either she’s burying some of it not putting in the book because he’s dead now, or she felt like she had to forgive him because he was her father and kind of put everything aside or she could not in her soul say this is a horrible abusive man.

And I don’t want him in my life. And that made me mad and sad at the same time. I’m not a very forgiving person apparently, but no, because I’m like, the way it was written, even after the emancipation, which I’m sure we’ll get to. And during the Olympics, there was a lot of contact with him when she didn’t have to have it.

And I’m like, why are you letting this man back in your life? In any capacity? I don’t care if he’s your father. He was your abuser.

[00:25:08] Jill: There might be some element of wanting acceptance, wanting approval and seeking that. Cause I, I have a feeling that was hard to get, even with a gold medal. I can see the, I believe in myself, even when other people around me are yelling at me, but I think there’s still some kind of cry for approval there.

[00:25:32] Alison: And, and just to be clear, I’m not criticizing Dominique, right? I will never ever blame the victim. It just made me angry that that’s where she was.

[00:25:41] Claire: Well, since you mentioned it, we can talk about the emancipation, which came when she was 17, very close to adulthood. So I was kind of surprised that I guess, with everything that had escalated through her teenage years, she was okay with just cutting it off right there and not waiting the extra few months. But was any of that news to you? Or were you aware of that when it happened?

[00:26:02] Alison: I remember this and I was surprised her talking about all the bad press that she received, because how I remember the story was that she was abused.

Like I remember hearing that part of the story that that’s why she wanted to be emancipated, that her father stole all her money and was abusive to her. So I guess it depended on what you absorbed at the time. And of course she being so young and in such a precarious position would have heard all the bad stuff and would have absorbed all the she’s a spoiled brat, she wants to hurt her parents. She just wants to go crazy and be free.

[00:26:39] Claire: All I remember from it was, I don’t remember much. All I knew was that I finally heard the word emancipation without hearing “proclamation” after it. And I went, oh, that’s, it’s not just a declaration that was made during the Civil War. So it was something else to it.

Emancipation means something else. So that allowed me to learn a little more, but I didn’t know a lot of it around the situation around that.

[00:27:02] Alison: The most interesting little tidbit of that section of the book was where she says she had just gone through puberty, which means that she didn’t get her period until she was 16 or 17 years old. That is insane, which goes back to how abused was her body that her growth was so stunted and delayed.

[00:27:26] Claire: It does really surprise you, or it does really make you watch that Magnificent Seven Olympic performance, kind of with a cringe, because if you realize what’s going on and you see why she, when she falls twice on the and

how she had been practicing and practicing. And, even if Kerri hadn’t landed the final vault, they still would have won with the scores that they had. And just seeing that she felt so imperfect, she felt like she hadn’t done enough, even though they’re literally putting the gold medal around her neck.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to watch that the same because you know, NBC was constantly showing Bela Karoly in the crowd and him carrying in Kerri at the end to get her medal. So what are you going to take from that Magnificent Seven that is going to keep it from being that black spot in your 1996 look back at the Olympics.

[00:28:31] Alison: It already is. It already was for me a huge black spot. In some of our 96 coverage, we talked about how Kerri Strug’s career was ended by that vault and the book makes it very clear. She had no choice. She was an abused child, and Bela and Marta were her abusers.

And you cannot say no to your abusers. And how isolated they were. And they couldn’t even eat meals with their fellow gymnasts and practices were abusive and full of humiliation and, physical abuse. There is nothing about that Magnificent Seven that holds joy for me anymore because I look at those girls at what their bodies look like and what they were doing.

I know what those bodies went through and none of it is good, and none of it was worth the gold medal. They would obviously disagree, but I, as a fan, I, as an absolute fan of gymnastics, nothing, those girls went through is enjoyable to watch any more to me,

[00:29:28] Jill: You could say perhaps the resiliency. You could say perhaps another good thing about that team is that Asian Americans got to see an Asian American on the team And African-Americans got to see an African-American on the team, which that stuff didn’t happen.

So in a sense, you started to see a little bit of representation. Not the best, but it was a start.

[00:29:56] Alison: And they do clearly all, still have a lot of affection for one another.

[00:30:00] Claire:

That is something I never see. From USA gymnasts, female gymnasts, especially is a sense of, dislike of each other. It might be there, but when they are competing, there is support, especially now. Like you watch nowadays and they are cheering each other on. I remember just, a few months ago when Simone Biles had her faulty vault and said she was done.

Who is she talking to? She wasn’t really talking to the coaches. I mean, she ended up going to the coaches because they had to withdraw her, but she was talking to her teammates and that’s something that didn’t really happen in 96, where, as we mentioned, there was a lot of isolation between the different girls with their coaches.

So I will take from the 96 team that it was a step and they had to be a crappy step for some things and the positive step for other things. But it got us to here where we’re not dealing with the same stuff as they were 25 years ago. We had to get here somehow. And yes, it was awful, but I’m so glad that we’re not still dealing with that.

Any final thoughts?

[00:31:11] Alison: I just have a follow-up. I think we are still dealing with a lot of it, unfortunately. I think you still have a lot of abusive coaches out there. We may not have the Karolyis but trust me, there are coaches out there who are weighing and humiliating and hitting and verbally abusing their gymnast and USA. Gymnastics is doing nothing and the FIG is not doing nearly enough. I mean, we’re hearing it from the Dutch and the British and other countries. So I wish people had listened to Dominique 10 years ago when this book came out, and I wish reporters had taken it more seriously and dove in a little bit better at the time.

I mean, they did eventually. I mean, they we’ve talked about some of the yeoman work that was done in the, by the reporters for the Larry Nassar case, but she handed it to them on a silver platter in this book, and doesn’t feel like anyone picked it up and absolutely USA Gymnastics and the Karolyis were able to function for years with no oversight. And that breaks my heart.

[00:32:14] Claire: And just the fact that the Larry Nassar case was started in the fall of 2016. What was happening in July? Marta was the head coach of the women’s team. And Bela was in the studio with NBC sports, doing the Olympic coverage. He did that for two Olympics. And then a few months later, everything comes out and it’s, this was after she got the book published.

They’re still, NBC is still lauding them and giving them the platform that they need because they liked the big Teddy bear and they know that’s going to get viewers

One of the things I did mark at the very end of the book was her description of her husband when she first met him. Cause that’s one of those things that just needed a little polish because it’s just so you know, I took in his bronze skin and his fit muscular body under his white t-shirt, as I got up to give him and Raj hugs.

When I got closer, I saw that Mike had silver, circular piercings in his years and a silver stud piercing in his little labret, the area just below his lower lip. I thought it was an unusual place for a piercing, but somehow he pulled it off and it actually looked good on him.

When I read that, I’m like, did I get into a romance novel for some reason?

[00:33:28] Alison: But clearly their, their relationship is genuine. I mean, they are still married. They’re having another child. He was incredibly supportive of her through a lot of difficulties. And just seems like a nice solid guy, which is shocking that given how much the men in her life have let her down, that that’s what she ended up. You know, she clearly broke the cycle, which is so lucky for her. And even luckier for her kids.

[00:33:53] Claire: Yeah. And now she just has a normal life coaching gymnastics. Because as, as you said, she doesn’t blame the sport. She blames the people around it. For tarnishing, that wonderful sport of flips and somersaults and stuff.

All right. I think we have covered this book and I don’t think we want to talk about the Karolyis anymore.

[00:34:14] Alison: Not unless you want to make me really mad again.

[00:34:16] Claire: Nope, I think we’re good

[00:34:18] Alison: Before I go to the DMV, just bring up the Karolyis and I’ll be ready to fight someone.

[00:34:23] Jill: All right. Well, that wraps up 2021 for book club. Claire, what is on tap for 2022?

[00:34:30] Claire: We have four books that are connected with who we’ve talked to in the past, who we will be talking to in the future. And we’ll be covering some of the topics that we might hear about in the next few months. The first one especially The first book is called Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Jerry Carraccioli.

And if you are sick of hearing about boycott talk for Beijing 2022, get ready because we’re going to talk about some more and especially take into consideration that this is going to show you what happens when a country does boycott. Does it do anything? Spoiler alert! It did not.

So that’s going to be our first book and that one, I think we are going to be covering before the Beijing Olympics. If I have my dates, correct.

The second one actually hasn’t come out yet. It’s going to be released in January. It’s called, Driven to Ride: The True Story of an Elite Athlete who Rebuilt his Leg, his Life and his Career. And it is by Mike Schultz, who is the Paralympic athlete, who the title is talking about.

He is planning to compete in the Paralympics for 2022. So he did compete in PyeongChang. So we are going to get his story, which I’m very excited to finally find a Paralympian book. They are so hard to find. Come on authors, write some more Paralympic books.

The next book is by an athlete that we actually talked to before to Tokyo 2020, Abdi Abdirahman and it’s called Abdi’s World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running and Fun.

We got to talk to him before the book came out, but the book is now out. So we are going to cover it. Uh, And about his work in distance running, not just in marathon, which he did at Tokyo, but also in longer distances on the track.

And finally, I do have to mention that we really, tried to find a book for Alberville 1992, but there aren’t many books. And if there are, they’re kind of athlete books and it covers a swath of Olympics, so we decided to cover the 1960 games, which is appropriate because they took place in Squaw Valley, which is no longer named Squaw Valley. So we can kind of talk about that a little bit. The book is called Snowball’s Chance, the Story of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe by David Antonucci and it’s another winter Olympics book. So it’ll get you in the mood for winter in a year, but I am looking forward to these four books. And if you guys have recommendations for books, we would love to hear them. So contact the show and let us know if there’s a book that we’ve been missing and we will try to mark it and come back to it in a later year.

[00:37:19] Jill: Excellent. Thank you, Claire so much for another great year of book club. We had some really good choices this year. It was really nice. And we look forward to seeing you again next year.

[00:37:29] Claire: I look forward to seeing you all in January. Get the book and read it over the holidays.

[00:37:34] Jill: Thank you so much, Claire, follow Claire on Twitter @CauldronLight. That was a good conversation. I mean,

[00:37:41] Alison: We all know how to make me mad now.

[00:37:47] Jill: One thing we didn’t talk about very much was her sister, Jennifer, who was given up for adoption. She had been born with no legs and Tata said we can’t keep her and gave her up for adoption. She had a wonderful life with wonderful parents and is also a gymnast and has done acrobatics and things like that.

It’s just phenomenal. And one thing that was really, I thought really well done in the book was, Dominique, for all the barriers I felt like were kind of up for this book, that was one that was pretty down because I really felt like she showed some vulnerability in processing this information that she has a sister and also deciding whether or not to meet her and begin a relationship.

[00:38:34] Alison: I was always a little worried that it was going to end badly as I was reading the book. Weren’t you, or the one thing we didn’t talk about? Every relationship that she talks about in the book, I was so worried the whole time. So, So relieved that it was as happy as it is presented as it started at the beginning

[00:38:51] Jill: We have some really nice comments from listener Don who thought that the increasing desperation of a father in a new land comes through so painfully and what a clash of cultural traditions, which is a great way to put it. When we think about Eastern European ways at that time. And to have that seemingly exploited by a coach and compatriot who should be trusted and empathetic is just devastating to read.

Lovely story about her sister. Without that the first half of the book uh, would have been incredibly bleak. I mean, it w it was pretty bleak to begin with, but it was very nice that you had this hopeful thread and all through the book. And he also thought boy, was Dominique put through the ringer, especially at the Karoly ranch. And like you, I mean, the revelations in this book make a fan feel pretty ashamed. He said, and he won’t ever watch the “16 Days of Glory” film the same way again, and same here. I mean, the way that NBC has really promoted and pumped up the Karolyi legend in America over the last several Games, especially here.

I mean, this is 20 some years. They have him on a mic. Everybody loves Bela because he’s got this great he’s just effusive and exciting to sound and he knew how to turn it on for the cameras.

[00:40:10] Alison: Are you trying to make me mad again?

[00:40:12] Jill: No. Okay. But then that it’s pretty astonishing that Dominique did what she did.

Life went, how it was. And she managed to put it all back together in the end, cause she really was going off the rails. And once gymnastics was kind of over for a little bit and yeah, she’s managed to do well for herself. So this story could have ended very differently.

Yes, it really could have. And there are many athletes stories that do end very differently and very sadly.

[00:40:43] Alison: So spoiler alert, happy ending.

[00:40:46] Jill: Yes, exactly. So as Don said, this is a must read for anybody who followed the 96 games. If you’re involved with gymnastics now, definitely read this. If you have a parent in a, with a kid and in sports, any sports, doesn’t have to be gymnastics. Read this book because there are so many sports that have abuse factors in them, and parents really need to be diligent with their young children about this. So thanks, Don for those comments, we really appreciate them. We will have we have this title and we’ll have the 2022 titles on our storefront at bookshop.org/shop/flamealivepod.

When you purchase through that link, we get a commission and that goes to support the show. Not going to lie. The boycott book is probably going to be hard to find. it might be on back order a bit@bookshop.org, but you might have to find it at a different storefront, hate to say it, or check your library, but we will still have the info there for you to get

That sound means it’s time for our history moment and all year long, we’ve been looking at Atlanta 1996 because of this is the 25th anniversary of those games. My turn for a story.

[00:41:58] Alison: I was worried last week, as I expressed that we were running out of good moments, but oh, no.

All I see is the title of yours. And I am excited.

[00:42:08] Jill: Last week we talked about the opening ceremonies and the fly boys. We’re going to stick with the opening ceremonies and talk about one of the musical performances, namely, that of Celine Dion and her song, “The Power of the Dream.” Now putting this into context, we’re hundredth anniversary of the games. You followed 1992 Barcelona, which was an iconic opening ceremonies. You’re not going to have an easy time topping their cauldron lighting, which was an archer shooting an arrow into the cauldron and lighting off. They did come really close with Muhammad Ali, but that cauldron in Barcelona was something.

The Atlanta organizing committee spent $15 million to produce the opening ceremonies. And it included the theme song as every Olympics has one theme song along with other performances. This was “The Power of the Dream,” which was written produced by David Foster, whom you might know him for collaborating with the band Chicago on the album, Chicago 17, and the song “Hard Habit to Break.”

[00:43:09] Alison: Or as Yolanda foster, former husband on Real Wives of –something.

[00:43:17] Jill: Really?

[00:43:18] Alison: Yes, Gigi Hadid’s mother was married to him at one of her five husbands. And now he’s married to a former American Idol contestant.

[00:43:28] Jill: Oh, holy cow. Also part of the song team of “The Power of the Dream” was Linda Thompson and Babyface.

[00:43:36] Alison: This is a nineties dream team of overblown music here.

[00:43:40] Jill: Right? Written specifically for the Atlanta Games. And they got Celine Dion to sing this. And at this point in time, Celine was just starting to become Celine, the international sensation. So her album Falling Into You with the hit song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” that was released in March of 1996. And of course we are pre Titanic, which is the big Celine Dion song with “My Heart Will Go On, line was second to last performance on the docket. The cauldron had already been lit. David Foster is playing piano. He’s directing. It’s a huge song. Celine is in white. She looks glorious. She’s got like the Rachel from “Friends” hairdo that is kind of, I, when I look at the video, it’s a little Atlanta sized to me cause it’s a little stiff and a little big.

[00:44:32] Alison: The bigger the hair, the closer to God, I think.

[00:44:34] Jill: That’s right. So, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is playing. The Centennial choir is singing it, which is made up of Morehouse College Glee Club, Spelman College Glee Club, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

So, you know, it’s phenomenal, and yet Celine almost didn’t make it through the entire performance.

[00:44:54] Alison: No!

[00:44:55] Jill: So according to an article by Thomas Curtis- Horsfall, that was recently published on smooth radio.com. He quotes from her autobiography called My Story, My Dream. And she revealed that she had had chest pains throughout the entire song and thought she was having a heart attack.

But Celine being the consummate performer, she powered through and gave a rousing, passionate performance. But when she was done, she collapsed backstage, which we don’t know much about this.

[00:45:27] Alison: I mean, to me it sounds, I mean, given the circumstances, poor girl probably had a panic attack.

[00:45:32] Jill: I bet. And that very well could be. I mean, it’s an enormous audience. There were over 85,000 people in the stadium and then they said 3 billion, some around the world are watching this. So it’s the biggest stage she’s ever played on and all eyes on her. Apparently she must have come to backstage in time to meet President Clinton and one of her idols, Nadia Comenici.

If we can have another Nadia moment in the show,

[00:45:58] Alison: Never enough Nadia moments,

[00:46:00] Jill: Right? So that is the drama behind Atlanta, but as I did my research, I found this appropriate to share now that we’re coming up on Beijing 2022, because did you know that Celine applied to sing at the Beijing 2008 opening ceremonies?

[00:46:14] Alison: Celine is everywhere!

[00:46:16] Jill: She applied, submitted a theme song, not chosen.

[00:46:21] Alison: How dare they, how dare they reject Celine like that?

[00:46:25] Jill: I would say, do you remember what the song was? But you don’t because it’s awful.

[00:46:31] Alison: I don’t remember any of the theme songs. What I do remember about this, that there was some controversy at the time that they had a Canadian singer performing at the Atlanta opening ceremonies. Some people were none too happy. Like couldn’t you possibly get an American. I mean, we certainly have American belters left and right. So there was no wonder the poor thing had a heart attack. Not literally, I guess her heart couldn’t go on.

[00:46:58] Jill: But the, a theme song for Beijing 2008, went to Liu Huan and Sarah Brightman with a forgettable song called “You and Me.”

[00:47:08] Alison: Sarah Brightman, most famous for being the original cast of the Phantom of the Opera.

[00:47:17] Jill: Correct. And you would have thought that Celine would have been prominently featured at Vancouver 2010. Her home country. Organizers tried. They asked her several times and she always said no, because she thought she would be pregnant or have a newborn at that time.

And so she didn’t want to have that performance as well. And in fact, she was undergoing fertility treatments in early 2010. Is Celine a one hit wonder for the Olympics?

[00:47:42] Alison: She’ll be back, Celine is always back,

[00:47:46] Jill: maybe Paris, 2024. She is from Montreal. She speaks French.

[00:47:51] Alison: Well, The French wouldn’t say that. She speaks Canadian French. They would scoff at her. You are not really speaking French.

But she is

[00:48:01] Jill: a global sensation. And you do like that on the Olympic stage.

[00:48:10] Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN.

[00:48:16] Jill: Yes. It’s time to check in with our past guests who comprised our Team Keep the Flame Alive, the team of the nation TKFLASTAN. Let’s start off with shooter Tim Sherry, who competed at the Dixie Double this past weekend. He made it to the finals in 2 events, but did not perform as he wanted to. So he’s taking what he’s learned for that and using it for the 2022 season, which starts quite soon with the Walther Cup at West Virginia University.

[00:48:44] Alison: Roy Tomizawa participated in a panel by Japan House London called “Witness to the 1964 Olympic torch relay: How the Olympic flame brought excitement and hope to Asia.” and we will have a link to that in the show notes.

[00:48:58] Jill: Speed skater Erin Jackson has qualified for both the 500 meter and the 1000 meter on the world cup circuit. I know. It’s the first time she’s qualified for the thousand. So she’s really excited. And the world cup season starts off this weekend in Poland.

[00:49:13] Alison: John Schuster will competing in the USA Curling Olympic Trials, which takes place November 12th through the 21st. Sorry, I’m really excited about curling.

[00:49:24] Jill: You can be excited about curling. I mean, it’s exciting and it’s tough because I think the competition keeps getting fiercer and fiercer and with the mixed doubles, it was pretty much anyone’s game. You had so many pairs that had so many strong curlers involved.

[00:49:40] Alison: So wait a second is Shuster going for number six?

[00:49:44] Jill: I believe so.

[00:49:45] Alison: Nice.

[00:49:47] Jill: Sailors Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea will be competing in the 49er FX world champs in Oman from November 16 through 21. And I did not know this. Their boats name is Mamma Mia.

[00:49:59] Alison: There it goes again. Chloe Kim appears on the cover of the December issue of Shape magazine and is the featured article as well.

[00:50:06] Jill: And Tom Scott will be competing in the World Karate Federation champs in Dubai from November 16 through 21.

Oh, Beijing, 2022. We are getting more news,

[00:50:27] Alison: And it’s not good.

[00:50:28] Jill: Okay. So the coordination commission had their final meeting and they had a press conference about that. They have said that they’re dedicating enormous attention to sustainability. They say the games are going to be carbon neutral. All venues will be powered by solar and wind, and they’ll be the first games to use a low carbon refrigeration system. However, The Guardian reported that there’s concerns about the amount of snow being made. ‘

[00:50:56] Alison: Because, gee, you put the games in a place that really doesn’t get snow. You have to make snow

[00:51:03] Jill: So we’ll see how this goes.

And the snow issue is really getting to be a problem everywhere. I remember last year for biathlon, there were so many venues where they just didn’t have snow. It was all man-made and it was really kind of sad. And when we were at the media summit, they talked a lot about climate change and the effects that they were seeing

[00:51:21] Alison: Making snow is expensive, both in dollars and in resources.

So this is definitely going to bite into their carbon neutrality.

[00:51:29] Jill: They touted the legacy of Beijing 2008 in that they’re going to be reusing five of those venues for Beijing 2022. They’ve readapted them for winter sports. They’re very excited about the fact that there are 300 million new winter sports loving people in China, which is, I will say if there’s one positive thing that comes from this games, it is the fact that winter sports are going to have more of more exposure in China. And in granted, they do do figure skating and they do participate in a bunch of sports. It just doesn’t have a, it’s not part of the culture like summer sports are. So if the citizens of China get excited by these games and want to start doing winter sports, I think that’s a good thing.

Too early to tell about fan capacity. There will be fans. They will be domestic. They have said that they are going to be trying to get not just Chinese nationals, but also ex-pats who are in China so that they will have some international color in the stands as well.

They haven’t decided capacity because they don’t know about COVID yet. And they don’t want to make that decision now. Because what if COVID gets better or worse and they’d have to adjust or readjust the venue capacity.

And of course it’s not an IOC press conference about Beijing without talking about the human rights situation with the Uyghurs.

[00:52:57] Alison: They’re not going to say anything new. They’re not going to take a stand on this. So why do we, I mean, I guess you keep asking because you want it to be in the headlines, which is fair, but it’s grand standing. It’s not for actual information.

[00:53:14] Jill: Right. Although Tracey Holmes from ABC in Australia had a really interesting question on whether the Beijing organizing committee has expressed any concern about the constant questions about human rights from the U S or from the west in general.

I thought that was an interesting way to put it just, are they tired of this? Are they tired of answering? Are they saying anything about this as well? Got kind of a non-answer.

[00:53:39] Alison: Shocking,

[00:53:40] Jill: Right. Because basically the situation with the Uyghurs is outside of the Olympic purview. And in a sense, the, as the IOC says we deal with the charter and we deal with the host contract and we have this little games bubble, so to speak. We don’t come in and deal with all of China.

So there have been protests in cities across America. There are a call from Senator Mitt Romney for a diplomatic boycott that’s been tucked into an amendment of a bill that’s going through Congress right now. So we’ll, we’ll see what kind of diplomatic boycott happens, if any, but essentially, like we keep saying the Olympics are not the answer to all of the problems in the world.

[00:54:28] Alison: I’ve said this a hundred times and I’ll say it again, because I like to repeat myself. You cannot put the foreign policy of a nation on the backs of your young athletes. It’s not their job. It’s not their role. The problem comes when the IOC awards, the games to totalitarian abusive regimes. That’s the problem. That’s the only problem. And you cannot expect Joe Smith skier to fix your international diplomatic mess.

[00:54:57] Jill: Right. And really. if you want to make a statement, use your wallet. That’s really what makes change is your wallet and where you buy things from. Not the Olympics. And because the Olympics are only a couple of weeks long, once they’re done, everybody’s going to move on. Even the protestors.

[00:55:16] Alison: Yeah. How much are the Uyghurs going to matter in April?

[00:55:19] Jill: I’m curious to see about that because there are people who are dedicated to helping them and they’re, is shedding light on their situation, but what will be the solution once the Olympics are done? If the, the answer is currently well, boycott the games or move the Olympics. What happens when the Olympics are over and nothing happened?

In not so great news, the luge athletes are over in China right now testing the track out and Poland’s Mateus Sochowicz suffered a fractured kneecap in a training crash. He was given the green light to go down the track and one of the barriers in the track was closed. It should have been open and he ended up crashing into it. He cut his leg to the bone, taken to the hospital. Now he’s recovering and hopefully will be able to compete the season still, but it’s going to take awhile. The International Luge Federation says it has enhanced safety measures put in place in response to the crash.

They’re trying to figure out what happened and how to make it not happen again. And the athlete said the track team showed great incompetence in responding to the crash. Not great, not great.

[00:56:33] Alison: Luge and bobsled and skeleton are scary enough to be surrounded by incompetence. That’s not okay. And they need to do better.

there’s no excuse. Anything that hurts the athletes make, why are you trying to make me so mad today? What did I do to you? Come on, people do better.

[00:56:55] Jill: Oh, then let’s get into our we don’t have a novella sounder that I just realized, like we need a novella sounder. Oh wait whoa.

All right. That, that might be our novella sounder right now.

More on our modern pentathlon novella, which is, oh my goodness. It can not get any better for me in terms of the soapy soapbox of this situation. So the International, Modern Pentathlon Union president Klaus Schormann went on a talk to, I think it was Sportschau, which is a show in, in Germany and said, oh, we’ve already decided the fifth sport.

And they had previously said, oh no, we will consult with the athletes for sure about what this fifth sport is. Athletes are all in an uproar. Schormann met with TBach on Tuesday, the ninth. The IOC plans to confirm that riding will be dropped by November 18th, and the UIPM is having its Congress on the 27th and 28th of this month. And Schormann is up for reelection running unopposed. And he’s been president for 28 years.

[00:58:07] Alison: Oh, this is going to get interesting. How much voting power do the athletes have in that Congress vote?

[00:58:15] Jill: I don’t know.

[00:58:16] Alison: I mean, I know they have athlete representatives, but is this a full participation kind of vote because he’s going to get a no confidence vote.

[00:58:25] Jill: I would not be surprised if that’s what happened or if, the athletes were resourceful enough to put in a write in vote.

[00:58:33] Alison: Oh yeah.

[00:58:35] Jill: Could there be a write in situation on this ballot? I don’t know.

USA Modern Pentathlon had a Zoom call. Someone put this on Instagram Live. So I want, and several upset athletes on this call.

The sense I get is that the gateway to modern pentathlon is people who ride horses and get into the sport that way.

[00:58:59] Alison: So if you take the horses out, are you going to cripple the sport?

[00:59:03] Jill: I mean, the athletes think so because that’s one thing they love about it.

[00:59:08] Alison: Which is problematic because it’s what causes all the trouble.

[00:59:14] Jill: Right? And there was a British modern pentathlete who I believe competed in Beijing, had been on the executive board as an athlete’s rep for several years and said, Hey, We knew there were problems with riding then, and didn’t do anything about it.

I think they’ve always known and everybody’s just kind of waking up and going, what? You don’t really do much on horse welfare and safety. It’s about time.

[00:59:40] Alison: heads in the sand again, and the athletes get hurt. You really are trying to make me mad.

[00:59:46] Jill: a UIP M is going to host a video call at the end of this week that it’s going to be good to consult the athletes, to see what they think about the sport that will replace riding.

But this is going to be a done deal pretty quickly.

[01:00:00] Alison: Wow.

[01:00:01] Jill: and one of the things that you have to remember this change shouldn’t happen for 2024 because the event program has already been approved and they’re going down to this 90 minute format. I don’t know if they would say, oh, we need this change now.

And we will adjust the 2024 program.

[01:00:19] Alison: So far everything I’ve seen says after 2024, because you’ve only got two years and for the athletes to change their training in two years, that would be beyond the pale in terms of fairness.

[01:00:33] Jill: and it’s interesting because a lot of people on this call especially were saying, you’re talking about the young athletes coming up in the sport that loved the riding element of it, or what happens to them because they are training for something that involves writing to which nothing came up about the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, Senegal, which happens in a few years that will have a tetrathlon, Which is the modern pentathlon without the And there was no mention of training for that particular event. If the Youth Olympic Games is important to this sport, I don’t know.

[01:01:12] Alison: I would think a lot of people come, and when we talked to Sammy Schultz, a lot of people come into this sport later and I use later very loosely, but they’ve been athletes in some element, you know, you’re saying particularly in equestrian, and then as teenagers or older teenagers, then they’re becoming modern pentathletes.

So I wonder if the Youth Olympics really does anything to participation.

[01:01:37] Jill: Very good question.

You know, You smile from that Milan Cortina music, but

[01:01:49] Alison: Oh, that Milan Cortina, shocking. We’re having budget problems.

[01:01:54] Jill: Inside the Games has reported that a civic group in Cortina D’ampezzo has called for the sliding events to be moved from the sliding track in Cortina after raising concerns over cost of renovating the venue and the environmental impact of that project.

Why is this news to you now, civic group?

[01:02:16] Alison: Again, the IOC got bamboozled by flash and ricotta cheese and chose the sexy project. And didn’t go with the safe Scandinavians who would not be running over

[01:02:31] Jill: Right. Or the Scandinavians who had chosen an existing operational sliding track in Latvia, that would have been perfectly fine.

So the problem is this is the track that was used for Cortina 1956. It fell into disrepair. Uh, It got closed. It needs to be totally renovated. The Milan Cortina bid said, we can do this. The IOC said, Hmm, that’s going to be really expensive. And then the government stepped in and said uh, we will fund this project. It will be part of a regional thing. And it will encourage tourism, blah, blah, blah. And the IOC said, all right!

[01:03:08] Alison: And then Kortina said, oh, gee, it’s kind of expensive.

[01:03:12] Jill: Right. So we will see what happens. The civic group has written certified letters. I love this detail cause they had written certified letters to the Milan organizing committee and the IOC, but receipt was not acknowledged.

And the IOC says we haven’t gotten a letter from you. The whole bobsled track situation is ongoing and we’ll see if they actually end up happening at Cortina or if it, they just go, I mean, you are talking about four years away. It’s not that long or almost four years away. Not that long of a time to renovate a big bobsleigh track.

[01:03:48] Alison: Right, as we’ve seen from the accidents or the accident at Beijing, you have to have it done 18 months ahead of time so you can properly test the darn thing.

[01:03:57] Jill: So we shall see uh, the civic group says, oh, you’re going to put ski mountaineering in. Well, if you move the bobsled stuff, you can put ski mountaineering here instead of having at Bormio because we can hold that. Would not be super expensive.

[01:04:12] Alison: I still don’t understand what ski mountaineering is, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out.

[01:04:17] Jill: You walk up the mountain with your skis on your back. You ski down the mountain.

[01:04:22] Alison: It’s gotta be more than that. I’m sorry. I’m not accepting that.

[01:04:25] Jill: Okay. Well, we will learn.

[01:04:28] Alison: It may be, but I don’t care. I want it to be more exciting than that.

[01:04:31] Jill: Maybe there’s a Yodel portion. You get to the top and yodel.

[01:04:41] Alison: Ricola!

[01:04:42] Jill: All right, on that note, I think that will do it for us for this week. Let us know what you think about the book club selections for 2022.

[01:04:51] Alison: We love hearing from you. Email us@flamealivepodatgmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Get at us on social at flame alive pod, and be sure to join.

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[01:05:09] Jill: Next week, will be movie club and we were talking about “I Tonya”, which I think has some interesting parallels to the book we’ve just read in terms of the abuse factor. We are looking forward to that conversation with Film Buff Fran. And if you’ve got thoughts on that, let us know in the meantime, thank you so much for listening and until next week, keep the flame alive.

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